Eighteenth-century Creamed Apple Flan

This recipe is a nostalgic one for me as it's one of the first I tried after some research into eighteenth-century British cooking at the British Museum, and it prompted me to do a whole lot more.

Serves 6

This recipe first appeared in The Delia Collection: Puddings.

Eighteenth-century Creamed Apple Flan
For the filling:
 1 lb 5 oz (600g) large Bramley cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
 2 oz (50g) ratafia biscuits (or amaretti)
 2 oz (50 g) butter
 2 tablespoons golden caster sugar
 grated zest of 1 small lemon
 2 tablespoons brandy, sherry or cider
 whole nutmeg for grating
 5 large egg yolks
 2½ fl oz (65 ml) double cream
For the pastry:
 11/2 oz (40 g) softened butter, cut into smallish lumps
 11/2 oz (40 g) softened pure lard
 5 oz (150 g) plain flour, sifted, plus a little extra for rolling out (or 8oz/225g shortcrust pastry, made with butter)
To serve
 icing sugar, for dusting
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).
You will also need a loose-based, fluted tart tin 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter, 1¼ inches (3 cm) deep, lightly greased.


Mix the pastry by rubbing the fats into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Then add 1-2 teaspoons of water to make a dough that leaves the bowl clean. Pop the pastry into a polythene bag and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes or so, then roll it out on a lightly floured surface and use to line the tart tin. Prick the base all over with a fork and brush with one of the egg yolks. Bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the sliced apples in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of water and cook gently until they are pulpy. Transfer the fluffy purée to a large mixing bowl.

Now crush the biscuits – the best way to do this is to lay them flat inside a polythene bag then roll them with a rolling pin to crush them into crumbs.

Add the butter and the caster sugar into the apple purée, followed by the lemon zest, crushed biscuits, remaining 4 egg yolks, double cream, brandy and a good grating of nutmeg then whisk everything together thoroughly.

Pour the whole lot into the partly cooked flan case, then bake in the oven for a further 30 minutes until it's springly to touch in the centre.

Allow to cool, then chill for a couple of hours in the fridge before serving, dusted with icing sugar, and some chilled pouring cream.

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