Fruit Flan

This dessert takes me back to being a little girl and going through old cookbooks with horribly styled images of cocktail food on toothpicks and desserts glazed with aspic.. (quite possibly an Australian Women's Weekly recipe book or similar)... Although most of the recipes in these books have been left by the wayside to make room for new and innovative food trends, the fruit flan has held strong and quite rightly so, it's an old favourite.



You will need...
For the pastry
100gr unsalted butter, room temperature
50gr caster sugar
1 medium-sized egg
180gr plain flour, sifted
For the filling
80gr caster sugar
30gr plain flour
2 egg yolks
300ml whole milk
1 vanilla pod/1 tsp vanilla essence
To decorate
Assorted seasonal fruit;
any kind of berry, kiwi fruit, apple, orange, mandarines, pear, cherries, rhubarb, grapes, lychee... Use about 3-5 different fruits, ranging in colours for effect.

Method...
1. To make the pastry; combine the butter and sugar in a bowl, and beat using an electric mixer until they are well combined and starting to lighten in colour. Add the egg and combine.
2. Add the sifted flour, and using a spatula, press and fold the butter into the flour. Once the mix starts to combine, finish forming into a dough using your fingertips. Work quickly and as soon as the pastry has come together, flatten into a disc and wrap in cling wrap. Rest in the fridge 1 hour.
3. While the pastry is resting, make the pastry cream for the filling; add the sugar, flour and egg yolks in a bowl, add 10% of the milk and the vanilla and stir to combine.
4. Bring the remaining milk to a simmer in a heavy-based saucepan on the stove, then remove and add 1/3 of the milk to the egg and sugar mixture. Whisk really well, then add the remaining milk and whisk. Transfer back into the saucepan and heat on low, whisking continuously until thickened. Pour thickened pastry cream into a clean bowl, cover with greaseproof paper and set aside.
5. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celsius/180 degrees fan-forced. Grease and flour a 32x12cm (14x5in) flan tin that has a loose base*
6. Once the pastry has rested, remove from the fridge, and roll out using a little bit of plain flour to stop it from sticking. The pastry should be thin enough that you can *JUST* start to see your hand through the dough (about 2mm).
7. Carefully transfer the dough to a greased and floured flan tin, carefully press into the corners and all the fluted indentations on the side. Dock the base of the pastry with a fork a couple of times and cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper so it overhangs about 1-2inches on each side of the tin once pushed into the corners. Fill the greaseproof paper with rice/beans/lentils or baking beans to weigh down the pastry while blind baking. Place on a large, flat baking tray and into the oven for 15 minutes.
8. Once the 15 minute timer is up, use the overhanging greaseproof paper to carefully lift out the baking beans off the pastry (transfer them to a metal/ceramic bowl or tray to cool down before packaging for re-use). Return the tart pastry to the oven for 10-15 minutes until lightly coloured and cooked through. Remove and leave to cool in the tin before pressing from underneath the loosen the sides and sliding onto a flat serving tray.
9. Slice your fruit as desired, remembering to wash and dry any berries, cut the skin off any kiwi fruits or citrus fruits, take out any cores/stones/pips before slicing.
10. Transfer cooled pastry cream to a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle and pipe an even layer over the base of the pastry (cream should 1/2 fill the tar base). Finish by arranging the fruit in a decorative way- alternating colours in groups always looks good.

11. Slice and eat!!

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