There’s scarce baking and lots of making the rounds—strawberry stand, blackberry stand, peach stand, blueberries at the Davis Farmers Market, melons at the Davis Food Co-op. CSA pickup at Ace Hardware. Plum pickup in our own back yard.
It got me thinking those are good guidelines for summer desserts, period. Triple digit temperatures, friends passing through, and fruit that’s dazzling all by itself. Not the time to be whipping and folding and stacking and straining and piping and glazing.
We talked about the simplest desserts, like berries with ricotta and honey. Peaches with goat yogurt. Sliced melon with salt and chili. (“I could do that one from the hammock.”) Panna cotta. Granita. He has a little oven on board, so I gave him recipes for sbrisolona, brown butter bars, and a basic flaky pastry crust to drape over fruit. (“No rolling pin but plenty of Amador County Zin bottles on the boat…”)
And then I remembered clafoutis.
Clafoutis is a baked, fruit-dotted custard. Eggs, milk, a bit of flour and sugar. It’s made by hand, and it’s versatile and forgiving. It’s good warm, at room temperature, and straight from the fridge.
A great dessert for beginners and boaters. Also, clafoutis is halfway between an omelet and a pancake, so totally legit for breakfast.
Cherry clafoutis (pits intact–a noyaux) is the most traditional, and apricot and prune are also common. But the Yolo blackberries have been awesome this year.
I shared a few with this guy, who was hanging out in the shade near the house. (Lil’ Snappers in the cupboards, free fruit in the yard. Can you see where I’m going with the relocation strategy?)
I make about six or eight pounds of flaky pastry crust at a time and store it in the freezer. It’s a classic pâte brisée, unsweetened so it can be used for empanadas, hand pies, and vegetable tarts. It can be cut for a double crust pie or just laid over some fruit in a casserole for an easier, one-crust “slab pie.” Aka a pie-bler.
One plate, two forks.
We had a mini-Memphis reunion with our other friend M, from the good old days in Cooper-Young.
But there were too many blackberries, and there was pink wine in the afternoon, and a backyard bulgogi and banchan blowout, and then we couldn’t handle very much ice cream and pie-bler.
Now, a week of hard work ahead. Writing deadlines looming large. Life around here’s not all buttermilk and blackberries and rosé and reminiscing, you know.
Makes 1- 9-10″ clafoutis3 eggs
64 g (1/3 cup + 2 T ) all-purpose flour
500 ml (2 cups) whole milk
150 g (3/4 cup) sugar
1 vanilla bean
pinch of salt
splash of dark rum
2 cups blackberries
Extra sugar for caramelizing the topPreheat oven to 425.
Whisk the eggs and flour together in a bowl.
Heat the milk, sugar, and vanilla bean to a simmer. Split open the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the milk mixture.
Ladle a little of the hot milk mixture into the eggs and whisk to combine. Add a little more milk mixture and whisk again. Then add the remainder of the mixture, and the rum, and whisk, making sure there are no lumps.
Pour the batter into a pie pan or quiche mold. Gently put the blackberries into the pan.
Bake until set, about 35 minutes. Sprinkle a little sugar on during the last 5-10 minutes. If it does not brown enough, place the clafoutis under the broiler for a minute or two to finish.
Flaky pastry crust
Makes 2 -9” pie or tart shells
455 g (3 cups + 2 T) unbleached all-purpose flour
5 ml (1 ts) salt
300 g (1 cup + 5 T) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 1-inch pieces
150 ml (2/3 cup) ice water
Whisk the flour and salt together.
Cut in the butter using a pastry blender or two knives. You want an uneven mixture of flour and crumbs, with pieces of butter still the size of beans and peas.
Add the ice water and toss with a fork or your fingers until it comes together. Don’t overmix. The dough should hold loosely together but there will be chunks and streaks of butter still visible, and a bit of unincorporated flour.
Divide into two balls, pat each into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least two hours.
Roll 1/8” thick. (A wine bottle works just fine.)
(For a pie-bler, cut the rolled dough into slabs the size of your pan. Then place the slabs in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Toss fruit with a little sugar and lemon juice, put it in the pan, and dot with butter. Brush some cream/egg yolk on the slabs, sprinkle with sugar, drape them over the fruit, and bake at 375 until the fruit is bubbly and the crust is deep brown.)