By Cat, Sept 2015 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
The clafoutis (pronounced claw-foo-tee, with accent on the last syllable) is a classic French dessert made from eggs, milk/cream, sugar (or other sweetener), flour and fruit, and baked in a quiche or other shallow baking pan. It is a type of custard, but also has a soufflé or cake-like texture from the flour, and is sometimes called ‘flan.’
It is believed the original clafoutis was made with sweet cherries, as in the photo, above, but is equally delicious made with any stone fruit, apples or pears, or berries.
There are two methods of preparing a clafoutis, but the same recipe can be made either way. So if you’re like me and prefer one method over the other, you can still make any clafoutis recipe and use the method you prefer. There are many different fruits that can be used, and ways to present the dessert when serving.
Methods for preparing a Clafoutis
- Method 1: Mix batter; butter the baking pan and pour a very thin layer of the batter across the bottom of the pan. Place in hot oven for 2 – 3 minutes, just long enough for the batter to begin to set. Remove from oven, arrange fruit on top, then pour remaining batter over. Return to oven and bake until done. See Apple or Pear Clafoutis for an example of this method.
- Method 2: Mix batter; butter baking pan and arrange fruit in the pan. Pour batter over and bake until done. See Cherry-Apricot Flan for an example of this method.
The main difference is that Method 1 has a thin crust at the bottom, made from the custard batter, while method 2 is all creamy custard (no thin crust). My preferred method is the second one because it is easier, but both methods produce the same end result: delicious!
Sometimes, I make a variation that has a thin almond and coconut flour crust on the bottom, but this is not traditional.
The following fruit can be used for this dessert singly or in combination:
- berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, huckleberries, marionberries, loganberries, strawberries). Most berries can be used whole, but large strawberries should be cut at least in half.
- stone fruits (cherries, apricots, plums, peaches, nectarines), or a larger-stone fruit such as mango. Cut in half and remove pit. Arrange in pan with cut-side up; no need to peel first. Or slice in wedges and arrange in pan. Cherries can be left whole (with pit removed).
- apples or pears. Remove core and seeds. Apples are best sliced, but pears can be halved or cut into wedges. I’ve not yet tried apple, but love bartlett or bosc pears.
The first clafoutis I made had fresh apricots and blueberries. I’ve never tried mango, pineapple, banana or other tropical fruit. The strong acids and enzymes in pineapple may cause separation of the custard. Citrus fruits may cause the same problem; however, lemon or orange zest can be added to the alcohol marinade (see below)
Canned fruit can be used, but drain well first; you may want to use less sugar because most canned fruits have added sugar. Frozen fruit is great, but be sure to thaw first.
Dried fruit can also be used if you rehydrate them. See Dried Fruit: Rehydrating or Cooking.
I highly recommend marinating the fruit overnight before using in the clafoutis; see ‘Nuances’ below.
- Marinating the fruit in a small amount of rum, brandy or liqueur, with a bit of sugar or maple syrup, as in the Cherry-Apricot Flan. I highly recommend doing this. After removing the fruit to the baking pan, the marinade is then added to the egg mixture before pouring over the fruit. If I have the time, I let it marinate in the fridge overnight before making the clafoutis.
- Adding nuts near the end of baking time, as in Plum Clafoutis with Almonds, adds a flavor and texture nuance, providing a bit of crunch to the dessert. If you use this method, I highly recommend using sprouted or pre-soaked nuts. OR you can make a thin crust with my Almond & Coconut Flour Crust.
- Dust top with powdered sugar after baking and cooling. I prefer Unrefined Powdered Sugar: Make Your Own.
- Serve with cream. A dollop of sightly sweetened whipped cream can be added, or pour heavy cream over the clafoutis before serving.
- Garnish with roasted, sweetened nuts or berries, if desired.