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Clafouti -- not very good

I made a clafouti w/bananas following the recipe below from Smitten Kitchen as adapted from the NYT.
I made two minor changes--
1. Extra cream-Recipe calls for 3/4 cups milk and 3/4 cups cream. I had a TON of cream to get rid of so I used all cream and no milk.
2. 45 minutes baking time- the directions indicated that I should bake for about 40 minutes but after 40 minutes I inserted a knife and it did not come out clean so I baked for 5 more.

The color was gorgeous, the the texture was perfect, the smell was delicious, the taste . . . eggy and kind of more like a savory custard or rich quiche gone bad than a dessert. It wasn't g-d awful, it just wasn't that good. Why?

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  1. Clafoutis is a rustic, eggy dessert with most of the flavor derived from the fruit over which the batter is poured. Perhaps your bananas were underripe? If you really like bananas, maybe next time add a little oomph by adding some banana liquer or rum, a la banas foster. But I urge you to try the classic clafoutis made with cherries:

    I really love the Chanteduc Clafoutis from Patricia Wells' At Home in Provence. Her recipe uses 6 tablespoons each of heavy cream and milk, 1/2 cup sugar, and some kirsch whisked together then poured over 2 pounds mixed berries or cherries that have been baked for 10 minutes with sugar and kirsch and then drained. Finally the cooled clafoutis is glazed with confectioner's sugar under the broiler. I adore this clafoutis, plain or warm with vanilla ice cream. It has great flavor.

    3 Replies
      1. re: jen kalb

        oops, forgot the eggs! - cream, milk, 1/2 cup sugar, some kirsch and 2 large eggs whisked together. That's better!

      2. re: janniecooks

        Try using brown sugar or maple sugar as the sweetener, and sour cream instead of fresh cream. The tang is very nice. Good amount of fresh grated nutmeg doesn't hurt either. I do this with fresh peaches. It is very subtle and soft in textue, but I love it.

      3. Apart from a bit flour and sugar, isn't this just a quiche with a fruit filling? I haven't tried the usual version with flour, but have used a J Pepin recipe using frozen berries and ground almonds, and, yes, the egg custard does dominate.

        Bananas are bland enough that they may need more seasoning than a classic like cherries. That can include both more sugar and an acid like lemon juice.


        2 Replies
        1. re: paulj

          I would try caramelzing the bananas first. And you could always add a little rum while you are caramelzing. Just be sure that it all burns off so that they don't end up too wet. fayefood.com

          1. re: paulj

            I love clafouti with apples that have been sauteed in brandy and butter prior to going into the batter. I got it years ago from Mastering the Art of You Know What. I made for every dinner party for months and months. It followed a craze my father had for rum babas. Nothing like a good healthy life style, eh?

          2. Thanks so much. Your suggestions make perfect sense. The banana were bit under ripe and they are such a mild fruit that they couldn't stand up against the eggy flavor. I think a bananas foster carmelized banana recipe would be amazing or the cherries with kirsch , or an apples and brandy recipe. It was just too easy, the presentation too lovely, and too close to good to give up. I will for sure try again with a richer fruit flavor.


            3 Replies
            1. re: Super Salad

              I used to have a clafouti recipe I loved and made in the summer with peaches. Somewhere along the way I lost that recipe. The ones I have made since seem way too eggy to me. (I know they are kind of supposed to be that way, but still.) How does that two-egg clafouti compare, jannicooks? Is it less eggy than some of the rest of them? Any other good "clafouti" recipes that might be on my wavelength?

              1. re: karykat

                Well, since the batter is just cream, milk, eggs and sugar, (NO flour) it is fairly eggy, but the quantity of fruit is quite large. Note that Super Salad's recipe included 3/4 cups each milk and cream, whereas mine from Patricia Wells has just 3/4 c. milk/cream combined with the two eggs. This quantity of batter is rather small for two pounds of fruit, so what you end up with is lusciously flavored fruit (I prefer just pitted cherries, or a mixture of cherries, blueberries and blackberries, and perhaps a little less than 2 pounds) bound together with the egg batter. The egg flavor really doesn't prevail, the fruit does. Also, the OP didn't mention the quantity of bananas used, so the less fruit, of course, the more eggy the flavor.

                And finally, the recipe I use is so simple and lovely that I have no desire to try out other versions, other than perhaps fruit substitution.

                1. re: janniecooks

                  It seems like some recipes have a ton more eggs than yours -- 4 or 5 compared to yours. So I think I will give it a try. With all the extra fruit as you say.

            2. hmmm. I don't remember where I got my recipe but I make it often and switch fruits out when in season. A favorite is apricot, but here are my notes for apple, I use flour...
              Apple Clafoutis – A Rustic Version
              Preheat oven - 375

              3 Cups of Milk
              1 1/4 Cups of bakers’ sugar
              1 T vanilla or one Vanilla bean split and scraped
              2/3 C All Purpose King Arthur Flour- sifted
              5 eggs beaten
              1 ¼ lbs. Peeled granny smith apples, sliced round ways, toss with lemon juice
              Grand Marnier or Apple Jack– to flavor , or I add a touch of cinnamon to it or both.

              Confection sugar for top

              1. Preheat the oven to 375 position rack in the middle of the oven
              And generously butter a 10 X 2 round layer cake pan
              2. In a heavy sauce pan, combine milk & bakers’ sugar, and vanilla bean (if using liquid Vanilla save with the alcohol and add with that. Make sure sugar is dissolved and reduce the heat. Gentle boil, 2 or 3 minutes and remove from the heat, set aside.
              3. Measure the flour, and using a sieve sift into a large mixing bowl. Beat the eggs into their own bowl, add them to the flour, a little at a time, mix well with a mixer, scrape the sides down, and clean the paddle. Batter should be smooth.
              4. Remove the bean from the milk, or now add the Vanilla and or Grand Marnier 1 tsp.
              5. Gradually take the milk mix, add it to the bowl with the flour, sugar and egg batter. Beat until completely blended. Mixture will be thin, and now pour into a baking pan/
              6. Arrange several layers of apples over the batter – decorative top
              7. Bake at 375 for 65 to 75 minutes until it is puffed and firm to the touch.
              8. Cool on a rack until lukewarm, about 2 hours, Dust with confectioners sugar .
              9. Serve this flan-like dessert in wedges. I have used whipped cream or even warmed a bit of sweetened cream (with sugar and vanilla) and ladled some of the warmed cream in largish shallow bowl, then placed the wedge on top.

              1. Having had several different types of clafouti, both homemade and professionally made, I think the issue is simply that as desserts go, it's not to my taste. In fact, my opinion is pretty much exactly like yours: not awful, but not good. Could be you just don't like clafouti, and there's nothing wrong with that. Nobody has to like everything.

                2 Replies
                1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                  The thing that's wierd is that I used to have a clafouti recipe that I loved (but lost -- sigh) and have subsequently tasted many I don't like. They seem too eggy and I don't like the texture. So I'm wondering how to reconstruct my old recipe. And I'm thinking that the one above with fewer eggs may be the ticket. Will try it.

                  1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                    I am a clafouti lover and I have to agree with this: it's just not everyone's thing.

                  2. I just made one, following the recipe in Joy of Cooking - 4 eggs, 1c milk, 3/4c flour, 3/4c sugar, 1 lb cherries. I was sloppy, and used partially thawed cherries. Used a 10" dutch oven.

                    This puffed up quite a bit, with the cherries on top, then deflated as it cooled. I would put in the category of Dutch Baby, Yorkshire Pudding, popover, and in particular, Toad-in-the-hole, egg batters with filling. The fruit and batter formed separate layers.

                    The previous one that I tried used ground almonds instead of flour, and was more quiche like - fruit bound with the egg custard.


                    4 Replies
                    1. re: paulj

                      Do a taste test with fresh, ripe cherries against frozen cherries. Which has the better flavor and texture? I think you'll find that frozen fruit doesn't give the same delicious result in a dessert like clafoutis where the fruit is the star. I think frozen fruit would work okay in a recipe where it is combined with sugar and thickener, like in a pie or a jam/preserve/chutney, but in a dessert such as clafoutis fresh fruit is essential. And no, a classif claoufitis does not include flour, the egg/cream/milk in the small quantity vis-vis-2 pouns fruit provides adequate binding to the final dessert.

                      Bottom line, use fresh, ripe fruit or make a different dessert.

                      1. re: janniecooks

                        J Pepin, 'The Short Cut Cook'
                        "A clafoutis is a French country dessert in which the cherries are coated with a batter of milk, eggs, and flour....'

                        His shortcut version using almonds instead of flour calls for 'pitted frozen cherries or fresh cherries.

                        I think I'll stick with Jacques's opinion as to what is the classic version, and whether frozen fruit is usable or not. Already pitted frozen cherries are lot easier to use, and readily available at this time of the year. I buy fresh cherries in season for eating raw, not for cooking.

                        Actually, Joy labels their recipe as 'Almost Classic', because the classic uses unstoned black cherries. They allow for the whole range of cherries, fresh, frozen, pitted or not, even dried. Plus there is a recipe using alternative fruits. When I followed Jacques, I used a bag of mixed frozen berries and cherries.

                        Besides, I like the version that I just made, though next time I'll take the time to defrost the cherries, and may cut back on the ratio of batter to fruit. I also like the almond version.

                        Looking at it another way, the version that I made is as suitable for breakfast as pancakes and fruit, where as a pie is more of a dessert dish (not that I haven't eaten pie for breakfast). No point in making a sweet, fat heavy dessert when I don't have to.


                        1. re: paulj

                          La Varenne Pratique (Anne Willan) has 'clafoutis limousin' under 'pancakes & batter puddings'.
                          'There is also a small family of sweet and savory batter puddings that are baked in the oven. Yorkshire pudding .... popover ...Alternatively, vanilla or fresh fruits such as apple or prunes may be added for sweet puddings. French clafoutis baked with tart fresh cherries and Aemagnac is an excellent example ...'

                          Her recipe calls for 1 lb tart cherries (traditionally with pits). The batter is 4 eggs, 2 yolks, 2 1/2c milk, 1/3c sugar, 1/4 c flour. This is baked till 'puffed and brown'.

                          By comparison, her popover batter is 2 eggs, 1c milk, 1c flour.

                          The 'Gourmet Cookbook' version of clafouti uses 1/2c of flour to 4 eggs. It also includes some melted butter (crepe like). Their version also puffs and then sinks as it cools.


                          1. re: paulj

                            Time-Life 'The Cooking of Provincial France' describes clafoutis as 'a good light sweetened batter baked over fruits':
                            'everywhere the clafoutis are made when cherries are ripe'
                            In Bordeaux a clafoutis is made with plums and raisins.
                            In Basque country (of France) it is made with fresh sweet grapes and apples.
                            "The best I [M.F.K.Fisher] ever ate was in Franche-Comte, of stoned cherries which, instead of laying at the bottom of the dish, rose up through the pale yellow batter, making pockets in it of rich purple'.

                            Given the short shelf life of fresh cherries, it makes sense to make a dessert like this when the cherries are abundant and begging to be used. Freezing gives us the option of making a dish like this when the fresh fruit isn't available.

                            The recipe that the OP used recommends any fruit except citrus segments, though it is based on a NYTimes recipes that does use clementines.


                      2. I've tried a number of clafouti recipes - always wanting to like it - and for whatever reason, I just don't like them either.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: MMRuth

                          Agreed. Made clafoutiss a few times for the family (luckily not guests) and everybody, including me, thought it was some kind of a sweet omelette. Scratched them off my list for good, I think.

                        2. I made mini cheese and herb clafouti hors d'oeuvres for a gluten intolerant friend using cornstarch. They tasted ok but flopped around in my hand like a wet fish (dead.) He was so grateful for my effort that he loudly proclaimed they were wonderful. Go figure!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: mgebs

                            That is a very good image. Having made a clafouti or two, I can just picture it.

                            1. re: mgebs

                              Awesome! There's a pear clafouti recipe by Pierre Franey that calls for cornstarch, no flour. I found it online & you should give that one a shot. :-)

                            2. By the way, how is this pronounced?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: paulj

                                The proper spelling for both singular and plural is clafoutis but the s is silent. So: kla-foo-tee, where the kla is pronounced as in klaxon.

                                In reference to your earlier quiche query, clafoutis is one of those dishes that defies categorization. The Académie française originally called it a flan but eventually deferred to the outraged Limousins and defined it as a kind of cherry cake. I tend to side with those who think of it as fruit baked in an eggy pancake-like batter.

                                The best version remains the original: unpitted fresh, not frozen, cherries. The black cherries of the Limousin are intensely flavoured and have a higher ratio of pits to fruit than the common North American varieties like Bing. A variation I make a lot these days (cherries are running $5 a pound and my recipe calls for two pounds of fruit) is half cherries and half rhubarb cut into cherry sized chunks. You need to up the sugar a little but it's mighty tasty.

                              2. Overdue update. I finally made another clafouti. I used the same recipe as last time but this time I used apples. I followed your suggestions and sauteed the apples in butter, cinnamon, cognac, and agave syrup until they were just caramelized. The results were outstanding. The dessert seemed less eggy for sure and just much nicer. I am glad to have such a lovely and easy dessert as a go to for the future.

                                I appreciate the feedback.

                                1. My home version is a lot lower in fat and uses 2%milk (a cup and a half) three eggs, about 2/3 cup sugar and half a cup of flour. When I'm using freshly pitted sour cherries, I'll double that sugar. Flavorings are almond extract with a splash of vanilla.

                                  We love it and it ranks high as a breakfast dish as well.

                                  It's the reason I freeze sour cherries for year round baking. (One can only eat so many Schwarzwald Kirschentorte.)

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: shallots

                                    I think milk is more traditional than cream anyhow.

                                    1. re: shallots

                                      I totally GONGED on my clafoutis today--I used my usual 1% milk (Hood Simply Smart) that tastes like whole milk, which generally serves me well in other applications, but failed miserably here. Quel dommage!!! Here is Jacques Pépin's recipe...clearly the man knows what the hell he's doing and probably never has anything less than whole milk in his house! ;) So I'm sure it's just my problem...


                                      Minor variations--I used 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (this part was not the problem) and two cups of fruit I had on hand--equal parts fresh raspberries, blueberries and half a pear. I had no issue with the flavor (it was actually quite nice!), but I think the lack of fat in the milk made a really substandard custard....so I won't make that mistake again. Recipe called for a mere 1/4 cup of sugar, which was PLENTY. Anyone else ever screw this up with reduced fat milk?

                                      ETA: My harshest critic (besides me!) just stopped by and eagerly gobbled up my gonged clafoutis. So I'd like to emphasize, the issue was with the reduced creaminess factor...not the flavor itself, which was quite tasty...not to mention the combo of fruit that was pretty pleasing, too. Just wanted to advise against goin' too skinny with the milk...it's not worth botching it when the dish is so pretty, summery and flavorful. Heck, maybe I'll post a photo later...in its dish, before it was cut, it looked more of a winner. I'm winnin' more than I thought I was, I guess. BONUS!

                                      1. re: kattyeyes

                                        I just made a one using fresh cherries and the recipe from Joy of Cooking (1 lb fruit, 4 eggs, 3/4c sugar, 3/4c flour, 1 milk). However I used water instead of milk, and just a tablespoon or so of dry milk powder (all that was left in the Nido can). I don't think the quality suffered any due to the lack of milk fat or protein (after all there are 4 eggs, which have fat and protein).

                                        Scanning earlier posts I see I did almost the same thing two years ago, though I had more milk. And this time I used fresh Bing, mostly the less attractive ones from a $2/lb bag. I think there was a good match between the firmness of the fruit and texture of the batter.

                                        1. re: paulj

                                          Hmm, Jacques Pépin's recipe called for only 1.5 tablespoons cornstarch vs, the 3/4 cup flour you listed above. Was your clafoutis more pancake-like than custardy--esp. as you referred to it as "batter?" I ask because what I made was definitely custard...and the custard did not set up nicely with lower fat milk.

                                          1. re: kattyeyes

                                            I'm puzzled about two things in that ochef recipe:
                                            - the cornstarch alone
                                            - this line:"Unlike a conventional clafoutis, which is usually cooked in a double boiler, this is baked in a gratin dish. It is best served at room temperature."

                                            1. re: paulj

                                              Did you cook yours as a custard on the stove?

                                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                                baked. - in a 10" dutch oven

                                                Above in Feb 2008 I cited the ratios from various recipes that I have. The Joy one is heavier on the flour than some others. I would expect the one using cornstarch to be more like a one that uses 1/4 of flour (roughly the same thickening power).

                                    2. when I was saw this thread I was immediately drawn to it, again.
                                      I love clafouti, and it for me is is one of the easiest simplest, and best desserts.
                                      But I also have this other dessert called Crazy Coconut Pie... guess what? It's clafouti!
                                      Take a peek!
                                      Crazy coconut PIE<

                                      1 cup toasted coconut - 350 degrees for a few mins
                                      Keep oven on...

                                      Butter a pie dish well

                                      Put into a blender:
                                      3/4 stick of softened butter
                                      4 eggs
                                      2 cups milk
                                      1/2 cup flour
                                      3/4 cup sugar
                                      1 1/2 tsp vanilla

                                      Put all BUT the coconut into the blender-blend well
                                      Then pour into a 9 inch pie plate and bake at 350 for 45 mins
                                      (when knife comes out clean it's done)

                                      This has a souffle like quality to it. There is soft crust, a layer of custard, and the coconut stays to the top. Super Easy and Excellent..

                                      1. Michel Roux's blackberry clafoutis is the just the most amazing recipe. The tartness of the blackberries works so well with the smoothness of the custard. I can imagine bananas emphasising the eggyness in maybe a not great way.

                                        the recipe:

                                        - sweet pastry (although he calls for puff pastry but anyway)
                                        - 125ml milk, 125ml dbl cream, 200g sugar, 25g flour, 4 eggs, kirsh (optional), blackberries
                                        - whisk the eggs and sugar together for 2 minutes
                                        - add flour and whisk for another 2 minutes
                                        - add milk, cream and kirsh if using and whisk some more
                                        - let batter stand for at least 30 mins before using, but be sure to whisk up well to mix before pouring over fruit in the blind-baked pastry shell
                                        - bake 30-40 minutes until just set
                                        - sprinkly granulated sugar over the barely warm clafoutis and serve with single cream

                                        HOWEVER i have done this recipe a few times and found it's quality to be extremely variable so there are a couple of key tricks in addition to those mentioned above. Firstly the quality of eggs is very important. Best ever was with fresh hen's eggs from chickens raised by a friend of mine. They grazed on clover and the yolks were an incredible orange colour which they passed to the custard. Second best has been duck eggs. Second key point is to not over-bake it. Take it out when it is just set which will keep the light melting consistency. The last trick, simlarly to lemon tart, is to cook it a few hours prior to serving and let it cool to serve it at just a lukewarm temperature. As I say, it's been variable, but at it's best it was stunning. Don't serve it after a rich main course though!

                                        1. I've found clafoutis is a case where milk is far superior to cream. The batter is a lot lighter and the lower fat content really allows the fruit to shine through.

                                          The typical fruit is cherries. Try leaving the pits in--they give the whole dessert a wonderful almond flavor.

                                          1. I tried the clafouti recipe from The Cooks Book
                                            This is large format book with chapters by various well known chefs. The bread and Batter chapter is by Dan Lepard, a London baker.

                                            This is a 3 egg, 7T flour, 7/8c milk recipe - but the egg whites are whipped. It baked a lot faster than the recipe called for - only 20 min in aluminum DO.

                                            The result was good, though with a soufflé quality that I haven't gotten before. Not sure which I like better.