The pressure’s on… it’s the annual family boxing day shindig, held courtesy of my sister Gabi. The subtext is food. Or actually, no, the foreground, the main event and the icing on the cake is food…the subtext is competition. Unwritten, and nobody would actually admit to it, but this is the annual clan bake-off/masterchef extravaganza finale to the year. Any simmering tensions boiled off and presented as the finest fare imaginable and toasted with a healthy (dependent on perspective I suppose) gamut of champagne, wine, beer and pool tournaments.
So, I rallied after a week of illness and got my pudding creating headwear on. Found a fantastic old Marks and Sparks 1980s book of cakes and pastries in the cupboard and set about bastardising a few recipes into my own franken-flan. And I think it worked… here is the resulting recipe:
5.5 oz plain flour
1.5 oz ground almonds
3 oz lightly salted butter
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons very cold water
2 large pears
3 oz caster sugar
1/4 pint milk
3 tablespoons amaretto
1 oz plain flour
3 oz whole almonds (unblanched)
3 oz caster sugar
You can get the praline topping out the way any time prior to pudding making. Heat the sugar and almonds gently in a small heavy based pan, shaking every so often until the sugar is melted and a good deep caramel colour. Turf out onto a sheet of greased baking parchment and allow to cool. Pull out 5 almonds to cool separately.
For the pastry, sift the flour, combine with the ground almonds and sugar and cut the cold butter into the mix. Crumb with fingertips and then combine with the yolk and water. It will form a stiffish, quite crumbly dough. Roll it out and line a greased 9″ flan dish. Peel, halve and core the pears and slice thinly. Fan out in pastry case and sprinkle with one ounce of sugar. Cook at 200 degrees C for about 12 – 15 mins or until pastry is golden.
Meanwhile, beat together the egg, remaining sugar and flour until smooth and then thoroughly mix in the milk and amaretto. When the pastry is done, pour in the custard and replace in the oven at 170 degrees C for about 20 mins, until custard is set. Set to cool a little.
Bash up the mass of praline with a rolling pin and sprinkle around outer edge of flan and arrange the 5 nuts in the centre. Et voila. Vindicated for another year. Phew….