Clafoutis – dairy-free

Ollie

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Clafoutis is a traditional baked dessert invented in the Limousin region. Limousin was a former administrative region in central south-western France, and was part of the larger historical Occitania region. The dessert itself, is made by baking fresh ripe cherries surrounded by a thick flan-like batter in a baking dish. Cherries arrived in France in the Middle Ages; Louis XV was responsible for the development of the modern cherry. Limousin cherries are black (prunus serotina, variety bigarreau) and tarter than the familiar red variety. The dessert name comes from the word clafotis, which is derived from clafir, or claufir which means “filling” in the Occitan language. From its humble origins the original recipe spread widely throughout France during the 19th century. Other fruits are associated with clafoutis, incorrectly as it happens, and then the baked dessert is actually a Flaugnarde (or, Flagnarde, Flognarde, Flougnarde). A true Limousin clafoutis is baked with the stones, or pits, left inside the cherries, giving a much more, almond-like flavour to the cake during the baking process. Also, it is important to use as many cherries as is possible to fit on the bottom of the baking dish, so that the flavour and texture of the fruit juices can permeate through the dessert. This is not an haute cuisine dish: it is simple, economical and uses Limousin’s local produce; dairy from cows, cherries and cognac (although Kirsch is used in this recipe).

This dairy-free recipe is influenced by the dairy recipes of the following blogs: the Guardian writer Felicity Cloake (theguardian.com/food/2019/jun/04/bon-appetit-how-i-rediscoved-the-joys-of-french-cuisine), and comes from her book (One More Croissant for the Road), and is based on the cold creamy chunky version found in Limousin bakeries; pastry studio (pastrystudio.blogspot.com/2008/06/clafoutis-limousin.html), for a limousine clafoutis; and the Arousing Appetites blog (blog.arousingappetites.com/clafoutis-french-cherry-tart-baked-dessert/) for a Clafoutis: French baked cherry tart (which itself is based on a recipe by the French blogger, Mimi Thorisson).

The added salt, acid in the form of lemon juice, and alcohol, Kirsch, all have a positive effect on the coagulation, texture and tenderness of the batter.

Ingredients:
Demerara sugar 3 – 4Tbsp
Cherries (fresh, ripe) 500 – 600g
Butter 75g (sliced and cubed)
Hemp milk 310g
Eggs (large) 232g (4 whole plus 2 yolks)
Cane sugar 100g
Fine Sea Salt 1/2tsp
Gluten free Flour mix* 115g
Vanilla Extract 1/4tsp
Lemon juice 1/4tsp
Kirsch 3Tbsp

*Gluten-free Flour mix: 440g White Rice flour, 125g Sweet Rice flour, 45g Potato starch, 95g Tapioca starch, and 55g Arrowroot. Total weight: 760g

Method:
Soak the picked, fresh cherries in water for at least one hour before using.
Preheat the oven to 180C for 45 minutes.
With softened butter, grease a 25cm x 20cm (10in x 8in) deep roasting dish; then sprinkle the base with the demerara sugar to generously cover; this is to give a crisp base to contrast with the lightness of the filling.
Drain the fresh ripe cherries, dry and remove the stalks, yet leaving the stones, or pits within (for the authentic version, or remove them if preferred). Place the cherries, as many as possible in a single layer, in the base of the baking dish.
In a small bowl (1) over a saucepan of simmering water, add the sliced and cubed butter; stir with a metal spoon to dissolve three quarters of the butter; then remove the bowl from the heat and continue to stir and dissolve the remaining butter. Leave to cool.
Warm the Hemp milk in a saucepan (2) to finger warmth (36 -38C) and then remove from the heat. Pour a quarter of the cooling melted butter (bowl 1) into the warmed milk (bowl 2), and combine with a whisk. Pour the milk-butter mix (bowl 2) back into the cooled butter (bowl 1) and combine with a whisk. Blitz with a hand immersion blender for 5 minutes, to fully disperse the fat globules throughout the Hemp milk. Set aside.
In a medium sized bowl (3) lightly whisk the eggs and yolks together; add the salt and cane sugar; with a hand whisk, whisk the mixture for at least 30 seconds, until it is frothy.
Sift in 50g of the Gluten-free flour mix to the above egg mixture, and slowly whisk to a smooth consistency. Gradually sift in the rest of the flour and slowly whisk until batter is just blended and smooth. Avoid overmixing the batter.
Slowly add the Hemp milk-butter mix to the egg batter (bowl 3) and stir to a smooth consistency.
Add the vanilla extract, lemon juice, and Kirsch to the above mixture and stir to just incorporate.
Pour all of the batter on top of the cherries.
Carefully place the filled baking dish into the oven. Bake at 180C for 45 - 50 minutes, until golden brown, firm yet puffed up on top and with a slight wobble in the middle, browning around the edges and just beginning to pull away from the edges.
Remove the baked clafoutis from the oven and allow it to set to either cool warm (10 – 20 minutes) or cold and set evenly; depending on preference for eating. Note that the clafoutis will deflate within a minute of taking it out of the oven, this is normal.

Enjoy!

clafoutis 2.jpg
 
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