It’s a very hot week down here in The Valley. Perfect for a picnic. Would you and the froglets like to come to the big pond for lunch in the country? I’ll pack finger-food chicken and a salad (with fresh BEETROOT, of course), and you might like to try out the very easy FRYPAN FLAN recipe I sent previously. Maybe one of the froglets could make it. (Should one refer to pre-teens as ‘froglets’?) Country Frog.
Country Frog's FRYPAN FRUIT FLAN (made on the stovetop)
This simple low-fat dessert was trialled and tested by fire. I wanted a flan or tart that could be made over an open fire or on a barbecue plate, something to finish off a camp-fire lunch in the bush, and made from ingredients that could be carried in a pack without the need for ice.
Serves 6, for morning tea or dessert.
Time: 10 minutes to prepare; 10 minutes to cook.
For the Base or Batter: You could use your favourite batter recipe - one you mix up for good fat pancakes - and you’ll need about 2 cups of mixture. Mix the batter first, and let it stand in the bowl while you prepare the fruit.
Utensils: Heavy-based frying pan (not a skillet), small sharp knife, mixing bowl, wooden spoon.
Ingredients: Easy Batter
1¼ cups (280ml) cold skim milk
¼ cup white sugar
pinch of salt
¾ - 1 cup self-raising flour (or plain white flour with 1 teaspoon baking powder added)
2 large fresh peaches, skin on (or pears, or 3 - 4 nectarines) 1 mango (or ½ cup red berries, or crushed walnuts)
2 teaspoons honey, or 2 tablespoons maple syrup
smear of oil for the pan
1. Put batter ingredients into a bowl and mix with wooden spoon until the egg is well incorporated. It doesn’t matter if there are small lumps of floor remaining. (It is best not to over-mix as you risk beating the raising potential out of the mix.) Set aside. The mixture will thicken slightly. Add more water or flour to adjust, as necessary.
2. Slice peaches in half, then each half into four wedges. Rub or spray sides and base of pan with cooking oil and arrange fruit in a ring being sure to leave a 1 - 2 cm margin between the outer edge of the fruit and side of the pan (this will let the batter form the edge of the flan and stop the whole business falling apart).
3. Place berries or walnuts in the small middle circle and / or between the peach slices. Drizzle all over with honey or maple syrup.
4. Set the pan on stovetop over medium heat (or on slow coals of a fire, or a very hot BBQ plate).
5. When the fruit begins to caramelise (sizzle) pour the batter over and cover the pan with a well fitting lid (or with foil and a heavy flat plate) to hold in the heat. Do not lift the lid during the cooking.
6. After five minutes turn the heat back slightly (or earlier if the fruit sugars start to smell too ‘caramelly’), and cook for another five minutes. Then take a peek. If the centre is set or almost set, put the lid back on and remove from heat. If batter is obviously still runny, cook for a further minute or two, remembering that the centre will continue to cook after you take the fry pan off the stove. Let the flan cool in the pan for another few minutes while you make a pot of tea, then run a knife around the edge, between the flan and pan before flipping the flan UPSIDE DOWN onto a serving plate.
To flip: Choose a serving plate slightly larger in diameter than the frying pan and place this over the pan. Use a folded towel or oven glove to hold the frying pan (I like to sit the pan on the flat of my covered hand) and, with the other hand, hold the plate firmly against the top of the pan. And flip. You should hear the ‘suck’ as the flan unglues from the oiled pan. If any fruit has dislodged, carefully rearrange.
Serve warm. It tastes best just eaten in your fingers, but to dress it up for a civilised indoors dessert or teacake, douse with a little red-berry puree and add a dollop of cream-fresh or ice-cream. The flan is so easy and fuss-free that you can make it after the main is finished while you and your guests chat.
To make a less healthy flan, use regular milk or substitute in some cream, but the richness of the caramelised fruit gives enough flavour that you can keep this very simple and low budget.
Tip for camping or trekking. Instead of fresh milk, use ¾ cup skim milk powder. Before you leave home, mix all dry ingredients together in a plastic bowl or lunch box that has an airtight lid and place the egg into this soft nest to transport it. That way, if the egg breaks, it doesn’t matter. Then use that carrying bowl for mixing the batter, adding plain water until you get the right consistency.