“If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.” This is one of my favorite quotes from Julia Child, and I appreciate her message of enjoying food, and life, whole-heartedly. She knew how to live! Julia Child has inspired generations of us to start cooking, copies of Mastering the Art of French Cooking gracing our kitchen counters with its familiar fleur-de-lis pattern. This week would have been her 100th birthday, and what better way to celebrate her than to cook!
To honor her, I wanted to do something quintessentially French, like a soufflé or quiche. As I turned the yellowing pages of Mastering the Art of French Cooking (my copy comes from a used book shop), past omelettes and gratins, quenelles and terrines, I knew I’d found what I had in mind when I arrived at the clafouti, or fruit flan.
Clafouti reminds me of a lovely French exchange student, Lise, that we became close with a number of years ago. She made one with apples for a potluck that was simply stunning (and scrumptious). A traditional clafouti is made with cherries, but Julia Child shares other fruit variations, including one with blackberries. Blackberries are in abundance here right now and I had a few apricots in the fruit bowl, so I paired them together. A clafouti is quick to prepare, just a whiz of ingredients in the blender to create a pancake-like batter, which is then poured over the fruit before baking.
When I pulled the clafouti, puffed and beautiful, from the oven I let out a happy sigh. Taking my first bite made me sigh again. Thank you, Julia. The thick, tender flan is studded with fruit, warm and soft and slightly sweet. The blackberries and apricots evoke summer, and come fall I plan to make it again with apples. I can tell you, clafouti is also delicious straight from the fridge for breakfast! I showed enormous restraint in saving some for Bob and Sam when they returned from their weekend of fly fishing. Isaac is still away at camp until tomorrow, though...I don’t think I can last that long. Perhaps I’ll welcome him home with a blueberry clafouti.
Apricot and Blackberry Clafouti
Adapted slightly from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1
By Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck
1 1/4 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/4 pounds fresh blackberries
3 apricots, sliced in half and pits removed
Powdered sugar for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 7-8 cup pie dish or baking dish (I used a quiche pan).
In a blender, whiz the milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and flour together on high speed until smooth, about 1 minute.
Pour a 1/4 inch layer of the batter into the prepared baking dish and pop in the oven for 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and scatter the berries evenly over the batter. Lay the apricot halves, cut side up, over the berries. Pour the remaining batter over the fruit and smooth.
Bake for close to 1 hour, until it is puffed and golden brown. Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm for dessert or brunch.