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Clafouti is a wonderful classic, country French batter cake, sort of a cross between a flan and a fruit-filled pancake.

In the Limousin region of France, the dish calls for unpitted cherries because the pits are believed to add flavor to the cake. Any fruit can be used, including apples, pears, peaches and plums.

This clafouti uses fresh apricots, their creamsicle-orange skins blushing pink during their very short season. When eaten out of hand, apricots are bland and blah. But when they are cooked, they turn tart and zingy with flavor.

To make clafouti, scatter the chopped fruit in a baking dish, then pour a sweet batter, similar to pancake batter, over it. The eggy batter then bakes around the fruit, creating a light, airy, pudding-like texture. It puffs up dramatically during baking like a souffle, then collapses.

Let the clafouti cool slightly before serving. A last-minute shower of sugar adds a bit more sweetness. Leftovers make a delicious breakfast treat.

Apricot Almond Clafouti

1 pound fresh apricots, pitted and cut into wedges

1/4 cup almond liqueur, such as amaretto, or orange juice

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon plus 1/3 cup sugar, divided

2 large eggs

1 large egg white

1 cup milk

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Pinch of salt

1 to 2 tablespoons sliced almonds

Coarse, powdered or plain sugar, for topping

Combine apricot pieces and almond liqueur (or orange juice) in a large bowl.

Grate 2 teaspoons zest from the lemon and set aside. Juice the lemon and stir 2 teaspoons of the juice into the apricots. Let stand for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 10-inch round ceramic baking dish or oval casserole with cooking spray. Sprinkle 1 table-spoon sugar evenly over the bottom. Drain the apricots (reserving the syrup) and arrange evenly in the baking dish.

Combine whole eggs, egg white and the remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until pale yellow. Add milk, flour, almond extract, salt, reserved lemon zest and reserved syrup. Whisk well to blend.

Pour batter over apricots; sprinkle with almonds. Bake clafouti until puffed and golden, 45 to 55 minutes.

To check if done, slide in the tip of a knife. If it comes out smooth and clean, the clafouti is ready. Let cool about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with sugar. It’s best served warm.

Makes about 6 servings.

— “EatingWell Magazine,” May/June 2009

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