Some people might think that making crème caramel (or flan) can be a real can of worms. Quite on the contrary, if you follow my instructions, you’ll be able to do it even with your eyes closed!
We will start our recipe by heating 1L of milk in a saucepan. Our first challenge: making the caramel. I know the process of caramelizing sugar can be quite intimidating, but all you need is practice, confidence and a little bit of patience.
In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, place 100g of white sugar. Wait until you see it melt and turn brownish. You’ll feel the urge to stir it with a wooden spoon or a spatula. Don’t do it! Stirring will cause recrystallization and clumps will form. Instead, swirl and gently shake the pan to distribute the liquid, making sure it’s melting evenly. Once the sugar has become golden brown, add in 1 teaspoon of vinegar. I know this might be odd, but it will act as an interfering agent, preventing crystallization. Other acids like lemon juice or cream of tartar will work too.
Once you add the interfering agent, the mixture will start bubbling. Swirl it around and pour it in the flan mold (ramekins, loaf tin, etc.). Distribute it evenly and let it cool down while you get started with the custard.
Preheat the oven at 180°C. For the custard, I mixed 6 eggs, 2 yolks, 50g of sugar (80g if you like it sweeter), 8g of vanilla sugar or vanilla extract and 1 pinch of salt. Mix well before adding the warm milk. Make sure to add it little by little, we don’t want the eggs to scramble!
By this time, your caramel must be set and almost “rock solid”. Only then can you pour in the mixture. Put a sift on top of the mold and slowly pour it in.
We will place the mold on a deep baking tray, which will be filled with boiling water. The crème caramel will be cooked inside the oven in a hot water bath, also called bain marie.
Place a baking tray in the top rack of the oven, so the flan won’t burn. Then, place the deep baking tray with our flan in the middle rack. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the baking tray at the top of the oven and bake for another 5 minutes.
Let it cool completely before serving and… enjoy!