Masterclass — Plum Clafouti 

A simple and delicious old-world dessert for modern times. 

Few desserts are as simple and comforting as a French clafouti (cla-foo-TEE).  Rustic as a country farmhouse, a clafouti transforms kitchen staples into a satisfying fresh-from-the-oven dessert or welcome addition to a lazy weekend brunch.

More custard than cake, clafouti is an old-world dessert originally from the Limousin region of France and traditionally made with cherries. It was customary leave the pits as bakers believed they enhance the flavour of the custard. Historical convention aside, I’ve opted for pitted plums instead. Clafouti works especially well with stone fruit, but just about any fruit or berry can be added to the batter. It’s a clever way to use up excess summer fruit and can be adapted to any season. If you’re making it in the fall, for example, you can use apples or pears, but you’ll need to precook them until softened.

If you can make pancakes, you can make clafouti. A batter of eggs, flour, and sweetened milk (mixed by blender or by hand) is poured into a buttered pan, with pitted plums and baked until puffed and golden at the edges. The batter can be made in advance, which makes it convenient to pop in the oven just before you sit down to dinner (it takes only about 30-40 minutes to bake). Expect the custard to collapse on cue, from oven to dinner table. It will likely crack, too. Clafouti is a homespun dish that doesn’t take itself too seriously (the name comes from the French verb clafir, meaning to fill)

I baked my clafouti in a ceramic tart pan, but you can use just about any oven-proof container. Cast iron skillets also work well, as do ramekins for individual servings. Opt for a heavy-ish container to maintain an even heat, as lighter ones tend to burn the custard’s edges. 

You can use any variety of plum, but I prefer tart oval Damson plums. With a dark blue to red-purple skin and a dusty silver coating, they’re ideal for baking, skin and all. That dusty coating, incidentally, is a mark of freshness. Referred to as the “bloom,” it acts as a protective barrier against insects and helps seal in the fruit’s moisture, as it does for blueberries and grapes. The bloom fades with time and handling, so select fruit with the silvery sheen intact. The sheen’s not harmful, but plums (like any produce) should be washed just before cooking or eating. 

Clafouti is best served direct from the oven, while soft and custardy (though some enjoy it chilled firm). It can be served as is or with a dusting of icing sugar. I especially enjoy it with a dollop of whipped cream cut with sour cream. It lends a luscious tangy note that goes particularly well with plums. 

We all need a quick and easy dessert in our repertoire, and clafouti is a dish that has stood the test of time. 


Plum Clafouti  

Serves 6. 

Plums vary in sweetness throughout the season, which can be frustrating for us bakers. If your plums are especially tart, you may want to add additional sugar. Conversely, if your plums are especially sweet, dial back the sugar.   

1-2 tsp butter (for greasing the pan) 

1 lb ripe Damson plums, about 2 cups, quartered, pitted

¾ cup granulated sugar, divided     

3 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

½ cup whipping cream, 35%

¼ tsp table salt

⅔ cup all-purpose flour 


Special Equipment 

9½-inch pie plate, ceramic tart dish, or heavy ovenproof container


Preheat oven to 375°F.  

Butter the oven-proof container. Place the plums in a medium bowl and toss with ¼ cup of the sugar. Set aside while preparing the batter. 

If using a blender or food processor, combine the remaining ingredients and blend into a smooth batter. 

If mixing by hand, whisk together the eggs. Whisk in the milk, cream, remaining sugar, and salt. Add the flour in three or four batches, whisking the mixture smooth before adding additional flour.

Tip the quartered and sugared plums, and any juices, into the prepared pan, distributing the fruit evenly plums cut side down. Pour the batter over the fruit. Place the clafouti on a baking tray and bake until puffed and golden at the edges and the centre barely jiggles, 30-40 minutes, turning the pan once during baking. 

Best served warm, with a dollop of whipped cream mixed with sour cream.


Whipped Cream mixed with Sour Cream 

½ cup whipping cream, 35% 

¼ cup icing (powdered sugar) 

½ cup sour cream (full fat) 


By hand or mixer, whisk together the whipping cream, sugar, and sour cream in a medium bowl. The mixture will thicken and hold its shape but not form a stiff peak. It can be made in advance and re-whipped just before serving. 

Image: Deb Garlick

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