Sunday, February 20, 2011

Flan baby!

I'm calling the Pope. I have an immaculate conception to report. It's a boy! It's a girl! No, it's a flan! I shall call him François. He is the reason for me living in my American Apparel shiny hot pants for the past two weeks. Yes, even wearing them to work, with Leo's oxford shirts. Suffice it to say, I do have my uniform picked out for the day I do have a real human François growing in me, but that is not the point. The point is that I cannot stop eating this flan.

Leo and I got hooked on flan in Paris. And before I go any further, french flan is completely different from the créme caramel flan you get at the Mexican (or Tex-mex) restaurants. French flan is denser, richer and comes in pie slices perfect for eating on-the-go. And they wrap it up in a paper triangle which is so adorable. It also comes with a variety of fruits. We tried apricot, cherry and traditional vanilla. My favorite was cherry, but the one pictured here is plain 'ol vanilla. If you do want to add fruit, I recommend the bags of frozen fruit from whole foods. I tried their 365 brand frozen cherries and they worked out well.

This is my third, yes third, attempt at making french flan. The previous two attempts just didn't come out like the ones we were used to eating. They simply didn't firm up right. This one is surely the closest, although I won't say it's perfect, yet. But I must stress to you that if you are looking for a french flan recipe, use this one. I have scoured the internet, french cookbooks (in English) and blogs. People just aren't making this. Not even Julia Child has a recipe in her books (at least not the ones I've looked at). And no, flan is not clafoutis. Don't convince me that it is. This recipe is adapted from Citron et Vanille. Enjoy!

So here you go, I pass along a gem!

Ingredients for the crust
250 g flour
110 g butter, cubed
1 egg yolk

For the filling
3 eggs
50 g sugar
50 g light brown sugar
50 g flour
1 1/2 c whole milk
1/2 c cream
vanilla extract
1 vanilla pod, cut lengthwise and beans scraped

The crust
Place flour in a container, add yolk and butter, gradually add water and with your hands mix carefully to somehow incorporate all the ingredients but do not over knead the dough. When you have incorporated all the ingredients, form a ball and wrap it in a plastic foil. PLace in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Roll dough and place in a deep dish and about 20 cm diameter. Place parchment paper on the surface of the dough and cook for about 15 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 370F. Remove paper and cook for an additional 5 minutes. remove from the oven.
The filling
Mix eggs and sugar until the mixture has doubled its volume. Add flour and vanilla extract. In the meantime, in a pot add milk and cream with vanilla pod. Bring the mixture to a boil and add to the eggs mixture.
Pour filling into the crust. Cook in a 370-375F oven for about 30-45 minutes depending on your oven. The top needs to be golden brown and the cream firm all the way through.


Leo said...

The shirt-lifting will be excused on account of the flan, but this time only!

Eric said...


Very nice recipe/article there :) I would just like to add some details (since I am very French)

- The recipes you gave is actually called "Tarte au Flan", the flan itself is the filling only. Very popular in French patisseries

- Flan baked is usually called "Flan au four", I recall my Mum doing it with a lot of sultanas and raisins and putting slabs in my lunchbox or pic-nic baskets. One of the great thing about it is the skin it develops on the top while baking mmmmmm yummy!
Also very nice with fresh fruits in the summer.

- Flan (also called "Entremet") is usually the common name for the powdered based easy-to-make recipes requiring only boiling milk and sold in just about every supermarkets big or small in France. It is a bit like a jelly and is pretty much agar-agar, sugar and natural flavourings.

Eric "TheMadFrenchman"

Nicole said...

Eric, would you mind sharing your e-mail with me? I have many questions!