I’m a sucker for fruit desserts. Truth be told, I usually reach for these desserts before chocolate. I know, I know… I’m crazy, aren’t I? There’s something about the sugary, caramelized, fruit that has me wanting another bite. No matter whether its freshly baked banana or blueberry muffins, or any variation of fruit tart, I’m there, waiting anxiously to pull them from the oven only to sit there on the floor in front of the hot oven and dig into the first one. Don’t tell me you haven’t done this before, we all have.
This pear clafoutis recipe, also known as a clafouti aux poires, is a variation on the traditional puffed French custard cake. Traditionally, a clafoutis is made with cherries but over the years many adaptions have been made. The puffed part of the cake is when the pancake-like batter puffs up in the oven, almost like a soufflé, and when it’s removed from the oven it will slowly sink back down. If this happens, don’t worry, you did it correctly.
According to Larousse Gastronomique, this dessert originated in the Limoges region of France, consisted of black cherries, and was arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a fairly thick batter. The cherries aren’t traditionally pitted, but simply washed. It’s been said that the pits add their own flavor to the batter during cooking. This tart is served warm and dusted with powdered sugar. The Académie française, which defines the clafoutis as a “sort of fruit flan”, were faced with protest from the inhabitants of Limoges and changed their definition to a “cake with black cherries” Nevertheless, there are numerous variations using red cherries and/or other fruits. The word clafoutis come from the provincial dialect word clafir (to fill).
I found this recipe in Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris cookbook. I love and highly recommend this book. All of the recipes I’ve made have turned out perfectly. I added a touch of freshly grated nutmeg to the clafoutis and found the nutmeg complimented the pears nicely.
Adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot in Paris
1 tablespoon (15 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperture
1/3 cup plus, 1 tablespoon (70 grams plus 15 grams) granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
6 tablespoons (60 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) heavy cream
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) kosher salt
2 tablespoons (30 ml) of brandy
2-3 firm but ripe pears (Bosc or Bartlett would be perfect. I used Bosc.)
Freshly ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C
Butter a 10 x 1 1/2 inch round baking dish or tart pan and sprinkle the bottom and sides with 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar. Set aside.
Beat the eggs and 1/3 cup of granulated sugar in the bowl with a spoon or mixer until you have reached a light and fluffy mixture. Add the flour, cream, vanilla extract, salt and brandy and mix til just blended. Set aside.
Meanwhile, peel, quarter, core and slice the pears. Arrange the slices in a single layer, slightly fanned out, in the baking dish. Pour the batter over the pears and add a little, freshly grated nutmeg over the top. Bake until the top is golden brown and the custard is firm, roughly 35-40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar.
Ina Garten Barefoot in Paris