Flan that Went Wrong

I had planned today to blog about something more high brow than Spanish Flan, but unfortunately, my tonsils are swollen and I have a small fever, so my thoughts on anything more meaningful than a classic Spanish pudding are decidedly scrambled.

Kind of like the Flan that Went Wrong.

As an immigrant to the UK, I always miss my family over Easter. I miss my maternal Grandma’s delicious Easter Bread, the famous-to-us Easter egg hunts we would have at my paternal Grandparents’ farm, and of course, the general feeling of being part of a connected family unit.

So, at Easter, I always like to do something special. This year, my husband and I invited a friend over for a spring Lamb roast, and we promised her fresh roasted potatoes, honeyed parsnips, buttered carrots, steamed broccolini, crispy-on-the-outside Yorkshire puddings, and of course, a honking leg of lamb gently massaged with olive oil, salt, rosemary, and garlic. And a home-made Flan.

All I had to do was make the Flan, in five easy steps. I have presented these steps as I understood them, so it may be best for those interested in creating a successful flan to visit: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/spanish-flan/. The steps I had to follow were thus:

1. Melt plain white sugar until it turns into caramel.

2. Cover the base of the Flan pan in said caramel.

3. Mix eggs, evaporated milk, condensed milk, and vanilla extract together.

4. Pour said mix on top of caramel, filling Flan pan.

5. Immerse Flan pan in a water bath (user tip), and bake for 60 minutes.

Allrecipes promised me that the recipe was “the best”, that is was “simple”, and most importantly, “that everyone would love it”. No problem, right?!


Flan Attempt Number One went well, and I can only assume that had I been able to execute steps 4 and 5 without issue, I would have indeed produced the best ever Flan for us all to love.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a second pan which was big enough to use as a water-bath for my Flan pan. So, I had to improvise.

I tried filling one of those snap-together sponge cake pans with water, and immersing the Flan pan into that. The Flan pan fit, but unfortunately, the snap-together sponge cake pan was not water-tight, so my kitchen floor got a little wet.

Really, that should have been obvious.

Then, I decided that it was probably fine to use any oven-safe water carrier, so I filled up my deep metal frying pan with water, placed the Flan pan into that, and smugly started pouring the Flan mixture into the Flan pan. Problem solved.

Perhaps predictably, as the Flan pan became heavier, the water surrounding the Flan pan was pushed up and over the edges of the Flan pan, filling the Flan Pan with water. Suddenly, the contents of my Flan pan and my water bath were one in the same. This looked harder to fix.

I poured the mixture and water out of the Flan pan and the frying pan and into the sink, but managed to save the (now hardened) caramel base for Flan Attempt Number 2.

One shop run and a few curse-words later, my second batch of Flan mixture was ready to be filled into the Flan pan. I decided to give up on the water bath (after all, this wasn’t technically part of the recipe, just one of the tips that successful predecessors suggested in their comments, so I figured I was pretty safe).

I filled the Flan pan, put it into the oven, and hoped for the best.

An hour later, what I had was this:

bad flan

Perhaps the photograph does not quite do it justice, but basically, it was a sweetened scrambled egg topped with a bitter caramel-like substance, with no Spanish wobble and definitely no curb appeal.

I hoped that the lovely Spanish serving platter I used would mask the burnt-look of the Flan a little bit. It did no such thing.

I then hoped that as we ate, the Flan might magically cool into something edible. It did no such thing.

After dinner, I put the Flan in the middle of the table. No one loved it, and it was far from the best Flan I had ever tasted. It was, arguably, the best sweetened scrambled eggs topped with bitter caramel sauce that I had ever eaten, though that currently tops a list of one.

What did happen, though, was that I gained some personal insight.

Unlike the me a few years ago who would have been upset about this, who would have worried that the afternoon would be ruined, or who would have feared judgement for being anything but perfect, I just laughed. We all just laughed. We all used our spoons to try and dig through the mess to find something worth eating (we were unsuccessful), and questioned whether it was possible to get food poisoning from cooked eggs and sugar.

Neither my friend nor my husband pretended the Flan was anything it was not. Both of them recommended I leave Flan to the Spanish and focus perhaps on three step recipes with little room for error. There was no judgement, there was no pretending, and there was no failure.

So, the Flan that Went Wrong (Twice) turned out to be the Flan that Went Right, and I found myself this Easter feeling an overwhelming sense of love for the family I have created over here.

Of course, there was no Easter Egg Hunt on a 42-acre farm or special home made Easter Bread…but the Flan that Went Wrong was a pretty close second.

bad flan 2

Happy Easter!

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