Flan, a silky smooth custard baked in golden caramelized sugar, is one of the most beloved holiday desserts around the world. Making a good flan, however, takes significant baking skills, and it may be overly complicated for novice bakers who are not sure if their flan is ready or not. So, how do you know if your flan is ready?
One way to know if flan is ready to consume is when it attains a faintly golden color. It should be firm to the touch, but slightly wobbly in the middle. It’s also important to know that flan should neither be completely solid nor watered down or runny.
Once you’ve mastered the technique, you’ll be able to make beautiful flans that you may alter and even incorporate into a variety of other desserts. Continue reading this article to learn more about the flan-making procedure and resolve any dilemmas you may have regarding eating undercooked flan or fixing an overcooked one.
How Long to Cook Flan?
When the edges of your flan are somewhat set and have a pudding-like texture, you’ll know it is done. The middle should still be mushy and jiggly, but the flan will firm up in the fridge, becoming smooth, creamy, and wonderful. However, make sure you don’t overbake your creme caramel, or it will lose its flavor, creaminess, and smoothness.
When the flan is faintly golden and firm to the touch, but not solid, it’s ready to serve. Insert the blade of your knife halfway down into the flan to double-check; if it’s done, the blade should come out clean. Then, after carefully removing the baking pan from the oven, remove the flan from the water bath.
Should Flan Be Covered When Baking?
While not absolutely necessary, covering the flan with foil will also aid in the cooking process. Place your dish on the center rack of the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, checking every 10 minutes until the flan has a soft jelly-like movement in the center and the sides are set. When you remove the custard from the oven, it will harden up as it cools.
How Long Does Flan Take to Set?
The most crucial aspect of cooking flan at home is to be patient and allow it to set in the fridge for at least 8 hours. Making flan one day ahead (or up to three days ahead) will ensure that it is properly set and ready to serve.
What to Do If the Flan Didn’t Set Well?
Even though many sources say otherwise, you can still salvage the flan that hasn’t been set properly if you are determined to make it work.
First, start by removing the skin that has formed on top of the unset custard in the oven by scraping it off. Scrape the custard from the ramekins onto a fine metal strainer, then massage the custard through with a rubber spatula to ensure a smooth custard base.
Proceed to slowly heat the custard over a double boiler, stirring regularly, until the custard base is hot but not cooked. Re-distribute the liquid into ramekins that have been cleaned. To obtain the height of the custard, fill the pans with a hot water bath, return them to a 150 °C oven, and bake until the custard is set.
How Long Do You Let Flan Cool Before Flipping?
Ideally, you should bake the flan for 55 to 65 minutes, or until it is firm yet jiggly in the center. Afterward, remove the flan from the water bath and cool it for 30 minutes on a rack. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 8 hours or up to 3 days, until it’s cool and firm.
When you remove the flan from the fridge, slowly warm the caramel until it is still liquid, then immerse the dish in a baking pan of boiling water for about 3 seconds. To loosen the flan from the pan, gently shake it with a thin knife around the dish’s edge, then flip the flan onto a plate.
How to Fix an Overcooked Flan?
A good flan should be creamy and even, with a silky smooth texture. The sauce should have a beautiful golden caramel color and no burned flavor. However, if the inside of your flan is not creamy enough, or if it contains air bubbles, it’s a clear sign that you’ve got an overcooked flan.
You should remember that the flan will continue to cook once you remove it from the oven, so it’s better to slightly undercook than overcook your dessert. Cooking the flan for too long, or at too high a temperature, will result in an ugly, lumpy, or cottage-cheese texture with an eggy taste.
If lumps start to form in a custard, immediately ladle it out of the boiling pot into a dish and pulse it in five-second intervals with a handheld blender until it is virtually smooth. Depending on the size of the lumps, this could take anywhere from 15 to 45 seconds. Using a blender or food processor will add too much air to the mixture, making it foamy rather than creamy. Continue with your recipe after straining the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer to eliminate any leftover lumps.
Is Undercooked Flan Safe to Eat?
There are several reasons why your flan didn’t set, or turned out to be undercooked. This problem could be caused by a low baking or steaming temperature, a lack of milk or eggs in the recipe, or could be the result of a very short baking time. To fix this, raise the oven temperature by 10 degrees Celsius or extend the baking time by 10 to 15 minutes.
If these solutions don’t work, you should make flan again, or resort to eating it undercooked. However, while eating only slightly undercooked flan would be fine, eating a completely raw mixture will probably give you some stomach problems since the recipe contains a lot of eggs.
What Causes Flan to Curdle?
Since the major ingredients of flan are boiled milk or dairy, which means that cooking will kill the bacteria that spoils food, your flan won’t go bad for many days if stored properly in the fridge. Moreover, flan contains sugar, which has been used as a preservative for ages. If put in the freezer, the flan will be safe to eat for about one to two months, and it will retain its flavor and texture without much deterioration.
However, it’s possible for flan to curdle, which is definitely a situation you’d like to avoid. In general, unless a thickening starch is present, egg-based puddings and custards can curdle if heated past 185 degrees. Sweet custards without starch normally thicken between 160°F and 180°F, which is significantly below the boiling point of 212°F.
If you go above that threshold, the egg proteins lose their form and can no longer hold liquid, so a baked custard, such as crème caramel, would appear curdled and runny, and a stirred custard sauce, such as Crème Anglaise, may contain particles of scrambled egg.
If the curdling hasn’t gone too far, it can occasionally be reversed by taking the mixture off the heat and vigorously swirling or beating it. Use a low temperature (cook over a double boiler or bake in a water bath) to prevent curdling, stir if necessary, and cool fast by placing the pan in a bowl of ice or cold water and stirring for a few minutes.