The end of 2018 and the start of 2019 saw a new trend rising in the pastry world – going back to the roots of pastry, using the best ingredients available and focusing more on quality and not quantity. I saw viennoiserie rise incredibly, but I also saw pastry chefs bringing baking more into their work, focusing more on natural, more on taste and textures. And that is incredible if you ask me. Taste is the most important part of a dessert! Especially in a dessert like a simple vanilla flan.
Drawn to this new trend, I baked this vanilla flan, being my first ever attempt. I quite loved it, the final dessert was satisfying, packed with vanilla flavor, but most of all, the taste felt very familiar, kinda like childhood somehow, although I can tell you here and now that my childhood desserts were not even close to this. But for this reason, vanilla flan surely appealed to my senses. The crunchy outside and smooth, creamy and flavorful inside are a match made in heaven. Not to mention the perfectly caramelized crust on top – it’s truly charming! I won’t stop at just one try for sure, but for now, this it is! 🙂
The quality of the vanilla used in this vanilla flan is crucial for the success of this dessert, vanilla being the only flavor used. Without it, the dessert would taste more like cooked eggs and less like something one would love to have another slice of. Two vanilla pods is just enough for a great flavor, but you can use even more if you want a vanilla boost!
Vanilla Flan – French Classics
- Pate sucree
150g all-purpose flour
15g almond flour
45g powdered sugar
85g butter, chilled and cut into cubes
2g vanilla extract
- Vanilla cream – fan filling
325g whole milk
100g heavy cream
2 vanilla pods
80g egg yolk
85g white sugar
- Pate sucree:
- Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.
- Add the butter and mix on low speed until the mixture loos sandy.
- Add the egg and vanilla and mix just until the dough starts to come together, about 1 minute more.
- Gently shape the dough into a disc, wrap in foil and put it in the fridge for at least 4 hours to properly set.
- Roll out the dough on your floured working surface until 2-3mm thickness.
- Carefully place the dough into your flan mould – I used a 18cm diameter ring with 4cm hight. Press carefully the dough on the sides of the rings to secure it then freeze the dough.
- Vanilla cream – flan filling
- Heat up the milk, cream and split vanilla pods.
- Cover with plastic wrap and leave aside to infuse for at least 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, slightly mix the egg yolk with the sugar. Add the cornstarch and the salt and mix well.
- Pour the warm milk over the egg yolk then place back on heat and cook until thickened.
- Transfer into a clean bowl (do not remove the vanilla pods yet, they still infuse flavor and you can easily take them out later) and cool down completely.
- Once chilled, remove the vanilla pods and mix the cream just until creamy once again. (it tends to set as it cools down).
Pipe the cream into the frozen shell then place in the preheated oven at 175C for 15 minutes, then another 30 minutes at 160C.
- The final flan should be golden brown on the sides and the top. You will notice it also tends to rise, but it will deflate once chilled.
Let it cool down in the ring then carefully remove the ring and transfer it on a platter.
- Add coffee beans to the milk infusion for a coffee alternative of this flan.