October 5, 2009
Take that, plums!
For the past few years, Freya and I have been members of a local farm CSA. I heartily recommend it, but as we’re busy folk, we frequently struggle to keep up with the volume of agricultural treats arriving every week between June and November. This is particularly true in bountiful Fall.
This week’s case in point: plums. In fact, we’ve been getting plums for several weeks now, and while they’re quite good, we end up throwing away a fair number each week.
Well not today, fellas! You, unlike your brethren, will compost in my belly and not the dumpster.
As you can see, they’re a bit different from the variety most commonly sold in American grocery stores (at least in my experience). Diminutive in size, with an oblong shape and inky dark-purple flesh, they in fact look like pre-wisened prunes. Go figure.
So this afternoon, as I sat staring balefully at this week’s haul of plums wondering what the hell I should do with them, I remembered a plum clafoutis recipe that I had stumbled onto not too long ago. Now, for those unfortunate enough to be uninitiated to clafoutis, it’s a cake-shaped custard that’s studded with fruit (cherries, traditionally). Actually, the batter is quite reminiscent of a crêpe batter. Most importantly, clafoutis are delicious and reputedly quite simple to make.
I adapted the following recipe from Béa’s at La Tartine Gourmande. Mostly, I was too lazy to saute the plums, and was enamored of the idea of macerating them in a bit of sugar and alcohol instead. Plus, I figured this way I’d have a basis of comparison when I eventually remake this with cooked rather than macerated plums.
Given the ease and results of this recipe, I mourn the neglected plums of preceding weeks. All of the clafoutis ideals are represented. The lightly caramelized, sweet spongy custard substrate is a perfect foil to the tart plums. My only error was baking it in a 12-inch skillet, resulting in a thinner layer of custard and just a hair more caramelization than I would have preferred.
- About a pound of plums, washed and cut in half, pit removed*
- 2 T of sugar + a splash of brandy (I used apple brandy), for macerating the plums
- 7 oz milk
- 2 oz corn starch
- 2 eggs + 1 yolk
- 3 1/2 oz of cream
- 1/2 c sugar
- 2 T butter, melted and cooled
1. Preheat the oven to 410 F. Toss the plums with 2T of sugar and a splash of brandy. Set aside. Grease ramekins, a cast-iron skillet, or whatever you’re baking this in with butter.
2. Mix the milk with the corn starch. In another bowl, beat the eggs, then thoroughly mix in the sugar, the butter, and the cream.
3. Line the baking vessel(s) with the plums, cut-side up. Combine the milk mixture with the egg mixture, then pour over the plums.
4. Bake at 410 for about 30 minutes.
* If you’re using larger plums, further cut them into quarters or even eighths.