While this sweet might be among the more difficult dessert names to pronounce, it’s also the simplest to make and make well. Clafoutis (clah-FOO-tee) —and yes, I must keep remembering it’s a singular noun! — is a much-loved and often-baked traditional French dessert that is a cross between a custard and a cake, but easier and faster to make than either one. When cherries (or raspberries, blueberries…) are in season and hence plentiful-cheap, the oven is heated along with a cast iron pan (can also use a casserole), a quick batter is whirred together in the food processor, blender, or by hand and poured right into that the pan. The fruit gets distributed on top and into a HOT oven it all goes for just a half hour or so. And there’s dessert, friends. At first it’s all hot and puffy golden brown if you like it that way (think Dutch Baby), but soon it calms and cools down and is just as good, if a tad deflated. Cold for breakfast the next morning? Of course. Bien sur!
How to pronounce CLAFOUTIS (Listen up!)
For my American version, I’ve stretched the name and concept (with tender apologies to the French) to include our tart spring rhubarb as the fruit topping. You’ll need to begin by simmering the fruit with a little bit of sugar before adding it to the batter. While summer cherries or berries are plenty sweet enough to just plop on top of any cake, including clafoutis, rhubarb must have some gentle and warming help before becoming the star of the show.Jump to Recipe
Here are a few photos just to give you an idea how easy this is:
Start with cooking the rhubarb in a pot with sugar and water, then strain it into a bowl to end up with something like this:
— and also this:
Next, mix or blend up the batter, pour it into a warmed pan, and then drop big spoonfuls of rhubarb around evenly into the batter:
Slide that baby into a 425 degrees F oven for about 30 minutes or until it’s quite brown and puffy.
Let it cool several minutes before sprinkling with powdered sugar and slicing:
After slicing, drizzle it with that ruby red syrup you saved and it should be like the picture below. (Even if not, it’ll still taste good.) I hope you’ll try this magical dessert:
- 3 cups rhubarb sliced into ½-inch pieces
- ½ cup granulated sugar plus 6 tablespoons — divided
- ¼ cup water
- Kosher salt
- Softened butter
- 6 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier-optional
- 1 ¼ cups milk
- ¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- Powdered sugar for serving (You'll also have a syrup for drizzling on the baked cake after cooking the rhubarb.)
- PREHEAT OVEN to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and place rack at center.
- COOK THE RHUBARB: Add rhubarb, ½ cup granulated sugar, the ¼ cup water, and a pinch of salt to 3-quart saucepan. Heat to boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook gently for 8-10 minutes or until rhubarb is tender. Strain rhubarb into a bowl, reserving the resulting syrup to use as a drizzle on top after the clafoutis has baked. Set aside both the rhubarb and the syrup.
- BUTTER + HEAT THE PAN: Butter generously a 10 or 11-inch cast iron skillet and warm it over low flame while you make the clafoutis batter. (You can use a 2-quart casserole, too. Warm it in the oven with the butter and brush the melted butter around all over before adding the batter and baking.)
- MAKE THE CLAFOUTIS BATTER/POUR INTO WARM PAN/ADD RHUBARB: Combine the eggs, vanilla, Grand Marnier, if using, milk, other 6 tablespoons of sugar, and a pinch of salt in a blender or food processor (or with a whisk by hand), blending a few seconds. Add the flour and blend until smooth, about one minute. Pour the batter into the warm skillet. Gently spoon the cooked rhubarb onto the top of the batter — about 2 tablespoons at a time — evenly around the pan. I made one circle around the perimeter, another circle inside that, and one last dollop of rhubarb at the center. You can create your own design.
- BAKE THE CLAFOUTIS/SERVE WITH DRIZZLED RHUBARB SYRUP: Bake for about 30 minutes or until quite golden brown and puffed. Let cool a few minutes and then dust with powdered sugar. Slice and serve hot, warm, at room temperature, or cold with a drizzle of the reserved rhubarb syrup.
Is there anything prettier than rhubarb?
CHANGE IT UP:
- GF? I haven’t tried this, but everything I read and hear indicates a clafoutis is easy to adapt to Gluten-Free by using 1-1 GF flour or almond flour. “To make my batter gluten-free, I swap in all-purpose gluten-free flour mix or almond flour. ” (Anna Stockwell/EPICURIOUS) My Twin Cities friend Jody Ouradnik says: ” LOVE clafoutis! We’ve made them with all kinds of different fruits. And for gluten-free, I’ve substituted almond flour. Ends up more like a fruity macaroon. YUM!”
- Need vegan? Google VEGAN CLAFOUTIS; there’s a lot out there. This one looked interesting.
- Save the recipe and go the old school way to use this later in the summer with sweet cherries or berries. Come fall, try cubes of sautéed apples or pears. Pair the alcohol in the batter with the fruit. For example, try apple brandy or pear liqueur with the autumn fruits.
- Add a cinnamon stick to the pot when cooking the rhubarb. Remove before adding the fruit to the batter!
TIPS FOR REDUCING FOOD WASTE FOR THIS RECIPE:
If you have a lot of fresh rhubarb and not so many uses for it, you might chop it and freeze it for later. Think what a rhubarb pie for Thanksgiving might be like! You can also make rhubarb sauce —like apple sauce — and freeze that to go with your yogurt breakfast or on top of vanilla ice cream next January.
Extra rhubarb syrup? Add a splash to the bottom of a flute and top with sparkling wine. Drizzle over plain yogurt or vanilla ice cream. Read up in FOOD & WINE: 5 Best Rhubarb Cocktails
Don’t keep milk in the house? Stow away a couple of cans of low-fat or regular evaporated milk. For cooking, mix it with water at a 50-50 proportion. It’s not a perfect substitute, but it will do happily in a pinch. I occasionally use it full-strength in a quiche.
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MORE INFO THAN YOU WANTED:
LIFE GOES ON:
The first dishes I make from fresh spring ingredients are always among my favorites. In Colorado, we’re always far behind so much of the country but it makes what we do grow all the more precious. Our greens in the window boxes are just popping up, as are the radishes in pots. I’m tempted to put a few annuals out, but only where I can easily cover them at night.
What’s springing up around you? Do you have summer travel plans? So weird. We mostly stay home in the summer — who would leave Colorado in the summer?! — but we usually try to get down to Santa Fe to the opera if we can. We have a 3-week cruise to HI booked for December. It was originally in the spring of 2020. We’ll see if it happens, but I did order new sandals this week 😉 It’s starting to look possible.
Stay tuned to my kitchen. I’ve one more tarragon recipe for you and then…maybe my yearly roast chicken recipe. I know 😉