In honour of Easter Sunday, I thought I’d post a recipe that is traditional in my family for Easter, peach flan, from a classic German cookbook. This recipe is not actually traditional for Easter in Germany: I think my mother just started making it at Easter because it is easy, uses canned fruit available anytime, and sort of looks like a nest of eggs if you use canned peach halves, and put shredded coconut or slivered almonds around the edges:
I have the recipe copied into my recipe notebook, in English, so I’m not sure if the source is Backen Macht Freude (Baking Makes Joy, literally) , published by Dr. Oetker, or the English translation of the companion volume German Home Cooking. Since my recipe’s in English, and the Amazon image of the English version is way more retro-cool, let’s pretend it’s from there:
Dr. Oetker was not a “scientific” name invented to sell high-tech cooking products like baking powder, which he seems to have invented, or, more recently, that slightly spooky instant Dr. Oetker mousse. Nope, he was a real guy, and the cookbooks produced by his company are bestsellers in Germany. My parents have not only the “classics” like Backen Macht Freude, but also the English “Baking is Fun” series, of which by far the most heavily-used volume is Volume 3: the Christmas volume. These books have measurements by weight, not volume, so you will need either a scale or one of these super-handy weight-conversion measuring cups, which lists various ingredients (flour, sugar, raisins, and oddly, tapioca) on the inside, and gives the weight of various volumes:
(makes 1 9-inch flan, although if it’s the first time you’re making it, I would double the recipe just to make sure you have enough for your particular way of rolling out the dough and your particular cake pan)
Equipment: a 9-inch springform pan and a countertop (no bowl! trust me)
170g all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 pkg. vanilla sugar (about 2-3 tablespoons, if you have homemade, or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
1 package Dr. Oetker flan glaze (or another neutral-flavoured flan glaze – they are usually made from arrowroot or tapioca)
1 large can peaches (buy extra – you can’t have too many peaches and you can always eat extras)
Preheat your oven to 375 F.
Pour the flour onto your clean countertop, and put the baking powder on top. Shape the pile of flour into a circle, about 3 inches high, with a hollow in the middle: there should still be a layer of flour at the bottom of the hollow, ie. you shouldn’t be able to see your countertop at the bottom of the hollow. Add the sugar and vanilla sugar/vanilla to the hollow.
Press down the sugar a little to make another little hollow, and confidently crack in the egg. If it starts spilling over the flour-wall surrounding the hollow, shore up the sides by pushing up the flour-wall a little. Then, take a fork, and beat the egg gently. Use the fork to draw in small amounts of flour from the sides, and keep beating, until you have eventually made a thickish (gluey, really) paste from the egg, sugar and some of the flour. Again, keep shoring up the flour-wall at the sides if necessary. Take a breather, if this process freaked you out and made you wonder at the sanity of generations of German bakers.
Luckily, I took a picture of the next step when I made this the last time, although it’s a bit blurry:
Next, cut up the butter into 1/2 inch cubes. The butter should be coldish room temperature (if you’re used to making pastry, it should be a little warmer than you would normally use for that). Put the butter cubes on top of the gluey egg paste, and begin kneading the whole mass together, drawing in the flour from the sides, and crushing the butter between your fingers. Keep kneading until you get a smooth, consistent dough. This should take about five minutes. Let the dough cool for about ten minutes in the fridge.
Divide the dough into thirds. Take two thirds, and roll it out with a rolling pin until you get a circle large enough for the base of your springform, about 3/4 inch high. Take the other third, and roll it into a “snake” that is long enough for the circumference of your pan. Pop your springform open, place the base on the rolled out dough to act as a template. Cut the dough to fit the base, and put it on the base. Prick the dough-base with a fork. Then put the ring back on your pan, and place the “snake” of dough around the edge of the base. With your thumb, smush the snake of dough upwards to form a rim for the flan about 1 1/4 inches high.
Bake the dough for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees, until the rim is golden brown, and the middle is just golden.
Next post, adding the peaches.