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Saturday, November 14, 2009

a rush in red......

Unexpected guests! Fortunately I had a lovely French tart in the fridge and a packet of raspberries in the freezer so I simply cut circles in the tart with a round pastry cutter for each person. I then made quite a thick raspberry coulis. The trick with making a coulis is to use frozen raspberries but do not thaw them. Add a couple of tablespoons of icing sugar - add a little more or less depending on the thickness you require. For the above dessert the coulis must not be too thin. Heat the sugar and berries until the sugar melts then sieve it and pour it into a squeezy bottle for easy application. Queens make a black writing gel available from baking sections in supermarkets. Make a design of your choice with the gel and carefully add the coulis letting the nozzle of the squeezy bottle be your guide. The gel prevents the coulis running out. Place a piece of tart on the side. An almost instant dessert and the day, saved!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Clafoutis aux Cerises

Cherry season is around the corner so no better time to post my clafoutis recipe with this lovely photograph taken by our friend, Stewart, in France this summer. Cherries herald Christmas, sent by the Gods to tantalize our taste buds and senses in readiness for feasting and merrymaking. Their symbolic red, their bell shape and their vivid image in overflowing bowls on the Christmas table next to piles of whole nuts completes our Australian dream of 25th.

Cherries also remind me of black and white photographs of my mother when she was in her early twenties, looking so glamorous in khaki overalls, picking cherries in Young, when she was a volunteer in the Australian women’s land army during war 2. A place where there are so many cherry trees if you picked just one cherry off each tree the quantity would be impossible to eat.

The first time I made this dish was at the Cordon Bleu school. We had had several weeks of non-stop pastry making and I couldn’t wait for this section of the course to end. I’m not one for pastry making but I was quite proud of my efforts with the clafoutis and really wanted to get it home safely. Juggling keys, books, toolbox, uniform and clafoutis I managed to drop my prized pie at the front door where it landed, very neatly, upside down. Inedible to say the least!

I have included a recipe for sweet pastry (pâte sucrée) but a base is not necessarily required. To speed things up just butter an ovenproof dish, scatter over the cherries and pour the batter on top. My way, using the pastry, is more time consuming but great if you want to turn out the pie to present it whole on another plate. Traditionally served with Crème Anglaise but pouring cream or ice-cream would be just as good. Some stone their cherries, some do not and some use sweet varieties while others use sour. It’s all a question of personal choice.


For the pastry, if you are one of those clever people who make their own:

(250g Sucree pastry)
125g unsalted butter
90g caster sugar
1 egg
250g plain flour

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg. Sieve and mix in the flour to form a smooth dough. Refrigerate for thirty minutes.

600g cherries, pitted, washed and carefully dried with kitchen paper
20g butter to grease the pie dish
Icing sugar to serve

For the batter:

50g plain flour
3 eggs, 2 whole plus 1 yolk
200ml milk
Pinch salt
25ml honey
30ml Kirsch


Make the pastry first and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes as stated above. The pasty must be made first because it needs three resting periods. Lightly grease a 20cm flan tin with the butter. Roll out the pastry 2mm thick, line the tin and rest the pastry in the refrigerator for another 30 minutes. Do not prick the base, as the filling will leak. Fill with baking beads and bake at 175C for 15-20 minutes. Glaze with a little egg wash and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Rest again for another 30 minutes.

To make the batter: sift the flour and salt into a basin and make a small bay. Add the eggs and half the milk. Whisk to a smooth batter. Warm the rest of the milk in a small saucepan and add the honey, stir until dissolved and add to the batter then add the Kirsch. Strain the batter and allow to rest one hour.

Place the cherries in the cooked pastry case and fill with batter to within 3mm from the top. Bake at 175C for 30 – 45 minutes or until well risen and brown. Use a skewer to make sure the batter is cooked through.

Remove from the oven, unmould, dredge with icing sugar.