This season, I am rediscovering “clafoutis”! Now that might mean nothing to you but to me this word is brim-full of soft fruit, delicate flavours and comforting memories.
Clafoutis is a baked fruit pudding with a milk and egg base. The combinations are limitless but my current favourites are:
Cherries and chocolate – dark and seductive!
Rhubarb with raspberry – love the tartness…
Ingredients list for the Black Cherry and Chocolate clafoutis:
- Black cherries 500g
- 3 eggs
- Rice flour 50g
- Flour (gluten free mix is fine here) 50g
- Milk 100ml
- Single cream 100 ml
- Sugar 100g
- Vanilla essence ½ capful
- Optional Bitter almond oil ½ capful
- Grated dark chocolate for topping
- Butter for the dish
Wash the fruit. Do not take the stones out of the cherries or they will bleed in the batter and I like a cream coloured base. It looks prettier.
Mix the flours and sugar.
Beat the three eggs into the milk and cream.
Add to the flour and beat until blended.
Butter your gratin or earthenware dish.
Lay the fruit and cover with the batter.
Bake for 25 to 30 min max in a warm oven- 180°. When it comes out, grated a little very dark chocolate on top.
The dough must be still soft and creamy so don’t over-bake or you will end up with an unfortunate, heavy looking dish. To add to the creaminess, you want to serve this pudding warm with a little jug of cold cream.
Second flavour: For the rhubarb variation, just chop up a couple of stalks, add some sugar in a pan and let it go soft for a few minutes on low heat. Then lay the rhubarb, pour the batter in and decorate with a few scattered raspberries before baking.
The traditional recipes only call for milk but do try it with cream – it is so much more moorish and decadently lushful! Certainly worth a revival.
This is for me the ultimate nursery food: a comforting dish, oozing butter and cream with the hidden treasure of a soft, nourishing yolk in the middle!
Choose duck eggs for a change, they are lovely at the moment. This couple of ducks were shot in the Wetland Centre in Barnes: A great place for ducks and birds of all feathers but get your eggs from elsewhere.
Tonight I am using Elizabeth David recipe found in “French country cooking”, first published in 1951. The result was as delicious as I recalled… The traditional recipe includes ham so I added that in for memories sake. For a bigger egg (and more yolk to dip the bread in!), I used large duck eggs. I fantasise one day of using one single goose egg to make one big “oeuf cocotte” in a large soufflé dish, for example. But usually, some Le creuset terracotta ramequins are better suited though and give each guest a lovely individual dish to delve into… Elizabeth David talks of “little fireproof china dishes”, but you can be creative and use any small pot so long as it goes into the oven.
Ingredients list: Quantities for one
1 duck egg per person
1 spoonful of butter
1 spoonful of cream
1 thick slice of cooked ham
Cut a rough circle of ham and put it at the bottom of the dish. Heat the oven to fairly hot and put a blob of butter on top of the ham. Leave the dish in the oven until the butter has melted. Then crack an egg in each dish and cover with a good spoonful of cream. Leave to cook for 5 to 8 min. or until the white is set and the yolk still runny. Do not overcook or the dish is ruined! Simple but crucial.
Serve hot with a pinch of chopped tarragon and some cracked pepper. Some buttered olive bread from Chez Paul tonight made a welcome contribution to help us enjoy the hidden treasure inside the cream. I used to like my oeuf cocotte with plain soldiers but this is a matter of taste. This is regressive, comforting food if there was any – so no rules but family tradition must prevail!