½ cup granulated sugar
10 pcs Egg Yolksfrom large eggs room temperature
1 can ( 10-oz) condensed milk
1 cup Evaporated Milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp fresh lime juicesee notes
This famous Filipino dessert dates back to Ancient Rome! The Romans were the first to domesticate chickens and found themselves with an egg surplus. Using what they learned from the Greeks, they developed new egg-based recipes. Most versions of flan in ancient times were more savory than sweet—imagine an eel and pepper flan. As the Romans conquered Europe, so did their recipes!
Flan in the Middle Ages had a flour crust and contained more eggs to help it firm up faster. It was flavored with almond milk, cinnamon, saffron, and rosewater or sometimes with nutmeg and meat.
Spain was the first to use sweet caramel as a topping, as a result of Moorish influence, and they also flavored it with honey, almond, and oranges.
Just like the Romans, the Spaniards spread the recipe as they conquered other parts of the world: notably the Philippines and Mexico in the 16th century.
Philippine historians theorized, “the leftover egg white from making leche flan were used as cement for stone walls when churches were built”.
Traditional Filipino recipes used fresh milk from carabao (water buffalo) or were flavored with dayap (key lime), but modern recipes are fairly simple, using a combination of evaporated milk, condensed milk, and vanilla.
I bake mine in the oven, but there are other techniques such as steaming or Bain-Marie, which is what my mom does. These techniques date back to the Renaissance, when recipes for flan started showing up in cookbooks.
How to Make Filipino Leche Flan:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Make the caramel first by dissolving 1/2 cup granulated sugar over a low to medium heat. Leave to dissolve, swirling occasionally to ensure the sugar does not harden and/or burn. Once it turns a light golden color, remove from the heat and spread evenly in a baking pan. Set aside and work on the flan.
- Whisk the 10 egg yolks then add the can of condensed milk. Stir until thoroughly combined.
- Add 1 cup evaporated milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice, and mix well. Add a pinch of salt and give the mixture a final stir.
- Transfer your mixture into a baking pan (on top of the caramel), straining it through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth. Gently and carefully pour it so as not to create any air bubbles.
- Place your baking dish in a roasting pan and put it in the preheated oven.
- Then fill the roasting pan with hot water halfway up the sides of the pan. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until the flan is set (firm but still jiggly). If the top is getting too brown, loosely cover with aluminum foil and continue baking.
- Take the flan out of the oven and cool slightly before refrigerating for at least 3 hours.
- Run a sharp knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the flan before inverting onto a platter to serve .
- Leche flan is traditionally made with dayap, a local key lime variety. If you can get hold of that, use it. Otherwise, lime juice works just fine.
- It is also traditionally baked in a llanera, which is an aluminum mold/baking pan but thinner. I use an 8×8 baking pan. If you want a thicker leche flan, use a smaller pan but make sure to adjust the baking time.