Desserts French custard tart - Tarte au flan

Published on August 26th, 2013 | by Gareth


French custard tart – tarte au flan

Custard is quite possibly the most universal dessert in the world. In Britain we have custard tart, trifle and pour custard on favourites like crumble. In Germany they have custard cake. The Frenchies are true custard kings with crème brulee, crème caramel and petit fours to name a few. Custard can be found on dinner tables as far away as China in the form of double-skinned egg custard.

When I talk about custard, I’m referring to custard made from scratch with eggs and milk not the powdered variety or the preservative laden, bright yellow gloop in tetra packs at the supermarket.

Custard is also pretty adaptable. The Romans, (inventors of most things that the Greeks didn’t) used the binding property of eggs to make omelettes. Savoury custards also pop up in the form of quiche (pronounced kwish by my dear old Grandad) and the Japanese chawanmushi.

Custard is the Swiss Army knife of food and I love it in all translations! Hard to pick a favourite custard dish, but if I had to, I reckon it would be Tarte au Flan. This is unsurprisingly a French creation, basically a deep filled baked sweet custard flan, served chilled. Simple, yet complex, filling yet delicate, it’s an impressive dessert in my books.

Don’t be put off by all the steps, this is quite a straight forward recipe.

Tarte au flan - baked french custard tart

Tart from above

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes


sweet short crust pastry

  • 125g unsalted butter – chilled and diced
  • 1 ½ cups plain flour
  • ¼ cup icing sugar
  • 2-3 tbls. iced water

custard mix – confectioner’s custard

  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 500ml milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 35g corn flour (cornstarch)
  • 10cm round deep oven/pie dish. You can use a 20cm flan dish but may need to make a little extra custard to fill it.


  • To make the pastry put the butter, icing sugar and flour in a food processor. Pulse blend it for 10-15 seconds at a time until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs – don’t overwork the pastry otherwise it will be tough.
  • Empty the pastry mix into a large bowl, make a well in the middle and add the iced water 1 tablespoon at a time. Mix in between adding the water with your fingers until it begins to form large clumps.
  • You may need a little extra or less water.
  • Again using fingers bring the mix together into a ball, (important not to handle the pastry too much).
  • Wrap in plastic food wrap and pop in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.
  • Cut the ball in half, one half for the flan the other half for the freezer.
  • Roll out the pastry into a rough circle. If you’re not sure watch my “How to make pastry” video and just change the ingredients as per above.
  • Gently lay the pastry over the oven dish and push down to line the dish.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and rest in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove form fridge and prick the pastry with a fork, lay a sheet of baking paper inside on the pastry and weigh down with baking beans/pie weights.
  • Blind bake in a preheated oven (180degreesC) for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  • For the custard, pour the milk in a saucepan, slit the vanilla bean the entire length and add to the milk.
  • Bring the milk to the boil then reduce to a simmer.
  • Beat the eggs with the caster sugar until white (or pale).
  • Add the corn flour and fold in.
  • Remove the vanilla bean (scrape out all the seeds into the milk first). Gradually pour the hot milk into the egg mix, whisk constantly while as you do to prevent lumps.
  • Return the custard mix to the saucepan and bring to the boil over a low heat (for 1 minute). Whisk constantly with ‘vigour’.
  • As the custard thickens pour into the pre baked pastry case, (keep the pastry in the oven proof bowl).
  • Bake the flan in the oven for 35 minutes at 180degreesC, until it is lightly browned.
  • Remove from oven, set aside to cool for 30 minutes then chill in the fridge for 30-45 minutes.
  • Serve and enjoy.

What’s your favourite foodie all rounder?

Tarte au flan - french baked custard tart

Tarts for tea





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About the Author

Englishman in Sydney loves a whisky, pies and all things savoury. Digital Marketer by day, cook the rest of the time. Amateur writer, photographer & aspiring anthropologists.

3 Responses to French custard tart – tarte au flan

  1. Yum. Love custard made from scratch, and super impressed with the height of your tart!

    • Gareth says:

      Thanks Helen, I should have taken some pics once it fully set. The height is one of the big differences between English and French tarts (custard that is hahaha).

  2. That looks like it has a wonderful texture Gareth and you’re right, it’s often underrated and referred to as an accompaniment or something on the side!

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