Flan…or is it cake?

I got the pan for free at the Dump. You know how some municipal dumps have a “free shack” where reasonable items can be donated for others to take at will. This was my prize find along with a Trivia game of facts from the 1940s through the 1990s which proves to me how much I should remember but don’t!

We like flan. Flan is like custard, crème caramel. I find the pan where it had been hiding in my overfull kitchen cabinet. I have these ingredients. I’m making flan. This will be the dessert for the week, not counting the apple pie made 3 days ago which we have since eaten. 

In making the recipe I do wonder about flour and butter in a custard, but forge ahead. I did not separate the eggs very well so there are two whole eggs with one egg yolk. Otherwise all is as is printed on the pan.

This is a light sponge-y cake. I look up flan on the internet and find some pictures of this pan since the title of the pan is Nordic Flan Pan. But flan is custard. Or cake with custard.  This pan and cake are designed to be topped with fruit, custard, ice cream, etc. I sprinkle this one with powdered sugar for the first taste. The second slices are topped with jam and marmalade. It’s a nice light dessert, but it is not flan!

More custard, with fall flavors

This recipe is adapted from the Eating Well Magazine print edition Fall 2002.

Maple-Pumpkin Custards with Crystallized Ginger

  • 1 1/2 cups milk; I used half-and-half
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree; freeze the remaining puree for later use.
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • whipped cream and crystallized ginger to serve

For this custard a bain marie is used so put the kettle on to boil. I did not line the roasting pan with a towel, nor did I heat the milk to steaming.

Whisk eggs and syrup until smooth. Add the milk or half-and-half, pumpkin puree, spices and salt. Whisk until blended. Divide between 6 custard cups or ramekins and place in the roasting pan. Pour boiling water to half-way up the sides of the custard cups. Bake at 325 degrees F for 45-50 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 45 minutes. Then refrigerate for at least one hour.

This was absolutely delicious. The texture was a combination of pudding and custard in my opinion.

Baking weekend: lemon snack cake

I wanted to make a lemon cake. I wanted to make a lemon cake with fluffy coconut frosting. I wanted to bake something. The grandkids were coming so I wanted something fun so I baked an ordinary banana muffin recipe in the “bug pan”.

Then I got out the snack cake recipe. I’ve made different versions before, https://mykitchenmythoughts.com/2019/06/20/snack-cakes/.

I figured I could make it lemon although that is not one of the options given. Would white sugar be okay instead of brown sugar? I just gave it a go.

So for the lemon cake I substituted all white sugar for the brown sugar. I added 1 teaspoon of lemon flavoring and one teaspoon of lemon zest. I added a few tablespoons of lemon juice to the water, still equal to 1 cup.

  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon flavoring
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 cup water, add 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice to measuring cup then fill to 1 cup with water
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Spray an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray or brush with oil. I sprinkled unsweetened coconut flakes on top before putting it in the oven at 350 degrees F. Bake 35-40 minutes.

Looks a paler yellow in real life!

It worked; a moist lemony cake.

Custard

A while back I made custard. I read recipes in my newsfeed and I am not sure where this one originated. The writer talked about adding salt to prevent chewy custard and insure creamy. I’m not sure what chewy custard is like. But what struck me most was that the ratio of cream to eggs is what I have always used to make quiche that Hubby raves about. Taking that into account I was inspired to make custard.

  • 2 cups half-and-half or cow’s milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground nutmeg

Basically it is milk and eggs and sugar. For quiche omit sugar and add vegetables and meat, and cheese if desired. No need for a crust actually. Preheat the oven with a cookie sheet pan to 350 degrees F.

Beat eggs slightly with the salt then whisk in the milk, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Pour into four custard cups/Pyrex/ramekins. Sprinkle with generous amounts of freshly grated nutmeg. Bake in the oven on the cookie sheet pan for 30-35 minutes. It may be slightly wobbly but that’s okay. No need for a bain marie. I was thinking I don’t bake custard pies in a bain marie so let’s see about custard. We ate the custard before I remembered to take a photo.

Crème Caramel

The above picture is the second batch of custard made. This recipe is very easy to halve. For this I made the quick caramel by melting 1/4 cup sugar in a small sauce pan and pouring a bit into each of the four cups before adding the custard mixture. I reduced the vanilla and omitted the nutmeg. A full recipe of the custard would have more depth. But this was a lovely bite of dessert.

Happy Pi Day

What kind of pie to make for Pi day? This I asked Hubby. I had recently made an apple pie which we proceeded to eat 75% of in one sitting. Mincemeat is not seasonal. Pumpkin is a standard. Finally we settled on a Chocolate Cream Pie. No meringue. I went through at least half a dozen cookbooks to find a Cream Pie and not a Meringue Pie. So it was back to basic Betty, Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, page 302 in my edition.

Most of the recipes for pudding pies that I found use egg yolks. This allows the whites to be used for the meringue. I had to make a decision as to how to use whole eggs or have 4 egg whites sitting about the fridge for who knows how long? The next decision was to use cocoa or chocolate. I have these 85% chocolate discs and wondered if these would serve. I also had an 82% Belgian Dark Chocolate bar available. The third decision was about pie crust. Should I make homemade or use the “emergency pie crusts” in the refrigerated box. I had already made the decision to use canned whipped cream. It is easy enough to make it from scratch but then I would have a half-used carton of whipping cream sitting around in my fridge for, you guessed it, who knows how long? But as I write this I am envisioning cream puffs with crème patisserie. Darn! I did not think of that when I was at the store.

The pie crust is pre-baked for this pie. I used one of the emergency crusts. I have a pound of dried navy beans that I use for pie weights. Just let them cool and keep them for next time. Betty says to pre-bake the shell, well-pricked, in the oven at 475 degrees F for 8-10 minutes. I had never used that high of a temperature but gave it a go. Other than it taking longer than 10 minutes it worked well. It took my crust longer because I had also weighted down a tin pie pan with the beans for additional weight. This did not let the crust brown for the first 8 minutes.

So the first step in the recipe is to bake your pie crust for a 9-inch pie.

  • 1 cup sugar; Betty wanted me to increase this from 2/3 cup to 1 1/2 cups if making the chocolate version of the cream pie. I only increased it a bit. This probably matters depending on what type of chocolate is used. The chocolate I used had some sugar in it.
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups milk; I bought 2% milk and now have half a half-gallon sitting in my fridge for who knows how long? We usually drink/use/cook with nondairy “fake milk”.
  • 3 whole eggs; I decided this would work just as well as 4 egg yolks
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 ounces chocolate; I used the chocolate discs.
  • Sweetened whipped cream

First, melt the chocolate with the vanilla. Slightly beat the eggs in separate bowl, medium sized, so that half the hot milk mix can be poured in this. Mix the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a good sized sauce pan. Pour in the milk slowly and bring this to a boil, stirring constantly. This will take at least ten minutes of standing by the stove. Betty intended for the chocolate mixture to be added with the milk but I forgot to read that part of the instructions. Let this boil for 1 minute, still stirring. Now pour half the hot milk mixture into the eggs, stirring those so as not to have scrambled-egg pudding. it was at this point I read about when to put in the chocolate so I put it in the sauce pan. I thought I might have chocolate-spotted pudding but it did blend all-together when put all back into the sauce pan. Now boil for one more minute. Remove from heat.

Pour into the waiting pie crust. Cover top of pudding with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours. Betty says not more than 48 hours, not sure why. Top with whipped cream for serving. Be sure to remove the plastic wrap!

This was very delicious and rich tasting. I added more whipped cream on each slice.

Baking with Pears

I had some beautiful red pears in my produce delivery. I put them in a paper bag for a few days and they were ready to eat. This had given me time to research what to do with them. These pears would be good for eating but I wanted to bake. The goal was to make the Pear Tatin recipe from my Essential Pepin cookbook.  I do find that I make alterations to the recipes that I have used. This one however I did not. Oops, yes I did. I did not have apple cider, but no worries, the Tarte Tatin recipe used water and lemon juice for the same purpose.

This was baked/cooked in a ten inch cast iron skillet as instructed. The first batch of caramel was burned so I started over. I sliced the pears instead of using pear halves. And I doubled the dough as there was no way I was going to get a ten inch circle from the original amounts using only ½ cup flour. Here is the result:

In future I would revert to brown sugar and butter and not make a caramel. I would slice the pears the same. I would then use a short crust tart pastry on top and bake in the oven until done. Or make it an upside down cake and use cake batter. Or use Pepin’s Meme’s Apple Tart dough and top with pears.

I had two pears remaining. I found a copy from a diet book for a Peach Flat Cake. I can use pears! Here are my ingredients, slightly modified from the recipe page.

  • Two pears, sliced; I did not bother to peel them.
  • ½ stick butter
  • ¼ cup dry milk powder
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons,  approximately, almonds, roughly chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • ¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder

This called for a round cake pan but did not indicate size. I selected an 8 inch pan and am very glad I did. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or spray the pan with cooking spray.

In mixer bowl, beat the butter the dry milk, sugar and almonds until creamy. Add the eggs and beat for a few minutes to aerate the batter. Add the flour and baking soda until well blended. Pour the batter into the pan and place the pear slices on top in a circle. Or as my grandson said, “looks like fireworks!” Bake for 20 minutes until golden. I added a few more minutes.

The description of this recipe says the dough “rises slightly as it bakes to embrace the fruit”. Well it did, very slightly. Hubby and I enjoyed this. It did not have the texture of cake. It was more like clafoutis or dense custard. It was much less sweet than the Tatin above and prettier too.

Custard Tarts!

I had a baking weekend! Two types of bread and custard tarts. I have been fascinated by custard tarts ever since being a devotee of As Time Goes By on PBS. Lionel’s favorite was custard tarts. These pastry treats are not easily found in my grocery bakery. Nor are they a staple in many of my cookbooks. What type of custard is to be used? My two French cookbooks had several types: patisserie, baked, Chantilly, anglaise. I had recently made a pumpkin pie which is essentially a custard pie. Should I pre-bake the tart shells or could I bake the custard and the pastry at the same time? So I got out several cookbooks. I looked at the custard/pastry cream recipes. I had to choose what to do. So here’s what I did.

The Art of French Cooking suggested pastry cream for tarts. These recipes are a bit fussy. French Feasts instructions are not always clearly written. So that left (not really, I have over 50 cookbooks) Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. And his pastry cream recipe was simple and not fussy at all. The only change I made was to add the zest of one orange.

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs or 4 egg yolks (I used two eggs)
  • 2 cups cream, half-and=half, or whole milk (I used light cream)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • zest from one orange (my addition)
  • orange marmalade for glaze (my addition)
  • 4 tart shells; I used a refrigerated pie shell and cut it into four to line four individual tart pans. Pre-bake these.

Do you notice a theme of “2s”?

My successful blind baked tart shells. I used parchment filled with beans to hold the shells in place and to prevent shrinkage.

In a saucepan combine the dry ingredients. In another bowl mix the eggs with the cream. Whisk the egg mixture into the dry ingredients over medium heat for about ten minutes whisking constantly to prevent lumps. This will thicken. The test for readiness is when the mixture coats a spoon and when you draw a line through the coating the line will hold its shape. Remove from heat and stir in butter and extract and zest. The butter will melt. Let this cool to room temperature before filling the shells.

I filled the four tart shells and had a cup of pastry cream leftover. I think this amount of cream would fill a 9 inch pie, or 2 more individual tarts. I then melted a small amount of orange marmalade to spoon onto each tart for added orange flavor and to make them pretty. I then grated a very small amount of dark chocolate on top. Chocolate curls would have also been nice. I put these in the fridge to set for about an hour. I then popped them, carefully, out of the tart pan and placed them on a platter to serve.

They kind of look like poached eggs!
The first day we each had half. The next day we each ate a whole one.

And here are pictures of the breads. These were not so successful. Eaten when first baked but then left alone. They seemed underbaked and either overproofed or underproofed. I think I will buy fresh yeast before trying bread again.

Lemon Meringue Pie

I have posted on making a lemon meringue pie before Birthday pie: lemon meringue. This is a different recipe. I baked this pie for the same purpose as this year our favorite Airman is home with us for her birthday. And again she requested a lemon meringue pie. This year’s pie is from PCV Emily, now RPCV. I make her pie crust as my go-to crust and you will find that one here. The apple cider vinegar and egg pie crust is fabulous. Each batch makes three nine inch crusts. I made two batches. I use my food processor for easy mixing.

When Emily sent my son the recipe for the pie crust she also sent recipes for some pie fillings, one of which was Lemon Meringue. I went with that this year. It calls for 6 eggs. The ingredients were not as clear as I had hoped. But I figured them out and the pie was a big hit. And turned out better this year than two years ago.

For the Lemon Curd:

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice and zest of those lemons (how many lemons is this? I used 4 and had to add a bit of bottled lemon juice to make 1/2 cup. The lemons were small and I got tired of juicing them!)
  • 3 whole eggs (save the whites for the meringue): this is understandable
  • 3 egg yolks (this makes it confusing: is this from the above eggs? or is it a total of 6 egg yolks?)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 Tab butter cut into pieces (this is one stick=1/2 cup)

I decided to use 4 egg yolks and 2 whole eggs, saving the 4 egg whites for the meringue. Mix all the ingredients into a heavy saucepan. Stir constantly over low heat so nothing sticks to the bottom and the eggs don’t scramble. Do this until one boil bubble comes to the top. This will take awhile. You could strain this through a sieve to remove seeds and zest but I like zest and there were no seeds in my lemon juice.

Now make the meringue. This turned out really well. I was very pleased.

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/4 + 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 cup superfine sugar (whirl the sugar in a food processor to make it superfine)

In a bone dry and very clean bowl beat egg whites and tartar with a mixer until very foamy. Slowly add in sugar as you continue mixing. Mix until stiff peaks have formed.

Now here’s where I wasn’t prepared. The pie crust needed to be pre-baked. This would have easily been done while I was preparing the filling, but I didn’t think to do this. So I now have stiffly whipped meringue in my mixer bowl and fully cooked and hot lemon curd in my saucepan. And I had used a pyrex 8-inch pie dish and still have no pie beans for pre-baking! And I had deliberately placed the pie crust in the dish in the freezer to prevent shrinkage, but had it out at room temperature while I was preparing the curd and meringue, and now I have to pre-bake. I end up with a little shrinkage and a bit of soggy bottom at the end. Life goes on.

Spread the curd into the pre-baked (mine was half-baked) pie crust. Pile the meringue on top. I had lots of meringue. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes until meringue is lightly browned.

Happy Birthday Val!

IMG_2090
This was cut while slightly warm. The curd firmed up the when completely cooled.

 

 

Apple Crisp

Fall is in the air! I know this because I have gotten out a bunch of cookbooks and have gone to the library and checked out a few as well. I think about baking; I bake; I think about baking some more.

Apples: we bought some nice locally sourced Gala apples as these are one of our favorites for eating. It is a portable fruit. Hubby goes off to work with an apple, a piece of cheese, and granola bars, none of which is homemade. We then bought five pounds of more apples, also locally sourced, with the express purpose of making apple pies, muffins, tarts, etc.

So this week’s apple recipe is an Apple Crisp. This is from King Arthur Flour’s 200th Anniversary Cookbook. They had posted one on line but I think that may be different. Not sure. Anyway this is a good one. I did add my own flair to it, though.

  • 4 cups chopped apples, peeled (KAF said this was about 8 apples, so I peeled, cored, and chopped exactly 8 apples.)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon gingerbread spice mix (my addition: original recipe called for 3/4 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp allspice)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (I melted mine)
  • 2 Tab. chopped candied ginger (my addition)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (my addition)

Put chopped apples in lightly greased (or sprayed) 8-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle on the cranberries and the candied ginger. Blend the dry ingredient and add the butter. Melted butter (somewhat cooled) mixes in nicely. Stir until all ingredients are not dry. Put this on top of the apples. I patted it down like a crust. Bake 35 minutes at 375 degrees F.

IMG_2054

This came out well. Hubby said it had a “grown up taste”, not sure what that means. The topping was crispy and contrasted with the apples very well. In future I would reduce the brown sugar to 3/4 cup sugar as I think the topping doesn’t need that much sweetness. We did not have ice cream in the house and that would add a nice finish to this Crisp.

Apple “cup-pies”

 

I have made mini apple pies in a cup cake pan. The recipe is http://www.livewellbakeoften.com/mini-apple-pies/. I found this by googling apple pies looking for tarts.  The only adaptation I made is to brush the tops with water and sprinkle on some cinnamon sugar. I also used 3 cups of chopped apples instead of 2 1/2. I used Macoun apples. If I make these again, and it is likely I will, I would reduce the sugar by half and increase the amount of apples to 4 cups.

  • 2 9-inch pie crusts (I used store bought because I haven’t gotten around to making my own.)
  • 2 1/2 cups apples, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sugar (in the future I would use 1/8 cup)
  • 2 Tab flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Cut the pie crust into 12 circles about 3 1/2 inches. I used my Pyrex custard cups as the cutter. Press these circles of dough into your regular sized muffin pan. Use the leftover dough to make strips for the lattice tops. I found that four strips are needed for each mini pie.

Mix apples and other ingredients all together and spoon even amounts into the dough cups. Fashion the lattice to each. I then brushed the tops with water and sprinkled with a tiny bit of cinnamon sugar. Bake in 425 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes or so and then carefully remove to a cooling rack.

 

IMG_2052
“good bake”