The most common way to make leche flan, in many Filipino households, is by steaming it over your stove top. While this method is quick, easy, and 100% oven-free, there’s a better way to achieve super “siksik,” or dense and luscious leche flan: all you have to do is bake it in a water bath!
A hot water bath, or a bain marie, allows your custard to cook at even and constant temperatures. It’s a slow and gentle bake, which makes it perfect for flans and custards that are delicate and soft in nature. The water bath prevents the edges of your flan from developing bubbles or cooking too quickly—something you’ve probably already noticed after steaming leche flan. You will also notice that the caramel will thicken and darken beautifully around the bottoms of your flan (see the picture above)—delicious!
To prepare a water bath, line a deep baking dish with large paper towels or clean towels and place your pans, ramekins, or llaneras into the pan. The towel will prevent your leche flan from slipping. Pour boiling water into the pan until the water comes halfway up the leche flan pans, then place your large baking dish into a preheated oven. Bake for at least 45 minutes or until the leche flan is set completely.