I promised I would share with you the dessert we enjoyed at Balla last week. Coming from the Umbria region of Italy is this gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan flan that uses simple ingredients, is easy to make and can be served with fresh fruit, custard, cream or ice cream (depending on what you are giving up for Lent).
I found this flan easy to make. There’s no time-consuming nonsense of having to blind-bake pastry and there are no complex ingredients sending you to all corners of Sydney trying to source.
However, the recipe states this is best baked on a baking sheet but I think individual tart tins with a loose base would work a lot better. This would allow for a shorter cooking time giving you the crispy finish without burning the sliced apples.
I made this flan in a 24cm (9 inch) loose bottomed tart tin but I think next time I will use individual 9cm (3.5 inch) tart tins.
This is a lovely dessert that’s seemingly suitable for everyone except those with a nut allergy.
Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegan Flan
Degree of Difficulty: 3/5
Cost: Long ago in Italy this was created as a peasant’s dessert for those short on luxury ingredients like butter, cream and eggs. Making this today however isn’t as inexpensive as I imagine it was years ago with pine nuts, quality oil and liqueur now being outside of moderately priced essentials.
- 1 ltr water
- 350g fine polenta (not instant)
- pinch of salt
- 125g aniseed liqueur
- 125ml extra virgin olive oil
- 100g caster sugar plus extra
- pinch of aniseed (ground)
- 200g walnut kernels, chopped
- 100g pine nuts
- 100g raisins, chopped
- 1 tbs grated lemon rind (about 1 or 2 lemons)
- 1-2 apples, cored and thinly sliced
Pre-heat oven to 180C (375F)
Grease a 24cm loose b0ttomed tart tin with a little olive oil. (Or 8 individual tart tins).
In a medium-sized saucepan, bring water to boil. Add salt. Whisk in the polenta then turn down to a very low simmer. Whisk for about 20 minutes making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Keep uncovered as it has to be thick. Remove from the heat.
Add liqueur, oil, caster sugar and aniseed and mix until well combined.
Add nuts, raisins and lemon rind and stir until well combined.
Spread the mixture into the tin. The mixture should be 2.5 – 3cms high. Decorate with apple slices. Sprinkle extra caster sugar over apples.
Bake in oven for around 25 minutes or until golden on top.
Remove and cool on a baking rack.
Serve with fresh fruit, ice cream, custard or cream.
This recipe has been adapted (slightly) from Gabriele Taddeucci’s Cornmeal, Fruit and Nut Flan. Here is his version:
There’s no doubt I could work on my presentation skills but see how he has made these individually – I think that’s much better approach and the flan would be more crispy whereas my texture was a bit soft.
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