Plum Full of Clafoutis

Originally from the Limousin region in central France, clafoutis is a baked custard dessert traditionally made with unpitted cherries. Never one for unpitted cherries (who is, incidentally?), I set out to make a clafoutis all my own. My first inclination was foiled when our great deal on Spanish strawberries at the local marché revealed its true colours overnight, turning into a soggy paperbagful of moldy mush. But, being the type to keep my eye on the prize (especially when it comes to dessert), I dragged R. and I here, there and everywhere around the 16ème the next day (a Sunday, no less) looking for a suitable replacement fruit, eventually settling on red plums.

Much like my first attempt at a soufflé, the clafoutis puffed up into a beautiful golden dome during baking, only to lose a bit of steam en route from the oven to our plates. But the sweet scent of cream and plums prevailed and we forged onward, with a dusting of icing sugar and forks blazing.

While we're on the subject, it's worth mentioning a small but perhaps significant cultural difference when it comes to icing sugar. In Canada, I buy my icing sugar by the kilo and use it by the cupful in frostings, fudge and shortbread. In France, icing sugar is sold by the 1/2 kilo in a tall cylindrical shaker, much like an oversize spice bottle, with a series of small punctures in the lid. If you want a cupful of icing sugar in France, you have to be in it for the long haul, one puff at a time.

I think there's a lesson in here somewhere, but I'm feigning ignorance for the time being. You know, ignorance and bliss and all that.

Plum Almond Clafoutis

4 small red plums
3 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cream
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup ground almonds
1/3 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a pie plate.

Pit the plums and slice them into small wedges (about 8 per plum). Arrange the plums evenly in the bottom of the greased pie plate.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the sugar and whisk well. Add the milk, cream and vanilla and whisk some more.

Add the ground almonds, flour and salt, and whisk until smooth. Gently pour the batter over the plums.

Bake until puffed and golden on top (about 40 minutes, but check after 30 minutes).

Serve warm with a dusting of icing sugar.

Note: Equally delicious served reheated, or even cold, the next morning for a breakfast with a small dollop of yogurt, fromage blanc or crème fraîche épaisse, depending on your decadence quotient.

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