Monday, August 19, 2013

Butterscotch Chocolate Flan Cake - the last will be first

Is it a cake? Is it a flan? It's a flancake!

(naar de nederlandse versie) A flan is nothing new to me, I make them all the time. With a latin better half that is hardly surprising. It is a first that I'm making a flan with a cake base. And in this recipe it is kind of cool how it gets there.

The flan is baked (au bain marie) in the oven. First you put your caramel sauce in a reversed Bundt pan. On top of that you spread the batter and then you pour in the flan mixture...

The last will be first

Whilst running over to the computer one more time to ensure that I read this right, I remembered this was the reason I bookmarked and saved this recipe in the first place. To see if it really does what it promises; the cake batter you pour in first will float up to the surface while baking, and after unmoulding ends up as the base layer of the cake.

I can tell you: it works! Despite my suspicion that batter should be heavier than a runny flan mix, the cake layer rose indeed to the surface of the Bundt pan, trading places with the sinking flan. Quite a journey, when you come to think of it. The caramel sauce however, snuggly stays where it's supposed to be; on top!

The original recipe is huge. I've toned it down to a Bundt-pan of about 1½ liters. To add some crunch and extra caramel flavor, I chose to use butterscotch chocolate.

Butterscotch Chocolate Flan Cake


the cake:
75 gram / 2.6 oz caramel sauce
40 gram / 1.4 oz all purpose flour
20 gram / 0.7 oz cocoa
¼ teaspoon baking soda
⅛ teaspoon salt
60 gram / 2.1 oz butterscotch chocolate
45 gram / 1.6 oz unsalted butter 
60 gram / 2.1 oz buttermilk
60 gram / 2.1 oz sugar
1 egg
½ (good) scraped vanilla pod

the flan:
480 gram / 17 oz condensed milk
300 gram / 10.6 oz whole milk
85 gram / 3 oz cream cheese
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
½ (good) scraped vanilla pod


Preheat your oven to 175°C / 350°F. Fill a big roasting tin halfway with boiling water. Place the tin in the oven.

Thoroughly grease the 1½ liter Bundt pan.

In a glass bowl, melt the chocolate and butter over a pan of barely simmering water. Combine until smooth.

Take the bowl off the heat. Add buttermilk, sugar, the egg and the vanilla to the chocolate mixture. Stir until well combined. 

In another bowl, mix the flour, the cocoa, the salt and the baking soda. Add these dry ingredients to the wet and mix until it combines and smooths out.  

Pour the caramel sauce in the Bundt pan first.

Carefully spread the chocolate batter on top of the caramel. 

In a food processor or a blender, mix the condensed milk, the whole milk, the cream cheese,  the eggs, the yolks and the vanilla. Process for about one minute. 

Pour the flan mixture carefully on the chocolate batter. 

Place the Bundt pan in the roasting tin with boiling water in the oven and bake the flancake for about one hour on 175° C / 350°F. Test with a skewer to see if the cake is fully done. If you have a core thermometer; the temperature should register about 82° C.

Take the flan out of the oven and leave it to cool to room temperature in the mould on a cooling rack. Then transfer the flan to the fridge to let it set completely, preferably overnight. 

To unmold, place the pan for about 30 seconds in boiling water. The outer layer of flan will melt and make unmolding a breeze. Serve cold. 

               Baked Bree

Friday, August 16, 2013

the perfect buttercream

The Perfect Butter Cream

(to the dutch version) When it comes to fillings, I've always been a bit reluctant about butter cream.

An epic fail in the reward-center of a child's developing brain stays with you for life.

Standing just outside of the supermarket. Holding a bottle of pop we just bought. Me and my friends. We are all thirsty. It's hot. God knows where we got the money. What we thought was refreshing, sparkly and sweet lemonade, turns out to be tonic water. Bitter. Unsatisfying. Disappointing. I've never come near it again in my life.

The same goes, to a certain extent, for butter cream. My first encounter with it was in Germany. I had participated in a balloon contest. In those days, knotting a little piece of paper with your name and address to a helium balloon and letting go of it was still a worthy pastime. People would send back the card they found. The balloon that got the furthest got the prize.

Mine landed 200 km away, in Germany (Hülsen, if I remember well). A correspondence ensued between me and the German girl that found it. One day, my whole family got into a car and drove to Hülsen. We were met, on a Sunday, with a table filled with cakes, pies, pastries, cookies and whipped cream; the famous German 'Kaffee und Kuchen'. Never had I seen anything like it.

I was in awe with the center piece cake. It had a brownish cream neatly piped all over it. And hazel nuts. I loved hazelnuts. It looked intricate and intriguing and I longed for that cake all through the meeting and greeting rituals that usually come with these visits.

When I finally sank my teeth into it, I was shocked to taste butter. Fat. Slippery. I diverted to the copious amount of freshly whipped cream that was passed around. It seemed a perfect plug for my disappointment. It had no sugar in it. What sort of Tantalus torment was this!

Nowadays I prefer sugarless whipped cream, and thank my German friends for teaching me that less is more. The butter cream however, has always remained a bit of a problem.

This is the one I make whenever I can't come up with a viable alternative filling. It's a lot lighter and fluffier than your average butter cream. And the eggs in it are cooked by the sugar syrup, so it's salmonella safe. 

It takes some practice to get this one right, but once you have it on your repertoire, I dare say it will stay with you for the rest of your baking career!

the perfect butter cream

150 gram / 5.3 oz whole eggs
80 gram / 2.8 oz egg yolk
200 gram / 7.1 oz fine sugar
75 gram / 2.6 oz water
400 gram / 14.1 very soft butter

special tools: kitchen thermometer

Make a sugar syrup; Put the sugar and the water in a super clean small or medium saucepan (avoid non stick) and gently bring it to a boil. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature.

At the same time, whip up the eggs and the yolks until they go all fluffy and light.

Heat the sugar syrup to 120° C and (careful, this syrup is very hot!) slowly pour it into the egg mix, and continue to beat until it cools down to ambient temperature.

In a separate bowl, first cream the butter with the paddle attachment and then whisk it until it gets thicker. Make sure your butter is very soft, but not 'oily'. Let your butter come to ambient temperature slowly. Melting the butter will give a poor result in texture in the end product.

Add the egg mixture to the fluffy butter and mix until well incorporated and the mixture smooths out. Make sure not to over beat at this stage.

The butter cream is ready to use now. You can add flavor and or color to it to your liking. Perfect for filling your home made macarons