Saturday, July 18, 2015

Julia Child's Mixed Berry Clafouti

The clafouti (also spelled clafoutis) is a traditional dessert in the Limousin region of France, whose capital is of course the famous Limoges. Julia Child described it as 'peasant cooking for family meals and about as a simple a dessert to make as you can imagine.'  But my own experience making the dish following a Martha Stewart recipe left more to be desired. So I turned to the classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking to see if Julia could do any better for me. Indeed she did!

Julian's Mixed Berry Clafouti
The Limousin region is known for its cherries and this dessert typically features sweet black cherries. Certainly you can make it with the classic pitted sweet cherries, but today I have several types of berries leftover in my refrigerator so I'm going to make a mixed berry version instead.

Simple Ingredients
A clafouti is a dessert usually eaten warm and somewhere between a flan, a fruit tart and a cake. Julia describes the batter as pancake-like. Her recipe provides a version that is more toward the egg flan/custard than Martha's which came out more cake-like. We much preferred Julia's version, which I provide to you below. You can substitute fresh, ripe peaches as well and if you do keep the flour as noted below. If you use cherries, which tend to be less juicy, then reduce the flour to 1/2 cup.

Julia also modified the recipe in later editions of her book to use a blender, but I find mixing it by hand is perfectly acceptable using a wooden spoon or wire whisk.

Ingredients (services 6-8)

1 1/4 cups whole milk or half/half
1/3 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon*
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest*
3 cups berries (blueberry, raspberry, blackberry or combo)

Small carton whipping cream or powdered sugar (optional)

*this is my addition, not in Julia's original recipe


Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Mix together the milk, 1/3 cup of the sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, flour lemon zest, and cinnamon.

Pour a 1/4 inch layer of the batter in a lightly buttered baking dish. Place in the oven until batter firms about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and place the berries over the batter. Sprinkle on additional sugar depending on the sweetness of the berries. Pour on the rest of the batter and press any berries down to cover as much as possible.

Bake at 350° for about 35-45 minutes until puffed and a knife in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes and serve warm. Julia indicates that a dusting of powdered sugar is the classic finish, although we prefer a fresh lightly whipped sweetened cream topping.

Fresh Whipped Cream Topping:  Pour small 4 oz carton of heavy whipping cream in mixer with the whisk attachment. Turn the mixer to high and slowly add 1/4 cup sugar and then 1 tablespoon vanilla extra. Blend until fluffy but not too stiff.

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