With Bastille Day coming up on the 14th of July, I decided to share this French treat. This Parisian custard flan is all sorts of glorious. Thick and wobbly with a rich custard filling it is a flan for sharing with people or for serving up for a dinner party or special occasion.
This French custard pie has a pâte brisée pastry on the base and outside and a thick, creamy vanilla custard centre. Beautiful served cold or warm it is simple but comforting with its vanilla milk flavour. It was good timing as I had two dozen eggs that needed using up before I went away so Parisian Flan it was.
I have to admit that given how much I love pastries, I had never heard of Parisian Flan before this year. And suddenly there it was everywhere I was looking. Where had it been all my life?
Speaking of thinking I knew something, when we were in Lisbon recently we sat down to a seafood dinner at a restaurant. There was a table of six set and another couple took the table by the window and we took a seat at the other end of the table and they cleared the centre places. We ordered a range of food and I could see the woman in the couple was curious about what we ordered and kept glancing over at us.
Finally she asked us about our menu choices. We got to talking, they were visiting from overseas and she was nice. He was a little odd and didn't like a lot of food but nice enough and we got to comparing where we were eating. They asked for some eating recommendations and our meal finished and we asked for the bill.
Sometimes when I travel I wear my glasses just to give my eyes a break from contact lenses but because I am short sighted, I usually take them off to eat and read and normally don't wear them if I am staying inside. And I had put my glasses on the table next to my phone and camera during dinner.
Somehow during the time that I had paid the bill and packed up and put my scarf and jacket on, the man had pocketed my glasses. Because I don't normally wear them they are not really second nature to me and I walked out waving goodbye to the couple and wishing them a great remainder of their trip.
"Oh my god, I think I left my glasses behind!" I said to Mr NQN and rushed back to the table expecting to see them sitting there. They weren't, which was odd because they were on top of my phone last time I saw them and I had my phone with me. They were there in front of him though. In fact he was covering them with his hand. I saw them peeking out and grabbed them from him. His wife looked surprised, he looked guilty and I asked him why he had taken my glasses. He shrugged and didn't answer and I think we met what may have been a thief or a kleptomaniac!
So tell me Dear Reader, have you ever had something stolen from you? Have you heard of Parisian flan?
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 30 minutes plus 1 hour cooling time
Cooking time: 45 minutes
- 125g/4ozs. butter, softened
- 125g/4ozs. caster or superfine sugar
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 280g/9/9ozs. plain all purpose flour (plus extra for rolling)
- 3 cups milk
- 1.5 cups cream
- 1 cup caster or superfine sugar
- 6 tablespoons cornflour or custard powder
- 5 egg yolks, room temperature
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
Step 1 - Make the filling first to allow it time to cool. Heat the milk and cream until simmering. While it is heating up, whisk the sugar, cornflour, egg yolks, eggs and vanilla in a large jug until pale. When the milk in ready, add in the egg mixture and continue to stir making sure that there are no lumps. It will take around 6-7 minutes until it is thick and coats the back of a spoon. Place a sheet of cling film on top and allow to cool.
Step 2 - Make the crust. Beat the butter and sugar together until pale. Add egg and beat until pale and well combined. On slow speed add the flour until just mixed together. Shape into a large flat round and cover with cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Then bring to room temperature for 5 minutes and then place a greased 20cm/8inch springform tin. Don't worry if it breaks, this pâte brisée is very forgiving and you can patch it up. Place in the fridge.
Step 3 - Preheat oven to 200C/400F and when it is ready fill the crust with the cooled custard. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is burnished, then reduce heat to 150C/300F and bake until the centre is wobbly but not runny, another 20-30 minutes. Cool completely.