Clafoutis Rhymes with Babootie
Last summer, on a rare morning when I rose before the kids, I spied a bowl of leftover cherry clafoutis in the refrigerator. “Well now,” I thought to myself, “wouldn’t that taste nice with my morning coffee?” Dusted with some cinnamon and powdered sugar, it did indeed start my day off right. Its custardy goodness was filling and satisfying. That morning, clafoutis morphed from dessert into a slightly decadent breakfast food.
Clafoutis is basically a custard with fruit baked into it. Making it involves throwing three eggs, a bit of sugar, vanilla and milk into a blender, pouring it over three cups of fruit and baking it for an hour. You can do that, right? Yeah, it takes an hour to bake, but you could whip it up the night before or put it together some morning when you rise before the kids. It is wonderful warm and cold, so it really doesn’t matter.
Clafoutis is classically made with sweet, dark cherries. I love sour cherries however. Unlike sweet cherries, they have that classic cherry flavor. I sit there in the kitchen like an idiot and pop those pits out with my favorite cherry pitter. Traditional cherry clafoutis actually leaves the pits in the cherries so that their amaretto flavor infuses the batter as it bakes. You could avoid both the time-suck or the dental risk by opting for pitted frozen cherries, however.
Clafoutis-making doesn’t end with cherry season. Blueberries, peaches, apricots, plums and nectarines are gorgeous and just require a bit of prep. There’s no need to remove the skins. If you’re dealing with small plums or apricots, simply remove their pits and quarter them. Try a combination like blueberry and white nectarine.
This recipe began with the recipe Julia Child published in “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” Rather arrogantly, I’ve played with the technique and tweaked a few ingredients to suit my tastes a bit. My mom- who is a custard lover- preferred a version with four eggs, but I felt that was too eggy. Try it if you think that might be more your speed.
My clafoutis technique uses a bain marie. It sounds fancy but boils down to baking something in a bath of hot water. The hot water enables delicate, eggy things to cook without forming dense or dry crusts at the bottom or edges. It creates a buffer zone.
For the custard mix
1 ¼ cups whole or 2% milk
1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the fruit
3 cups prepared fruit
For the garnish
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Prepare the oven and dish
1. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
2. Lightly butter a cake pan that’s at least 2” deep or an 8×8 pyrex baking dish or a similar 2 quart volume pan.
3. Set a few cups of water to heat on the stove while you prepare the batter. It doesn’t have to boil. You are just trying to get it very hot- which will speed your cooking time.
Make the batter
1. Place all of the batter ingredients in a blender or bowl to combine.
Bake the clafoutis in a bain marie
1. Place the fruit in the prepared dish and pour the batter over it. The fruit will float to the surface.
2. Place the dish holding the clafoutis inside a roasting pan. Place on the center rack of the preheated oven. Pull the rack out so that you can pour water into the pan.
3. Pour the boiling water into the roasting pan so that the level of the water is about halfway up the side of the clafoutis dish. Gently slide the rack into the oven.
4. Bake about 1 hour, or until the center is fully set. You’ll just have to tap at the center to see if it quivers because you can’t risk jiggling the pan without splashing the very hot bain marie water.
1. Scoop the clafoutis into bowls and dust with the powdered sugar and cinnamon mixture
I love the way the almond and vanilla extracts taste up against the fruits that go into clafoutis, but if you’re not a fan of almond, just use 1 teaspoon of vanilla.