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What’s cooking today: Clafoutis with stewed apples

What’s cooking today: Clafoutis with stewed apples
Tony Jackman’s clafoutis with stewed apples. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Clafoutis is a classic French dessert that we seem to see little of today. It is very rewarding to cook, and is not at all difficult for the home cook to make. This version combines it with boozy stewed apples. Traditionally, the dish, from Limousin, was made with black cherries.

Stewed apples or pears and other fruit are an old favourite in South Africa as a dessert or part of a breakfast spread in a country hotel. Usually, they would be dried fruit that has been stewed and then served with custard or served cold with fruity yoghurt at breakfast. But they can be celebrated in their own right as well, and fresh fruit can be stewed too. A generous splash of brandy doesn’t harm either.

In this recipe, stewed apples (fresh ones, not dried) are treated much as you would prepare them for a tarte Tatin, although in this instance the dessert is another French classic, the world-famous clafoutis, although it’s not quite as famous as the tarte Tatin.

A clafoutis is a cross between a cake and a flan. It has no crust, or pastry of any kind, just a sweet batter and fruit. Half of it is poured into a heated, greased pie dish, then the stewed fruit is added (in this recipe at least), and finally the remaining batter is poured over, topped with a sprinkling of sugar.

Traditionally, it is served unadorned with either cream, custard or ice cream, but you can break the rules and use one or the other if you like.

I was sent shopping for apples and pears by Tru-Cape, who also produce delightful, slim books about pears and apples. One of them, The Newcomers and their Friends, by Buks Nel and Henk Griessel, tells the stories of a number of local apple varieties including Cripps Pink and Cripps Red, both of which are available on the market in South Africa. Both Cripps Red and Cripps Pink were bred by apple breeder (yes, breeder) John Cripps in Western Australia. In 1973 he crossed Golden Delicious and Lady Williams to create a seedling called Cripps Pink. “What made it so special was its absolutely unique pink colour,” write Nel and Griessel. “It was arguably the first true pink apple of the 20th century.”

The resulting Pink Lady, as it was branded, became the most successful apple brand ever, they say, and it arrived in South Africa in 1990 when it was farmed in Elgin as Cripps Pink at Oak Valley Estate and at Vredelust farm, whose owner Peter Dall became chairman of the International Pink Lady Alliance, a post he held for 14 years.

I used Cripps Red for this dish, but of course you can use any apples you like because, whether sweeter or more tart, they’re going to work perfectly well.

(Serves 6 to 8)

Ingredients

For the batter:

3 large eggs

1 cup/ 250 ml full cream milk

½ cup butter, melted

A few drops of vanilla essence

⅔ cup cake flour

½ cup castor sugar

½ tsp salt

For the apples:

4 Tbsp unsalted butter

4 apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges

½ cup sugar

5 Tbsp Die Mas ‘Die Kalahari Fynetjie’ Dames Brandewyn (or other brandy)

Method

Preheat oven to 400°. In a blender, whizz the milk with the eggs, 6 Tbsp butter, vanilla essence, flour, sugar, and salt.

In a large, heavy pan on the stove (I use my cast-iron frying pan), melt the butter on a moderately high heat and immediately sprinkle the sugar over, evenly. Drizzle the brandy over. While it’s starting to combine and slowly caramelise, lay the apple wedges in it.

Grease a large pie dish with butter, and put it in the oven to heat.

Meanwhile, continue cooking the apples in their syrup for about 5 minutes, by which time the dish in the oven should be hot enough.

Remove the dish from the oven and pour in half of the batter. Arrange the cooked apple slices in concentric circles, being careful not to burn your fingers. You could use tongs or a spoon and fork. Reserve the juices to pour over the tart when serving later.

Now pour the rest of the batter over the top, evenly.

Sprinkle sugar all over and bake for about 30 minutes. Heat the juices and pour over when serving. DM

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Siobhan Hanvey says:

    Good morning. I’m reading your recipe and I would like to clarify – 400 degrees?? is that Fahrenheit? It sounds delicious and less fraught than Tart Tatin.

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