Friday, 10 June 2011

The far road to clafoutis

Cherry season is on and, while experimenting with the luscious stone fruit I was finally presented with the opportunity of making Clafoutis. Now that I did I cant believe it took me this long to discover it.

The name, Clafoutis, always conjured images of a flan- like crème, and looking at cook book images of it, I had imagined an shaky eggy dessert. Not that there is anything wrong with that. It just isn’t the sort of thing want to get up and start cooking, let alone eating.

It all began in Florence, almost 2 years ago now. A Latteria down the road from where I lived, one of the few left in the city was recommended to me, mainly for its cakes.

Back in the day this was the place people would come to by milk, cream and cheese. Today the few left milk bars offer light meals, coffee and cakes.

One day, after work, I stopped by and ended up with a slice that resembled cheesecake but was in fact far Breton, a typical dense baked custard pudding made in Brittany (France) with prunes soaked in Armagnac peacefully resting at the bottom. It came complete with a dollop of fresh thick cream, and sceptic as I was holding a spoonful in hand; I was forever changed after one mouthful. I tracked down a fantastic and embarrassingly (in the good sense of the word) simple to make recipe by Trish Deseine, which I have since prepared it at numerous occasions.

Once my aversion to the concept of flan was eradicated a whole new world of baked batter opened up and the Clafoutis was soon to follow. Rather similar to a far, its origins lay in Limousine and instead of prunes glazed cherries float in the batter. Often, the pits included for extra flavour, which also ups the risk factor during eating, like when eating an entire fish, bones and all. This sort of Clafoutis demands a certain concentration and multi tasking skills.

Superbly easy to make and sensationally titillating, cherries are now in season and so there really isn’t any other way.

Individual Cherry Clafoutis

Serves 8

400 gram (about 2 cups) fresh cherries, pitted or whole

½ cup AP flour

¼ tsp salt

2 fresh eggs

2 tbs sugar

½ cup milk

1 tsp fine vanilla extract

1 lemon, zested

A pinch of nutmeg, ground

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C and butter the muffin tins.
  2. Using a food processor or a medium bowl and a hand whisk, beat the flour, salt, eggs, sugar, milk and vanilla extract until combined, for 1 minute.
  3. Stir in the lemon zest and nutmeg and set aside.
  4. Place 4-5 cherries in each muffin tin and pour the batter on top.
  5. Bake until the Clafoutis have risen and the edges have a tan, about 20 minutes. Make sure not to open the oven door while baking as the Clafoutis may collapse.
  6. Remove the Clafoutis from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut around the Clafoutis and release it from the tin.
  7. dust with powdered sugar and lemon zest and serve immediately.

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