Friday, October 30, 2009

Cranberry Clafoutis with Creme Anglaise


I learned about clafoutis through the internet and and wondered what it would taste like. I have to admit that the funny sounding name was another factor in my interest. They just look so simple and yet so impossibly elegant, homey and yet European, and very French.

This version combines the techniques of France with the ingredients of Canada. Rather than traditional cherries (though I supposes you could put anything in a clafoutis) I used fresh cranberries for a tart wintry flavour, as opposed to the summery cherry original.

This recipe comes from Canada’s Best Chef’s Flavour Series: Cranberries part of a series of cookbooks sold in souvenir stores all over the maritimes. I’ve found that these books have remarkably reliable recipes, considering they come from chefs whiose recipes are often fiddly or require a professional kitchen.

Clafoutis is something like a dense yorkshire pudding/ pancake studded with fruit. Clafoutis type batters such as crepes amaze me because although they are not heavily sweetened but when they are fresh from the oven they have a sweetness and faint caramelized flavour that is almost magical. Really that’s what I love about baking, that such simple nondescript ingredients can become so much more than the sum of their parts.

The juicy cranberries provide a playful contrast to the smooth texture of the clafoutis batter. When you take a bite The cranberries offer a tart burst of sweetness that is particularly suited to a rich dessert like this.

I just wish I had one of those fluted white tart tins rather than my plain old pie plate because I just think their stunning minimalism would make for a much prettier presentation. (yes I am picky about such things.)

This crème anglaise is a basic recipe that everyone should know how to make in a pinch. I’ve made this using one less egg yolk and it still turns out well. It is a custard that is meant to be runny and tastes like unchurned vanilla ice cream, which is essentially what it is. My basic recipe is a great complement to fruits, soufflés etc.

In particular I think the creaminess and vanilla flavour are a nice counterpoint to the tart cranberries and adds depth to the “plain” clafoutis batter.

Cranberry Clafoutis

Serves 6
Time: about 40 minutes

• 2large eggs
• ½ cup granulated sugar
• 6 tablespoons heavy cream (35% M.F./ whipping cream)
• 6 tablespoons milk (1 % is ok)
• ¾ cup all-purpose flour
• 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
• 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
• icing sugar for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Using an electric beater, beat the eggs and sugar until frothy. Whisk in cream and milk. Add flour and mix until batter is smooth. In a separate bowl, roll cranberries in 2 tbsp sugar.
2. Spray a 10-inch pie plate or gratin dish with vegetable spray or grease with butter. Pour batter into the pan, then sprinkle with sugared cranberries. Bake until golden brown, about 30 -35 minutes. Cool in pan and dust with icing sugar. Serve warm with creme anglaise or vanilla ice cream. Serves 6.

From: Cranberries:Recipes from Canada’s Best Chefs by Elaine Elliot

Classic Crème Anglaise

  • ½ cup whipping cream or 18% cream
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 or 3 egg yolks
  • ½ tsp vanilla

    1. In a small saucepan, heat together the cream, milk and 1 tbsp of the sugar over medium heat until bubbles form around the edge.
    2. In bowl, whisk the egg yolks with remaining sugar; whisk in hot cream mixture in thin stream. Stir back into pan; cook stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 2-3 minutes.
    3. Strain into clean bowl; stir in vanilla. Lace plastic wrap directly on surface; refrigerate in airtight container until cold, at least 1 hour. Makes about 1-1/4 cups.

To make ahead: refrigerate in airtight container for up to 3 days.

From: Canadian Living Magazine June 2008

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