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Not to be confused with Crème caramel, also known as flan or flan de leche.
Savory French Flan.jpg
Course Main course or Dessert
Serving temperature Cold
Main ingredients pastry; custard (sweet flans) vegetables (savoury flans)
Cookbook: Flan  Media: Flan

Flan is an open pastry or sponge cake containing a sweet or savoury filling. A typical flan of this sort is round, with shortcrust pastry, usually coated with sweet syrup. It is similar to a custard tart or a South African melktert. [1]

British savoury flans may have diverged from the Spanish and French custard flans (also known as crème caramel) in the Middle Ages.[citation needed]


The history of flan begins with the ancient Romans. Eggs figured prominently in many Roman recipes. The flan prepared by the ancient Romans was quite different from the food we eat today. It was often served as a savory dish, as in "eel flan", although sweet flans, made with honey and pepper, were also enjoyed. When the Romans conquered Europe, they brought their culinary traditions, including the flan, with them.

In the Middle Ages, both sweet and savory flans (almonds, cinnamon & sugar; cheese, curd, spinach, fish) were very popular in Europe, especially during Lent, when meat was forbidden. According to Platina's De Honesta Voluptate [On Right Pleasure and Good Health], an Italian cookery text published in approximately 1475, custard-type dishes were considered health food. In addition to being nourishing, they were thought to soothe the chest, aid the kidneys and liver, increase fertility, and eliminate certain urinary tract problems. Caramel evolved in France.[2]


The English word "flan", and the earlier forms "flaune" and "flawn", come from the Old French flaon (modern French flan), in turn from the early Medieval Latin fladōn-em, derived from the Old High German flado, a sort of flat cake, probably from an Indo-European root for "flat" or "broad".[3]

See also[edit]