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When I make a crème brûlée (using the recipe here) I scrape the seeds out of the pod(s) and put them, together with the pod, into the cream which I then bring to the boil.

I typically find that the finished product, although tasty and with the right texture, has the majority of the tiny vanilla seeds at the bottom of the ramekin, indicating that they have sunk during cooking.

Is there any good way to prevent this from happening so they are better distributed through the finished product?

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If you modify the instructions so that you make a custard BEFORE pouring the liquid into the ramekins, this will help to suspend the vanilla seeds in the mixture so they do not just fall to the bottom.

original instructions:

  1. Meanwhile put the yolks and caster sugar into a medium-sized heatproof bowl and stir until just combined. When the cream begins to boil, remove the vanilla pod and then pour the cream on to the yolk and sugar mix, stirring constantly to mix.

  2. Divide the mixture between the ramekins and pour cold water into the tin until it comes two-thirds of the way up the ramekins. Bake for about 40 minutes until the custard is set – it should only wobble faintly when shaken. Cool and then chill until cold.

new instructions:

  1. Meanwhile put the yolks and caster sugar into a medium-sized heatproof bowl and stir until just combined. When the cream begins to boil, remove the vanilla pod and then pour the cream on to the yolk and sugar mix, stirring constantly to mix.

2b. Return the combined egg/cream mixture to the pot, and cook over moderate/low heat, and cook while stirring constantly until a custard is formed. Be careful not to allow the mixture to sit too long without stirring, and also avoid high heat. If you do not feel confident making custard directly over heat, you can do this over a double boiler, which will help to prevent scorching and making scrambled eggs.

2c. Remove the custard from the heat.

  1. Divide the mixture between the ramekins and pour cold water into the tin until it comes two-thirds of the way up the ramekins. Bake for about 40 minutes until the custard is set – it should only wobble faintly when shaken. Cool and then chill until cold.

having made a custard, the baking time will surely also be reduced, however i can not confirm how long it should be baked for using that particular recipe when employing a custard.

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    Stirred custard and baked custard have very different textures, and if you bake an already-stirred custard, you'll likely get a curdled/split mess from overcooking it. Better to just fill the ramekins with the still hot stirred custard, tap to smooth, then refrigerate until set. But that will still be different.
    – kitukwfyer
    Feb 5, 2022 at 4:18
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    that is not true. i have been making creme caramels and creme brulee with and without making the custard first, in commercial environment for about 35 years, and have never had them of any noticeable texture, or have them split. now if we address the supposed issue of texture, the OP asked how to prevent the vanilla seeds from sinking, and the way to do that is to ensure they are suspended in the mixture, so due to viscosity making a custard does just that.
    – Mr Shane
    Feb 5, 2022 at 5:19
  • Huh, crazy. I have been lied to then. I'll have to give it a go some time to see what the deal is. I stand by the difference in texture, but that's subjective. I brought it up because OP mentioned their current method gives them the right texture as opposed to just setting properly. But that could easily be me reading too much into things.
    – kitukwfyer
    Feb 5, 2022 at 19:58

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