French

The Anytime, Any-Fruit French Dessert You Can Make in Your Sleep

September 13, 2018

I have spent large part of my culinary career proselytizing about clafouti (or clafoutis), the custardy flan/tart that often encases boozy fruit. What makes me go on and on about this French dessert is its simplicity, seasonality, and, of course, the satisfaction that awaits you at the end. It is equally at home for brunch as it is at the end of the meal. It is delicious warm, room temperature, and cold straight from the fridge. If you are ever asked to bring a dessert to a dinner party, consider this your new mainstay.

See, it's so pretty! Photo by James Ransom

What is clafouti?

Simply put, it is crepe batter poured over fruit and baked in the oven until puffy and browned.

What equipment do you need?

An oven proof baking dish or skillet (usually 8- or 10-inches), and a whisk or blender.

How do you make the batter?

Assembling a good crepe batter is best accomplished in the blender (although a good old-fashioned whisk will do in a pinch): Combine eggs, melted butter, milk or cream, flour, and sugar (or whatever ingredients your crepe recipe asks for, and whirl until all these ingredients smooth as silk. Let it rest for 30 minutes. This resting period is key to making the most tender clafouti; the gluten in the flour is tight after a run through the blender blades, and needs this time to relax so the resulting custard won’t be too rubbery. The resting period is not as crucial if you use a more-gentle whisk to combine the ingredients.

What fruit can I use?

Cherries are the bomb (and classic), and the best are the ones in season locally. You can use them pitted or not; the purists leave them whole so their red juices don’t stain the clafouti and because the pit lends an impressive almond-like flavor to the fruit when baked. Just remind your guests to watch out for them before they dive in.

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When cherries are out of season, despair not. Equally delicious in clafouti are blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, pears, peaches, and apricots. Furthermore, this is an excellent place for thawed frozen fruit to shine; just make sure to drain the liquid off before using them or it will compromise the setting of the custard. Toss the fruit with a little sugar (or not) and let them macerate for about 20 minutes. Clafouti purists will also add a splash of booze to the fruit, usually a brandy.

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Top Comment:
“Macerate them in sugar while I make the custard in a blender. I use almond extract to flavor the custard. Place the plums in the bottom of the baking dish, pour over the custard. Then sprinkle sliced almonds and granulated sugar over the top before popping it into the oven. Soooo good!”
— Marla K.
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You want to add the fruit to the bottom of your dish, then pour the batter on top.

We like you, raspberries. Photo by James Ransom

How long does do I bake it?

Usually 25-30 minutes in a 400-degree oven. You want to cook it hot and fast, so the custard puffs up dramatically and browns in beautiful craggily crests. It will deflate when removed from the oven, but the high drama continues as you plunge your fork in and understand the true merit of clafouti: how good it makes you feel to be eating it.

Bearing in mind everything you've just read, here are some recipes to get you started:


Another Easy, Fruit-Forward Dessert

Have you made clafoutis before? What's your favorite recipe?

10 Comments

Karey September 29, 2018
I make sourdough bread all the time, so pouring off sourdough starter when feeding at times. If not making waffles, I make crepes. I want to try this with my sourdough crepe batter: 1c starter, 3 eggs, 3Tb melted butter or coconut oil, 3 pinches salt. Can thin with milk if desired (no more than 1/4c).
 
Marla K. September 26, 2018
I make mine with plums, usually black plums. Macerate them in sugar while I make the custard in a blender. I use almond extract to flavor the custard. Place the plums in the bottom of the baking dish, pour over the custard. Then sprinkle sliced almonds and granulated sugar over the top before popping it into the oven. Soooo good!
 
gabby September 23, 2018
Used David Lebovitz’s clafoutis receipe (and température suggestion) with strawberries for a faugnarde. Nice way to end the week.
 
patricia G. September 16, 2018
I like to cook my clafoutis in a rather more moderate oven (350) for a more custardy texture, then (totes non-traditional) dust the top with sugar and pass it under the broiler.
 
Louis September 16, 2018
Clafoutis (as it is called in non-occitan France no matter the fruit) can also be made with dried fruit, usually prunes (in a style known as agenaise), poached in port and perhaps marinated in armagnac (the local brandy). It's similar to Dutch baby, and oftentimes described as half-way between cake and custard.
 
Peg September 14, 2018
I make a lighter version with yogurt and half & half. It is a family favorite. I always use cherries and sometimes throw in fresh blueberries. I prefer it cold. My husband prefers it warm.
 
nancy C. September 15, 2018
Do you have that recipe to share?
 
Leslie V. September 26, 2018
Yes, please the recipe.
 
Matt H. September 13, 2018
It's only clafoutis if it's made with cherries. Any other fruit makes the dish a flaugnarde
 
Carrie H. September 13, 2018
I make a single serving clafouti with tart ground cherries. It's my favorite to make when they are in season. I didn't know to let the batter rest. Thank you!