Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Classic French Clafoutis


mnfoodie
 Share

Recommended Posts

Here's the recipe for cherry clafouti, as found on Martha Stewart's web site

I didn't follow this exactly. I buttered the pan with salted butter. I used vanilla sugar that I had made previously (by burying a vanilla beans in a jar full of sugar). I started mixing the 2 yolks into the sugar, but got distracted by something and came back to find they had turned into a very stuff sweet yolk ball. We mashed that up with a fork, added the milk and cream and remaining eggs.

This batter was barely thicker than cream, not the "thick batter" promised at the top of the recipe. We poured the batter through a sieve onto the cherries, but this strained out some of the egg yolk bits that hadn't been completely mixed in. The dish (I used one that I thought was identical to the one in the picture on Martha's web site) was full before we had poured more than 2/3 of the batter on.

The dish didn't puff up at all, and ened up being a sweety eggy pudding with lots and lots of cherries in it. It was tasty, but it wasn't what I expected.

Would getting the yolks mixed in properly have made this work out? Is the amount of flour just plain wrong? Is what I got what I was supposed to get? Other thoughts?

Thanks!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmm....here's my clafouti batter recipe:

1 cups granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

6 eggs

1 cups AP flour

2-2.5 cups whole milk

cinnamon to taste

This batter is fairly fool-proof and puffs up nicely every time. Looks like the major difference between my recipe and Martha's are the flour and sugar amounts. I think more flour is probably the big thing. Good luck with your next batch!

edited to add: i whisk the eggs and sugar together, add salt and cinnamon, sift in flour and whisk, add milk and whisk again. I've never strained mine.

Edited by zilla369 (log)

Marsha Lynch aka "zilla369"

Has anyone ever actually seen a bandit making out?

Uh-huh: just as I thought. Stereotyping.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looks like the major difference between my recipe and Martha's are the flour and sugar amounts. I think more flour is probably the big thing. Good luck with your next batch!

Thanks. Yeah, I was thinking the flour amount was too small.

Maybe there's some peaches around here; I could try it again.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Whatever Martha's faults, I'm afraid the failure of this recipe isn't one of them. Here's the problem:

I started mixing the 2 yolks into the sugar, but got distracted by something and came back to find they had turned into a very stuff sweet yolk ball. We mashed that up with a fork, added the milk and cream and remaining eggs.

When you add sugar to yolks, you must whisk the mixture immediately and thoroughly, otherwise the sugar (which is extremely hygroscopic) will suck the water out of the yolk cells and basically "cook" them. There is no way that I know of to reverse this reaction once it has occurred, but to throw it away and start over. This is why the directions say to add the sugar to the flour and then add the eggs and dairy to this mixture.

I'll bet if you try it again following the directions more closely, it will work - though it sounds like you'll need a bigger baking dish.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When you add sugar to yolks, you must whisk the mixture immediately and thoroughly, [...] This is why the directions say to add the sugar to the flour and then add the eggs and dairy to this mixture.

I'll bet if you try it again following the directions more closely, it will work - though it sounds like you'll need a bigger baking dish.

Yeah, I thought that stopping mid-whisk was the failure point. I'd already combined the flour and sugar before adding the egg yolks, but with just 3 tbls. of flour in 1/4 c. of sugar, there just isn't that much flour in the mix.

Bigger baking dishes I have, but I'm unconvinced about the amount of flour. What causes the puffing-up reaction, if not the flour? What I made was a custard, basically.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bigger baking dishes I have, but I'm unconvinced about the amount of flour. What causes the puffing-up reaction, if not the flour? What I made was a custard, basically.

Actually it's the eggs that will provide the puffing. The flour is there to give some added structure and keep the eggs from curdling when they're fully cooked. A true clafouti is basically a baked custard thickened slightly with flour. Too much flour will make the finished dish heavy and chewy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I bake c., mine doesn't puff up. In fact I'd worry that I over baked it by that point. Its a custard,.... or think of it like a quiche-that has no flour.

I use a recipe from Michel Roux, it's so thin and truely hard to believe it will firm up, but they always do. You do have to make sure your fruit is well drained, canned cherries can retain alot of moisture if you don't squeeze out the juice.

As far as Martha, I can't remotely agree with you guys there. I think the facts are, when she first published BOOKs (Not magazine) her recipes weren't well tested and I too experiences problems. But those days are LONG GONE (like 12 plus years ago)....and if your not trying her work out-your missing alot! I make tons of recipes from her and have huge success with them. MANY if not most of 'her' recipes are from other famous chefs who contribute on her show (or did at least). I'll defend her to the end as far as good high quality baking recipes, I have a very long list of hits with her. I hope you'll give her recipes a try, regardless of your personal opinion of her etc....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I bake c., mine doesn't puff up.

But this recipe says in two places that it is supposed to puff up. And another cook upthread said that theirs puffs up as well.

I use a recipe from Michel Roux, it's so thin and truely hard to believe it will firm up, but they always do.

But this recipe says it makes a thick batter.

You do have to make sure your fruit is well drained, canned cherries can retain alot of moisture if you don't squeeze out the juice.

I used fresh fruit, and pitted the cherries myself.

As far as Martha, I can't remotely agree with you guys there.

I've yet to have any recipe of hers work out, but my sample size is small, and I haven't yet determined if it is this recipe at fault or if it is pilot error. It's Sunday... maybe I should make two or three clafoutis this afternoon. Neil has probably identified the failure point in my previous attempt, but who knows if it is the only possible problem.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like Moira Hodgson's recipe for Clafoutis which I adapted from her New York Times Gourmet Shopper cookbook. She makes a note at the bottom of the recipe which is helpful:

"Cherries are sometimes pitted for this dish, but their juices may run and cause the batter not to set. If using pitted cherries, increase the flour by 3 tablespoons."

Cherry Clafoutis

1 1/2 to 2 lbs. dark, red ripe cherries

1/2 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 eggs (room temp)

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk (room temp)

2 tablespoons kirsch

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Butter a 10 inch round (or other similar sized) baking dish (Pyrex works well). In mixing bowl combine flour and salt. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. Gradually add milk and mix till smooth, then kirsch and sugar. Arrange cherries on the bottom of the baking dish, pour batter on top. Bake for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degress and bake for 45 to 50 minutes until clafoutis is firm, puffed up and brown. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve hot or cold.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, it will puff up if baked long enough. It's really just personal preference. If you over cook an egg you squeeze all the moisture out of it and make it tough/rubbery, so I pull it before it begins to puff, once it's clearly set. Typically its golden too and in the end I think I've got the same results once cold/room temp..

I didn't mention a Ditto, because Neil completely nailed what was wrong, didn't seem anyone needed to go further.....so heres my Ditto on Neil. He's totally right, you did a chemical fry on your eggs, burned the heck out of them. I didn't see any other obvious place where anything additional might have gone wrong.

This is place I almost always vary on traditional method. In similar recipes I never add the sugar to my raw eggs and then, add cream. I alway dissolve my sugar in my cream, then temper into my eggs. It always works for me, I've found no exceptions over the years. I've never whipped my eggs with sugar just to completely drown them in a liquid, the emulsion goes flat........I never saw the reasoning for the extra work.

Ah, you gotta give Marthas recipes a chance. Don't touch any that are really old, from her first 3 books. The magazine has jems with-in it's pages. I can't comment on the fact the recipe says it makes a thick batter. I can only guess that they meant comparitive to other c. recipes- it's thick. In some things you want to hold tightly to exact words and in other places like method, your loose. Gotta take more of a middle ground in baking, I think.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suspect that this is more interesting to me than anybody else, but in case anyone wants a full report now or in the future, here's what happened today at the Great Clafouti Bake-off.

I re-made the Martha recipe for Cherry Clafouti. Differences between last time (as outlined upthread) were three: using a larger baking dish to hold all the batter and adding the milk before the eggs so that the sugar could dissolve into the liquid. I also used the convenience of tinned cherries, since many clafouti recipes suggest this, and I didn't have the interest to pit another 1.5 lbs of cherries for this experiment.

Results: an identical custard to the one I made the other day. It was oily, it had a mealy texture, it had too much fruit for the amount of custard. It puffed up the merest bit, and settled down as it cooled. The center of the clafouti didn't cook as well as need be, though I returned it to the oven for another 10 minutes over the recommended 45. I did this because the center was clearly still liquid. At the end of the cooking process, it looked a little brown on top, but didn't appear over-cooked. My husband and I both thought this custard was identical in character to the first one, and since there was no repeat of the problem of mixing the eggs into the sugar, I am not sure that Neil's assessment matters for the outcome of this recipe.

Second, I made a peach clafouti using the recipe posted upthread by TrishCT. I used 1.5 lbs of tinned peaches and Cointreau in place of the cherry ingredients. This came out with a very pleasant custard, but the peaches over-powered it. Cutting them into chunks and not wedges would have improved things. So would, obviously, using real fresh peaches. The custard here didn't have as much flavour as the cherry dish, but maybe would be better with a little cinnamon.

We had a dinner out this evening with 7 foodie friends, and then brought them back to the house to try the desserts. No one liked either clafouti very well, and the most dedicated cooks in the group declared the dish not worth attempting to perfect.

Earlier, in the afternoon, I took the peach juice from the cans, and added some sultanas and "zante currants" and dried cherries and dried blueberries and the extra cherries from the clafouti. I cooked this down until all the dried fruit revived and it became thick, then made it into a cobbler. Everyone liked this well enough, so I was gratified to make something decent, and pleased to invent a quick dessert than can be made from ingredients I always have on hand. A little ice cream would have been nice, but we managed.

A last comment to Sinclair: I didn't find any recipes that involved tempering; everything was at room temperature. Also: the two batters were about the same thickness.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry for the confusion, the tempering thing, was just a side note about eggs and sugar.

Well I'm sorry to hear no one liked these. I do like c., I love custardie desserts of all types. Although I'm sure you followed the directions I suspect you'd have gotten a better result with a slightly cooler oven. The description of mealy and oily leads me to believe that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

mnfoodie - i'd be honored if you'd give my recipe a try. I normally use granny smith apple slices sauted in brown sugar and cinnamon, but i don't think the batter would turn out significantly different using pitted cherries.

Mine puffs up and then falls after taking it out of the oven - but it's not overly eggy. It's a very thin batter, like pancake batter. Fluffy.

Marsha Lynch aka "zilla369"

Has anyone ever actually seen a bandit making out?

Uh-huh: just as I thought. Stereotyping.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

mnfoodie - i'd be honored if you'd give my recipe a try.

Thank you; I've saved it and will try it.

I think that perhaps clafouti just isn't the love affair I wished it to be. These things happen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Although I'm sure you followed the directions I suspect you'd have gotten a better result with a slightly cooler oven. The description of mealy and oily leads me to believe that.

I imagine you've got a good point about the oven temp. My oven checks out spot on for temperature, so I'm still faulting the recipe. I have considered that this could well have been one of her early poorly-tested efforts.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have made Clafouti several times and have had success. It is not dish for the typical American palate because it is not very sweet. I will be happy to send it by email to anyone whose is interested.

I also just purchased "The Art of the Cake" by Bruce Healy and Paul Bugat. They have a slightly different recipe from the one I make.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was oily, it had a mealy texture, it had too much fruit for the amount of custard. It puffed up the merest bit, and settled down as it cooled.

I've made Clafoutis a few times and gotten this rather oily eggy custard described above.

Inspired by sale priced cherries and hints given in this thread, I tried a recipe from Saveur that bakes at 425. I ended up with a rather lovely puffy thing that resembled a huge Yorkshire pudding with pancake-like browned edges and a custardy centre. I left the pits in the cherries and they really did seem to add an almond note to the batter.

Is this how Clafoutis is supposed to turn out? I've never had one made by anyone but me, so have no comparison point.

Edited by middydd (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My wife eagerly tried a Cherry Clafouti recipe decades ago. She tried once. The results were a disaster. She was a person of astounding care, precision, and excellence (Valedictorian, Phi Beta Kappa, 'Summa Cum Laude', Woodrow Wilson, Ph.D.), and the failure was very painful for her. She had long been fully successful in music (piano, clarinet, voice), 4-H, county fair cooking, sewing, and chicken raising competitions, etc. so didn't know if the Cherry Clafouti failure was her fault or that of 'world famous French cooking'. She never tried Cherry Clafouti again.

I believe that the responses on this thread are a vivid illustration of the thinking that nearly anyone must go through going from a failing recipe to a successful one. The process can be a LOT of work.

So, this thread illustrates a really big sore point, pushes a really big hot button for me:

When we read a recipe, the implication from the writer is that they have been there, done that, gotten the T-shirt, gone through the process from failure to success, achieved success, understand how the success was achieved, and are making a clear presentation of the results of their work so that others can benefit. Instead, from experiences such as reported in this thread, it is far too easy to conclude that nearly all recipes presented on TV, in books, in magazines really are just tossed out there, are hardly more than vague suggestions of poorly formulated research projects -- invitations to waste time, money, effort, resources, calories -- and nothing like real results.

In particular, for any recipe that so easily fails, it is a real strain to believe that the writer of the recipe EVER did the dish successfully, even once! REALLY tough to believe. Or had they been successful, then they, too, unless astoundingly lucky, would have gone through many of the failures, seen many of the problems, found solutions, and presented all the crucial things that they had so learned from so much thought and effort.

If a recipe for Cherry Clafouti doesn't discuss the issues raised on this thread including how to tell if there is enough flour, what the real purpose of the flour is, what kind of flour to use, how to handle canned fruit, how to handle fresh fruit, how to check for too much or too little moisture in the fruit, how to make adjustments for acid level in the fruit, how to keep the sugar from hurting the eggs, how to select an appropriate baking pan, how to get the product puffy, brown on top, done in the center, not burned on the edges, what the result is like when it cools, what to expect at various points in the work, what the final flavors are supposed to be and how to ensure getting them, what the final texture and appearance are supposed to be, etc., then it is REALLY tough for me to believe that they ever did get good results or deserve the T-shirt.

For such recipes, I feel manipulated, deceived, lied to, ripped off, and fooled.

Perhaps in the past the fiction devotees in the media could pretend to provide information on cooking which was really just fantasy 'entertainment', ignore the details, smile, claim it is all terrific,

"add 2 T of white wine -- 'glub, glub, glub, splash, slosh'"

and be confident that the thousands of wasted kitchen efforts would never see the light of day in contradiction.

Media editors, producers, directors, and writers, those days are ending! The Internet and eGullet are here, and the real quality of your work is being revealed!

Fool me once; shame on you. Fool me twice; shame on me. I'm long since done being fooled. Now, before opening a can of cherries, measuring an ounce of flour, pouring 1 T of soy sauce to follow some recipe, I want rock solid evidence of astounding care, precision, and expertise. Else, I can work from recipes I already have perfected, and where I have good notes, or just get basic nutrition from peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with glasses of milk!

Recipes that really do work really are possible: My wife's cooking was mostly from 4-H in the US Midwest. That stuff really actually really worked. Of course, 4-H wasn't a huge media empire. Hmm ....

What would be the right food and wine to go with

R. Strauss's 'Ein Heldenleben'?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I sure don't know why that exists Project, I'd venture to guess mainly human error. Rest asured there are chefs and baking sources that are darn near perfectly reliable. You have to learn which sources are trustworthy. Just like any other endeavor in life where there is profit people will race for it with their best interests at heart not yours.

You also have to consider that everyone has different tastes.....and whats great to one person, stinks to the other person.

It's true, the beauty of the internet for people to comunicate and share is wonderful. It's a great tool.....every chef or home cook should be using this tool because it can help in many ways.

I often brag about a baking book that gives me great results, I want to share a good resource. I also go fishing for reviews from others online when I buy a new book/author/chef...or before I buy-better yet.

I sort of think that failures are a good thing too. When things go wrong in a recipe, its always a good learning experience. But I just wanted to say I've felt your frustrations before .....I get it.....hang around here-we are trying to teach, help, explore together, etc.... so we all become better bakers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

speaking just for myself, i do each of my recipes twice and then they go through the test kitchen at the times before they are published. and occasionally someone will still come up with a problem.

there are several trouble spots: first of all, cooking is not strictly a chemical operation ... there are variables in ingredients (cherries over ripe? under ripe?); definitions (high heat? mince? chop?) and judgement (how set is "set"? what does it mean when a tester comes out clean? how clean?).

on top of this, there is a balance that must be maintained in recipe writing. they must be detailed enough that someone can reasonably replicate the dish, but not so detailed that they go on for thousands of words and scare people away.

it is always instructive to teach cooking classes from time to time, just so you can see what other people make of your recipes. sometimes the dishes come out totally unrecognizable. hopefully, they still taste good.

on another note, was anybody else curious about someone trying to cook a dish that they had never eaten before? this isn't critical, as i've done it myself (and with clafoutis, too, as a matter of fact ... when i started out i was utterly seduced by the picture in paul bocuse cooks at home ... disappointing recipe, as well). it seems a little to me like trying to play a song from reading a chord progression. do you think this is just an american thing?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 9 months later...

So, a cooking question for the France forum:

When making clafoutis (the traditional version, with cherries, though I also like it with apricots or prunes) do French cooks generally use cherries with or without pits? Is there a difference between home and restaurant practice?

If pits are left in, is it more a question of tradition or is there an improved or additional flavor (presumably of almonds, though also presumably pretty faint)?

Can you pee in the ocean?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, a cooking question for the France forum:

When making clafoutis (the traditional version, with cherries, though I also like it with apricots or prunes) do French cooks generally use cherries with or without pits? Is there a difference between home and restaurant practice?

If pits are left in, is it more a question of tradition or is there an improved or additional flavor (presumably of almonds, though also presumably pretty faint)?

It is all a matter of preference. The traditional method is with unstoned cherries; not only for flavor but also because it keeps the juice in the cherries. Some people prefer it with stoned cherries so that they can eat it greedily without fearing for their teeth. I prefer the unstoned version but I prick each cherry once or twice with a pin before putting the dish in the oven.

(By the way, "stoned" or "unstoned" clafoutis is probably the biggest troll subject on French cooking newsgroups. "The true recipe of tartiflette" comes second. :biggrin: )

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...