Nana Ming is my mom's sister who at 83 is still passionate about baking. On our recent reunion, her daughter Gigi showed us pictures of elegant cakes she created for her grandchildren's weddings and other special occasions. In her sheepish way, she cupped her face with her hands and said, "sometimes I don't believe that I made them."
That of course is an understatement.
Nana Ming has always been a good baker. I still could picture a cake she created that resembled the tiles of mahjong. It was so beautiful I could still vividly visualize it, even if this was many years ago. As a kid, I always looked forward to spending summers and holidays at their house as it was filled with a sweet scent coming from freshly baked goodies. Home made Food for the Gods (dates and nuts bars) covered in bright red and green cellophanes, buttery ensaymada (Filipino brioche) adorn her kitchen like fixtures (though it would disappear fast haha). This is Nana Ming's endearing way to make you feel a sense of comfort in her home. The scent, the taste and the feel of a freshly baked bread evoked a sense of warmth and love.
When she moved to Canada, we missed her baking a lot. But her staples such as pan de sal (Filipino bun) and custard cake left an indelible mark in our minds... fortunately we were able to squeeze in some lessons when we had a chance to spend a few days together in Orlando.
Beaming her usual sweet smile she says that she loves teaching family and friends on how to bake. Her love for baking was contagious. I cannot begin to tell you how thrilled I was when this golden silky flan with chiffon cake was turned upside down. I myself beamed a wide smile as nothing beats the feeling of seeing a perfectly made cake. Like her, I would be so happy if I will be able to share with you:
Nana Ming's Classic Custard Cake
For the caramel:
1 cup sugar
1/4 c water
For the custard:
3 egg yolks
1 can condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
For the cake
5 egg yolks
2 1/4 c cake flour
3/4 c sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 c of water with any flavoring, mocha or orange juice (I used vanilla)
For the meringue
8 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 c sugar
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a heavy sauce pan, combine sugar and water. Do not stir. On medium heat, caramelize sugar until it turns golden brown. Immediately pour it over a 9 inch baking pan. Set aside.
For the custard: Mix all ingredient together. Stir lightly using a whisk. Strain and pour it over to the caramelized pan. Set aside.
For the cake:
Sift together all the dry ingredients. Beat the eggs and gradually add the dry ingredients and the flavored water. Set aside.
For the meringue: Using a stand mixer , beat the eggs whites until fluffy and add cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks begin to form. Gradually add sugar and continue beating until it becomes stiff.
Fold the cake mixture into meringue mixture, until it is well blended. Make sure to eliminate any bubbles in the process.
Slowly pour into the pan. Bake in a baine marie for about an hour or until firm. Let it cool. Run a knife around the pan and turn it upside down.
You will be delighted to see a golden, silky flan cake... enjoy!