Sunday, February 17, 2013

Clafoutis: when in Texas, do like the French

This is not a cake, but something divinely just above a cake. And as classically French as it might be, I discovered it on a business trip to Houston, affirming my belief that one should never, ever decline an invitation to a meal.

A friend of a colleague invited us to a BBQ on the sunday afternoon that our team arrived in Houston, which sounds normal, except that the invitation was in french. A BBQ in French? To my eternal delight, this Houston BBQ was classically français by way of fresh, quality ingredients and complete with the classic entree-main course-cheese plate procession with this beauty of a desert to finish things off.

Coming back to the clafouti, if you use a deep pan, the batter separates a bit as it cooks, so you almost get two layers, as if it was a custard or a flan cooked in a crust. I like using a small, deep pan so that it stays thick and you get a full delicious of flan nestled into a light crust. In my second clafouti this week, I discovered that overcooking makes the flan almost grainy. I prefer it undercooked...

Sour Cherry Clafoutis:
For six (generous) portions
5 eggs
a pinch of salt
130g sugar
60g melted butter, plus a bit to butter the pan
80g flour
30cl milk
a dash of vanilla or a pack of vanilla sugar
300-500g cherries
note: I used frozen cherries, following the example of my generous host, which worked great. I just let them thaw in the fridge and then left out most of the juice. Hey, if they're not in season frozen is an acceptable alternative for staying 'from scratch!'

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF.

Hint: to make life easy on yourself, use a blender! You wont even need to dirty a single bowl. Just start with the eggs in the blender and add the other ingredients one at a time, pulsing between additions until it is finished and pour it straight into the mold that already has the cherries scattered.

Otherwise: With a pinch of salt, beat the eggs 'into an omelet,' which means really getting some air into them, making the eggs puff up, literally growing in volume. Add the sugar and keep beating.

Melt the butter and add, making sure to continue beating if the butter is not (to not cook the eggs). Add flour. mix. add milk. mix. add vanilla... you get the point.

If you're using fresh cherries, wash and dry them and then heat a spoon of butter and a spoon of sugar in a small pan, adding the cherries and enjoying the smell and sound for five minutes as they sauté and caramelize a bit in the butter and sugar.

Butter your pan and spread the cherries in the pan. Keep the juice - which is not only pretty but delicious, too - unless its just a ton. Pour the batter over top.

Bake for about 25 minutes. Serve warm.

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