Flan Pâtissier...

Every time we’ve been to France recently there’s been some irrational obsession and anticipation about having a slice of ‘flan’. This is usually followed by the inevitable, equally irrational over-eating of said ‘flan’. In an attempt to meet this need the rest of the year, I have done some searching for the ‘flan’ recipe online, but with only that one word to go on, the results were variable. Then I spotted this box of flan mix in a French supermarket, which surely was going to be the answer to our need for flan the year round. It was worth a gamble for €1.15.

As it happens, when we got it home I realised that the box simply contains cornflour, vanilla flavouring and colouring. You have to add milk, sugar and, if you want to improve the flavour, an egg (On that note, make sure you add the sugar – long story); so really we already had everything we needed in the cupboard.

It was obvious really, but now I know it’s called Flan Pâtissier as I’ve seen it on the box, and a quick google reveals loads of authentic, egg-based recipes I can try, so look out for flan version 2 in the future.

• Line a fairly deep tart tin or cake tin with a rich shortcrust pastry, and bake blind so the pastry is cooked before adding the filling
• Beat the egg, sugar, 250ml of milk and the packet mix together in a bowl/jug
• Meanwhile bring the rest of the milk to the boil slowly, stirring all the time so it doesnt catch.
• When it has boiled, por it over the egg mixture and stir together thoroughly
• Return to the pan and simmer for 1-2 minutes until the custard begins to thicken up
• Pour into the crust and bake for around 40 minutes at 180°C until the crust is well browned.
• Cool for at least 2 hours in the fridge before slicing and serving.

• A rich pastry can be made quickly by combining 8oz of plain flour, with 3oz of butter to resemble breadcrumbs. Then bind the mixture with an egg and a little milk. It can be sweetened with 2 or 3 spoons of icing sugar.
• Curiously the box recipe does not call for pastry, but says you can butter the dish and dust with flour. This does work, and it holds together fine, but really you want pastry!
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Peanut Butter & White Choc Brownies...

This is one of a few things that I made for my birthday. These mini brownies (or blondies) were ideal to take into work to share around. For us it was a given that we'd like them, peanut butter being something of a favourite. To me, the end result is not so much like a brownie, but is a very tasty, dense mini cake with the perfect contrast of salty and sweet from the peanut butter and white chocolate respectively. Moreish.

• Cream the butter, peanut butter and sugar together. Beat in the egg and vanilla essence.
• Sift the flour and baking powders and add to the mixture with the chocolate chipe to form a dough.
• Spread into a square tin and bake at 170°C for 25 minutes until golden brown.
• Cool in the tin before slicing.

• Taken from
Rachel Allen's Bake
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Apple & Almond Cake...

I made this cake as we were desperate for some cake but had no butter in. So I started trawling recipes for something that could be baked without it and came across this recipe, then played about with it a bit. Mainly changing it from rhubarb to apple. The cake is light and tasty. The apples add a nice moist element and the crunchy topping finishes it off perfectly. I think there's plenty of scope here for development or customisation if you fancy. It's handy to have a tasty non-butter based cake recipe you can call on when needed.

• Beat the brown sugar, oil, egg and vanilla essence together.
• Gradually add the flour, bicarbonate of soda and milk to this mixture, until smooth.
• Stir in the apple, pour into a tin.
• Combine caster sugar with a tablespoon of melted butter (I used oil as obviously had no butter) and stir in the flaked almonds.
• Sprinkle this over the top of the cake then bake for 30 minutes in a preheated oven (180°C).
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