Thursday 5 November 2015

DIY flan

When we saw silicone flan case moulds in our favourite low-cost store, we bought one. Fruit flans, we thought. Macerated fruit from our home-made liqueurs, still tasty, we thought.

Now to bake a flan case. Surely the packaging will tell me how....

Now to make a flan case!

The front of the packaging describes the mould, in French, Dutch and German:
  • in supple heat-resistant silicone.
  • non-stick, without using fat.
  • Equally adapted to freezing. [what for?]
  • no taste or smell.
  • dishwasher and microwave safe.
  • withstands temperatures between -40°C and 250°C.
  • Dimensions: about 32.5 x 3.2 cm.
On the back, under the heading "Instructions for use and care":
  • note that the product gets hot during cooking. Therefore use oven gloves or barbecue gloves to protect yourself.
  • do not cut on the product. That could damage the product.
  • do not use the "crisp" function of your microwave. That could damage the product.
  • The product is appropriate for use with food and does not alter the smell or taste properties of the contents.
  • Before the first use, wash all parts of the product in hot water with a mild detergent and dry them thoroughly.
  • Warning: familiarise yourself with the correct functioning of your oven/microwave.
  • Warning: check in the user guide of your oven how to use the power available to the oven as appropriate for the dish.
  • The product is exclusively adapted for use with ovens and microwave ovens. Do not use the product on electric hotplates, grills or over open flames.
  • Allow the food to cool completely after cooking.
  • Wash the product in hot water after each use and dry the product thoroughly.
  • The product can be washed in a dishwasher.
  • The packaging is made from ecological materials which can be disposed of in your local recycling centre.
  • Consult your mairie for disposal of the product.
In other words, it tells you everything about how not to use it, and everything about it, but not how to cook something in it. A recipe or two would have been helpful.

First - a recipe for the case. 

I have several sponge cake recipes, any of which would serve, but do I need to scale it up - how much of everything do I want?

So I scanned the Internet and found a link via MyTaste to 's blog which describes itself as an Online worldwide cook shop selling Silicone Bakeware. They too had found themselves with a mould but no recipe. The post suggested your favourite Victoria Sponge Sandwich recipe as a basis, scaled according to the size of the mould. They favoured 75gm each of sugar, butter and flour to one egg, scaled up to 4 egg volume.  I used my old Stork recipe at 2 oz each to one egg.

The dimensions on the packaging proved not to be those of the resulting flan but of the mould itself. The exterior of the mould is 32.5 cm across the base from one edge to the other, including a couple of centimetres of revetment. The mould actually gives you a flan case 1.5cm deep and 28cm across the interior (where the filling goes), and 30cm across the underside. The height, of course, depends on how much mixture you use and how much it rises. After a lot of head scratching I decided to go for a 3-egg mixture. This is what I use to make a sponge sandwich using two 28cm sandwich pans. The result was just right for me.

The flan case unmoulded
I also followed the MyTaste suggestion of lining the circular base of the mould with a disc of baking parchment. I don't think this is strictly necessary, but it gave a nice finish.

170g / 6oz self raising flour, sieved (if using plain flour, add 1 teaspoon baking powder and ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda)
170g / 6oz butter or soft margarine (I used St. Hubert doux)
170g / 6oz caster sugar
3 medium to large eggs (about 60gm)

Heat the oven to 175°C.

Cream the butter/margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one by one, adding half a tablespoon of flour with the second and third egg.

Fold in the flour to give a smooth batter.

Spread the batter over the mould, so that there is a slight dip in the middle and the edges are slightly raised.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the sponge is nicely browned and the top of the sponge springs back when you press it gently with a finger.

As removed from the oven

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Release the cake from the mould and fill with the ingredients of your choice.

And now for a filling!
Here are a couple of examples for fillings. The first was adapted from an Australian baking blog, Raspberri Cupcakes Vanilla Bean Sponge Cake with Salted Caramel Apples.

Not being experienced caramel makers, I followed the original recipe to the letter and when it said "whisk" I used a whisk. Mistake - the whisk became coated with polymerised sugar as hard - literally - as rock. Next time, and there definitely will be a next time, I'll use a fork.

one sponge flan case
110g/4oz/½ cup sugar
40g (about 3 tbsp) butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces, plus an extra knob for cooking the apples
60ml/2 fl oz/¼ cup thick (heavy) cream, at room temperature
1 tsp flaky sea salted, adjusted to taste
3 baking apples (I used homegrown Reinette Blanche but Granny Smith would do nicely), peeled, cored and chopped into chunks

Spread the sugar in an even layer on the bottom of a small, heavy-based saucepan. Place the pan on medium heat, whisking as the sugar as it begins to melt. It will start to clump, but this is fine. Continue to whisk until the sugar is all melted and as soon as it starts to colour, stop whisking, take the pan off the heat and let it cook just on the heat in the bottom of the pan, swirling the pan occasionally. If you have a sugar thermometer, place it in the sugar at this point. Cook the caramel until it is a deep amber colour and reaches 180°C (350° F) - absolutely no higher or it will burn. If necessary, give the pan a little boost of heat (no more than 20 seconds at a time) to reach the caramel temperature.

Quickly and carefully add all the butter at once, whisking as it bubbles up, melts and combines. Keeping the pan off the heat, add the cream and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Add sea salt to taste (careful not to burn yourself!). Set the pan aside to cool and thicken.

Place the chopped apples in a medium to large frying pan with a bit of melted butter and cook, tossing regularly, until apples are golden and tender. Do not over-cook - stop if the juices start to run.

Stir the apples into the salted caramel sauce and allow to cool until it is thick enough not to soak straight into the cake but is still pourable. Pile the apples into the flan case and pour on the rest of the caramel sauce.

Salted Caramel Apple Flan, with its silicon mould
Serve with crême fraîche or greek yoghurt.

and eat!

Another filling recipe!
My second filling recipe is also Australian: Sponge flan with Cheesecake Cream and strawberries from BestRecipes. This can be adapted for all sorts of soft fruit - clementines would be good, with a light marmalade for the coating. I used macerated blackcurrants, the byproduct of our homemade Cassis liqueur, substituting blackcurrant jam for strawberry.

one sweet sponge flan case
5 tbsp orange juice to coat
125 g / 4 oz soft cream cheese
1 tbsp orange rind finely grated
2 tsp orange juice for the filling
2 tbsp icing sugar
250 mls / 10 fl oz. thick cream
250 g / 8 oz fresh strawberries thinly sliced
6 tbsp strawberry jam, warmed and sieved

Place the flan case on a serving plate and brush all over the interior with the orange juice to soak in.

Beat cream cheese, orange rind, extra juice and icing sugar in a small bowl with an electric mixer until smooth.

Beat the cream in a separate bowl until soft peaks form; fold into the cream cheese mixture.
Fill the flan case with the cream mixture.

Arrange sliced strawberries over the cream and brush strawberries with the jam.