Sunday, August 25, 2013

Strawberry Flan

While I consider myself a city girl—I just love walking around bustling streets, peering into shops, tasting new things, taking pictures of sights—it is nice to head to the countryside sometimes. When you smell dirt, you see dirt, you feel dirt, and you TASTE dirt, it’s something special, especially these days.

I love going to Linvilla Orchards every summer—a farm not too far from home. In the summertime they have peaches, pears, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries, as well as delicious creamy ice cream year round! During the peak of summer you can pay for a box and go around the orchard and pick anything you want to fill the box. My family went today for strawberry and raspberry picking, which are ripe for picking right now.


One of the great thing about pick your own is eating the fruit while picking. My sister’s rule: pick 3 eat 2. Strawberries are surprisingly filling, and my stomach started to feel like it was going to explode after not too long with following my sister’s philosophy.

Whenever my family picks fruit, we always have a surplus of it for the next week; it is always my responsibility to find creative ways to use it up. Strawberries are easy because there are so many wonderful recipes that use fresh strawberries. I decided to make a strawberry flan, which is a sweet short crust pastry shell filled with custard and topped with fresh strawberries. It makes for a beautiful dessert.    


For the pastry
½ cup butter, softened
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten

For the custard
3 egg yolks
1 ¼ milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the glaze
¼ cup apricot jam
1 ½ tablespoons water

For the topping
3 cups fresh strawberries, washed and hulled


1. To make the pastry dough, beat the butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten egg, and mix until incorporated. Add the flour and mix until it forms a ball.
2. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
4. Roll out the dough on a flat floured surface and fit into a tart or pie pan. Prick the bottom of the pastry crust with a fork to prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes.
5. Place the tart pan and bake for 5 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue to bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely before filling.
6. While the shell is baking, make the custard. 
7. In a medium sized heatproof bowl, mix the sugar and egg yolks together. Sift the four and cornstarch together and add to the eggs mixture, mixing until you get a smooth paste.
8. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk just to boiling. Remove from head and add slowly to the egg mixture. Make sure to whisk consistently to prevent curdling.
9. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium head until boiling, whisking constantly. When the mixture boils, continue whisking for another 30-60 seconds until it become thick. Remove from head and whisk in vanilla extract. Pout into a clean bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool to room temperature. You can speed up the cooling process by putting the custard in the fridge.
10. To make the glaze, heat the apricot jam and water in a bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds. Make sure to smash big lumps of apricot with a fork.
11. To assemble the tart, remove the pastry shell from the tart pan. Spread a thin layer of the glaze on the bottom and sides of the shell (this will prevent the pastry from becoming soggy). Spread the custard into the pastry shell. Place the strawberries on top and brush with more glaze.
12. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

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