Sunday, August 28, 2011

Updated: Coincidence is Kind

Sweet Custard Tart aka Flan by Michel Roux
Can be found in his (extremely excellent) book Pastry: Savory and Sweet
This book is a must-have for aspiring - and skilled - pastry bakers.

You may recall my rhapsodic description of the flan I ate semi-regularly during my recent trip to Paris. I cannot adequately express the beauty of that pastry. The custard was perfectly formed, neither eggy nor loose. Vanilla bean infused a delicious confluence of cream and yolk. It perched atop a crust that bore no signs of supporting something, frankly, wet (as custard is). That crust was not flaky, but light and dry, very slightly sweet, infused with butter. The tart was so balanced, my ingestion of it was a veritable religious experience.

You probably know how I love food. A perfect meal is amongst my great meaningful life memories (those I'll take with me to my death bed) and - so happily - I had one such meal at Libretto last night. Everyone should eat that pizza (did I mention I don't even like pizza) - just get there by 6 pm or you'll wait in line all night. At any rate, I digress.

Imagine my joy, 5 minutes ago, on discovering (while reviewing the pate brisee recipe, in M. Roux's book, to see if the brisee I have stored in the freezer may still be edible a year later - I'm going to take my chances on a lardons quiche tonight) a photo of my beloved flan in the Enriched Sweet Pastries chapter!

He refers to it as "flan boulanger" (bakery custard), a childhood staple. Trust me, it's one of those tastes that makes the brain ring with association.

I'm away in Mtl. next weekend, or you can bet I'd have this baking on my agenda. It will just have to wait till the weekend after. Alas, if the baking goddess smiles on me, I may be able to recreate my own best memories to share, and to enjoy, with a perfect doppio espresso.

NB Update: Pate brisee will NOT last in the freezer for a year. As it thawed, the dough was a gluten-y mess. So, I got to make some new dough...


  1. I might have to check this book out, this recipe sounds very delicious, though I'll confess I've never had a flan before. Or a custard for that matter. I've had a frittata though. ;-) I'm absolutely jealous that it's apparently cool enough there to bake. We are in need of bread, but I don't dare fire up the oven.

  2. CGC: I highly doubt you haven't had custard in one of its numerous and amazing forms! Most ice cream is a custard base - how about creme brule? Even pudding is its own sort of custard. I mean, quiche filling is a custard. But I hear you about not having tried this flan-like version. It's really cooled here in the last week - I'd say it's 23 degrees today. Just cool enough to feel ok about running the oven for a couple of hours and frying stuff up...

  3. The flan sounds divine, one of my favorite desserts.

    I too was going to be jealous of your cooler weather but 23 C is not that cool! I'd try to leave the oven off myself, but our kitchen gets so awfully hot and has little airflow.

    Have a beautiful weekend in Montreal!

  4. Susan: Maybe it's cooler than that. We have a cool breeze coming in the windows. The house is not hot, despite the cookathon.

  5. I made a flan a week for my wife while she was pregnant with our son. It seemed to work.

  6. I had a green pea flan in a funny little, very crowded bistro in St. Germain that was, honestly, revelatory. And your description of the custard here, although applicable to sweet rather than savoury, also makes me think of the best quiche I ever had, in Metz, this past spring -- it's about the mouth feel as much as anything else, an astonishing balance between airiness and substance. . . .
    Meanwhile, here, I made a paté brisée yesterday (for a Tomato Tarte Tatin) and talked my man into making crè brulée -- So we were with you in spirit, the spirit of good food!
    And lucky you with a Montreal weekend just ahead.

  7. D.: I am so in the mood to make a flan today, it's taking all my willpower to resist...

    F: It's all about the airiness and substance contrast / balance!!