Flan pâtissier or Parisian flan is a custard baked in a flaky pastry shell popular in Paris.
They are usually served in a big thick slice, wrapped up in a piece of paper to go. The burnt top makes it look unassuming, but it’s where much of the flavor is.
This is an advanced recipe where you will be preparing a pastry and a custard. The perfect flan pâtissier will be a test of making a flaky pastry and cooking a creamy custard, while baking it just the right amount of time. The result is well worth the time.
Here to show you how is Betty Hung, co-owner of Beaucoup Bakery.
- 3 cups (720 g) whole milk
- 1 cup (250 g) whipping cream
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
- 4 large eggs, plus 1 yolk
- 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
- 8 tbsp (70 g) cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp (45 g) apricot jelly or strained apricot jam, optional
- 1 cup (245 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp (15 g) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 large egg, cold
- 3 tbsp (45 g) whole milk, cold
- 1 cup (227 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and milk.
- Place the cold butter into the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender or your hands, quickly cut the butter into small chunks.
- Pour in the wet ingredients. Blend the ingredients with a scraper or your hands to form coarse chunks.
- Transfer it to a clean work surface and knead the dough with your hands by pushing the dough and folding it. Repeat this process about 10 times, until you have a cohesive dough.
- Avoid over-kneading, otherwise it will shrink when baked and yield a tough pastry.
- Streaks of butter in the dough is what you are looking for; this is what makes the pastry flaky and tender.
- If you can’t see the butter streaks, you may have over-mixed it.
- Form the dough into a round disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes, or preferably overnight, before using it.
- Prepare the Pâte Brisée.
- To make the custard, place the milk, whipping cream and vanilla pod and seeds into a medium pot over medium heat for about 2 to 3 minutes, until it starts to simmer. Turn off the heat, cover the pot and let it steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Do not boil the milk. Boiling the milk and cream may cause it to curdle; therefore, heat it just until it simmers.
- Meanwhile, place the eggs and yolk into a medium bowl, and whisk in the sugar, cornstarch and salt until it is pale. Ladle about half of the hot milk into the eggs while whisking.
- Return the egg and milk mixture back to the pot with the rest of the milk.
- Take out the vanilla bean and cook the custard on medium heat, whisking continually for about 6 minutes, until bubbles break the surface.
- Strain the custard into a clean container to remove any impurities from the eggs. It will be thick, so use a rubber spatula to press it through the strainer.
- Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the custard’s surface and let it cool completely. The custard needs to be completely cooled before using it. You can also make it up to three days in advance and store it in the refrigerator prior to assembling the tart.
- To make the crust, line the bottom of an 8-inch (20-cm) round springform pan or a cake pan with a removable bottom with a piece of parchment paper.
- Roll out the Pâte Brisée dough to a 14-inch (36-cm) circle, then roll the dough around your rolling pin and gently unroll it into your cake pan.
- Carefully line the bottom and sides with the dough. Let it chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes. You can store this overnight and finish the rest the next day. It is best to rest the pastry dough after rolling and shaping it to minimize shrinkage.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Take out the lined cake pan, and pour all the custard into the pastry. Smooth out the top with an offset spatula.
- With a pastry wheel or a paring knife, trim the crust ½ inch (1.5 cm) above the custard.
- Place the flan on a baking sheet, and bake for 40 to 45 minutes—the center should be puffed up slightly and wobbly.
- Turn on the broiler and broil for five to eight minutes to caramelize the top. Keep an eye on it, as it can burn very easily.
- Take the flan out, and cool it completely for about two hours.
- Unmold it, and place it on a plate, wrap it tightly and let it set in the fridge overnight before serving. It is best served chilled or at room temperature. The custard in the flan is soft and creamy, so be sure to thoroughly chill it before cutting into it.
- To glaze the flan, heat the apricot jelly or strained jam and gently brush it on the surface of the flan before serving. This will add a nice shine.