If you are Filipino, you've had leche flan at any number of special gatherings in your life including:
- Christmas gatherings involving dancing with Filipino boys who are much shorter than you due to your biracial status
- Birthday gatherings involving bocce ball
- Summer gatherings involving some kind of pork
- Miscellaneous gatherings involving groups of women laughing very loudly while the sound of mahjong tiles clink in the background
I haven't been to a Filipino gathering in a very long time-- too long--but that is where many of my favorite childhood memories were made. In February, I decided to have my own gathering at our house so that I could:
1) Beat the winter blahs by cooking all of my favorite Filipino dishes
2) Give my friends a taste of my culture
and the kicker (and goal #10)...
3) Make leche flan, a difficult dessert, but one that I LOVE
I decided to make a really difficult cake, one that I remember savoring at a few rare occasions: Layered chiffon and leche flan cake. "Woah, Jen," you might be thinking, "Don't you think that's a little advanced? You've never even made caramel before, let alone a cake from scratch!" There is nothing too difficult for a woman trying to complete her 30b430 goals, dammit! Plus, my mom taught me how to master lumpia ten years ago and I rock that recipe every time.
Here it is... the Leche Flan Experience
I started with three recipes to figure out what I was doing: Recipe One, Recipe Two, and Recipe Three. This experiment in dessert making required me to do five things I'd never done before: Make caramel, make cake batter from scratch, make meringue, use a bain-marie (a water bath), and create an upside down cake. I'm not a dessert maker, but I can read and follow directions.
I made caramel and coated the bottom of the cake pan with it. Cleaning the pot after making the caramel was a really annoying. There has to be a cleaner way to take care of that! After that, I made the flan. It called for A LOT of eggs, so I hoped that no one was watching their cholesterol. Or calories.
I poured the flan over the caramel and started on the chiffon cake. This meant that I had to make the yellow cake batter first (turns out you can make that from scratch) and then meringue. Making meringue is fluffy and fun!
From there, I folded the meringue into the cake batter and poured the third layer over the flan and caramel. Note the grated lemon peel in the background as it is one of my favorite smells.
After that, I put the cake pan in a bain-marie. This made a REALLY HEAVY pan. However, as you can see, it was worth it. The cake came out a lovely golden brown.
I wasn't done yet. It was time to flip the cake upside down.
I only nicked the corner of the cake when it came out of the pan for the win! I ate that little corner and it was delicious. That whole dang cake was delicious.
Notice the time? I started around 10am. I have to admit, this is probably the best dessert I will ever make and well worth my time. I should have frozen a few pieces, but by the end of my Filipino gathering there wasn't any left! I guess I'll have to make it again... someday.
Here are a few more pictures from Filipino dinner. Friends, rice, and adobo not pictured because we were too busy eating.
Lumpia and pancit. I would post links to the recipes, but they are from my mom and they are in my head and on fragments of paper floating around my recipe notebook. I have to keep some things a secret!
I wasn't sure how to make pancit, but I followed my mom's directions and it tasted the same! Horizontal stripes are not flattering.