Monday, January 16, 2017

Baking with Flavor: Spiced Pear Clafoutis Made with Kefir

Spiced Pear Clafoutis is a delicious French pastry that is charmingly rustic and easy to make. The classic version of clafoutis has a firm custard or flan-like texture that enrobes the fruit (typically firm summer cherries). In France the term flaugnarde is used to denote clafoutis made fruits other than cherries, but the designation isn’t strictly adhered to.

Glass Petal Smoke’s recipe for Spiced Pear Clafoutis was designed with flavor and good health in mind. It utilizes less fat and sugar than traditional clafoutis, favoring coconut sugar for the caramel nuance it imparts to the pastry. The combination of almond and vanilla extracts with dark rum is otherworldly—and you can smell it as the clafoutis bakes in the oven and the butter sizzles on the sides of the ceramic dish.

The amount of Penzeys Cake Spice used in the recipe for Spiced Pear Clafoutis is minimal and that’s deliberate. A teaspoon and a half adds just enough warmth to inspire perfect alchemy between the extracts and the rum. Reduced fat doesn’t mean reduced flavor if you combine complementary ingredients together. Penzeys Cake Spice contains China cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, allspice, ginger and cloves—flavors that marry well with vanilla, almond, pear and rum.

In baking, small adjustments for the purpose of creating flavor with less fat and sugar can tantalize taste buds. The beurre noisette (brown butter) crust that forms on Spiced Pear Clafoutis tastes like a financier when it breaks on the tongue—a flavor experience that is decadent and unexpected. This is accomplished with the addition of unblanched almond flour, organic wheat pastry flour and unsalted pasture butter.

Spiced Pear Clafoutis can be eaten for dessert or as a breakfast pastry. Feel free to add a touch of whipped cream or non-fat Greek yogurt and fresh fruit. If you wish to experiment with other flavors to make your own version of clafoutis use firm fruit and complementary flavor combinations of your choice. The possibilities are endlessly delicious.

Spiced Pear Clafoutis
(Serves 8)
Recipe by Michelle Krell Kydd

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 
  • Combine pastry flour, cake spice, salt and almond flour in a large mixing bowl. Set aside. 
  • Mix kefir, vanilla extract, almond extract and dark rum in a separate bowl (or pourable measuring cup). Using a fork, stir ingredients until they’re well blended. 
  • In a separate bowl beat the eggs with a whisk. Add sugar and whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved. 
  • Add the kefir mixture to the egg mixture and whisk until thoroughly combined. 
  • Cut the pears into quarters, removing stems, seeds and blemishes (skin stays on). Roughly chop the fruit forming small rustic-shaped cubes. 
  • Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and combine using a large silicone spatula. 
  • Add pears and use the silicone spatula to fold the fruit into the batter, making sure that all the pieces are well coated. Set aside to rest for five minutes. 
  • Butter the pie dish. 
  • Pour the batter into the dish, using the silicone spatula to spread the batter evenly so the pears are evenly distributed in the plate. 
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick placed in the center is dry when removed. 
  • Allow the clafoutis to cool on a rack while it’s in the ceramic plate. Serve slightly warm or refrigerate.
Glass Petal Smoke recommends keeping a sealed two-cup jar of dark rum mixed with raisins in your refrigerator (enough dark rum to cover the raisins). The raisins will infuse the rum with flavor over time and you can use the infused rum in many pastry applications. You can use the raisins in Glass Petal Smoke's recipe for Rum Raisin Scones, which freeze well and are made with butter and heavy cream.

Invest in a 9-inch ceramic pie dish. It distributes heat evenly and you'll find many uses for it. Stick with lighter colors to avoid overbaking.

Specific brands are used in Glass Petal Smoke's recipe for Spiced Pear Clafoutis because they perform well. You can use other brands if you like, but Penzeys Spices is highly recommended.