clafoutis batter, universal solvent of fruit dessert
I DON’T BAKE MUCH THESE DAYS, BUT IN ANOTHER LIFE I was the Queen of Pie (and even baked all my bread, too). Even though I rarely cut or rub cold butter into flour for a crust any longer, I’ve found a shortcut to homemade fruit dessert that’s served me faithfully since I hung up my rolling pin. No surprise that I attribute the find to my old friend Martha Stewart, who taught me many things—including clafoutis, a simple, custardy backdrop to the peaches that are looking good.
I love clafoutis (kla-foo-tee), a humble French concoction that’s like a Huffy-Puffy or Dutch Baby or German pancake (whatever you call it, that’s my favorite Christmas-morning food), but sweeter and with fruit inside. If you have 3 cups of fruit and some kitchen basics like milk and eggs and flour, you can make this dessert very last-minute, even just as you sit down to eat the main course, another selling factor. Easy, yet quite impressive.
Though clafoutis is traditionally made with cherries, as it was in the recipe Martha shared in her must-have 1995 cookbook, “The Martha Stewart Cookbook: Collected Recipes for Every Day,” I’ve come to regard her batter as the universal solvent for all things fruit.
With it, I have since made clafoutis from peaches, plums, pears, various berries, cherries, and mixes of fresh fruit and dried (such as by adding a handful of dried cranberries or cherries to pears or peaches; raisins and pears might even be good). Get out your blender to make the solvent:
Martha’s Clafoutis Batter, my adaptation
- ½ cup sugar (reserve 1 Tbsp. to dust baking dish)
- ¾ cup milk
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
In a blender, combine the ingredients, and blend on high for 1 minute, scraping the sides once midway.
Into a 9-inch glass pie dish or a fluted porcelain tart dish that has been buttered first and dusted with the reserved 1 Tablespoon of sugar, pour half the batter.
Arrange 3 cups of sliced fruit of your choice in the partly filled pan. Pour on the remaining batter and bake at 350 until the top puffs and starts to turn golden-brown, about 45-60 minutes.
Note: Everyone’s clafoutis custard is a little different (just as is everyone’s pancake batter or pie crust, though the basics are the same). Martha even has more than one on her site. For example, Mark Bittman recommends ½ cup sugar, 3 eggs, 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, ¾ cup heavy cream OR plain yogurt, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and a pinch of salt). You may like more fruit or more custard on balance. Experiment, and enjoy.