Once a week, on a Wednesday evening, we have music night with my sister-in-law, Viv. She comes over with her mandolin, Buddy plays guitar, I play guitar and bodhran (I use the term “play” fairly loosely when it comes to my guitar playing, but I am improving all the time) and we all sing a load of songs. We’ve been doing it for about four years now, with a year’s gap around when we were having our youngest boy. It’s a really lovely way to spend a mid-week evening, and is a lot more fulfilling than spending that time in front of the TV.
Of course an evening spent immersed in energetic music-making clearly requires some half-time fortification, and so it’s become part of the tradition to have cake, or sometimes even just fresh baked bread, with a cuppa.
When I first started baking I was of the opinion that, out side of bread, baking which didn’t involve chocolate was pretty much pointless. But as time’s gone on, and I’ve increasingly branched out and tried a load of non-chocolate recipes, I must humbly admit that baking does not start and end with chocolate. My eyes have been opened to the magnificent world of variety, and now-a-days some of my very favourite things to bake have nothing what so ever to do with the mighty cocoa bean. A large part of this discovery is down to Viv. When I first met her I was horrified to learn that she…brace yourself… does not eat chocolate. That’s right, not at all. So when music nights started, it was with a forced hand that I broadened my horizons. Good thing too, there’s a world of wonderful recipes that I may never have known about otherwise.
So this last Wednesday I decided that I wanted to make something a little bit different. I had some lovely fresh figs in the fridge and, turning to them for inspiration, settled on clafoutis.
If you’ve never had clafoutis, you must try it immediately. It’s delicious. I first heard of it on a show in which Michel Roux Jr. was making it. It’s a traditional french dessert comprising black cherries baked in a “Flan-like” batter, sprinkled with icing sugar and served lukewarm, often with cream. For a gal from the West Coast of Canada, clafoutis was not something I’d come across before. The fruit is ensconced in this wobbly thick batter, which I have heard described as being half way between custard and a pancake. It’s rich and has a unique texture which I really like.
However, today when I was reading about clafoutis to write this post, I discovered that what I cooked on Wednesday was not clafoutis at all! It seems that in order to be clafoutis it has to be made with the traditional black cherries. Evidently if you use any other fruit it becomes a flaugnarde. How exciting! Here I was thinking I was baking clafoutis, when in fact I was creating something else all together.
My fig flaugnarde does stray from tradition in that I decided to use spelt flour rather than plain flour, and add a bit of tapioca flour to lighten it a little. I also opted to sweeten it with honey in place of sugar, so it’s as unrefined as it can be.
I was really pleased with the way that this fig flaugnarde turned out, and now that I know about flaugnarde, I may need to start experimenting with it some more….I saw a version (though called clafoutis) by Jamie Oliver that uses tinned peaches as the fruit…sounds delicious!
- 280 mL milk of your choice
- 75 g runny honey
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp orange zest (optional)
- 80 g whole spelt flour
- 2 Tbsp tapioca flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 6-8 fresh figs, halved
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and lightly oil a baking dish.
- Whisk together the eggs, honey, vanilla and orange zest (if using), until creamy and smooth. Sprinkle over the salt and flours and whisk again until smooth, and then gently incorporate the milk until you have a smooth batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared dish and then gently arrange the figs, cut side up, in the batter.
- Place the dish in the oven and leave it to bake 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden and puffed up a bit, and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and let it cool a bit. It will sink and may pull away from the fruit a little, which is fine. Serve it when it’s lukewarm topped with coconut or cashew cream if you’d like.
- Try experimenting with different types of fruit, or combine more than one. You could use black cherries to create a classic clafoutis!