flan Tag

OMBRE SALTED CARAMEL FLAN POPSICLES

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IN A COOK’S UNIVERSE, THE BAKER’S REALM IS A MYSTICAL AND DANGEROUS WORLD

Recently, someone asked me what’s the typical number of trials I have to go through before arriving on a satisfying recipe.  And to that I said, “Two, I guess?  Most likely?”.  Well… in all honesty, I didn’t mean to lie.  I just forgot to ask, if they were asking the cook?  Or the baker?

I’m definitely more cook than a baker.  And as a more-cook, relatively speaking, I have a more optimistic repertoire of savoury things where I have demonstrated slightly more competence in not screwing up.  But in reality, if I were to take into account of the other side of the fence as well, the wild and parched, the untamed and unpredictable, the land of where the sweet things are… then my friend, I don’t think I have hairs enough to count my failures.  In a cook’s universe, the realm of the bakers is a mystical and dangerous world, governed by a whole different set of laws and physics and creatures who look beautifully from afar like a herd of pink unicorns, but once approached, will vaporize into a cloud of black smokes and swallow my expectations in whole.  It is scary.  And it is real.  And it is a place, unless guided by other wizards specializing in this black magic, that I do not like to enter lightly.

But sometimes the universe, especially my universe, is not perfect.  Sometimes there’s no precedent, or magic potion to follow for what I wanted to create, or more accurately, re-create.  For this instance, a childhood treat that Jason and I practically grew up with and hold dearly in our heart, the caramel flan popsicle (or as they called it in Taiwan, “pudding popsicle”) that we used to be able to buy in almost every convenient stores, but mysteriously vanished in the past decade.  And in times like these, I just had to hood up, bid the loved ones farewell, climbed over the fence, into the woods, and hoped that something, anything, would make it back in one piece.

Well, it didn’t.

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CARAMEL ESPRESSO FLAN/BUTTER ROUX CAKE

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THE CAKE HAS VENTURED BEYOND CHEMISTRY, INTO THE REALM OF PHYSICS…

EVERY time I unearth a truly fantastic recipe out of the landslides of materials and inspirations that bury most of my time nowadays, regardless whether it is original or reinvented, I experience a flush of anxiety which I’d like to call the competitive blogging disorder. Symptoms include increasing heart-rates and twitching ankles, a not-exactly-little voice inside my ill-motivated head saying things that don’t exactly reflect my best, generous self.

Things like, gah I hope I’m one of the few living bodies on earth who know about his. Gah I must publish this recipe now, like right now!, like in any given second somebody else might hijack my discovery. Gah I hope when I Google “flan cake”, nothing, and I mean nothing… in the English-speaking world at least, would show up on the first page.

But of course, like most of my wishes nowadays, the answers from God-gle, are usually negative.

When I stumbled on an Asian baking-blog by accident last week, and discovered something called the “flan cake”, I thought ding-ding-ding! I mean after all, it isn’t everyday that I look upon a cake-recipe that has ventured beyond chemistry, into the realm… of great physics. A cake with two distinctively different layers that bake simultaneously, but magically self-separates. A cake that bakes on the laws of physics, that lighter mass in weight (in this case, the sponge cake-batter), will float above denser mass (in this case, the flan custard), and that there’s nothing you can do to sabotage it. It’s not just a failsafe cake. It’s an anti-fail cake. Guaranteed by science. How could I not be excited?

But of course as it turns out, like all other great ideas, God-gle already knew a few.

BUT again, a closer look into all the flan-cake recipes shown up on the research, my CBD relapsed. Not only that most of these recipes uses a cake-premix, but even the ones that don’t, involves the dull and tiresome sponge cake-method of using vegetable oil or creaming butter. Gah, I’m back! I could still be the first second third… number of handful people to tell you about this, ahem, awesome cake. Because. the true genius of this particular flan-cake lies not only on the magic of the two self-separating layers of flan and sponge cake, but also on the miraculous outcome of a butter-roux cake batter. Yes, a roux cake. The combination of the two wonders, a cocktail of miracles, from what I can tell, is still a relatively under-exposed secret.

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