The Great Hall
Flan/Creme Caramel Smooth texture or Scrambled Bubbles??? The Great Hall: Flan/Creme Caramel Smooth texture or Scrambled Bubbles???
By thepastrychef on Monday, February 05, 2001 - 01:15 am: Edit

I recentley had a discusion with a server at a Mexican restaurant about Flan. In all of your opinions should the custard have a smmoth texture or are the bubbles found on the sides of an over baked flan acceptable?

Thanks the pastry chef

By W.DeBord on Monday, February 05, 2001 - 07:47 am: Edit

HUM...of course it should be smooth! Just here to prove your point?

Turn the heat down and use a waterbath!

By W.DeBord on Monday, February 05, 2001 - 07:54 am: Edit

I just re-read your post...your fighting with a server not a chef? Just because this is how someone has always seen something doesn't mean that is correct. I'd bet you money you'll never get the guy to concede!

By panini on Monday, February 05, 2001 - 05:45 pm: Edit

I always assumed that creme caramel and flan were two different things. The French is very creamy and cooked in a water bath for a shorter time.
Here in the South, Spanish Flan or Mexican Flan has a much darker caramel and is cooked longer.
The result is a tighter flan and an almost scorched sugar. The top sometimes bubbles and a little skin forms.
Cooking longer does not mean cooking higher. We would never serve scrambled eggs.

By Panini (Panini) on Thursday, February 08, 2001 - 03:03 pm: Edit

Come on people, there must be more input for such a famous dessert!!!

By chefkramer on Friday, February 09, 2001 - 03:39 pm: Edit

agree totaly with you

By Peachcreek (Peachcreek) on Friday, February 09, 2001 - 11:21 pm: Edit

Hey everyone, I guess we have been doing it wrong all this time. The server told us so! And I thought I screwed up the creme caramel if it crystallized. Apparently a bubbly mess IS the right way! Maybe the next time I need an expert opinion on cusine I'll ask the busboy.

By Panini (Panini) on Saturday, February 10, 2001 - 10:37 am: Edit

this kind of response is what is becoming the norm around here. Is there any professionals here that have something constructive to say.
A busboy from Mexico would probably know more about Flan than most so called Chef and business owners here. I listen to everybody in this business. It's our fault that immigrants are shown no respect, hell, most of the nurses here in the United States are qualified Doctors in their home country. Aw forget it!

By Peachcreek (Peachcreek) on Saturday, February 10, 2001 - 11:38 am: Edit

I apologize if my comment came off as a racial slur. My impression is not derived for ethnic origin. Over the years, I have had good relationships with people from all over the world. My daughter is spending next year in Spain, and has good friends from Venezuela, MEXICO, Brazil, and Argentina. I am involved in Rotary International, a great organization. Back to my point. Ethnic origin isn't a warrant for good cooking. Proficiency is. I have been to enough bad ethnic restaurants as have we all, to know this. French, Mexican, Asian, you name it. People only know what they know. Being a cook for as long as I have, I have had experiences where customers want things the way that they are used to having them. Even if, in the opinion of a professional, would be considered the incorrect method. I don't change my method because someone tells me that isn't the "authentic" way, according to them. Think about Thanksgiving Dinner and all the ways we have seen it done. And us Americans should be experts. Just like everything else, I guess there is a broad range of interpretation. Because my mother in law like her turkey well well done and crunchy, does it mean we should do the same? Does it mean that a server from a foreign country is the last word on the issue? I still don't think so. I'll go to my peers. The good thing about this site is that it is worldwide. Maybe a Mexican specialist or two can set us straight.

By Panini (Panini) on Saturday, February 10, 2001 - 01:41 pm: Edit

Most of my peers are open minded enough to listen to different ideas. As the post states ,he or she was having a discussion with a server about Flan.
If one has a good understanding about cooking they are very open to different variations of items. I have found that formulas vary from country to country and region to region. I have had Flan in Spain and Mexico, and if someone tried to pass off Creme Caramel I would know the difference.
thepastrychef said nothing about a busboy, a good restaurant will hire servers that are an extention of the kitchen. I always have good food conversation with a good server.
I happen to agree with the server this time, but what do I know?

By momoreg on Saturday, February 10, 2001 - 04:02 pm: Edit

I posted on this topic last night, but I just noticed that it didn't go through. There are so many definitions for flan. What I know as a tart, some people call a flan. (I suppose that's the French defiinition). But you have flan from Mexico, S.America, the Phillipines, and Spain. Who is to say which came first? I have seen recipes that contain condensed milk, some that are rich in cream (like a creme brulee), and some that are very eggy. Bottom line, if it bubbles, it means it's been cooked too long or too hot, or the mixture had air incorporated into it before it was baked. It should be smmoth, whether it's a flan or creme caramel.

By W.DeBord on Sunday, February 11, 2001 - 08:26 am: Edit

Again, maybe we've made the mistake of blurring the correct names, so now I do think of flan as creme carmel, yet flan also means tart. But Panini your correct, there is a difference btween the two.

I still don't think a well baked flan should have bubbles....talking about this makes me want to bake some today. Instead of my old recipe I'm going to try one from a good Spanish cookbook and see how their recipe turns out.

Panini did the ones you tasted in Spain and Mexico have bubbles too? I could see how in a less afluent area their ovens might not be calibrated perfectly...possibly they're used to seeing bubbles because their not using great ovens?

By Panini (Panini) on Sunday, February 11, 2001 - 02:04 pm: Edit

I'm not really sure if we are talking bubbles or curds. Yes the flans had a little bubbling around the sides. This occures from not removing all the bubbles before cooking as momoreg states. Spanish and Mexican flan would probably come off as overcooked and the sugar almost burned, that's their preference. There probably is no right or wrong as momoreg states, but I was just curious.Here close to Mexico you will find creme caramel served in the hotels as flan and flan served in the restaurants. I really don't mean this as uppity but I really don't frequent restaurants that have busboys, that food I can easily make at home.

By Charles on Sunday, February 11, 2001 - 06:39 pm: Edit

Flan (flahn) 1. A shallow, open-faced French tart, usually filled with fruit or custard. 2. A custard baked over a layer of carmelized sugar and inverted for service. 3. Spanish for creme caramel

Source=Webster's New World Dictionary of CULINARY ARTS.

the bubbles are from the mixing.. let the batter sit and skim any foam from the top. if the custard is grainy at all it has been overcooked. The protein in the egg begins to coagulate at 160 F


Charles Rivers

By momoreg on Sunday, February 11, 2001 - 08:11 pm: Edit

I agree that the bubbles are most likely from the mixing, but what comes to mind, in terms of overheating as a culprit, is a fried egg. Around the edges, bubbles usually form, because that is where the egg is thinnest, and therefore heats up very quickly. I don't think that example is much different from what happens when a flan is overheated. I am not positive whether this is a valid comparison, but it does seem correct to me.

By Yankee on Monday, February 12, 2001 - 02:01 am: Edit

Methinks those bubbles around the sides are the result of cooking at too high a temp.

After mixing, straining and pouring, wouldn't any air bubbles just rise to the surface? Do you guys foam your eggs or something?

The only time I have ever gotten air holes/bubbles around the outside of the product is when the temp was a tad too high, or they went too long. The water in the mixture is just starting to turn into steam, which gives you those bubbles up the sides.

Also, if you have a brulee torch within reach, quick brush with the flame will pop any bubbles on the surface of the product before baking. No muss, no fuss, no mess.

No busboys? That's not eating out, that's fast food. LOL. Cheers.

By Panini (Panini) on Monday, February 12, 2001 - 05:56 am: Edit

good idea with the torch, we just use the old fashioned dragging the paper towel over them. d. I don't know what fast food is. I was refering to a front waiter and a back waiter. This brings back memories of a favorite song, tiny bubbles, in the flan, some Hawaiian guy.

By W.DeBord on Monday, February 12, 2001 - 08:30 am: Edit

Oh boy, Panini....tiny bubbles... I can picture you humming that all night to your wife!

I'm a ditto, I understand bubbles on top but I've never seen them on the sides. I have over cooked my custards before (like who hasen't) and all that got me was a curd like bubbles. Would you get them on the sides if you just used a slow oven with-out a water bath?

The recipe for Flan in my Mexican cookbook (by Jane Butel)instructs you to whip till foamy using sweetened condensed milk, milk and whole eggs...with NO mention of using a water bath (at 350)!

How about recipes? Creme carmel has whole eggs and yolks and flan uses just whole eggs...anyone disagree? Anyone use cream instead of milk?

Just curious...

By cynsny on Monday, February 12, 2001 - 11:28 am: Edit

Well,I have a "housewife" recipe for a Flan with sweetened condensed milk, cream & milk from a Mexican cookbook. It's been a while since I've made it, so I can't coment on how bubbly it is. The description in the book says it's creamy & rich. It uses a water bath though, all of my Flan recipes do.

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