Flan has been around since Roman times when people began to keep domesticated chickens in their homes. Cooks needed an outlet for all the surplus eggs, thus the flan was born. Initially though flan was a savory dish, flavored with herbs and spices. This was then what we could safely consider the quiche’s cousin. As time passed, cooks devised the sweet dish that we now enjoy.
Flan featured prominently in medieval cookbooks, such as Le Menagier de Paris, and Le Viandeur de Taillevant. Both of these texts are considered by historians to be among the first recipe collections in history. During medieval times when there were strict religious observances in regards to what foods could be eaten during different days of the week (fasting days) and especially during Lent, flan was an adequate and popular meal. Remember,this was first a savory dish, since sweets would have been forbidden during strict fasting days. As you can see, the history of flan is long and winding.
I am including two flan recipes in this blog: a coconut flan which happens to be my favorite and also the traditional flan. I must point out that in Britain flan is a pastry crust filled with cream and topped with fruit. Leave it to the British to be different!
Flan is really not that difficult to prepare and the ingredients are readily accessible. The difficulty with this dessert lies in two things: cooking time and temperature. Unfortunately it is one of those desserts that you need to babysit. Leave it for a couple of extra minutes in the oven and you have just made a scrambled egg casserole, ugh. You also need to make sure that your oven cooks at an even temperature.