What is a clafoutis? It's a French dessert consisting of a layer of fruit, such as cherries, topped with batter, and baked.
If you are curious, here is how to pronounce it:
I've been reading Paris Sweets by Dorie Greenspan during Paris in July. Dorie Greenspan interviews pastry chefs from Paris about their favorite recipes. Gérard Mulot from Pâtisserie Mulot shares his most popular pastry, Clafoutis aux Cerises.
We ran across some bushel baskets of fresh peaches from Fredericksburg, Texas for sale last week. Greenspan suggests peaches as an excellent substitution for cherries, and so I've attempted my first clafoutis.
There are a lot of steps to this dessert. You have been warned.
Peach Clafoutis / Clafoutis aux Pêche
MAKES 6 SERVINGS
1 partially baked 9-inch (24-cm) tart shell made from Sweet Tart Dough (below)
3 large eggs
3/4 cup (180 grams) sugar
1 cup (240 grams) crème fraîche, homemade or store-bought, or heavy cream
Pulp of ½ moist, plump vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
11 ounces (330 grams) fresh peaches, patted dry
1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
2. Put the tart shell on a parchment-lined baking sheet and keep the setup on the counter.
3. Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl just until they are blended. Whisk in the sugar, followed by the crème fraîche (go easy on the crème fraîche—beat it too energetically, and you’ll have whipped cream) and the vanilla.
4. Switch to a rubber spatula and gently stir the cherries into the batter. Turn the batter into the crust, poke the cherries around a bit if necessary so that they’re more or less evenly distributed, and slide the baking sheet into the oven. (If you have too much batter for the tart, as might be the case if you are using heavy cream, pour in just enough to fill the tart and bake for 10 minutes, then pour in as much of the remaining batter as possible; continue baking as directed.)
5. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the custard is set at the center— tap the tart pan, and the custard shouldn’t jiggle. Transfer the clafoutis to a cooling rack. You can serve the clafoutis after it has cooled for about 15 minutes (the temperature at which Gérard Mulot prefers his clafoutis), or you can allow it to come to room temperature. keeping: The clafoutis will keep for about 12 hours at room temperature. It is best served shortly after it is made and is always best unchilled.
Crème Fraîche (Fresh Cream)
To make 1 cup of crème fraîche, pour 1 cup heavy cream into a clean jar, add 1 tablespoon buttermilk or yogurt, cover the jar tightly, and shake it for about a minute. Then just leave the jar on the counter for 12 to 24 hours, or until the crème fraîche thickens slightly. How quickly it thickens will depend on the temperature of the room—the warmer the room, the quicker the thickening action. When it has thickened, chill the crème fraîche in the refrigerator for a day before you use it. Crème fraîche can be kept covered in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks and (or but, depending on your taste) will get tangier and tangier day after day.
Ground almonds, probably more coarse than almond flour
Pâte Sucrée (Sweet Tart Dough)
MAKES ENOUGH FOR THREE 9-INCH CRUSTS
2½ sticks (10 ounces; 290 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups (150 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted, lightly packed
½ cup (2¼ ounces; 70 grams) ground blanched almonds
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3½ cups (490 grams) all-purpose flour
To make the dough:
1. Place the butter in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until creamy.
2. Add the confectioners’ sugar and process to blend well.
3. Add the ground almonds, salt, and vanilla and continue to process until smooth, scraping the bowl as necessary.
4. Lightly stir the eggs together with a fork and, with the machine running, add them to the work bowl; process for a few seconds to blend.
5. Finally, add the flour and pulse until the mixture just starts to come together. When the dough forms moist curds and clumps and then starts to form a ball, stop!—you don’t want to overwork it. The dough will be very soft, and that’s just as it should be. (If you want to make the dough in a mixer, use the paddle attachment. First beat the butter until it is smooth, then add the remaining ingredients in the order given above. Just be careful when you add the flour—you must stop mixing as soon as the flour is incorporated.)
6. Gather the dough into a ball and divide it into 3 pieces. Gently press each piece into a disk and wrap each disk in plastic. Allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or for up to 2 days, before rolling and baking. (The dough can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to a month.)
To roll and bake tart crusts:
1. For each tart, butter the right-sized tart pan and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet. If you are making more than one tart, work with one piece of dough at a time. What makes this dough so delicious—lots of butter—also makes it a little difficult to roll. The easiest way to work with pâte sucrée is to roll it out between sheets of plastic wrap. Just flatten a large piece of plastic wrap against the counter and roll the dough between that and another piece of plastic. Turn the dough over often so that you can roll it out on both sides, and as you’re rolling, make sure to lift the sheets of plastic several times so that they don’t crease and get rolled into the dough. (If the dough becomes too soft, just slip it, still between plastic, onto a baking sheet and pop it into the fridge for a few minutes.)
2. Remove one sheet of the plastic and center the dough (exposed side down) over the tart pan. Press the dough against the bottom of the pan and up the sides, remove the top sheet of plastic wrap, and roll your rolling pin across the rim of the pan to cut off the excess. If the dough cracks or splits while you’re working, don’t worry—you can patch the cracks with leftover dough (moisten the edges to “glue” them into place). Just be careful not to stretch the dough in the pan (what you stretch now will shrink later).
3. Chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. (Repeat with the remaining dough, if necessary.)
4. When you are ready to bake the crust(s), preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line the crust with a circle of parchment paper or foil and fill with dried beans or rice. Bake the crust (or crusts) for 20 to 25 minutes, or just until very lightly colored. If the crust needs to be fully baked, remove the parchment and beans and bake the crust for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden. Transfer to a rack to cool. KEEPING: Wrapped airtight, the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or frozen for a month. Frozen disks of dough take 45 to 60 minutes at average room temperature to reach a good rolling-out consistency.
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