Tag Archives: baking

Cashmere for the mouth: My Mother’s Flan

My mother spent some of her formative years abroad in Bolivia and Costa Rica before moving to Hawaii in 1967. With that time in South America she spoke Spanish tasted authentic Spanish influences including flan. One thing my mother was always good at has been baking. Her creative endeavors didn’t end at the canvas, she has quite the knack for anything elaborate, chocolate, and above all heavenly on the tongue. Anything custard holds an especially dear place in my heart for sweets, long johns anyone? I don’t recall the first time I ate my mother’s flan, but every time we ate out and ordered flan, my mother would always say hers was better.

Around the house when I was young it was a common sight to have dessert for dinner. We often stopped by Craig’s bakery in Kailua for their day-old specials, including their delicious custard pie. I now understand how absurd it was to be eating whatever I wanted to for dinner as a kid, including dessert, but my mom always said, “eggs, flour, milk, well why not it’s healthy?” I now suffer from an insatiable sweet-tooth that was earned from many of these “dessert for dinner” nights.

Recently I asked my mom how to make her delicious flan. She likes her caramel a little bit towards the dark and almost burnt side. Turns out I do too. I was always afraid to try making this dish fearing it was much too difficult. A bit tricky, but it turns out not too hard at all. We have our own hens and ducks, and if you can get your hands on some duck eggs it’ll make your custard divine.

My Mother’s FLAN


  • 2/3 cups granulated raw sugar for caramel
  • 5 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk plus 1 can condensed milk or evaporated milk plus nonfat milk to equal 4 cups.
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (or almond extract if you prefer)


  1. Have your baking dish/es ready, and be sure it is dry.
  2. Melt and caramelize the 2/3 cup raw sugar in a heavy skillet. (I use my 2qt le creuset)
  3. When sugar melts and turns a light golden color (or darker if you prefer, but make sure not to burn it), which takes about 5 minutes, quickly pour in the pudding dish/es and tilt back and forth with a swirling motion to cover bottom of dish. Set aside and cool.
  4. Beat eggs and yolks into the cream mixture and add salt. Stir. Add vanilla. Strain over a fine mesh strainer and pour into prepared pudding dish/es.
  5. Set dish in pan of hot water and baker covered with foil in preheated 325 degree oven for 20-30 minutes for small ramekins, to 1 1/2 hours for a large dish. Note: Depending on the size of the pudding dish you use, a 2-quart dish or individual ramekins, your cooking time will vary.
  6. Insert knife in center, if knife comes out clean flan is done. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  7. Place a round, rimmed plate/platter over flan to flip over slowly. Flip carefully as the caramelized sugar syrup will pour out along with the flan. Enjoy warm or chilled.

I hope you enjoy this flan as much as I do!

Secret Breakfast Weapon: Tartine’s Buttermilk Scones

I absolutely love breakfast. And I love hosting even more. Want to host a simple champagne breakfast? Make these scones and you’ll be one fashionable host.

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I’ve been fortunate enough to frequent Tartine bakery in the Mission in San Francisco on numerous occasions. It truly is my favorite place to eat, no matter what time of day. So when I came across Tartine’s cookbook I was overjoyed to try to make her delectables at home.

The first thing I tried was this recipe for lemon currant scones. More than any other pastry, I love scones. The trick is always cutting/mixing the butter with the flour. It is the #1 most important thing you do right to get the right texture. I find most scones at shops too cakey or too dense. These are more like sweet biscuits. Don’t like currants? No problem. This basic buttermilk recipe works fabulously with other tart dried fruit. I added hazelnuts and dried cherries instead. Go wild, here’s the basic.

Tartine’s Buttermilk Scones

makes 12 large scones

4 3/4 cups of flour

3/4 cup of dried currants
(or other tart dried fruit)

1 tablespoon of baking powder

3/4 teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 cup of sugar

1 1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 cup (2 sticks) very cold, unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups of buttermilk

1 teaspoon of grated lemon zest

Topping: 3 tablespoons of melted butter,
turbinado or demerara sugar for sprinkling.

Tools: A food processor, sifter or whisk, large bowl, wooden spoon, chef’s knife.

Prepare: You’ll want your butter as cold as possible. I like to cut my butter first, then wrap it in plastic and place it in the freezer while I prepare the rest of the ingredients.

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Soak the currants in hot water for about 10 minutes or until they are plumped.  Drain well.

3. Sift together the flour, baking soda and baking powder into a large bowl. Alternatively use a wisk to aerate vs using a sifter. Add the salt & sugar and combine. Place ingredients into the bowl of a food processor.

4. Cut the butter into small cubes (or removed the cut butter from the freezer) and distribute them on top of the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl of a food processor. Pulse the mixer to combine, without breaking down the butter too much (you should see pea-sized pieces of butter). Alternatively you can cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter. Make sure you still see LARGE chunks of butter (this is essential to keeping the dough flakey).

5. Pour the mixture into your large bowl. Add the buttermilk, lemon zest and currants all at once, and mix with a wooden spoon until the dough just comes together (you may need to add a bit more buttermilk if too dry).

6. Dust a large cutting board with flour and place the dough onto it, shaping it into a long rectangle (about 5” wide, 1 ½” thick, 18” long) without handling it too much.

7. Brush the dough with melted butter and sprinkle with turbinado or demerara sugar. Cut the dough into 12 even-sized triangles and transfer them to your parchment-lined baking sheet.

8. Bake the scones for approximately 25 to 35 minutes (until the tops are lightly browned).  I’ve found that 375F convection for 25 minutes is perfect. However everyone’s oven is different.

9. Serve warm, with lemon curd or jam.

Adapted from the Tartine Cookbook