Sunday, January 25, 2009
Back in November, when college was almost finished, I had a realisation. After 16 or so years of schooling in one form of another, I would be done with homework forever, and I have to say the thought sort of scared me a little. I needed a project, and what better than a baking challenge, where I could learn some fantastic new cooking skills and still ultimately enjoy the process with some delicious, tangible results at the end.
And where better to start than with my own bookshelf. I decided to bake a recipe from the gorgeous Tartine Bakery cookbook each month, because I’ve owned the book for quite a long time but hadn’t cooked a single recipe! I needed a partner in crime, and Mark from No Special Effects graciously agreed to join me on the challenges and promised to hassle me relentlessly if my motivation waned. Perfect.
The first recipe we chose was the Cherry Clafoutis, a classic French recipe. I’ve made clafoutis a few times, with strawberries and with plums but never with the traditional cherries. I would say with certainty that this is the best clafoutis recipe I’ve tried. The cherries have been wonderful this summer – I think I’ve almost eaten my own body weight in them – and they were just perfect baked in silky vanilla-flecked custard.
If you need any more convincing, I’ll tell you that we made it yesterday afternoon and by the evening it was all-but gone. I had a little sliver here and a little sliver there, because I couldn’t keep away. I’m looking forward to making this recipe again, perhaps with other summer fruit substituted for the cherries.
Recipe from Tartine by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson
• 2 cups whole milk
• ¾ cup sugar
• 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
• Pinch salt
• 3 large eggs
• 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon plain flour
• 2 cups cherries, pitted
• 2 tablespoons sugar, for topping
1. Preheat the oven to 220ºC (425ºF) and butter a 25cm (10 inch) ceramic quiche mold or pie dish.
2. In a small saucepan, combine milk, sugar, vanilla seeds and salt. Place over a medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar until just under a boil.
3. While the milk mixture is heating, whisk the eggs and flour together in a heatproof bowl until smooth.
4. Remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly ladle the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking constantly. Pour the mixture into the prepared mold and add the cherries, making sure they are evenly distributed.
5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until just set in the center and slightly puffed and browned around the outside. Remove the custard from the oven and turn the temperature up to 260ºC (500ºF). Evenly sprinkle the sugar over the top of the clafoutis. Return to the oven for 5-10 minutes to caramelise the sugar. Watch carefully as it will darken quickly.
6. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature.