P1100080Whatever got into somebody’s head to cook with the stems of a plant whose leaves are poisonous? Yet rhubarb has a fierce deliciousness–a tartness that grabs you by the tongue and forces you into a duck face. For that, rhubarb (a vegetable!) usually is wrangled to play with nicer, sweeter fruits like strawberries and raspberries that tone down its tendency to make one’s eyes squint, while it pushes the berries out of their sugary comfort zone and into interesting territory.

Indeed, one of my favorite things in the world when I was growing up was my grandma’s raspberry-rhubarb jam, made with what raspberries were left (considering our favorite pastime was picking them and eating them on the spot, but I guess we were short enough that plenty stayed out of reach) and rhubarb that grew in her enormous, weed-free vegetable garden.

And, in what seems like another era, another universe, I used to stop by a favorite café in my hometown to pick up a rhubarb pie (I think it was rhubarb solo), to take back to New York. Those were the days where you could check in 20 minutes before your flight, with pots of grandma’s jam in your carry-on and a still-hot rhubarb pie in a box balanced in your hands, and your entire family of about a dozen people could walk right up to the ramp for last-minute hugs and kisses and your parents could watch you walk down the ramp, right up until you were swallowed up by the airplane and they’d have to wait months to see you again.

P1100072
A lot of the color comes off when you strip off the fibers.

Rhubarb has appeared at the market for a few weekends now, and I decided that, sugar be damned, we were going to have dessert. I picked up a big bunch of stalks–I think they were €2.50 a kilo–and then considered my options. I also bought strawberries, but they were inhaled immediately by our kid. Never say no to a kid who wants fruit or vegetables. No matter how old they are.

We also had a dental crisis in the house, and I was investigating easy-to-chew menus. (FYI, we had a Cuban feast–ropa vieja with lots of vegetables, plus yellow rice and black beans (also with lots of vegetables, and, since my family don’t read this, I will admit to chopping up the leaves of some beets in there. Delicious!)) However, I feared that pie crust might be too tooth-challenging. Same with a crumble that was advertised as having “crispy” bits. Then I saw clafoutis–why not?

P1100101
If a cake met a quiche….

Usually clafoutis is made with whole cherries. In fact, the pits are supposed to be the key to success–they heat up and cook the dessert from the inside or something. I saw the first cherries of the season on Saturday, but they were from Spain, and I’m holding out for the local ones that will come soon.

The thing about clafoutis recipes is that they are all the same yet all different. In fact, they are quite similar to the recipe for crêpes, but with more sugar and less flour. Some called for thick cream (like sour cream), some for regular cream, some for milk. I had regular cream and used that. They all called for three eggs, but none of them had the same measurements for anything else. How is that even possible? Well, clafoutis is one of those French dishes that you can just whip up without much fuss (the French are so good at this–for all their famed fancy foods, they also have a way of taking four ingredients and turning them into something very yummy. Just look at the humble classic quatre-quart, or pound cake: eggs, sugar, flour and butter, which is just very beaten cream, after all, plus baking powder. Little tweaks and you get something completely different, from crêpes to cake). Seriously, clafoutis takes about 10 minutes of work, and most of that is for chopping the rhubarb.

P1100076
Looks like crêpe batter! Quite runny.

I will warn you that if you like sweets, you may want more sugar. I keep trying to see how little sugar I can get away with, and I’ve finally gotten used to plain yogurt with fruit and no added sugar. Sugar and salt are two things where the more you have the more you want. I liked the result here because I liked the tartness of the rhubarb contrasting with the eggy, mild clafoutis. You have been warned.

Rhubarb Clafoutis

4 medium eggs (or 3 big ones)

3/4 cup (160 g) sugar

1 1/2 cups (35 cl) cream or milk

1 1/4 cups (60 g) flour

pinch of salt

25 oz (700 g) of rhubarb (about four big stalks)

a pat of butter

Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C).

Beat the eggs, then add the sugar and salt, then the flour. Then thin it out with the cream. Mixing in the flour before the cream helps prevent lumps.

Let the batter sit for about 20-30 minutes. (Similar to pancake batter that you let rest. But unlike pancake batter, you want the flour completely mixed in.)P1100068While the batter rests, prepare the rhubarb. Cut off the stalks’ ends and strip the long fibers, which is really fun. (Since you surely clicked on the link above about how the leaves are poisonous, I assume you removed them, if that wasn’t already done.) Then cut the rhubarb into sticks of 2 or 3 inches, if you like, or into small chunks (which I did). Butter a 9×12-ish baking dish or a large tart/pie dish and spread the rhubarb in it. P1100082When the batter is ready, pour it over the rhubarb. P1100099Bake for 20 minutes. You want it to only barely get brown. It can be served hot, warm or cold. If you want to gild the lily, or if it’s too tart for your taste, sprinkle with powdered sugar.P1100108

 

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19 thoughts on “Tart Rhubarb Clafoutis

  1. This I must try! Growing up in Kansas, I enjoyed my grandmother’s rhubarb pies and stewed rhubarb. One thing she always said, though, is never cook rhubarb in metal pans (specifically aluminum) as the acidic rhubarb leaches toxic chemicals out of the pans. She always used glass. Today’s metal pans may be different;however, I still follow her advice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know, I heard that too, about tomatoes, but I’ve also read that the science on it is not definitive. OTOH, if you have other options, why not err on the side of caution!

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  2. Miam ! I don’t bake but have always enjoyed making clafoutis (even if my favorite version is with pears (and a dash of Poire Williams liqueur, of course!) This version is quite colorful and pretty, and no doubt scrumptious! Will be sharing it in the French Girl in Seattle Facebook community over the weekend. Merci! Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This looks delicious, thanks for sharing! My mom makes a rhubarb ‘puff’ with strawberries that has always been one of my favorites. And I also miss when flying was easy and family could give you a proper send off at the gate instead of a pushy good-bye as they drop you with your luggage at the jam-packed ‘Departure’ curb!

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  4. I wish I could have your grandmother’s weed-free garden!! 🙂 But I do have some rhubarb growing, and I’m going to give this a try – a nice change from the usual crumble! It looks absolutely wonderful!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love this! I adore rhubarb, this will be a “must try” for me. Rhubarb always reminds me of my grandmother, who cooked up great batches of it in her European kitchen, much to my delight. {I’ll be using gluten-free flour.}

    I miss those care-free days of flying too, flying was a pleasure then. All those things you mentioned were true, and when boarding, our children always received a small backpack filled with toys, coloring books etc. from the steward or stewardess, and their own “wings” pin to wear.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you like the recipe. It’s very tart (I like it like that, but I feel like I have to emphasize it because it’s a dessert).
      Grandmothers are magical people, aren’t they?

      Like

  6. Oh boy…my mouth is watering. Love your memories of flying. So much simpler.
    We are coming to France in about a week…first Dublin, then Paris and then a week in the Luberon (26 of us are renting a big house!). Can’t wait!
    Mary Ann

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