Here is my recipe for a Parisian flan that is both creamy and with a crunchy bottom. It is not a difficult dessert to make and you could even skip the pie dough part and buy one yourself.
What is a Parisian flan?
The Parisian flan is a staple of French bakery. You will find it at every single bakery in Paris mainly but also across France. It is usually one of the cheapest desserts as it is quite simple in its composition. I used to get one slice after lunch almost every day when I was in high school. Be aware though that it quite differs from its cousin, the Spanish flan, as it is not jiggly and does not contain caramel.
It is not a very fancy dessert with multiple layers (which is why I could afford it) but that does not make it any less good. It only has two elements: a buttery pie crust and a pastry cream. The pastry cream is cooked on the stove and then baked in the oven with the pie crust. And because it does not have many components to it, every ingredient matters in it. If you do it, I really recommend you to use the best butter and eggs when making this recipe.
Butter: Regular butter will work well with this recipe but I prefer to use European-style butter with at least 82% of fat, especially for the pie crust. A pie dough made with European-style butter will be much easier to roll and line onto a tart ring. If the butter comes from a grass-fed cow, even better!
Sugar: Regular granulated sugar will work really well. You can use muscovado sugar for the pastry cream, it will give a nice, licorice style taste to your flan.
Eggs: Use farm eggs if you can. The pastry cream recipe calls for a lot of them, you will feel the difference with good quality ones.
Vanilla: Real Vanilla extract does wonder, if you happen to have a vanilla pod though, it will take this dessert to a whole other level.
Creme fraiche: This is what will add creaminess to your flan. You can substitute for whipping cream as well if you cannot find creme fraiche. The taste will be very similar but the flan will be less dense.
You can also substitute creme fraiche with cream cheese, I tried it, obviously, it will be a bit more cheesy but I think it works beautifully. If using cream cheese though, make sure it is at room temperature when adding to the pastry cream.
Tips to succeed
-Have your butter and eggs out of the fridge 30 minutes before you start making your dough to make sure they are at room temperature. That will facilitate the mixing of your dough.
-Use the flat beater of your kitchen aid to mix the dough. If you don’t have a flat beater, watch this video on my Instagram reels where I show how to make it by hand: here.
-Let the dough rest in the fridge for at least 1h after making it and let it come back to room temperature for 10 minutes before rolling it. Otherwise, it will be too difficult to roll and/or might stick to the counter.
-For lining the tart, make sure to butter your tart or cake ring. Watch this reel to see how to do it.
Have your eggs out of the fridge 30 minutes before you start.
-Infuse the vanilla pod in milk for at least 15 minutes ( no need to infuse for vanilla extract).
– Once you add the egg mixture in the pot, cook for at least 3 minutes while constantly stirring. If you see lumps appearing, make sure to remove the pan from the stove, keep stirring, then bring it back on stove at a lower temperature.
-Refer to this video on my reels if you want to see how it is done: here.
Don’t fill the flan all the way to the top as the pastry cream tend to inflate when it is baked resulting in overfilling of your pie dough
Once your flan is baked, make sure to let the flan cool down at room temperature for 30 minutes and most important in the fridge for at least 6 hours. I know it is hard but it is really important to let your flan cool down before eating it otherwise, the texture will be ruined.
I have a full video showing the critical steps of this recipe on Instagram in this reel.
- 5 cm high, 20 cm large cake ring
- Rolling Pin
Sugar pie dough (you can freeze the rest)
- 230 g butter
- 140 g icing sugar
- 40 g almond flour
- 2 egg
- 1 pinch of salt
- 400 g all-purpose flour
- 650 g whole milk
- 1 vanilla pod (or 1 tbsp vanilla extract)
- 150 g sugar
- 55 g cornstarch
- 160 g egg yolks (8 yolks)
- 100 g butter
- 150 g creme fraiche or whipping cream or cream cheese
Sugar pie dough
- Use the flat beater with your stand mixer bowl to whisk together almond, butter, icing sugar and salt at low speed. Once homogeneous, add the eggs one by one. Don't worry if there are still lumps. They will disappear once we add flour. Add the flour little by little. The dough should NOT be smooth, it should still be clumpy. Remove from the bowl and finish smoothing it out by hand. The reason why we are doing this? We want to make sure that we don't overknead our dough.Lots of bakers have trouble with their pie dough retracting when they bake it. It's actually because gluten activates and becomes elastic. If you knead the dough for too long (even with the flat beater!), it can retract during baking. Cover your dough and let it rest for 2 hours in the fridge. Before rolling the tart in the ring, let the dough at room temperature for 10 minutes. You can now line the dough on your tart or cake ring. First grease your ring with butter. Cut out 1/3 of the dough and keep in the fridge. Spread the bigger part until you reach desired thickness (for me it's 3 mm) between two sheets of parchment paper. Remove the upper layer of parchment paper. Put the dough+ parchment paper on a baking tray. Put the tart ring on top of the dough and push. This will cut the dough with your tart ring. Remove the dough excess but keep your tart ring on the dough. Spread the other part of the shortcrust dough until you get a 2‑3 mm thickness. Cut into bands that are as large as the height of your ring (mould). Line onto your ring and the bottom part of the shortcrust. Make sure it is well lined, cutting the sticking parts. And very important: poke the dough with the fork everywhere. If you are unsure of the technique, Watch my video showing how to line a tart.Leave the dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes
- Put the vanilla pod in milk and let warm it up in a pot until it starts boiling. Let the vanilla pod in the milk for 15 minutes.In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolk with the sugar then add the cornstarch and whisk. Put 1/3 of the milk in the egg mixture. Mix well and put this back to the pot.Heat everything together while continuously stirring. Stir for 3 min after it thickens. Remove from the stove before adding butter and creme fraiche. Mix well, with a hand mixer if you have one.
- Preheat your oven at 170C(340F). Pour pastry cream onto cold pie dough. Fill up to 3/4 of the height of the pie dough. Bake for 45 min. Let the flan cool down at room temperature for 1h then in the fridge for at least 5 hours.