So, was anyone else a little over-zealous in their blueberry picking last summer, only to find that their freezer runneth over now, in April? It's hard to fathom having too much of such a good thing, but yesterday I discovered the last of my hard-earned berries teetering perilously close to freezer burn. I had to use them ASAP, but I wasn't in the mood for muffins, or pancakes, or scones, and the idea of throwing them into a smoothie seemed like sacrilege.
That's when I thought of clafoutis.
Clafoutis (kla-foo-tee), a rustic fruit dessert originated in central France, is usually described as a cross between a custard and a cake. Authentic clafoutis is made with cherries, but it adapts well to other fruits such as prunes, plums, berries and pears. I haven't baked clafoutis for many years, so I scoured my cookbooks and the internet to compare recipes. In the end, I avoided the more embellished iterations and settled on an appropriately simple one by Christopher Kimball that I tweaked only slightly. First, since I got it in my head I wanted a breakfast clafoutis, I reduced the sugar slightly (to 1/4 cup) with good results. If you're serving the clafoutis for dessert or your berries are on the tart side, I would use 1/3 cup sugar, as written. Also, I added a smidgen of almond extract and some lemon zest to complement the berries. Finally, I simplified things by mixing the batter in a blender, as is often done with clafoutis.
While the frozen berries seemed to work fine in this recipe, I'm sure fresh would be even better if you're willing to hold off a few months!
If you're a custard lover and appreciate uncomplicated fruit desserts, chances are good you'll like clafoutis.
1 teaspoon butter
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
12 ounces blueberries (about 1 pint)
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
confectioner's sugar for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch round cake or pie pan with butter; dust bottom and sides with 1 tablespoon sugar.
Place blueberries in an even layer in bottom of pan.
Combine eggs, milk, sugar, flour, salt, vanilla, almond extract and lemon zest in blender; process until smooth.
Carefully and slowly pour batter over blueberries in pan. Try not to disrupt the berries too much.
Bake 40 - 50 minutes, or until clafoutis is puffed, golden brown and firm to the touch.
Allow to cool 15 - 20 minutes (clafoutis will deflate and firm up as it sits, making it much easier to slice cleanly). Dust the top with confectioner's sugar and serve warm.
(Recipe adapted from Christopher Kimball, Milford Daily News; August 5, 2003)
*If you'd rather skip the almond extract and lemon zest, use 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla; or, at least use the lemon zest - it's really good.
*Don't even try to slice the clafoutis before it has had a chance to settle; you'll end up with a gloppy mess!