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How to Make Peach Clafoutis

How to Make Peach Clafoutis

Isabel Cowles Murphy | Chef's Blade

If a peach in the hand is worth ten in the bush, then a few peaches in a Clafoutis are worth the haul of an entire basket. Usually, I’m unable to drive away from a farmer’s market without devouring at least half of the peaches I’ve procured. I arrive at home, appetite spoiled, lips sticky. I make a face in the mirror and even my pursed chin looks like a peach pit: all I see, all I think about, all I want, all the time are summer peaches.

I love their ridges, their fuzz, their changing gradations of pink and yellow. I love the leaves that spring from their tops—they look so biblical. They’re more beautiful in person than any still life, though I can see why they’ve inspired great art through the ages. We should all be so lucky to be as pretty as a peach.

And even though a peach devoured raw and dribbling is as good as summertime gets, I decided to practice some self restraint for once and see how they would look in a dessert. I deliberated for a couple of days, letting them ripen further in a brown paper bag. When I finally pulled them out, their sides were so soft I actually treated them like sparrows in my palm.

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(photo by I.C.)

I wanted something that would showcase their shape. Buckles and pies are lovely to taste, but fruit ends up something of a juicy mass beneath their crusts and crumbs. I wanted more for my peaches. They needed great presentation: a subtle platform for their astonishing color and shape. And then I came upon it—the Clafoutis, a French dish traditionally done with cherries.

The Clafoutis is an almost flan-like dessert and it’s easy to see why pert, tart cherries would complement its silky richness. That said, the ultra ripe peach wedges were hardly cloying. I would even consider making this with a layer of caramelized pears or apples and serving it after brunch. It’s sweet, but the texture is light enough to enjoy during daylight hours.

When I first started researching the Clafoutis, I was slightly confused. Recipes call for pouring batter over fruit arranged in the bottom of a baking pan. I wondered if every Clafoutis recipe author had forgotten to mention that the dish had to be flipped before serving, like an upside-down cake.

Fortunately, a life lesson applied: when everyone else is WRONG, there’s probably something going on with me. So I took a leap of faith and trusted that my beautiful babies would be properly showcased like the cherries pictured in traditional Clafoutis preparations.

And indeed, like all shining stars, they rose to the occasion—literally. As soon as I mixed the liquid custard I understood: the batter worked its way under every slice, lifting the pattern to the top of the pan, where the fruit floated in pink and gold glory. Everything about a peach is beautiful, but when a spiral of slices hover over a custard, they can take your breath away.

These peaches came courtesy of Lightsey Farm in Mexia, TX. I used a recipe from The Joy of Cooking as my base, but changed some rather significant details. When I do a fall Clafoutis with apples, I will do it exactly the same way.

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