Wednesday 26 March 2008
[Hoping for happy accidents – My grand-mother’s clafoutis]
It all happens on purpose. A few months ago, I came across a couple of old notebooks. Notebooks I once valued as precious. Notebooks I wouldn’t go anywhere without. Notebooks I recorded my food-related ideas into. Notebooks that I thought would turn into a book.
Then, I suddenly realised how unrealistic all this was. By then, I was only nineteen and seriously believed I could publish my very own cookbook in a matter of seconds and if not seconds, minutes. So I eventually forgot about those notebooks, assuming the recipes I had created were meaningless.
And now, almost exactly four years later, as I opened the notebooks and decoded the writing, I couldn’t help but have this weird feeling that those words weren’t mine. They were better than mine.
Apparently, what I considered pointless a couple of years ago didn’t seem that bad. Although my way of cooking and more importantly, my penchant for la pâtisserie, have changed dramatically, this episode had a huge impact on my cookbook craving.
And then, I found that great self-publishing website, which sounded nice. So there I am, busiest than ever, wanting to write a cookbook for the people I love.
Oh I certainly know I’m supposedly opening an Etsy shop and adjusting the biscuit recipes of the company I’m an intern at and actively trying to be a daring baker and struggling to post regularly on foodbeam.
Does it seem reasonable then?
It definitely does not, but well, although I wish I actually had the time to do all those things, I’m just too excited about them not to try my best at making them come real.
While I always happen not to have as much time as necessary, I’m lucky enough to be able to take a breather now and then. This past week end at my grand-parents’ house just was the bol d’air I needed.
Some utterly vital hours spent indulging myself with all things beautiful, hoping for happy accidents and, as you may have guessed, baking. Just so I can feel reposed and inspired again.
Le clafoutis de ma grand-mère
I can’t talk about this without an unsubtle hint of delight in my voice. This, people, is one of my favourite recipes ever. The kind of recipes I wrote down on a post-it back when I could barely write my name right and have since kept in a secret notebook.
This recipe, as you must have guessed from its name, comes from my grand-mother – who happens to be one of the people I love the most – and is flawless. An incredibly smooth batter enfolds pieces of soft and sweet cherries. Here I made it using cherries my grand-mother canned back in 2004, hence their dark colour. But you can obviously, and I highly recommend so, use fresh cherries, which you pit. Or not: there is a great debate in France whether the cherries used in a clafoutis should be pitted or not, I go for the easy way, and pit them.
You could also use other fruits according to the season. And if you want to know one of my best kept secrets: finely sliced apples work like a charm in autumn
I like to eat clafoutis at any time of the day, even fridge-cold for breakfast. But it does actually make a nice dinner dessert when served with some sharp yoghurt ice-cream, or failing that, a dollop of sour cream.
Le clafoutis de ma grand-mère
a pinch of salt
80g butter, melted
250ml full fat milk (semi skimmed is okay though)
500g cherries, pitted
Preheat the oven to 200°C and generously butter a 30cm tart dish.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Incorporate the eggs, one at the time, beating well after each addition. When the batter is smooth, mix in the melted butter. Then, working slowly, gradually add the milk, mixing well, so no lumps form. If you’re not fully confident, you can strain the batter through a sieve to ensure maximum smoothness.
Using your hands, scatter the pitted cherries into the prepared tin and gently pour the batter over. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden and quite firm (it can be slightly wobbly in the centre; a skewer inserted in the middle of the clafoutis should come out clean though).