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Roman Flan

This recipe is derived from the first cookbook ever written in the Roman world. The book was written by a wealthy man name Apicius. He was very devoted to food and cooking. It was said that he awoke one morning to find that his wealth had diminished and fearing that he could not live to the high standard to which he had become accustomed he killed himself.

The following recipe, adapted to modern kitchens and still a viable dish, can be found in his "De Re Coquinaria, Liber VII".

Add about a cup of milk to a dish. Put in about three tablespoons of honey. Mix thoroughly with five eggs. Put all in a flan mold and place in a 250 degree oven for about one hour. Add pepper if you wish. You may chill and serve cooled.

This is a very easy recipe, but like most ancient recipes it is very loosely structured and somewhat nebulous. Here is a more literal translation done using an electronic translator, a very elementary knowledge of Latin, and some common sense:

Tyropatinam: Consider putting milk in a dish. Use moderate amount of honey in the milk. Take five eggs for each sextarium (about two servings - 567 milliliters), if you wish to make one-half of a sextarium use three eggs. Mix the milk and eggs so that it becomes one body. Put the dish upon the coals of a fire and cook gently. When the mixture thickens it is done, sprinkle with pepper.

Pepper was much used by Apicius, perhaps his tastes reflect our own as pepper is one of the two spices that grace nearly every table at mealtime and is included in many of our own dishes.

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