Baking: One of the easiest, no-fuss desserts of all time

Clafoutis comprises fruit and sweet pancake batter and is as delicious as it is humble

Clafouti: Once baked the plums burst, their juices staining the pancake batter with flushes of bright ruby. Photograph: Harry Weir

Clafouti: Once baked the plums burst, their juices staining the pancake batter with flushes of bright ruby. Photograph: Harry Weir

 

This recipe is one of the easiest, no-fuss desserts of all time. A French staple, the clafoutis is a rustic dish comprised of two main components; fruit and a sweet kind of pancake batter, baked together into a delicious country-style dessert.

A French woman once told me that the clafoutis is a Bistro dish, almost peasant like; simple and inexpensive to make, one which would never be found in a fine dining restaurant. However, I have seen it (and cooked it) in Michelin starred restaurants. It is every bit as delicious as it is humble.

Using a glut of fruit and pairing it with a pancake batter is ingenious, and there is something so comforting about its soft, custardy texture. There are variations on this dessert throughout different cuisines. The clafoutis is like a Dutch baby, flaugnarde, or sweet Yorkshire pudding; using only a handful of pantry basics that most of us have in our kitchens – milk, sugar, flour and eggs.

Some recipes call for an addition of cream, here I’m using half milk and half cream, as I find it gives the dish the perfect balance between rich and light, substantial enough but not overly heavy to eat.

Cherry is the classic clafoutis flavour, with a batter scented with vanilla seeds and Kirsch, it’s delicious in summer, but any fruit can be used, although stone fruit work particularly well.

I am celebrating plums this week. Once the weather starts to get slightly cooler I notice various coloured plums popping up all over the place and I can’t resist buying them. I love plums, they are sweet and tart at the same time, and such a versatile fruit; perfect in compotes, jams, or baked into tarts or sponges. Use a mix of plums if you can find them, Mirabelles or Damsons are gorgeous.

This dish will work even if your fruit isn’t perfectly ripe as the baking softens them and concentrates their flavour.

The clafoutis does benefit from a little alcohol to bring out the sweet plum flavour – just a tablespoon of your liqueur of choice will suffice – Kirsch, brandy, rum or Eau de Vie will all work perfectly with the plums.

Once baked the plums burst, their juices staining the pancake batter with flushes of bright ruby. I love using a heavy skillet pan to cook this recipe, it looks beautiful when brought to the table, but any ovenproof dish or cake tin would work, as long as its not loose bottomed. Serve it in its pan or dish just warm from the oven with cold cream or ice-cream.

Recipe: Plum clafoutis

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