How to describe a clafoutis? It is somewhere between a custard, a tart, and a flan, being composed of an eggy batter that is poured into a hot dish. The centre takes on the character of a baked custard, while the top and base acquire a slight crispiness. This is not a traditional clafoutis, which is a Limousin tart made with black cherries or other stone fruits, but an American evolution via the pages of Saveur magazine which I have doctored up slightly, as the original is a bit too sweet and heavy for my tastes – both my sweet tooth and my taste for cream are waning with age.
This dessert is marvelously simple, but the result is so elegant and delicious that it could crown the most princely and elaborate of meals. This should be popped in the oven just as you’re serving dinner so that it has a chance to cool just slightly before serving. The aroma of apples, custard and cinnamon will keep appetites soldiering on until the last. This should be made in an earthenware pie plate, or you can do as I do and make it in an iron skillet. Mine was my grandmother’s and its surface is like silk from well nigh on a hundred years of seasoning.
For the batter:
1 C milk (or cream if you wish)
6 T unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2/3 plain flour
1/2 C sugar
1/2 tsp salt
For the apples:
4 T unsalted butter
4 tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced
a splash of Calvados (or brandy)
Preheat the oven to 200C
Prepare the batter: Put milk, eggs, melted butter, vanilla, flour, sugar, and salt into a blender. Whiz it around until smooth and set aside. Grease a large, deep pie plate with butter, then set in the oven to heat.
Prepare the apples: Saute apples in butter over medium heat. Add brandy and cook until apples are slightly soft but not disintegrating – about 5 mins.
Then prepare the clafoutis: Remove the pie plate from the oven and pour half of the batter into the hot dish. Arrange the apples over the batter, then pour in the remaining batter. Sprinkle a bit of sugar and a generous amount of cinnamon over the top and bake until the clafoutis is set, about 25-30 mins.
The last time I made this I drizzled it with homemade quince honey – a bit like a thick quince syrup. Apple syrup or even Maple syrup could also be used.