From Scratch: Apple clafoutis gives a fancy name to a simple dish


At the time, picking 50 pounds of "wild" apples seemed like a good idea.

My husband and I found them while walking through the woods near our cabin in the mountains. Since farms haven't been in the area for more than 100 years, I could personally attest they were organic.

Though their looks would have banished them from the shelves of upscale supermarkets, the taste was exceptional. Not till I brought them home did I realize all the work involved.

With a lot of help from a friend and my trusty Squeezo food strainer, I made 15 quarts of applesauce. However, there were still a lot of apples left.

First came apple pie. Then apple crisp and apple crumble. I thought I was appled out until I remembered clafoutis.

Apple clafoutis (kla-foo-TEE) is one of my favorite apple desserts. Besides its great taste and texture, I like saying the name.

A clafoutis is a fruit dessert that tastes like a custard but cuts like a pie. In France, it is traditionally made with cherries, but almost any fruit can be used.

The preparation is simple. No need to roll out pie crusts, since it is just fruit baked in a batter. The result is delectable and impressive enough to be served to company.

To make the clafoutis, you will need a tart apple. Right now, Brown's Orchard has a large selection that fits the bill. One of my favorites is the York Imperial apple, which got its start a few miles away from my house. The next time you are on South George Street, look for the marker near Apple Hill Medical Center attesting to this fact.

To bake the clafoutis, I usually use a deep-dish Pyrex pie pan. However, a 9-inch cast iron skillet will do as well.

The number of apples needed will depend on their size. I added dried cherries as a nod to the dish's French origin.

Before you begin, have the following ingredients at room temperature:

Apple clafoutis

For the filling

1/2 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup apple cider or apple juice

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

4-5 apples, peeled, cored and sliced (2 lbs.)

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

For the batter

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (plus 1 tablespoon melted for brushing the pie plate)

3 eggs

1 cup half-and-half

2/3 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

Ground cinnamon and sugar

Combine the cherries and apple cider in a small bowl and set aside to plump, 15-30 minutes. Strain the cherries, reserving the liquid; set both aside.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Add the apples, sugar, lemon juice and reserved cherry-soaking liquid. Cook over medium heat until the apples soften, about 10-15 minutes.

Brush a deep-dish pie plate with 1 tablespoon melted butter; heat in the oven while blending batter.

Place the first seven ingredients of the batter in a blender and blend until smooth and frothy. Pour half of the batter into the heated pie plate.

Layer the apples (reserving apple juices) and cherries on top of the batter. Top with remaining batter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

Bake until golden and set in the center, 25-30 minutes. Serve the clafoutis drizzled with the reserved juice.

— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section.