Bon, ‘faut pas craquer, je m’applique. Having not yet achieved the results I was hoping for, which would be nothing short of "divine perfection", I am still regularly experimenting with le flan. Here’s the updated recipe. See also [[Flan pâtissier – 1er essai]] for the initial results and full length cooking drama.
The dough hasn’t changed much, but the quantities are now reflecting an overwhelming North American tendency to use the dreaded "cup" as a measuring unit, a nightmarish fact that has kept me on my toes doing intense maths. Here’s the formula for the dough:
- 1.4 cups flour (fun to play with)
- 125 g butter (my favourite)
- a pinch of salt (also called a sprinkle or a dusting of. By me.)
- a pinch of sugar (also called a tease or a sneeze of. By me too.)
- an egg yoke (not to be confused with my flight sim yoke)
- a bit of water (1024 bits of water being equal to a kibibit)
- 120 cl of hope (I’ve increased the dosage, success having been elusive)
"The making of" the dough is available at a reasonable cost, but you can also find it for free in the above mentionned post. I’m getting better at it. It no longer sticks desperately to the counter in a heroic effort to avoid the oven – and I have also perfected my technique when the times comes to lift it up, rolled flat, into the cooking pan. Now, this is very scientific, so pay attention… Since I don’t have a flat and thin mobile surface I could roll the dough on and then lift the whole apparatus and reverse into the pan, I use two clean sheets of paper taped to the counter. When the dough is flat and stretched, I undo the tape, put the pan on top and spin everything upside down. I cracked myself up so hard doing this that I almost dropped the whole thing!
Ok, dough in the buttered pan, pre-cooking is the same as before, I use my thickest spoons as weights to prevent the dough from rising like a balloon!
On to the flan itself. After experimenting with brown sugar, icing sugar and maple syrup, I am back to the basics: plain, normal white sugar. I’ve switched from corn starch to custard powder just because I was out of the former. It’s basically the same stuff, with a bit of salt, flavor and color added. So the flan formula looks like this:
- 1 liter whole milk (I never saw parts only of milk in a store, they must throw them away.)
- 0.8 cups sugar (notice, once again, the scientific precision; it’s not 3/4 cup, it’s 0.8. There.)
- 0.8 cups cornstarch (in this case Bird’s Custer Powder)
- 2 eggs + 2 yokes (the most fun part of the entire recipe being when I get to crack the shells…)
- 2 to 3 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pre-heat the oven to 1.21 jigowatts, or just 375°F. I used to get mixed results when mixing all this, at times ending up with a rather chunky cream but I’ve got it down to a drill. Bring the milk (minus one glass which is used to mix the cornstarch and eggs) and the sugar plus one tsp of vanilla to a boil. While this is happening, mix in a bowl the glass of milk, 2 more tsp of vanilla, the cornstarch and the eggs. I’d love to experiment with electricity but all I’ve got is a hand whip, so I go crazy for a few minutes until I feel like a few more visits to the gym are needed and the mix is unctuous.
When the milk is boily, I pour it into the bowl (and not the other way around) slowly, while whipping lightly to mix it well. Then the whole flan mix goes back into the pot and, over medium fire, is stirred into a thick cream. At times the bottom tends to send chunks up and I then use the whip to beat the crap out of those chunks, with the pan lifted momentarily off the stove. Eventually, the mix is so thick it uncovers the sides of the pot when stirred. That’s my signal. The original recipe said "let it boil for a few seconds", so I do, having no idea of what that does, but it’s fun because I can see the bubbles approaching the surface way before they burst. The things I’ll do to amuse myself.
The flan is poured into the pre-cooked crust and evened out, and stuck in the oven at 375°F. At precisely 35 minutes, I take it out and carefully brush a thin coat of apricot jam onto the surface, and put it back in. 5 minutes later, I switch the oven to broil for another 3 minutes. (This time, distracted by my post, I went to 6 minutes, and those 3 extra minutes made a huge difference; I wanted to avoid the brown patches that look like a skin desease.)
I let the flan cool off for a while, then put it in the fridge to get it to become a little firmer. Voila.