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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tarte au Flan (French Custard Tart)

Flan is essentially custard. Therefore, a tarte au flan is custard baked in a tart shell. And it’s my husband’s favorite!

Now for those of you who have been following my blog, you are starting to wonder if all things are my husband’s favorite, but I assure you, they aren’t. In fact, my husband is the guinea pig for all my experiments, successful or not and he rarely makes any food demands. So, it is only fair that every once in a while, I recreate his childhood favorites. And this is one of them.

A piece of tarte au flan can be purchased at any French boulangerie and you can find whole tarts for sale in pretty much every French grocery store. I only know this because every time we land in France, on the way home we are forced to stop to pick up a piece for my husband. You can get a variety of different qualities from the really rich and eggy boulangerie types, to the light, made-from-powder, grocery store types. But in the end, all are flan, and my husband loves them all.

I have attempted many times to recreate this favorite. I have tried many different recipes, some which were dense and lumpy, and others which didn’t set in the oven. After much experimenting, I think I have finally found “the one.”

So, here it is. I hope that whoever eats yours gets as much pleasure from it as my husband does!

p.s. The tart shell is so easy to make in a food processor, but if you don't want to do it from scratch, you can buy a frozen tart shell or roll of tart pastry.

Tarte au Flan
Makes 1 tart (10 inches or 26 cm)

For the Pastry
1 1/4 cups Flour
1/8 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter, cold and cut into pieces
2-3 tbsp Ice Water

For the Flan
300 ml Milk
3 Eggs
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Flour
2 tsp Vanilla
Icing Sugar for dusting

To make the pastry:
In a food processor, mix the flour and the salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles grains like oatmeal. Add the water, 1 tbsp at a time, pulsing until the dough just comes together in a ball.
Form the dough into a disk, wrap, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

To make the flan filling:
Heat the milk until warm (can do it in the microwave). In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Whisk in the flour, then the warm milk and vanilla.

Roll out the dough and place in a relatively deep tart pan (I used the classic pyrex 26 cm tart dish). If after this process, the dough is very soft, place the tart shell into the fridge for another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Farenheit).

Pour the flan filling into the tart shell and bake in the preheated 180 degree oven for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to about 165 degrees and bake for another 30-45 minutes until the filling is set.

As an option, you can dust with icing sugar. Or, you can dust with icing sugar, set the oven to broil, and caramelize the top of the tart.

Let cool completely before serving.


  1. Ummmm....yum! I totally want to make this! I guess I need to go buy a tart pan :-)

  2. Looks great. Glad you did the experimenting for us and can suggest the best recipe!

  3. I didn't want to click on to this because I had a feeling I would be compelled to make it... and I was right!

  4. Am baking this right now. Followed instructions exactly, but after 60 minutes in the over is still a liquid. What am I doing wrong?

  5. And the problem is that the temperatures listed are in celsius, not in farenheit. Watch out with this recipe to convert temperatures.

  6. Hi there! So sorry for the temperature thing... I have clarified in the recipe. Thanks for your feedback!

  7. Just took my Tart out of the oven & it looks perfect - hope it tastes as yummy as it looks - I made it for my son's Birthday (one of his favorite deserts)and will serve it with Chambord marinated Raspberries & Strawberries.

  8. Looks yammy ! excited to make my own , thanks for the idea , sounds really delicious !

  9. Thank you for this recipe! I made the tart yesterday and as soon as I took a bite I was transported back to a bakery in Paris... love it!

    1. SO glad to hear it!!! I worked so hard trying to replicate that perfect flan. So happy you loved it to!

  10. Looking forward to trying this as it's just come out of the oven now but just to point out that the amounts here are for a relatively shallow tart dish. I've got one that's around 5cm deep otherwise used for things like banoffee pie and I needed about 25% more pastry and had to double the amount of custard filling as it was only around 1cm deep. This will obviously affect cooking time as well, mine was in for over an hour in total.