What is French for fancy-worded Gascon-style flan? Gâteau Millasson. Ooh-La-La. Sounds so fancy. And hard. It isn’t. In fact, it is beyond easy. But being that French food is often presented as “fussy” and “pretentious”(in other words, who has time to make in-depth recipes!), I haven’t exactly spent a lot of time reading French cookbooks. So…in an article on Southern France in the most recent issue of Saveur Magazine, I saw a style of cooking that might not scream high-French cooking, but rather rustic winery/village cooking. The kind of recipes I’d actually try.
My Mom really loved egg custards. Whenever my brother or I was sick, she would pop one in the oven to slowly bake. Hers were simply eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla. The lure of trying Gâteau Millasson was I could eat it like a pie, with my hands. The best of both worlds? Oh indeed. There were issues though. More issues with my kitchen than the recipe. I realized quickly….that I do not have a 10″ pie pan (which are very deep) so what to do? My first batch I divided between containers, but managed to spill the liquid all over the inside of my stove. Which left my house reeking of burnt food for a day (y-u-c-k). I tried it a second time and used an 8×8″ glass baking dish. That worked perfectly. I also filled it in the oven for a no-spill recipe.
Don’t cheat though – take the time to liberally butter and flour the pan (I tested the this to see what would happen if I didn’t flour one of the pans – and the flan doesn’t release properly. Floured, you get easy release! As well, refrigerate overnight before serving. The flavors get so mellow, a layer sets up that is like a crust on bottom, with a rich custard layer on top. Like the 80’s era Bisquick Miracle Pies, just without crappy ingredients 😉
PS: The recipe is my second creation, which I found I loved so much more than the first. Brown sugar gives it a deeper, almost caramel-y flavor.
- Unsalted butter, for pan
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour + more for dusting pan
- 2/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- 4 cups whole milk
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Let eggs and milk come to room temperature while oven preheat to 425°. Liberally grease an 8×8″ glass baking dish with butter, sprinkle a bit of flour in to dust, knock out any extra. Place dish on a large rimmed baking sheet.
Whisk eggs till smooth, add in vanilla, then whisk into milk.
Add dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl, whisk throughly, breaking up any sugar clumps. Pour in wet, whisk until smooth.
Place baking sheet in oven, push halfway in. Slowly pour mix into dish, gently push into the oven.
Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes (I found 1:30 to be perfect if baking on the top rack). Yes, it seems like a long time. Just trust in it. The flan is done when the edges look all golden and browned, the center is very puffy.
Remove and let cool to room temperature, cover and chill before serving. Slice as desired.