There are weeks when I head for the grocery store with a recipe or idea in mind and a list of ingredients. But I often shop hoping to be inspired by something fresh and wonderful. This week, I was still thinking berries and plums but neither of my regular grocery stores had much summer fruit available. Surprise! It's fall - and it's all about apples and pears.
So I bought some nice Bosc pears - without the first notion what I would do with them. Sometime I may try the recipe I found for pear and nut stuffed pork tenderloin but this time I landed with a pear clafouti. I like to scan recipes to see what clever things others have done. Good grief, but clafouti recipes are all over the place. From 6 tablespoons of flour to 3/4 cup flour. From no butter at all to 1 stick of butter. Milk, yogurt, heavy cream, lemon juice, liqueurs. Honestly, the most constant ingredient was 3 eggs!
Clafoutis are supposed to be made with a pancake-like batter. I assume that accounts for the enormous variation. Pancakes run the gamut from crepes to American pancakes, and while the basic ingredients are flour, milk, and eggs, the amounts determine the consistency.
I went with Julia Child's basics, mostly because her measurements seemed to fall in the middle of the spectrum. And then, Julia always knows best, right? I deviated just a little bit, adding lemon juice and butter, skipping liqueur, and eliminating a step. Julia sprinkled the top with powdered sugar, which would be especially pretty. She says to throw the clafouti ingredients (minus the fruit) into a blender and to let it rip. I chose to use a mixer but either one will do.
Of course, that should suggest to you that this is a great quick dessert for unexpected company. It should be served warm with a dollop of sweetened cream, and it takes an hour to bake, so putting it in the oven just before you sit down to eat will mean it's ready for dessert exactly when you need it.
It's meant to be a rustic or casual dessert, so don't worry about the pears moving. They rise through the batter even though they start on the bottom. The scent and flavor are strongly reminiscent of something my mother used to make when I was a child but I can't quite place it. In any event, it's a lovely dessert.
1 10-inch springform pan
(Could also be made in a 10-inch cast iron pan.)
3-4 firm, ripe pears
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 large eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Grease the pan thoroughly.
Peel, core, and slice the pears. Place in a bowl with lemon juice and turn to coat. Lay the pear slices in the bottom of the pan.
Preheat oven to 350.
Beat the eggs with the sugar. Add the salt and flour and beat. Add milk, vanilla and butter and beat. The batter will be unbelievably thin. Pour over top of the pears. Bake for 1 hour or until a cake tester comes out clean.