Kulinarya’s theme for the of February 2010 is LECHE FLAN.
Almost in any Filipino occasion/party, Leche Flan is always served as a dessert. It resembles closely to Crème Caramel but more richer in taste. Main ingredients are sugar, eggs yolks, evaporated milk and condensed milk. I remember my mother use to cook this with duck eggs as it produce a more silkier texture and deeper rich taste compare to chicken eggs. Traditionally Leche flan are cook in “llaneras” (oblong shaped aluminium tins), caramel syrup first then the custard layer on top and then covered with a sheet of aluminium foil and secured with rubber band and then steamed. Nowadays, you can use any baking pans or ramekins and cook them in water baths in the oven, like cooking crème caramel.
My grandma use to say that Leche Flan was concocted when the Spaniards were building churches in the Philippines as they add egg whites to the building material for the walls and there were lots of left over egg yolks. So, instead of egg yolks going to waste, the locals made Leche Flan. I don’t know if this story is true or partly true or old wives tale…but it’s a nice story.
I’m featuring Leche Flan Chiffon Cake for Kulinarya, as I’ve been itching to try to cook this since I’ve tasted some last year. It is basically, a chiffon cake topped with Leche Flan. What got me interested in this cake was the concept of layering each of the 3 parts (caramel or toffee/custard/cake batter) without the top 2 layers collapsing. I think the way Leche Flan Chiffon Cake looks is artful with its layering and a bit of a challenge for a novice baker like me. I also want to test if you can really cook Leche Flan in the oven, sitting on a water bath. I have seen so many dark syruped Leche Flan (caramel/toffee burnt?) in parties nowadays that I wonder if the oven is the culprit or just human error. You see am a Leche Flan traditionalist as I cook Leche Flans on a stovetop steamer and never inside an oven.
LECHE FLAN CAKE adapted from Panglasang Pinoy
Toffee - 1/2 cup white sugar
Custard - 3 eggs, 200g condensed milk, 1/2 cup fresh milk, 1/8 cup white sugar
Meringue – 3 egg whites, 1/4 tspn cream of tartar, 1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tspn baking powder
1/8 cup fresh milk + 1/8 cup water
a pinch of grated lemon zest
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup “Cake, biscuit & pastry plain flour” or cake flour
*used U.S Measuring Cups & Spoons
Preheat oven at 180C.
Round Aluminium Pan (22cm across/6cm depth)
~ In medium-low heat, slowly melt the Toffee-sugar in the baking pan, gently shaking it once in a while to distribute the heat. When the sugar is halfway melted, stir with a spoon till all the sugar granules are melted. Set aside and let it cool.
~ Combine the custard ingredients and whisk till well combined. Strain through a sieve when you layer it on top of the cooled toffee.
~ In a clean dry bowl, beat egg whites for about 30 seconds in medium speed and then add cream of tartar, beat further till you have soft peaks. Gradually add sugar while beating the meringue until it becomes smooth and glossy with firm peaks.
~ Sift flour and baking powder, set aside. Beat eggs yolks and then slowly add sugar. Beat until it turns pale yellow and there’s no more sugar granules. Scrape the sides of the bowl while you are beating the mixture to get the strayed sugar granules on the sides.
~ Alternatively add the dry ingredients and the milk/water solution, while beating the cake batter. Add the pinch of lemon zest and beat the cake batter until it is smooth.
~ Fold lightly the cake batter into the meringue until the mixture is well combined. Pour the cake mixture on top of your prepared baking pan containing your cooled toffee & custard layers.
~ Prepare your water bath. The tray have to be bigger than your baking pan. Use something to raise the bottom of your baking pan, so that it is not in contact with the tray. Place your baking pan on top of the rack and pour hot water till it is touching the bottom of the baking pan.
~ Carefully place the tray inside the oven, if you can carry the weight. Another alternative is put the water bath first inside the oven, followed with the baking pan.
~ Bake for 45-60 minutes or prick with a bamboo skewer in the middle of the cake, if it comes out clean, it means it is cooked. Once done, remove the baking pan from the oven and let it cool down.
~ Using a small knife, carefully run it along the the edge of the cake to loosen it from the baking pan. Place a large plate on top of the baking pan and flip it over, making sure that you’re holding them tightly together. Slowly lift up the baking pan…and if the Leche Flan Chiffon Cake God is smiling at you, the cake will come out easily. Refrigerate before serving.
BUSOG! SARAP! TIPS:
- I’ve used ANCHOR Lighthouse Cake, Biscuit & Pastry Plain Flour (box type) that I bought in Woolworths as I can’t find any cake flour. It said in the box, it is soft flour…so I don’t know if it is the same as cake flour.
- Cooking Leche Flan in the oven is as good as cooking it by steaming in the stove top. My suggestion for avoiding burnt Leche Flan topping is don’t let your caramel/toffee gets too dark when you melt your sugar. Use a rack on you water bath, so that the Leche Flan aluminium moulds are not directly in contact with the bottom of the water tray. Direct contact of the Leche Flan aluminium moulds with the bottom of the tray, heats up the syrup too quickly (like melting the sugar for the caramel/toffee), because there’s no water between them to cushion the heat.
CUSINERA’S DRAMAS ON MAKING THIS DISH:
- When I let the cake cooled down, the sides of the cake layer shrunk a bit. Should have I flipped it on a plate immediately once I got the baking pan out of the oven? But if I did that, the flan might get stuck on the bottom of the pan. Hhmmm, another thing to think about before I go to sleep…
- The chiffon layer is a bit eggy in taste and the texture should be more lighter in Mr. H opinion. Miss M declares it’s delicious! (She loves anything with sugar…) Mr. Adventurous happily devours it, but note he eats almost anything.
- I will cook this cake again but I need to do more research (*think what I have done wrong…hehehehhe) on how to make the chiffon more lighter texture wise and less eggy in taste.