While most fruit-centric desserts require a little bit of pastry making (think pies and tarts), a skill that some of us haven't yet perfected, a clafoutis is the prefect dessert for pastry novices. There's no kneading, rolling, cutting, or crimping—It's a dead simple cake that requires nothing more than a little measuring and stirring, basically a custard batter fortified with a bit of flour.
The classic French version is studded with cherries, but the same recipe could be used for nearly any spring or summer fruit. This Rhubarb Clafoutis from River Cottage Every Day by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall begins with stalks of rhubarb briefly roasted with orange juice and cinnamon. Once cooled and arranged in a baking pan, an eggy batter is poured over them and the cake is baked until slightly browned and puffy.
Fearnley-Whittingstall recommends eating the clafoutis warm, but I prefer it cooled to room temperature and served with a dollop of barely sweetened cream. It has a lovely consistency—somewhere in between a cake and custard with little bites of sweet-sour rhubarb running through it.
Adapted from River Cottage Every Day by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Copyright © 2009. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.
- 1 pound rhubarb
- A little ground cinnamon (optional)
- Grated zest of 1/2 orange and the juice of the whole fruit
- 1 cup superfine sugar
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- A pinch of sea salt
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup whole milk
- Confectioners’ sugar for dusting (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Cut the rhubarb into 2-inch lengths and put in a baking pan with a good pinch of cinnamon, if using, the orange juice, and 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Toss well and roast in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender and just beginning to caramelize around the edges. Let cool completely and then drain in a sieve.
Turn the oven temperature down to 350°F. Lightly butter a 10-inch round baking dish or an 8-by-10-inch rectangular one. Make the batter by sifting the salt and flour into a bowl and stirring in the sugar. Make a well in the center and add the beaten eggs. Gradually stir in the flour from the sides, mixing well, then beat in the milk, a little at a time, mixing well. Stir in orange zest and a pinch of cinnamon, if you like.
Arrange the drained rhubarb in the buttered dish and pour the batter over. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden and puffed up. Clafoutis is best when eaten warm, but it's not bad when cold, either. When you are just about to serve, mix together about 1/2 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, if you like, then sift a light dusting over the top of the clafoutis. Serve with or without cream.