Sunday, July 17, 2016

Cherry and Apricot Clafoutis

I learned about the existence of claufoutis as a dish about a year ago when I stumbled across a recipe on Serious Eats. It was hailed by their writers as being extremely elegant, easy, and impressive to guests. The recipe also talks about experimenting copiously with egg, milk, sugar, and flour ratios to get the perfect ratios for the right texture. I made that clafoutis no fewer than 4 times and found it satisfactory as a sweet breakfast dish or a less decadent tea time treat, but it never blew my socks off.

When I found the Times recipe, I felt that their version looked, at least superficially, more in line with my tastes as it includes almond flour, yogurt (which can add a velvety texture as well as flavor depth) instead of milk, and an overall less eggy and more cake-like potential. Both recipes are simple, but the Times one is definitely more complex in a way that should take it further away from being French toast or scrambled eggs.

The first time I tried this, I made it with cherries and apricots and put too much fruit in it as you can see by the ratios in the picture of a slice that I took:

It was good, mind you, but I wanted more base and less fruit in the ratios. I should also note that I used canned dark sweet cherries that I had lying around because I had no fresh ones on hand. I rinsed them very well to get the sugary juice off of them and I only used half the sugar to macerate the fruit because the cherries were already sweeter than fresh. I didn't like how it seemed like all of the fruit had a party at the bottom and ignored the base. You can see from my picture that the edges got a bit dark. I used a dark glass quiche pan to make this and it could be that was the issue, but it also could be that my oven runs a bit hot.

Fast forward to today when I made this for the second time, but I omitted the cherries and just made it with fresh apricots. Serious Eats tells me that this is called a flaugnarde if cherries are not being used, but clafoutis is more fun to say and easier to remember so I'm going to rebel against any change in naming the dish. The second one also came out dark around the edges because I'd forgotten what happened the first time by the time I made my second attempt. I hope to remember next time to reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees because it not only got too dark at the very edge, but it also baked 7 minutes faster than the given time of 40 minutes. I think it'd be better low and slow.

Since this time I had a better chance to taste the non-fruit portion (the basic filling), I can speak better to its texture and flavor. It comes across as a slightly stretchy pancake with a fairly good and developed flavor. I can't say that the apricot-only version was "better" per se, but I did like the greater access to the base's texture and flavor. It was more tart with only the apricot in it than the original mix with cherries. However, some of that tartness can be mitigated by dusting with powdered sugar (which I didn't do with the first piece) and a bit of whipped cream.

This strikes me as an excellent recipe for making an oven-baked pancake-like experience with fruit. I think that, with the right fruit (such as bananas), it might even be pretty amazing with maple syrup instead of the whipped cream and powdered sugar. At the very least, it warrants more experimentation.