Julia Child's Plum Clafouti

by gratinee on September 18, 2009


I find the more I cook and immerse myself in the world of food via various magazines and food blogs, the more I come to understand that there is so much I don’t know. This year I set out to become a food and travel writer and have achieved some success, but I realize that there is so much I’m going to have to learn about food if I want to have a career in this field. Since I think all of life is a learning curve, I don’t mind admitting my foibles in this regard. I have never eaten an artichoke and have no idea how to cook one. I love food but am a picky eater; although there are few foods that I dislike intensely, there are many that I don’t love and I feel life is too short to spend eating them. I would love to review restaurants, but I don’t think I could be objective enough to comment on organ meats or other such fare that is standard at some of these fine establishments that I read about yet have not gone to. Sadly, I will never be a restaurant critic for the New York Times, donning disguises and dining at Lutece.

Another curiosity: my favorite food is French, but until my trip to France last year, I had scarcely eaten it. My idea of French food was limited to quiche, onion soup, and potato gratin. Rather ironic considering I now regularly write about French restaurants in my hometown for some well-known online publications. Until I bought my copy of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I didn’t even know what clafouti was. I looked it up online, hoping to find a picture of this dessert which wasn’t a cake or a pancake, or a custard, but a combination of all three.

In fact, the first time I made a clafouti I expected a very cake-like texture and thought I had not baked it long enough. I made a mistake by not cooking some of batter before topping it with cherries and another layer of batter. I thought this was why the texture was so custard-like. I had no idea that it was supposed to be that way. Now that I’ve been set straight, I love to whip up a clafouti when I want something easy–something with fruit. I like to have it for breakfast on a weekend morning, instead of pancakes, sprinkled with icing sugar.

In MtAoFC, Julia has a master recipe for Cherry Clafouti, and then a list of variations. I chose to make the Clafouti aux Pruneaux because it’s the perfect time of year for plums. In this variation, she asks you to drop them in boiling water and peel them. I found the prospect of this too tedious, so I simply cut the plums in half (I used small ones) and sprinkled them with sugar. Otherwise I followed the master recipe, which I include here with my one little tweak. Instead of plums, you can also use sliced apple or pear instead of plums. Clafouti can be a perfect summer or winter dessert, depending on the fruit you use. Now that is what I call versatile.

Julia Child’s Plum Clafouti

Serves 6 to 8 people



1 pound firm, ripe plums

1 1/4 cup milk

1/3 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup flour

1/3 extra cup sugar

icing sugar for dusting


1) Preheat oven to 350F. Cut plums in half and sprinkle with some sugar. Set aside.

2)Place all of the ingredients except the last 1/3 cup sugar in a blender in the order they are listed. Cover and blend at top speed for 1 minute.

3) Pour a 1/4-inch layer of the batter in a buttered fireproof baking dish or pyrex pie plate about 1 1/2 inches deep. Place in the oven for about 5 minutes–until a film of batter has set in the bottom of the dish.

4) Spread the plums over the batter with the skins facing up.  Sprinkle with the extra 1/3 cup sugar. Pour on the rest of the batter.

5) Bake in the middle position of the oven for about an hour, until the clafouti has puffed and browned and a toothpick or knife plunged into its center comes out clean. Sprinkle the clafouti with icing sugar before serving.

If you would like to follow Julia’s recipe exactly as printed, drop the plums in boiling water for exactly ten seconds. Peel them before slicing. Soak in 1/4 cup of orange liqueur, kirsch or cognac and let stand for one hour. Substitute this liquid for part of the milk called for in the recipe and omit the last 1/3 cup sugar called for in the recipe. The apple and pear variations call for the same method; use 1 1/4 pounds of apples or 3 cups of pears, peeled, cored, and sliced.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Kayte September 18, 2009 at 9:39 am

It looks lovely…so pretty with the dusting of powdered sugar. I can just imagine how good this is for breakfast. Thanks for all the tips and highlighting the putting it in the oven in two stages. Will try it sometime, thanks for giving it a go first!

Rosa September 18, 2009 at 4:59 pm

A delicious looking clafoutis! Plums taste so good!



Y September 19, 2009 at 5:30 pm

Lovely looking clafoutis. Cherries are probably my favourite to go with this, but I also like mixed berries. Little plums sound delicious too.

Fuji Mama September 20, 2009 at 7:29 am

Mmmmm, LOVE a good clafoutis and yours looks delish! Thank goodness for MtAoFC!

lickedspoon September 20, 2009 at 12:42 pm

One of the delights of cooking, like gardening, is that the more you know, the more you know that there is to know. You can never know enough, you can never be ‘done’. To acquire a love of food is to embark on a lifetime’s adventure. And if that adventure results in something as delicious as this plum clafoutis, how can that ever be a bad thing?

Dolce September 21, 2009 at 7:40 am

A clafoutis batter is basically similar to a crepe batter… hence the custard look and feel :) But it’s indeed a great way of pulling together a quick aha! dessert !
(and yes, clafoutis does take a final “s” at the end, although its singular. I know, we French people like to complicate things…)

gratinee September 21, 2009 at 8:08 am

Thank you!

Natasha - 5 Star Foodie September 23, 2009 at 5:56 am

Mmm… the clafoutis loos heavenly! I’ve only made a cherry one before but now I’m looking forward to making a plum one, yum!

mama K September 24, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Inspired by your recipe I have made apple clafoutis and it turned out great and tasting delicious. I love that custard like dough. Mmm….. Can’t wait to experiment with a different type of fruit.

gratinee September 24, 2009 at 3:35 pm

Thank you! I tasted that apple clafouti and it was even better than when I made it.

Julia @ Mélanger October 7, 2009 at 2:47 pm

Well done on being able to make a start in a new endeavour such as food writing. But I hear you regarding how much there is to learn. One of my favourite quotes as a child growing up was – “the more you know, the more you realise what you don’t know”. Or perhaps that was a ploy by my father to push me during my schooling years?? Anyway, I have to admit I have never made clafoutis before but have it earmarked for Jan/Feb time when some of my favourite fruits are in season here. Yours looks delicious!

gratinee October 8, 2009 at 7:29 am

My mom has been making it with apples, J, and it’s fabulous!

Mark August 9, 2012 at 12:34 pm

A Swiss friend of mine put Italian sour plums in a pie crust with a clafoutis type filling.
I really liked the sweet-sour taste, so I tried it just as a plum clafoutis, since his crust
got soggy with the plum juice anyway. It was delicious; my new late-Summer favorite
treat for 2 years now. I had never cooked one of these before, and it’s really simple.

Darina August 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm

The clafouti is kind of a cross between a crepe, a custard, and a cake. A lot of people don’t know what it is, so whenever I serve it I worry they will think I’m serving them a soggy piece of cake. Yet they always love it! What a great and simple dessert. Thanks for stopping by.

Collin August 14, 2012 at 5:42 pm

I made this for a simple breakfast and it was awesome! So simple to make in a food processor. It is essential to do the first 5 minute baking of the batter before adding the fruit. The texture is like a flan when the whole thing is finished and absolutely scrumptious. I actually pre-sugared the plums as suggested and let them sit overnight before using them in the recipe. Very impressive and simple. I will definitely make this again with other fruits!

Darina August 14, 2012 at 7:32 pm

I especially love it with apple. You are so right about the pre-baking. I didn’t do it the first time and when I made it again you could definitely see the difference in terms of the texture. Plus, it helps keep the fruit from sinking. I have recently posted the pear clafouti variation. Thanks for stopping by.

Natalia June 21, 2013 at 5:20 am

I had to write to thank you, I´ve made clafouti 3 times now and it is sooo good, turns out perfect every time! tonight I am trying to make it with cherries.

Darina June 21, 2013 at 5:56 pm

I love it, too. And it’s so easy!

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