Serious Eats: Recipes
Fig Clafouti: Straddling the Pancake/Pudding Divide
I've always wanted to try baking a clafouti, the homey French dessert that is part pancake, part pudding, and part custard. But classic clafoutis are made with fresh cherries, and I was deterred by the idea of pitting cup after cup. So when I saw a saw the clafouti recipe in the April issue of Everyday Food that replaced the cherries with dried figs, I knew I had to make it for this week's recipe review.
The clafouti recipe was part of a larger article about a basic, homemade baking mix (6 cups flour, 3 cups sugar, 2 tablespoons baking powder, and 1 tablespoon salt). The total yield is about 9 cups, which is more than enough to make one batch of every recipe in the article: the clafouti, plus oatmeal blondies, jam sandwich cookies, and silver-dollar pancake sundaes.
Since I only wanted to make the clafouti, I quartered the mix. I ended up with a little bit leftover, which I threw out (for reasons of storage space in a tiny Brooklyn kitchen), but which you could easily save and use for something else. I don't have a fancy ceramic pie plate or baking dish like the one in the magazine's picture, so I made my clafouti in a plain old 9-inch cake pan. It worked totally fine and my clafouti came out great—dense and moist, and filled with sweet, chewy figs.
I had only two caveats. First: even though I followed the instructions and tossed the dried figs with some of the baking mix before adding them to the batter, they all sunk to the bottom in the oven. (This also always happens to me when I make blueberry muffins. I don't know what I'm doing wrong.) Second: I baked my clafouti for the minimum 35 minutes suggested, and still it was a tad over done. I wanted it to be a bit gooier in the center. Next time, I'll try baking it for a half-hour.
While it was completely delicious, in the end I decided this particular clafouti was more of a breakfast dish than a dessert—definitely closer to a pancake than to a pudding. In fact, I found myself wondering if it wouldn't taste even better drizzled with a little maple syrup...which it did, the next morning with a cup of hot coffee.
About the author: Lucy Baker is a graduate student in the writing program at Sarah Lawrence College. Before returning to school to pursue an MFA, she was an assistant cookbook editor at HarperCollins. She lives in Brooklyn and is currently obsessed with all things fennel.