Pre-heat your oven to 140ºC.
To a heavy-based pot on medium heat add the cream, then scrape out the vanilla seeds using the back of a knife and add those to the pot along with the whole pod shells.
If you don't have a vanilla pod, use 1/2 - 1 tsp of good quality vanilla paste.
Allow the cream to come to a gentle simmer and then remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, in a heat-proof mixing bowl (preferably jug-like such as a large Pyrex jug or a batter bowl with a handle and spout) whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
Pour the heated cream mixture over the egg and sugar mixture, whisking continuously until well combined.
Pour the mixture into 4 ramekins through a sieve, and place them gently in a deep baking dish and gently pour in luke-warm water until it reaches half-way up the ramekins.
Place in the oven and leave to cook gently for 40-50 minutes or until the custard mixture is just set with a slight wobble.
Remove the ramekins from the water bath and leave to chill to room temperature, or until needed.
Just before serving, turn on your oven's grill (or get your blowtorch ready) and spoon over the demerara sugar.
Grill or torch the sugar until it is golden and caramelized and serve. For the Stovetop Method
After heating mixture, instead of pouring in ramekins, wipe out the pot with some kitchen paper until clean and then pour the mixture back into the pot, through a sieve, and stir continuously on a low-medium heat for about 10 minutes until the mixture has thickened to the consistency of custard.
Pour the mixture into the ramekins, chill until set and then continue with the serving steps (brûlée part).
Here is an easy step-by-step gallery
to making this classic dessert.Recipe reprinted with permission of Sarah Graham.