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Flans and Tarts

Recipes, descriptions and information about Flans, Tarts and Quiches

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What's the difference between a Flan and a Tart?  |  How to make Flans, Tarts and Quiches   |   Sweet and Savoury Flan Tart and Quiche Recipes


Flans, tarts and quiches are basically pies which don't have a top crust.  Like pies, they are a great way to combine different ingredients, flavours and seasonings together in a compact format with the additional advantage that many can be served cold and are therefore suitable for picnics and buffets or advanced preparation and cooking.



Definitions of flans, tarts and quiches


Flan:    An open pie filled with sweet or savoury ingredients

Tart:     An open pie usually filled with sweet ingredients

Quiche:  The French term for an open pie willed with savoury ingredients primarily of eggs and milk or cream



How to make flans, tarts and quiches


Jump to:  -  Making Shortcrust Pastry Pastry Quantities needed  |  Lining a Flan Tin  |  Blind Baking Pastry Cases  | Filling the Flan  |  Cooking times  |  Flan and Tart Recipes




What type of Pastry to use for flans, tarts and quiches

Shortcrust pastry is the preferred type used for flans, tarts and quiches as it is firm enough to mould into the required shape to hold all manner of fillings.  Shortcrust pastry can be standard (made with margarine or other fats/shortening and water),  rich (made with butter and the addition of egg yolks) or sweet (made with the addition of sugar), depending on what type of flan is being made.

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Depending on the recipe, other seasonings can be added to the pastry mixture such as paprika or cayenne pepper.



How to make Shortcrust Pastry

The mark of a good shortcrust pastry is its ability to hold together whilst still being light and crumbly. Good shortcrust pastry is often referred to as being very "short". This is achieved primarily by  using a higher proportion of fat to flour and less liquid to bind it together.



In general using half fat to flour gives a very good or "short" pastry. Don't be tempted to increase the fat to flour ration much more as you will end up with a pastry which is very crumbly and difficult to work with.

Although many swear that the only way to make a good shortcrust pastry is by hand, excellent results can be achieved using a food processor as can be seen in this video. Alternatively here's a standard recipe for shortcrust pastry.

Whichever method you choose, there are a few basic rules which remain the same namely


1. Use the correct ratio of fat to flour and use of a minimum amount of liquid to bind it.

2. The fat and binding liquid, whether it's water or egg, should be as cold as possible - eggs and fat straight from the fridge and preferably ice cold water.

3. Always add a little salt - even for sweet pastry.

4. Always use plain flour, be it white, brown or wholemeal

5. The fat should be cubed and "rubbed" into the flour with your fingertips or in a food processor as quickly as possible, until it resembles breadcrumbs. Do not overwork the mixture.



How much pastry do you need?

Sometimes a recipe will call for a certain quantity of pastry which refers the weight of the finished pastry. If you are making your own pastry, the finished weight will be the weight of the flour plus the weight of the fat.  A good shortcrust pastry is made with half fat to flour so, as an example, if the recipe calls for 150g/6oz of pastry, to make this amount you should use  100g/4oz of flour and 50g/2oz of fat (butter, margarine etc).


Here are approximate quantities of ingredients needed for different sized flans:-


To line an 18cm/ 7 inch  flan tin 200g/7oz Pastry
i.e. 125g/-5oz flour + 50g/2oz fat
To line a 20cm/ 8 inch  flan tin 250g/9oz Pastry
i.e. 175g/6oz flour + 75g/3oz fat
To line a 25cm/ 10 inch  flan tin 300g/11oz Pastry
i.e. 200g/7oz Flour + 100g/4oz fat


Bear in mind that some flan dishes are deeper than others so it's best to err on the side of caution and make more pastry than you think you need rather than having to roll the pastry too thinly in order to line the tin.


How to line a flan tin


The crust should be rolled out to no more than 6mm/-inch thick and then used to line a flan tin which, in general, are no deeper than 4cm/1-inches. 


Most flan tins or ovenproof dishes are round, however there's nothing to stop you using other shaped tins,  so long as these are shallow.


When rolling the pastry, keep the surface and rolling pin well floured and try to roll in one direction, turning the pastry on the surface.


Roll the pastry out approximately 5cm/2-inches larger than the diameter of the tin to ensure there is sufficient to line both the bottom and the sides with one piece without having to over stretch the dough. Pastry rolled too thinly is likely to be too brittle and hard so ensure you have sufficient pastry to line the tin you will be using.


Using the rolling pin to lift the pastry, place it on top of the tin in one piece then carefully fit the pastry against the edges, avoiding making any punctures with your nails. Cut the surplus pastry from around the edges with a sharp knife.



Blind Baking Pastry Cases

Most recipes will call for "blind baking" the pastry case to ensure it doesn't get soggy and break apart once it's cooked. This simply means to partially or completely cook the flan case before filling and is a simple process:-



1. Once you've lined the flan tin with pastry, prick the base all over with a fork.


2. Line the case with greaseproof paper or foil.


3. Fill with "baking beans"


4. Bake in a pre-heated oven - 180C, 350F, Gas Mark 4 - for 15 minutes.

5. Remove the beans and paper and fill as per your recipe or, if making a cold sweet tart e.g. with fruit, return the case to the oven once the paper and beans have been removed, and continue to bake for a further 10-15 minutes until the case is completely cooked.


Filling the Pastry Case


Most recipes will give you the exact quantities of ingredients to fill the flan case and directions as to whether you should mix the filling ingredients together before adding to the case or whether to place any of the ingredients such as vegetables, bacon and cheese directly in the case before topping up with beaten eggs etc.  Make sure you use the same sized flan as given in the recipe otherwise you could end up with not enough of too much filling.


If you are planning to make up your own fillings, it's a good idea to find out the capacity of the flan tin before you start. This can be easily done by filling the flan tin with water then transferring the water to a measuring jug to see how much filling you need.


Cooking flans, tarts and quiches


Once again, most recipes will give timings for cooking flans, tarts and quiches however in general, it is best to cook savoury flans in a pre-heated oven 180C, 350F, Gas Mark 4 for 15 minutes before turning the oven down slightly and cooking for a further 30 minutes.


The cooking times and temperatures for sweet tarts such as custard tarts and treacle tarts can vary dramatically depending on the fillings so always refer to a recipe.


Flan Recipes, Tart Recipes and Quiche Recipes


There are so many flan and tart recipes on this site that we've set up a separate page listing most of them. Click HERE for lots of sweet and savoury flan, tart and quiche recipes.  Alternatively, if you have specific ingredients you wish to use, try using the search page.



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