June 23, 2013

Apricot Flan Tart

Our task this week was a flan parisien. The name of this tart threw our bakers for a loop, since it's not at all like the dessert flan, with its caramel top, that most people think of. This is more of a baked custard in a tart, layered on top of apricots in this case. There are really only three elements to this recipe: pate brisée, custard, and fruit. Simple enough, right? See how our bakers fared!

standard bake, standard measure
ingredients: Bleinham apricots, Bird's custard powder

This week's tart gave me the opportunity to explore the farmer's market for apricots. The recipe calls for small ripe apricots, but didn't specify the variety. I chose to use Bleinham apricots, which are among the most flavorful and intensely flavored of all apricots. I chose them simply because they were the tiniest I could find. The farmer's market was bursting with stone fruit, there were so many to choose from! Our timing couldn't have been better for this recipe.

I used a 9 inch springform pan for this tart. The sides were a bit higher than the recommended cake ring, but I figured it would work. After rolling out the pate brisée and forming it into the pan, I let it chill slightly so it wouldn't shrink too much during blind baking. But it did anyways, at least an inch in some places.

The apricots were easy to prep, the stones came right out and I nestled them all together in the bottom of the tart shell. The custard was easy to make, although it did dirty a lot of pans. I may have cooked the custard mixture too long, because I wasn't sure if it was boiling or not. I poured all the custard mixture into the tart pan, even though it went over the top of the crust, the pan was still tall enough to hold it in.

After baking for 1.5 hours, and resting overnight in the fridge, I unmolded the tart. The edges were caramelized, because the flan mixture was directly touching the metal pan. It made it a bit difficult to cut the tart, but the flavor was still good. The crust was baked well, the flan was smooth, and the apricots were sweet. I liked being able to see the flecks of vanilla bean throughout. 

Although this recipe took a long time to actually bake, the prep time was minimal. When you can get fresh, in season apricots, it's worth showcasing them in this beautiful tart.

Standard bake
Metric Measurements
8-by-2 inch cake ring instead of a 9-by2 inch cake ring
Bird's custard powder

I made the Pâte Brisée and refrigerated it over night. After rolling out the dough I brushed the cake ring with canola oil and draped the dough over the cake ring. I lined the inside with parchment paper and filled it with lots of rice and baked the dough until the edges were golden brown. When I removed the parchment paper and rice from the crust, I noticed there were holes on the side of the crust. This occurred when I pressed the parchment paper and rice against the dough before popping it in the oven. I filled the holes with pieces of crust from the outer overlay. I didn't know if this would work as I wanted the flan completed encased with the crust. I set the crust aside.

The Flan was easy and quick to make. After mixing the eggs, yolks and sugar, I added the vanilla beans to the mixture along with the milk and finally adding the Custard powder and cornstarch. After boiling for 1 minute, it was ready to be strained and poured into the cake ring. I was so confused with this flan because it reminded me of pastry cream instead of what I know as flan. The tart baked for 1 hour and forty minutes. After cooling down, it was refrigerated overnight. Removing the outer crust from the ring was easy. I used a knife to separate the tart from the cake ring and all went well. The whole time I was curious as to how it would turn out and it ended up better than I thought. The flan did have a very thick skin on top.  I inspected the crust for the holes I had patched up and couldn't find any sign of them. When I cut the first slice, I was pleased to see it resembled the photo in the book. In tasting the tart,  the flan was not to sweet like traditional Mexican flans and the tartness of the apricot gave the flan a good balance. I would like make this again but I will try it without the Pâte Brisée and invert the flan once it has cooled down.

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