Most food writers learn how to cook, and then they learn how to write. Not me: I began interviewing people who cook, and I learned how to make their food by watching and cooking with them. For one of my first newspaper articles, I met Gloria Belknap, a French-trained chef who ran a bed-and-breakfast inn in Boston's South End. Her lucky guests enjoyed posh accommodations and an even more spectacular breakfast, including a version of this clafoutis (pronounced cla-foo-TEE). It's just as popular for dessert as it is for breakfast or brunch, and you can use any seasonal fruit or a combination of whatever you find at the market or farmstand. Like a souffle, clafoutis puffs up when it bakes, and collapses in the center as it cools. I always serve it right from the pan, with a bit of powdered sugar sprinkled on top. Any leftovers can go into the refrigerator, available for easy nibbling or afternoon snacks.
Mixed berry clafoutis
Zest of 2 lemons
10 Tbsp sugar, divided
1-1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt, or less to taste
5 large eggs
2 cups skim milk (or whole milk, if you prefer)
1/2 cup half-and-half (not fat-free)
10-15 oz mixed berries (I use half strawberries, half raspberries)
2-1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp confectioners sugar
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
In a food processor or blender, or with a bowl and wire whisk, blend together the lemon zest, 6 Tbsp sugar, flour, salt, eggs, milk and half-and-half. Set aside (do not refrigerate) and let the mixture rest for 1 hour.
Wash the fruit, and trim and slice the strawberries. Set a cast iron or other ovenproof skillet on medium-high heat; when it is really hot, add the butter. As soon as the butter is melted, add the fruit, and cook just until the fruit begins to give off its juice, 1-2 minutes. Add remaining 4 Tbsp sugar, and stir for 1 minute. Pour in the egg mixture, and carefully place the pan in the oven.
Bake for 36-40 minutes, or until just done (it will still be a bit soft in the center, but the eggs will continue to cook after you remove the clafoutis from the oven, so do not overcook).
Let cool for 10 minutes, then sift confectioners sugar on top. Cut into wedges and serve immediately. (Or, cool completely, refrigerate, and enjoy for breakfast the next morning.)
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Blackberry clafoutis, from Baking Bites
Gluten-free pear clafoutis, from Elana's Pantry
Easy chocolate souffle, from Real Epicurean
Raspberry souffle, from Eating Out Loud
Goat cheese custard with strawberries in red wine syrup, from David Lebovitz
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