It’s been a while, I know. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been baking. I haven’t found the space to blog. Among other things, it was my birthday a few days ago and oh what a week it was! Getting soaked in the merciless Bombay showers, lovely dinners and Man of Steel at the newly opened IMAX with my parents in law and sister, and gifts, plenty of them.
This year I was very specific about what I wanted as gifts and let’s just say my baking equipment repertoire just graduated from being full-fledged to doubly-full-fledged. A stand mixer from my in laws – my wrists don’t have to be subject to holding the electric beater for minutes together anymore and the very therapeutic brûlée torch from Pavan to cauterize my cakes or meringues or crème brûlée when I make them. Yes, I know I used the word cauterize instead of caramelize.
For me birthdays are a big deal because it reminds me of how blessed I am. It’s not something I think about on a daily basis; may be I should start. I spent this birthday with people, people I have grown to love and people of whose existence I didn’t know of until a few months ago. But here’s the thing, it was all very familiar, as though I have been celebrating it with these people for years together, which is amazing. I did gravely miss my mother though and friends back home. Well, there is no ideal situation is there? 🙂
And Clafoutis? No second guesses allowed. When you are really struggling to pronounce a word, you know it’s got to be from France and I shall put your inquisitiveness to rest – klafuti. The French province of Limousin is the proud owner of this dessert that by and large uses black cherries with pits in it. Apparently, the seeds transfuse extra flavour to the dessert. But I made sure I pitted my half a kilo cherries by hand; I should really invest in a cherry pitter.
My box of siren red cherries has a story behind it. I was in a rickshaw on Linking Road brazing the cantankerous traffic. A little boy came and stood by me with two boxes of cherries. When I say little, I mean little. I mean his palms could barely hold the boxes. Such sights are not out of place in India especially in a city like Bombay. You see old people trying to woo you into buying bestsellers and young lads jumping on your car with a fluorescent hued feather-like duster to clean the windshield. I try not to let them get to me but this boy, I couldn’t resist. Who was he? Was he orphaned by his parents to go fetch his own meal for the day? Was he answerable to someone who asked him to sell the box of cherries to bystanders on road? Was he suppose to partake the little money he has so earned with his family? Where is he from? From a remote village somewhere in the North who came to the city of dreams to live? I don’t know. What I do know is that I bought a box of cherries from this boy whose story I don’t know of and he helped me make my clafoutis.
I did get a earful from Pavan though, for buying it because you often don’t know where it comes from but that’s a story I’ll save for another day 🙂
My inspiration to make this French classic of course is Raymond Blanc. It is his recipe and I suggest if you want to make it, you go by this recipe.
I have used red cherries. Once you get the hang of the recipe, you can use any stoned fruits; peaches, plums or even apricots.
For the batter
- 1 heaped tbsp plain flour
- 20 g unsalted butter
- 50 ml milk
- 75 ml whipping cream (you can use fresh cream)
- 2 eggs
- 3 tbsp caster sugar plus extra for coating the dish
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
For macerating cherries
- 450 g cherries, pitted (I weighed it before pitting them)
- 3 tbsp caster sugar
- Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Pinch of cinnamon
Note: Raymond uses a technique called maceration, which essentially means letting the fruits sit in some form of liquid, along with sugar for a few hours so that they let out all their juices. He uses Kirsch, a cherry liqueur to macerate the cherries but since I didn’t get my hands on one, I left it out.
- Wash the cherries and pat them dry. Using a cherry pitter, remove the pits from the cherries. Plop the cherries in a a bowl. Add caster sugar, pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon to the cherries. Cover the bowl and let it sit for 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 180 C. Spread a wide baking dish, preferably round (sort of like a pie dish) with butter. Coat the base and sides of the dish with some caster sugar evenly and tip away the extra. Set aside.
- In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over a low heat until it becomes a pale brown liquid. This technique is called beurre noisette. Set aside.
- For the batter, combine flour and salt. Beat together the eggs and sugar until pale and creamy. Gradually add milk, cream and the vanilla essence. Now, combine the flour to the eggs mixture. Now, add the melted butter. Fold well.
- Pour the batter into the prepared dish. Tilt the cherries into the batter along with its juices.
- Bake for 35 minutes in the preheated oven until it has risen a bit and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Best served warm with crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream.