I know. I can’t believe there’s another plum recipe on the blog but, really, I just can’t help myself. For one thing, I had a huge windfall of plums a couple of weeks ago from old friend Helen Brockman — they’re still chilling and willing. For another, this was my week to teach the Frolicking French Fall Dinner Party cooking class and — what could be a better, nearly instant, homey French dessert than clafoutis? (cluh-FOO-tee) I had never heard of a plum clafoutis as they’re typically made with cherries and a just sweet enough custardy batter, though I make them with rhubarb, too. Purists would offer the opinion that it isn’t a clafoutis if it isn’t made with cherries but this is my kitchen, isn’t it?! And, of course, when I googled plum clafoutis, other able and thoughtful cooks have gone before me. (I shouldn’t have done it and let myself believe I’d invented the dish. Story of my life but I’ll still give myself the private credit.)
A classic French country dessert, clafouti is made by pouring a sweet batter, similar to pancake batter, over fresh fruit. The eggy batter then bakes around the fruit, creating a light, airy, pudding-like texture—the perfect mix of airy and custardy. ~Epicurious
Here’s a snapshot of how it goes for a plum clafoutis at my house:
A bag of gifted plums, a treasure. Yours might be in a plastic bag from the grocery.
Take a few, wash them and slice them in half. Toss with sugar and place evenly in a buttered casserole or cast iron skillet…(If it’s stoneware or cast iron, you can heat it over low on the stove and melt/spread the butter that way. If it’s Pyrex or similar, just grease it with soft butter or heat the casserole in the oven and then grease.)
Next, mix your custard laced with flour with a whisk, in the blender, with an electric mixer or — you know me–in the food processor and pour it over the plums:
Bake for about a half hour at 400F. Et voilà, dessert! (Did you know that “dessert” is the same word in English and French. I love it. Even though it’s not something we think hard about, we have lots of French words in the English language. Hello: café, restaurant, bon voyage, bureau, cliché, menu…. You can make/bake this easy dish while you eat dinner. Save room. By the time you’ve eaten, your dessert is ready! Look fast. This beautiful food is puffy and big but briefly. As it cools, it deflates but that’s just as it should be. Think souffle sort of stuff. The eggs are the leavening. As the air that has been whipped into the eggs cools, the clafoutis gently sinks or collapses. Don’t cut it until it does but do make sure you’ve seen it in all it’s expanded glory.
Leftovers? If you’re so lucky, there’s tomorrow’s breakfast:
Whether you snarf it all down after dinner with friends or save some for the morning with your coffee, I think you’ll be happy when you try this:
- 1 tablespoon (1/2 oz/14 grams) Softened salted butter
- 8-10 Italian plums (about 120 grams)
- ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar, divided
- 6 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons Brandy, Cognac, or Armagnac — optional
- 1 ¼ cups (295 ml) milk
- Pinch Kosher salt
- ¾ cup (90 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
- Powdered sugar for serving
- PREHEAT OVEN to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and place rack at center.
- BUTTER + HEAT THE PAN: Butter generously a 10 – 11-inch (23cm) cast iron skillet and warm it over low flame. (You can use a 2-quart casserole, too. Warm it in the oven (or on stove over low heat if it's stoneware) with the butter and brush the melted butter around all over before adding the batter and baking.)
- PIT THE PLUMS and cut in half. In a large bowl, toss the plums with ¼ cup of the sugar, saving the rest of the sugar for the batter. ADD THE PLUM HALVES WITH THE SUGAR cut-side down and evenly to the warm, buttered pan.
- MAKE THE CLAFOUTIS BATTER: Combine the eggs, vanilla, brandy- if using, milk, the other ¼ cup (50 grams) 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 CLAFOUTIS BATTER OVER THE PLUMS in the pan or casserole.
- BAKE THE CLAFOUTIS: for about 30 minutes or until the center is set (small sharp knife comes out clean)and the edges are golden brown. Dust with powdered sugar. The dessert will at first be puffy but will naturally deflate or collapse as it cools. Slice in the pan and serve hot, warm, at room temperature or even cold the next morning for breakfast, should you be lucky enough to have leftovers. Store for up to 5 days, well-covered, in the refrigerator. Do not freeze.
Want more plum goodness? Just click on PLUMS in the word cloud or type Plums into the search window. Coming right up!
CHANGE IT UP; BE BRAVE:
The recipe police are not aren’t out today. Do as you like. My French is limited to ordering a glass of white or red wine, getting the pastry I want, and fake-reading the menu to everyone else. I can also kind of translate a recipe in a serious pinch. But I think do as you like goes like this in French: Fais comme il te plait— if we trust in Google, that is.
- My clafoutis isn’t very sweet; you could add another 1/4 cup of sugar if you’re a sweetie pie. For a less sweet dessert, do not include the sugar in which you’ve tossed the plums.
- My clafoutis could have more fruit as I like a lot of flan-like real estate in my pan. Toss in another 4 or 5 halved plums for a more fruity dessert.
- Are your plums large (Japanese variety, perhaps) instead of these small Italian prunes? Slice them instead of halving them.
- The flavoring is flexible. Swap in almond extract for the vanilla. Consider Grand Marnier instead of the brandy. Forget the booze and choose all vanilla.
- The proportions of milk to egg to sugar, can lean in other directions. 3 eggs to 1/2 cup sugar to 1 cup of milk, for instance, instead of my 6 eggs to 1/2 cup sugar to 1 1/4 cups milk. I’m an eggy woman, so six it is for me.
- Need a richer custard? Use 1 cup whole milk and 1/4 cup heavy or whipping cream.
- Whisk into the couple of tablespoons powdered sugar topping a 1/8 teaspoon ground warm spice if you’ve gone simple with the flavorings. Think cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, or….
- Make a liquor-laced whipped cream for a garnish.
- Gild the clafoutis by garnishing with cinnamon or honey ice cream.
- GLUTEN FREE: I have made this using a GF flour (one-to-one replacement) and it works just fine. YAY!
- King Arthur Cherry Clafoutis recipe-just because.
Still have plums? Make Melissa Clark's Roast Chicken with Plums for a dinner party or be fed happily for days if it's just you and your sweet someone. I include the video because if I use the recipe link, there's a paywall. I do think the NYT is worth paying the money for the recipes. Nothing good is truly free, is it? This is just $5 per month for only a cooking subscription. Nice gift, too. I subscribe to the hard copy and the online version and so have access that way.
LIFE GOES ON:
I forgot to take photos of the Frolicking Fall French Dinner cooking class. Raise your eyebrows if you will but it’s a busy few hours. Here’s Potage Crecy (the entrée–or first course in French) before I puréed it — a soup and dish folks are always very surprised to find themselves loving. The recipe’s on the blog from another time I taught a French cooking class. Here’s that post. I made it Friday night for the dearest of friends and I think, again, it was the star of the meal. Who wakes up thinking, “I’ll have carrot soup today and be thrilled?” Try this carrot soup and see if you aren’t.
I am not an expert or well-trained on French cooking but I’m always willing to learn, study, and share…finding it’s fun to cook and grow together however it happens. Sort of a challenging and engaging way to increase everyone’s cooking skills, including mine. All the while seeing what’s interesting about another culture and attempting a new technique or unknown dish. Being together counts however it happens. Eating together; that’s a lot. Was there wine? Mais, oui! (But of course!) I like a white French Burgundy with the carrot soup. The other dishes on the menu were Tarragon Goat Cheese Spread, Chicken Fricassée, and of course the clafoutis! Sauvignon Blanc with the cheese and Beaujolais Village for the chicken. Look here for a wine idea for the dessert. I liked an Armagnac, as always, but here especially as I used it in the custard.
My table changes with the season and here is last Friday night’s as we turned on the heat for the first time this year. While I am still able to grace the center with a bouquet of herbs from my garden, it’s getting near the end of that option…though my clives are in bloom. Mixed up chives; they think it’s spring. If you have crazy fall chive flowers, too, pull them apart for your salad or for garnish. They’re edible and a beautiful lavender color.
Our family happily welcomes this weekend the newest Morgan: great-niece Iva Sloan Morgan!
Thanks for keeping me company in kitchen and at the computer. You are great encouragers!
Enjoy these cooler moments and bake on,
As I write, I’m listening to the horrific news from Israel and will be holding all those affected, including some Americans, in my heart… with continuing prayers for increasing peace for all.