The French cherish their culinary terms nearly as much as the objects of their culinary passions.  When the Académie Française - who publish the French equivalent of the Oxford Dictionary -called a clafoutis a "fruit flan", the citizens of Limousin saw red and did not desist until it was redefined as a "cake".  Furthermore, these pastry-less "cakes" can only be called clafoutis if they're made with cherries.  Otherwise, they are flaugnardes.

Interestingly, Francatelli's Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes from 1852 has a recipe for a 'Batter and Fruit Pudding' which bears a striking resemblance to a flaugnarde.  No doubt the French would speculate that Francatelli picked up this recipe while training in France.  It is more likely that such a pudding was fairly commonplace in western Europe from medieval times and that it was popularised in the historic Duchy of Aquitaine, with the Limousin region specialising in a cherry version.  The name clafoutis makes its first documented appearance in 1864, and in its 'home' regions it is often called a milliard, suggesting a far longer history.

Of course, Limousin's capital Limoges is best known for its porcelain, so (if you happen to have any) a clafoutis will give you the perfect excuse to show it off.  You could also use this "cake" as a springboard for a discussion of Anglo-French relations (which should transform the dullest of dinner guests into experts on international affairs).  Whether you want to ponder the true origins of this so-called "cake", whether the Black Prince really did massacre thousands in Limoges, or the merits of Renoir versus Whistler, the flaugnard or clafoutis is an excellent accompaniment.

Cherry Flaugnarde
(a.k.a. Clafoutis or Milliard)

There are many practical reasons to prefer a flaugnarde to a flan.  Even though making pastry only takes ten minutes or so, ten minutes matters when you have very young children or have just come home after a long day.  A flan also has the disadvantage of being off-limits for our gluten-free or Coeliac friends.  So we've decided to share with you a super-quick gluten-free clafoutis recipe.

Ingredients:

150g castor sugar
50g custard powder (gluten free)
200ml eggs (4 large)
350ml cream
600-750g jar of pitted cherries (or equivalent)
castor sugar for coating cherries (optional)
icing sugar for dusting

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Begin by pre-heating your oven to 180-200 degrees Celcius and placing a greased oven-proof dish in the oven to warm.  Drain the cherries and (if you prefer it) toss them in sugar.  You may also wish to consider soaking the cherries in brandy for a few hours if you're making the clafoutis for a special occasion.

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Whisk the remaining ingredients in a bowl.  We recommend adding the eggs to the sugar and custard powder, then mixing in the cream.

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When the oven is ready, pour a little of the batter into the hot pan, and add the cherries.

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Then pour in the remaining batter and give the pan a little shake to distribute the cherries evenly.

Bake for 40-50 minutes.

When cooked, the clafoutis will be bouncy and firm to the touch.  It will puff up, especially around the sides, a little reminiscent of a Yorkshire pudding, then subside as it cools.

Serve warm or cold, dusted with a little icing sugar.

Fruit Flan (Fruit Tart)

A flan (or tart) differentiates itself from the flaugnard by means of its pastry case.  This recipe can easily be made in the style of a flaugnard simply by omitting the pastry.  It can, furthermore, be made gluten free by using gluten free flour or almond meal.

Ingredients

Filling:
zest and juice of one lemon
200ml sour cream
1 large egg
100g sugar
70g flour
fruit, e.g. stewed apricots or canned peaches (drained)

Pastry:
225g unsalted butter
100g castor sugar
1 egg
350g plain flour
(For the method, see how we made the pastry for the Nougat de Tours.)

Glaze:
1/3 cup apricot jam
1 tbl water

Pre-heat oven to 180-200 degrees Celcius.

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Mix the filling ingredients in a bowl, leaving the fruit until last or keeping it separate.  If separate, pour a little of the filling into your pastry case, then arrange the fruit evenly across the flan.

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Fill the case making sure all the fruit is covered.

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Bake for 40-45 minutes until the middle no longer wobbles and is firm to the touch.



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Sprinkle with icing sugar (using a sieve) and put under the grill until it browns.  (Don't worry if there are white patches - they will disappear when glazed.)

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Allow tart to cool on a wire rack.

Heat the jam and water in a small saucepan.  Brush the tart with the jam and allow it to set before serving.

 


Comments

Jaslyn Patrick
22/09/2013 17:46

So tempting to try! Can it work with other fruit as well as cherries?

Mishka Gora
23/09/2013 16:29

Yes, of course! Traditionally, it's made with fresh unpitted cherries (as the pits release flavour), but this time of year we have to use preserved cherries. Just remember to drain your fruit if using something from a jar/tin, and if using fresh to make sure they're small enough (e.g. berries) or cut up and stewed a little if fresh (e.g. apple or pear).


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