Plum clafoutis is a dessert dish that mainly involves baking the plum fruit on or within a batter. Its consistency is unique compared to other cake deserts, and many recipes and chefs describe the dish as something in between a pancake, a custard, and a cake. The dish can be served warm or cold, with a final dusting of confectioner’s sugar on top. For an alternative, plum clafoutis can be served with whipped cream on top, or even a scoop of ice cream, just like pie “a la mode.”
The word “clafoutis” is actually pronounced with a silent “s” at the end, following the proper French pronunciation. It can trace its origin from an archaic French word “claufir” that can be translated as “to fill.” Other sources, however, say that word might have come from an Occitan, or “Neo-Latin,” word “clafotis,” which also means “to fill.” Claufotis mainly originated from the region of Limousin in France, its popularity peaking during the 19th century. Traditionally, the dish used cherries, but as it became more widely-known, other fruits were used, such as blueberries, blackberries, apples, mangoes, and plums.
The plum clafoutis is one of the more common variations of the traditional cherry clafoutis, probably because the late French chef Julia Child included it in her bestselling book, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” Many recipes, including Child’s, suggest peeling the plums first by blanching them in boiling water. Some chefs, however, like to keep the peels on for the added texture and nutrition. The plums can also be sprinkled and soaked with some sugar to bring out their juices and make them even sweeter. Cognac or liqueur can also be used to soak the plums.
The batter component of the plum clafoutis consists of common ingredients used in cakes and pancakes, such as eggs, flour, and milk, and sugar. After mixing in the ingredients, the batter is then poured in a bake-safe round dish, and the plums are then sprinkled on top of the batter. Some recipes, however, suggest the preparation in reverse, with the fruits in the bottom of the pan and the batter poured over it. Nuts, such as hazelnuts, almonds, and walnuts, can also be incorporated into the batter.
Baking the plum clafoutis can probably take an hour or so, but one nifty trick to tell if the clafoutis is cooked is to prick the middle part with a toothpick. If the batter does not stick to the toothpick when the latter is drawn out, the dish is most likely cooked. The plum clafoutis can be especially enjoyable during the summer, when plums are in season.