Bumble bees were humming outside the window, and the sweet-pea on the fence has started to snake it's pale green tendrils in search of a better purchase on the twisted trellis......and I was in my favourite place - the kitchen - baking a recipe which I'd come across on the wonderful and inventive food blog by Evelin called Bounteous Bites
Oats bring such a wonderful nuttiness to everything from muffins and bread, to scones and cakes, and now here they were... in pastry! I have come across pizza bases with oats before, but was intrigued to try the concept in a flan... Since I am becoming increasingly interested in finding and developing alternatives to using wheat flour (there are so many other fabulous grains out there to work with!) I further adapted Evelin's recipe to see if it would work without the flour......it did! I think this is going to be one of those recipes that I'll just keep on 'tweaking'.
I substituted ground almonds and cornflour for the wheat flour since I've found that ground almonds work so well in so many things, and cornflour keeps the pastry 'short' or crispy. The pastry crust was lovely and crunchy when it was warm straight from the oven. It did lose it's bite a bit when it cooled down. Even so, the combination of the nutty sweet pastry with the unctuous creamy oniony-garlic filling was really delicious (I couldn't resist substituting cream for the milk either; I love it's velvety thickness in a flan, and, of course, I had to add garlic!)
It didn't last long, and has already become a favourite. Thank you Evelin!
Caramelised Onion flan with Nutty Oat & Carrot Pastry
For the Pastry:
125g oatflakes (fine cut or ground - a little texture is good, but too much or it won't bind together well)
50g ground almonds
100g grated carrot
100g butter (at room temperature)
half a teaspoon of baking powder
half a teaspoon of ground coriander
For the filling:
300g shallots or onions
50g butter for frying
3 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
a few sprigs of thyme - or whatever you fancy!
To make the pastry, measure the oatflakes, ground almonds and cornflour into a bowl together with the baking powder and coriander. Stir to combine and then add in the grated carrot, and finally mix in the butter. I found that cutting it in with a knife until it came together was fine. The mixture will be quite sticky but that's o.k.
Cover and leave in the fridge to rest for about 30 minutes - this way it will be easier to handle!
Meanwhile, slowly cook the onions or shallots in butter.....I used shallots for their shape and sweetness.
until they are gorgeous and caramelised, sweet and sticky...
then add in the garlic almost at the last minute to stop it from being overcooked and burning - which would make it bitter
Roll out the pastry on a floured board (I used more cornflour) and line a flan tin, or individual muffin pans. The pastry is quite sticky and brittle, but if you handle it carefully it's workable. I did find it easier to flatten it out most of the way with my hand before rolling the final round. In fact, where it's quite soft, if it does crack when you line the tins it's no problem to patch up the holes! When you've lined the tin cover and place back in the fridge to rest for another 20 minutes or so to prevent it from shrinking too much.
Then bake the flan blind for 20 minutes at 200C / Gas 6. Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 180C / Gas 4. Spread the onion mixture over the base. Mix together the cream and eggs. Add the mustard and seasoning and any herbs you fancy. I used Thyme because it was what was to hand with the fresh spring shoots coming through in the garden.
Pour the cream mixture over the onions and cook for a further 20 to 30 minutes until set and golden brown.
Tastes great straight from the oven with a few fresh spring vegetables, and then have it later for a packed lunch too...
It's not exactly Asian, but the nutty smell of the onions and garlic from my Bento box were certainly tantalizing!