Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Guest Post: Clafoutis and the wondrous world of baked custard

Clafoutis and the wondrous world of baked custard



Clafoutis of peaches and apricots with caramelized fennel and blackberry-lavender sauce

It is with pleasure to introduce you all to Alessio, he is an Italian living in Germany and the sweetest and funniest person on twitter he always makes me smile as he stays up almost all night chatting. But he also has an amazing food blog- Recipe Taster - From The Pantry to Your Taste Buds and talent for wowing you with his creations.

 I am thrilled he agreed to guest post and this is his first, you are in for a treat!




Few weeks ago Rebecca from Chow and Chatter asked me to contribute a guest post to her blog. This is my first guest post and I hope you will enjoy this peek into my world.

Thinking about what would be best suited for this occasion we agreed that a yummy and super easy dessert would fit best. As often happens with cuisine, the best creations are the results of serendipitous events shared with the people you love. Last month, before I left for Sicily, I had the pleasure to spend an evening cooking in tandem with a new foodie friend of mine. It was actually the second time we met and no place better to know each other than behind the stoves, hands dirty of tomatoes and peaches.
We decided to do the shopping together so to get inspired by what we found.

As main course we settled for an earthy veggies pasta with eggplants, peppers, chilli flakes, fresh tomatoes and parmesan. For dessert I wanted to use some of the yummy fruits that summer gives us and, being in Germany, include some quark in it too. At the market we saw some nice ripe apricots and peaches and since I had to buy eggs for my pantry the result of these chances was quite straightforward: clafoutis!


Clafoutis of peaches and apricots with caramelized fennel and blackberry-lavender sauce

As concerning egg, the wonders we can create with eggs are innumerable. As Michael Rhulman has perfectly summarised in his book Ratio, the world of food can be more realistically and efficiently represented in terms of a continuous evolution, nuances, rather than sharp categories. And nothing is better than eggs to exemplify this concept. Cakes, custards, satisfying snacks and healthy breakfast; many delights rely their rich texture, mouthfeel and flavour to eggs. Clafoutis are an exponent of the yummy and elegant family of baked custards.

Who doesn't love a slice of smooth cheesecake? A sexy creme caramel? Some Crema Catalana anybody? The list of baked custards is endless, relatively straightforward to realise and of secure effect. There is a caveat to this heavenly landscape: when cooked, eggs have the unpleasant tendency to scramble, creating clumps that taste of sulphur when overcooked.

Sexiness is a matter of equilibrium (especially when you are on the high heels of custards) and starches come on handy in these situations. Upon heating in a humid environment, starch granules swell to fluffy cotton balls; this way they are thought to create an obstacle for the proteins that try to clump together. Cheesecakes can then be baked at a higher temperature without risks and rich custards prepared. When the percentage of flour is risen, the soft and gelatinous custard starts morphing into the realm of cakes. Clafoutis lie right in between, not as fluffy and spongy as a cake should be neither gelatinous as a pot de creme usually is.

Clafoutis are a specialty of the French region of Limousin. Placed in the central west part of France, it is mostly an upland area placed near the Massif Central producing juicy beef and great morello cherries. And what is the best way to showcase these plump red kisses? A clafoutis naturally. Strictly speaking, a clafoutis is called as such only when it is made with morello cherries (with pits actually), when done with other fruits the yummy cake is called a flaugnarde.
It is one of the most straightforward, easy, versatile, satisfying and healthy dessert. Served with a good dusting of powder sugar and a glass of dessert wine.
Let me now share with you my

Clafoutis of peaches and apricots with caramelized fennel and blackberry-lavender sauce


Clafoutis of peaches and apricots with caramelized fennel and blackberry-lavender sauce

Ingredients (serves 6)
Clafoutis :
  • 50g flour;
  • 4 tbsp sugar;
  • 2 eggs;
  • 100g whole fat quark;
  • 1/3cup water;
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract;
  • 1 medium ripe peach cut in wedges;
  • 6 ripe apricots cut in wedges;
Sauce:
  • 4tbsp sugar;
  • 1tbsp water;
  • 1 medium fennel thinly sliced;
  • 1tsp lavender flower buds;
  • 18 blackberries;
  • Lemon juice.

Method:
Warm up your oven to 180C.
In a bowl whisk the eggs with the sugar and flour whipping them up till nice and fluffy. Now blend in the quark, the water and the vanilla extract whisking till smooth. Fold the fruit sections into the batter and pour into a 18cm/7î baking tin butter and floured. Sprinkle the top with some sugar and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. When ready let it cool down slightly while you put together the sauce.
In a saucepan or skillet, combine the sugar and the water; put on medium fire and let caramelize slightly. Add the thinly sliced fennel and the lavender to the caramel and toss around till the fennel will have lost most of its moisture and start to candy. Throw in the blackberries and toss them around the syrup gently till they will start losing their juices and the syrup will turn a lovely purple colour. Drizzle in a little lemon juice to brighten up the sauce.
Cut the warm clafoutis in portions and top them with the caramelized fennel and blackberries, drizzling with the sauce.


wow wasn't that amazing thanks again Alessio 



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