Peach Perfect

With all the hyper-fresh fruit hitting the markets in these last days of July, I’m on a serious dessert kick. Nothing is better than a ripe, juicy peach heavy with the sweet promise of summer; so tempting of late, I barely made it out of the market before polishing off my first one. Heading home and temporarily sated, my mind turned to visions of a glorious Clafoutis with peaches.

Ever since I experienced my first Clafoutis at a charming inn in France I have been smitten by this dessert. It was displayed, somehow oddly appropriate, in welcoming splendor on a large entry table – a large deep pan-full, partially cut, for all to ponder. Ultimately, it was as remarkable as it appeared: thick dense fruity custard loaded with sliced apples, sheathed in a puffed and crisp exterior.

I religiously collect Clafoutis recipes and photos, prepare it, sample it whenever the opportunity is presented. One thing I do know, is that there must be as many ways to prepare this classic as there are ways to make bread pudding. Depending on the proportions of egg, flour and milk/cream, the results can be anywhere from a custard base, to a crepe-like consistency, and even a cake of sorts. I love them all.

One version that caught my curiosity recently comes from The French Farm House Cookbook by Susan Hermann Loomis. This one seemed to have a higher amount of milk/cream and more flour than most; plus requiring a minimal amount of butter. Although cherries tend to be the traditional fruit in the Limousin region, Susan suggests apricots. In the past I have also made delicious Clafoutis with apples, pears, plums, and even mangoes.

As far as I am concerned, this is utter perfection. It has all the attributes I find important: it looks delicate and fragile, however it remains beautifully puffed and light. It stands firm and stable, in wonderful contrast to the thick sumptuous interior custard afloat with intense sliced peaches. To die for!

Peach Clafoutis
Adapted from The French Farm House Cookbook
by Susan Hermann Loomis
4 peaches — pitted and cut into thick wedges
1 cup flour — minus 2 Tbsp, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt — heaping
2 cups milk, divided
3 large eggs
1/3 cup sugar, or more
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon butter — cut into 6 pieces

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, butter and lightly flour 9 1/2: round tart pan or baking dish.

In mixing bowl place the sifted flour and salt and mix to combine. Whisk in 1 cup milk until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each. Whisk in sugar, the remaining 1 cup milk, and vanilla.

Arrange the peaches in bottom of baking dish. Pour batter over fruit. Dot with butter and bake until golden and puffed, 30-40 minutes. Cool thoroughly. Serves 6. ~~

Clafoutis Musings: Be certain to butter and flour the baking dish, it will help the rising process. Another trick is to use a very hot oven. Regarding sugar quantity, depending on the fruit, I sometimes sprinkle additional sugar over it before adding the custard. The peaches are so juicy I would not recommend this and would add a bit more to the custard instead. Milk vs cream: it’s customary in most Clafoutis to include cream in the custard, I find 2% milk suffices nicely, just don’t skimp on using the best fruit available.

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