clafoutis

While in France, I’ve seen a lot of signs & recipes talking about clafoutis–or in English, “clafouti.” Coming from the Limousin region of France (this one, not this one), the French dessert is flan-like (lots of eggs & sugar, a bit of butter & flour) batter loaded with fruit, traditionally cherries. (In fact, Wikipedia says that “when other kinds of fruit are used instead of cherries, the dish is properly called a flaugnarde.”)

Wikipedia also explains that clafoutis comes from the ancient verb clafir, meaning “to fill,” but the verb no longer exists. Don’t come to Paris and ask anyone to clafissez anything for you. It won’t happen. Perhaps we could start using it in English?

“I clafired,” she said as she placed the clafoutis on the table.

Maybe not.  Now, like most French desserts there aren’t many ingredients involved. We’re focusing on simple elements–creamy textures & less of a sugary, granulated taste. We’re using a lot of eggs, & we’re arguing about the traditional way it’s made.

With clafoutis aux cerises, the argument is the pits. No, really. I decided to use the method my mom always mentioned, using a bobby pin to dig out the pits (because I think tools like this are ridiculous). I ended up in a bad mood, covered in pops of cherry juice & realizing that I could have saved time by just cutting them in half, which the recipe suggests that you do anyway.

Then I did some digging into the history of clafoutis. While Julia Child’s recipe says to cut the cherries in half, most French dessert experts say leave the pits in. The heat of the oven warms the pits & adds a whole new intensity to the flavor. I love cherry, so I’m sorry I got to that factoid too late.

I say, follow the recipe that fits your audience. Your husband early in the morning? Young kids eating quickly? Someone you’re trying to impress & look sexy for? It’s probably a good idea to take nix the pits. Otherwise, save yourself the time & throw them in whole. Let’s get clafir-ing. (No. It’s still not working. Can’t say we didn’t try.)

The hardest part for me when creating recipes is that I pool from a lot of French/British ones, so I’m converting measurements of all sorts (& changing them at will)… What do you guys think–leave them in grams or adapt the recipes to cups & teaspoons as I’ve been doing? I’m torn, because I love weighing things but know not everyone has a kitchen scale; I don’t even have one at the moment.

Ingredients

  • 500 g cherries (or about a pound)*
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk (25 cl, so that’s about 8.5 ounces)
  • 1.5 tablespoons butter (20 g)

Instructions

  1. Deal with your cherries. Wash them well. Pit them if you’re going to; de-stem them if you’re not. Cut them in half if you feel like.
  2. Slowly melt your butter.
  3. In the mean time, break the eggs into a bowl & beat them lightly. Add your sugar. Mix with a whisk. (No, seriously. Learn to love whisks. They’re an undervalued tool in the States.) Don’t stress about lumps; they sort themselves out in the oven.
  4. While whisking, slowly add the milk.
  5. Add the butter; mix and let rest. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
  6. Butter the inside of a tart pan (large pie pan or 6 ramekins). Arrange the cherries on the bottom of the prepared pan(s). Top with batter.
  7.  Bake: 55 minutes for one large clafoutis, 40 minutes for individual-sized. Your clafoutis is done when a knife poked into the center comes out clean.

I spent Sunday pitting the cherries & buying fresh eggs so that Monday, I could get up early; complain about not having butter; walk to the store for butter; come back & make us a nice, late breakfast. The tart goes well with tea or coffee, even better with sunny weather & good company.

*Most clafoutis recipes call for three cups of fruit, so you could go by that as well.

About meganbetz

human geography PhD Student at Indiana University; wife, reader, writer, baker, gardener
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