Clafouti, Clafouti, Clafouti

May 9, 2009

Other than a scant syllabic kinship, I am befuddled why when hearing clafouti my mind’s ear always conjures up “Shipoopi”—a love song from the 1957 Meredith Willson musical, The Music Man, starring the virile Robert Preston. An endearing yet quirky Buddy Hackett was pegged as the song and dance star for this number, and even Peter Griffin from the Family Guy series has performed a rendition.

Recently, clafouti (apple and pear) has found new life and taken on a metaphorical bend in Yasmina Reza’s acclaimed nihilistic play, God of Carnage.

The classic clafouti is a rustic dish akin to a flan or sweet omelet, usually chocked with fruit…a dish from the Limousin region of central France in the northwestern part of the Massif Central. Limousin is derived from the Lemovices, a Gallic tribe native to the area during Roman rule which began around 50 BC. In the tenth century, Limousin became a fief of Aquitaine, and later during the Middle Ages it became well known for its troubadour poetry.

Limoges, the capital of this département, is not only the birthplace of artist Jean Auguste Renoir, it is the home of cherished Limoges porcelain which has been manufactured there since 1771.

The word “limousine”—those luxurious elongated sedans often housing self annointed VIPS—is derived from a cloaked cape worn by the shepherds of Limousin.

This enticing berry clafouti is a different spin for Mother’s Day.

SEASONAL BERRY CLAFOUTI

2 T kirsch or other eau-de-vie
2 T light brown sugar
1/3 C sugar (divided)
1/3 C raw sugar (divided)

3 T unsalted butter,softened
2 lbs mixed seasonal berries (e.g., cherries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries)

3 large eggs
2 T sugar
6 T heavy whipping cream
6 T whole milk
1/4 C cornstarch or all purpose flour

Confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 425

Combine the kirsch and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a bowl to dissolve. Add the berries and butter, then toss to blend. Transfer to a baking dish and place in the oven. Bake until the fruit is hot, about 10 minutes, so they exude excess liquid. If necessary, drain the fruit in a colander, but reserve the juices for flavoring later. Set the berries aside to cool to room temperature.

Lower the oven to 375 F

Whisk the eggs until frothy with a mixer, adding the remaining sugar. Then add the cream, milk and cornstarch or flour and mix until well blended. You should have a smooth batter.

Place the fruits in a baking dish in a single layer. Slowly pour the batter over the fruit, filling just to the brim. Bake until until golden, some 35 to 40 minutes. Set aside to cool, and turn broiler to high.

Sprinkle the confectioners’ sugar on top evenly Place under the broiler until the sugar is caramelized. Cool to room temperature.

Serve the clafouti directly from the skillet in wedges or unmold. To unmold, make certain that the clafouti is free from the sides of the pan; if necessary, run a sharp knife around the edge to release it.

Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and champagne.

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