Every country has its favourite cheese. Swedes are mad about Västerbotten to the point where they came up with a dish to showcase it. Västerbotten paj – Västerbotten flan* – looks and tastes great but is surprisingly easy to make. I wanted something nice and buffet-appropriate to serve my writer’s group over the holiday period and cheese flan was the perfect solution. This one, by Per Moberg, was delicious and straight-forward. It makes the kitchen smell sweetly of melted butter and cheese, a very festive aroma. It was perfect.
The flan is served lukewarm or cold and makes perfect buffet food. It’s rich so can be served in thin slices, and works well with a tangy salad.
To take it through its paces, I made the flan again just after new year, this time with a chunk of left-over Stilton. That was particularly good with a tomato and onion salad. You need the acidity to counter-act the richness of filling and pastry.
- 100 grams butter
- 100 grams plain flour
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 200 grams grated cheese
- 200 ml milk or cream
- 2 eggs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Combine butter and flour until you get a grainy texture. If using a mixer, it takes a minutes or two on full.
- Add the cold water, one tablespoon at a time, to make a fairly sticky mixture.
- Spoon out onto plastic wrap, wrap up and stick in the fridge for half an hour.
- Turn on the oven to pre-heat it to 200C (180C for fan-assisted ovens).
- When the dough is rested, take it out of the fridge, unwrap it and place it in the pie dish. Don't try to roll this pastry.
- Flatten the pastry using your fingers into an equal layer across the base and about 3 cm up the side.
- Prick the base.
- Blind-bake for 10 minutes. When I used parchment paper and beans, the base stuck to the paper and made a mess of the bottom. (Luckily, the filling covered any holes so no one noticed that some pieces only had pastry at the edge.) The next time I put it in as it was and the shrunk a lot. It didn't matter because the filling doesn't need a very deep shell.
- Take out and let cool.
- Put the cheese into a bowl.
- Add the eggs and milk and whisk together.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the filling into the cooled pie case.
- Put into the oven for 35 minutes. It's ready when it is golden and set.
* Pronounced ‘vess-ter-bott-en pi’. Yup, in Sweden a pie can be open or covered. We don’t care, culinary rebels that we are.