This British-style flan features a sponge ase, a creamy filling, and a topping of seasonal fruit.
RECIPE, STORY AND PHOTOS BY PAOLA THOMAS
In Britain, the word “flan” does not conjure up a Hispanic-style, set, creamy custard, but instead is a sponge or pastry case containing a sweet or savory filling. In particular, a fruit flan means a sponge base with a creamy filling and topped with a layer of fruit
The fruit flans of my childhood — made with store-bought sponge cases, custard from powder, and canned fruits glazed with jello — were laced with chemicals and an inevitable tinge of disappointment, but if you whip up a sponge case from scratch and fill it to overflowing with seasonal fruits, then you have a versatile, ethereal delight.
Nowadays, I have fun customizing the different layers according to the fruits I’m using. This version features a whisked hazelnut sponge with a light, mascarpone cream and glazed raspberries. The hazelnuts provide a warm, earthy resonance, against which the bright notes of the raspberries really sing. Rosewater used sparingly in the cream weaves an intriguing, indefinable, scented thread through the berries. If rosewater reminds you too much of being suffocated against your grandma’s heaving bosom, replace it with vanilla extract or stir in a tablespoon of chocolate-hazelnut spread.
Raspberry and Hazelnut Flan
Makes: 1, 11-inch fruit flan
Serves: 10–12 | start to finish: 2 hours, including baking and cooling time (active time: 40 minutes)
For the raspberry glaze
- 3/4 cup quality raspberry preserves
- 2 tablespoons water
Make this glaze first so that it is fully cooled when you come to assemble the flan.
Stir the preserves and water together in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring continually. Pour glaze into a small bowl and then strain back into the pan. Cook gently over a low heat for about 6 minutes until reduced to about 1/2 cup of thickened, smooth, but still pourable glaze. Set aside to cool at room temperature. If the glaze thickens too much when cooled, stir in a teaspoon or two of warm water to loosen.
For the hazelnut sponge
- 1/2 tablespoon butter to grease the pan
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour to flour the pan
- 1 cup hazelnut flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs, separated
- 2/3 cup baker’s or granulated sugar, divided
Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt butter. Using a brush, paint butter into every nook and cranny of an 11-inch flan or tart pan with a slightly raised bottom. (When flipped, this gives an indentation to hold the cream and fruit.) Flour the pan thoroughly, shaking off any excess.
Sift the hazelnut flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together egg yolks and half the sugar on a high speed until thick, pale-yellow ribbons form when the beater is lifted, 7–8 minutes.
Transfer this mix to a large mixing bowl and thoroughly clean the stand mixer bowl and whisk attachment. Whisk the egg whites at a medium speed until you start seeing trails of the beater in the froth. . Sprinkle over the remaining sugar and continue whisking until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the egg yolks until combined.
Sprinkle the flour mix over the frothy eggs and gently fold it in, using a metal spoon or plastic spatula, until everything is evenly incorporated, being careful to retain as much air in the mix as possible.
Spoon the mousse-like batter into the prepared tart pan, spread it into every crevice, level out the top, and tap the pan lightly on the countertop to release air bubbles.
Bake 25–30 minutes until the top is pale brown and firm to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside for about 15 minutes. Turn the cake out onto a wire rack, making sure the indentation is uppermost, and leave to cool completely.
For the cream cheese filling
- 1 8-ounce pack mascarpone cheese (or use ordinary cream cheese)
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon rosewater (or vanilla extract or 1 tablespoon chocolate-hazelnut spread)
Using either a stand mixer or hand mixer, stir the cheese and sugar in a bowl to loosen. Add cream and rosewater and beat everything together 2–3 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Be careful not to overwhip.
To assemble the flan
- 3 half-pint baskets fresh raspberries
Spoon the cream cheese filling into the indentation at the top of the cooled sponge case. Gently stir the fresh raspberries into the fully cooled raspberry glaze with a plastic spatula until completely coated, and then spoon them over the filled sponge case.
The flan is ready to serve immediately, but benefits from an hour or two in the fridge to let the sponge soften and the layers meld together.