This is a flan that originates in Brittany. It’s very typical of the region and is popular throughout all of France – you’ll find a version in most patisseries. I ate many of these in Paris before realising what it was and how easy it is to make myself. The prunes (or pruno – pruneaux – as they are known around here) are despised by Benjamin and beloved by me and are entirely optional, but very traditonal to the flan you’ll find in Brittany.
I make this recipe gluten free and lactose free and it still turns out very good.
1 3/4 C milk (I use lactose free skimmed milk – you can also omit the cream and use 2 cups of normal milk if you prefer)
1/4 C double cream (or regular cream)
1/2 C sugar (you can also add a little less than half a cup, I do to reduce the amount of sweetness, and it comes out just fine)
sprinkling of salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
70gm butter, melted and mostly cooled down
3/4 C gluten free self raising flour (or the same quatity of regular plain flour – not self raising – if you are using normal flour). I use gluten free self raising flour as I find it has agents in it that better mimic the texture of normal flour compared to regular gluten free flour, which can end up a bit grainy.
1/2 C dark rum
12 prunes (or there about)
In a bowl, combine the milk, cream, sugar, eggs, salt, vanilla extract and cooled melted butter. Take a stick blender or a regular blender and blend for around a minute (failing any mechanical tools, just do a lot of serious whisking. The intention is to whisk up the eggs to create air). Add the flour into the mix in around 4 batches, and blend everything until it’s combined. Cover the mixture and put it in the fridge for a 3-4 hours or overnight.
In a small pot, bring the rum to the boil. Once it’s boiled, pour it over the prunes in a small bowl and set aside. The prunes will plump up and there will still be rum leftover.
Once the batter has rested, preheat the oven to 190 degress celcius. Take the mixture out of the fridge. Pour in 2 tablespoons of the remaining rum and stir everything together. Add this rum in now even if you are not adding prunes to the flan. I use a spatula to do this, because I will be using it again to scrape out the remaining batter into the baking dish, so it saves dishes.
If you want to slice this into tidy pieces, I suggest you bake this flan in a normal round cake tine – even better, a square one – that you have lined with baking paper. But because I am lazy and live with a Breton who eats this flan out of the dish when left unsupervised, I just tip it all into a medium sized baking dish, which is left unlined. This makes for a very easy job, but it does benefit from a small soak before going in the dishwasher.
Pour the mixture into the dish and drop the soaked prunes in, evenly distributed.
Bake for 45 mins – 1 hour. The top will be golden and it will be puffy. After 45 minutes, slide a knife into the mix. If it comes out mostly clean, you can take the flan out of the oven and set it aside to cool. Using gluten free flour can be a little tricky when baking because it will leave more residue on the knife compared to normal flour. As long as the residue is not wet or extremely sticky, it should be ready. If it is obviously uncooked, pop the flan back in the over for the full hour, taking care not to overcook it. Once out of the oven, the puffed-up flan will drop like it’s been puched in the gut, that is normal.
Now ideally, you cool it completely but because we are greedy, we will dig in and take a couple of spoonfulls after 15 minutes or so. The rest, I cool overnight in the fridge. I then cut it cleanly (a hot knife helps) and serve in attractive pieces, ideally cut so you can see the prune running through each slice. The finished texture is almost geletanous, it feels so light despite containing many of the same ingredients as any other cake. A favourite for good reasons.