Thursday, September 21, 2017

French Cheeses: Cantal Apple Clafoutis

Years ago, when we first arrived in France, cheddar was much harder to come by so I had settled on using Cantal as a substitute since it has a similar melty butteriness though the flavour is tangier. Nowadays cheddar is frequently sighted in our fridge, often along with Cantal. It is one of the several superb AOC cheeses from the Auvergne region. There are three levels of affinage (aging): jeune (young) Cantal aged from one to two months; entre deux (between the two, that is, between jeune and vieux Cantal) aged from two to six months; vieux (old) aged more than six months. Cantal is further categorized by it being made from pasteurized milk (laitier/dairy) or from raw (fermier/farm).  Entre deux laitier is the one that is easily found and is used in this clafoutis. 

Cantal is one of the oldest French cheeses, dating back to the time of the Gauls

Though being simple and homey, Cantal apple clafoutis is pleasantly balanced between savoury and sweet. With a golden brown puffiness, it is as attractive to the eye as it is to the palette.


Ingredients
Adapted from this French site
makes a 20 cm/8-inch square

  • Eggs, large, 2, (or 3 medium)
  • Flour, white, 100 g/7 dry oz
  • Milk, whole, 200 ml/6.8 fluid oz
  • Apple, royal gala, large, 1
  • Cantal, entre deux, 100 g/3.5 dry oz
  • Salt, 1/2 tsp
  • Black pepper, a grinding or two
  • Nutmeg, freshly grated, 2 large pinches

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F. Slice the cheese and the cored apple (peel if desired) thinly.


In a mixing bowl, beat eggs well, either with a fork or a whisk. Blend in the flour with a wooden spoon until very smooth. Add the nutmeg, salt, and black pepper. Pour in the milk and stir well.


In a well-buttered oven dish, layer the apples and cheese. I did three layers, ending in cheese for a nice browned effect.


Pour the batter over the layered cheese and apples.


The apples should be barely covered. Bake for around an hour or until the surface is completely puffed (including the centre). A knife inserted should come out mostly dry.


Let cool for a bit so it will set. Slightly warm to room temperature is a good range for serving.


At one time, a large, uncut Cantal was referred to as a Tomme which is synonymous to Fourme which refers to a type of drum created by les danseurs de bourrée de l'Aubrac for their dance which they did in their Burons (ancient stone dairy huts) situated upon the wild hill area of Auvergne. After eating a few servings of this custardy, savoury, slightly sweet dish, I did a dance too.


Le Livre du Fromage recommends several wines to go with Cantal, and one is Rully (a Burgundy Chardonnay) which happened to be in our cellier. Figs from our tree rounded off the meal.


À la prochaine!

RELATED LINKS

Wikipedia article on the bourrée (French clog dance)