14 June 2011

Clafoutis de Susina

My old neighborhood in Los Angeles has a bakery that I referred to as going to Paris. It is absolutely beautiful and decorated just like a little Parisian bakery, from the wrought iron and marble tables, to the big red booths along the walls, even to it being filled with writers. Susina Bakery (corner of Beverly and La Brea Blvds.) is where I would go when I had a hankering for a great croissant and cappuccino, or for one of their fantastic oven roasted tomato and onion croissants. But with all the years of going to Susina Bakery, I never knew that susinas were a type of plum much loved in Europe (and a fruit that my husband loves). 

The other day we bought a big package of Susinas and I was very excited to try the namesake of one of my favorite bakeries! They are small, red and quite tart. Well, quite tart is a bit of an understatment—they are REALLY tart! I'm sorry, but if I want my mouth and neck muscles to contract like that, I would rather suck on a lemon. So what do you do when you have a pound of really tart fruit? Bake it! 

I absolutely love to make a clafoutis, which is a French fruit custard/tart thing. It is very easy and you can make it with just about any fruit--although it shows best with tart fruits like rasberries, cherries and plums. The proper dish for baking a clafoutis is a ceramic or glass tart dish (Like this) with scolloped sides. They are great and if you don't have one, you should get one.

Today I sliced up those tart little buggers and baked a clafoutis. Here is the recipe: 

Clafoutis de Susina*
2 cups sliced Susina plums (or any tart fruit that you like)
4 eggs
pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup flour {optional: substitute some of the flour with almond or hazelnut meal}
3 tbsp melted butter
1 tbsp grated lemon rind
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp preferred liquor (I use Grand Marnier, but Amaretto, Frangelico or rum are also great)

The first step is to prepare the fruit (not necessary in the case of berries). Wash and slice the plums into small wedges and toss in a bowl with a bit of cane sugar to soften the tartness. Let this sit for a bit while you prepare everything else.

Preheat your oven to 325˚F/163˚C and generously butter a shallow, round baking dish.

Mix the eggs, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl, then add the flour. This recipe is very forgiving and there are all kinds of flours that you can use. For this, I have used whole wheat flour and hazelnut meal, which gives a much heartier flavor and consistency. A fine white flour will produce a softer, finer consistency. This is really your choice. 

Add the milk, melted butter, freshly grated lemon peel and the vanilla extract.

Finally, add your liquor with a generous pour and stir to combine well. Add your sliced fruit to the prepared baking dish, distribute the fruit evenly and pour the batter over the top.

Bake from 50-60 minutes. Cooking time is also up to your taste. I prefer it slightly browned on top and firm on the bottom, so I usually go about an hour. However, if you like it soft and delicate, you can cook it 50 minutes until just solidified.

E voilá! Bon appetit!

*Recipe adapted from Les Recettes Du Petit Dejeuner - Breakfast Recipes : A Breakfast Cookbook from the Chefs of la Madeleine

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