Clafouti, also known as clafoutis, is a classic French dessert which resembles a fruit filled custard or sweet frittata. While native to the Limousin region of France, clafouti is made in many other locations as well, and it is a popular dessert food. Since clafouti is very easy to make and it has an elegant presentation, it is an excellent choice of quickie dessert for dinner parties. Since it is served warm as a general rule, clafouti is best made at home or purchased as part of a restaurant meal.
The traditional clafouti is made with cherries, although any sort of fruit could be used. Some purists call non-cherry clafouti flognarde, to distinguish it. The fruit is layered with a dense batter and baked until the batter puffs up, just like a quiche. The dessert is allowed to cool slightly before being served with whipped cream, ice cream, crème anglaise, or a similar topping. Some cooks serve it directly out of the baking pan, while others prefer to make clafouti in individual ramekins.
To make a traditional clafouti, start with three cups of cherries. Some cooks leave the pits in, since the pits make the flavor more rich and intense, but they also make eating clafouti slightly hazardous. If cherries are not available or some other fruit simply looks better, feel free to substitute. Apples, peaches, blueberries, and fruit mixes are all excellent in this dish, especially if cooks tweak the spicing to bring out the unique flavors of the fruit.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius). Beat three eggs with one and one quarter cups milk, adding one half cup flour, one third cup sugar, one tablespoon of vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Lemon juice, orange essence, and spices such as nutmeg or cinnamon may also be used. For people with gluten intolerance, another thickening flour such as arrowroot, amaranth, nut meal, or sorghum can be substituted. Pour approximately one quarter of the batter into an oiled baking pan, and bake it until it develops a thin skin.
Pull the baking pan out and distribute the fruit into it before pouring the rest of the batter on top and sprinkling with granulated sugar to form a crisp, crackly crust. To reduce the probability of cracking, bake the clafouti in a water bath, which will also help it cook evenly. Place the assembled clafouti into the preheated oven, and bake for 40 minutes or until puffy and brown. Remove, allow to cool slightly, and serve.