Ahh Christmas. I can't believe that it has just come and gone. And although many a swine and perhaps turkey are breathing a collective sigh of relief now that their juicy tender flesh are no longer being eyed off as delectable cuts of Christmas meat to be proudly set down on one's dinner table, I can't help but think how much quicker and quicker the Christmas season rolls by every year.
I know I've had my fair share of ham and turkey and of course the obligatory seafood bounty that is the cornerstone of every Aussie Christmas, but I cannot overlook one of the very reasons why I love Christmas down under, it's that Christmas is smack-bang in the midst of our summer. And although we are experiencing what I have affectionately coined as the summer that never was, the sun turned out for a gloriously sunny Christmas day. Seeing the sun was quite heartening, seeing as that we are looking at the prospect of only 4 sunny days in December, according to the weather people and it appears that we have already had them all.
With a typical all-Australian summer comes the sun and the flies, which can be cause for contempt for many Australians and a lot more non-Australians who just cannot handle the sticky weather and the flies that tend to stick. The flies are indeed everywhere, and annoyingly so, although the good weather has been somewhat remiss.
However, thunderstorms and absent sunshine aside, one thing that makes my heart beat that little bit faster is the prospect of summer berries. Of all the genus of fruit around, I think the berry is my most favourite. They come in so many varieties, so many colours and so many flavours, what's not to fall in love with? Berries in the summer, mean berries for Christmas and what doesn't scream festive more than the look of summer berries. Hues of deep blue, magenta and violet and bright tones of crimson, ruby red and green the palette is endless.
As much as I cannot go past the humble strawberry, probably the most popular of all berries there are so many others that are ripe for dessert, and a great way to showcase one of summer's bounties is in a berry clafoutis. A dessert that originated from France and was traditionally made with cherries, the modern clafoutis, I think can be made with just about any fruit you can bake. Although clafoutis purists adhere strictly to cherries, I think this dessert is versatile enough for a change.
You can pretty much include whatever berries you wish in this dessert's and if berries aren't your thing then stone fruits like peaches and apricots are a great substitute. Even though, strictly speaking, raspberries and blackberries aren't considered to be true berries in the botanical sense, there's no need for being exclusively botanic in your interpretation of a berry clafoutis. Feel free to throw in anything that ends with a the word berry. I'm sure the result will be just as fantastic.
The verdict? This recipe yields a smooth and light dessert that is perfect after Christmas when we have all had a little bit too much to eat and drink. Althought it's made up mostly of cream and eggs, the dessert is not at all rich and filling like a crème brûlée would be. And the tartness of the berries create a nice contrast to the sweetness of the custard.
Perfect with a glass of champagne if your feeling celebratory or just a simple glass of moscato (Tempus Two is my favourite) this dessert is an easy crowd pleaser and one you can pull out for any dinner party. So take advantage of the surplus of berries right now and perhaps make up for the lack of sunshine this summer.
Summer Berry Clafoutis
Adapted from Donna Hay Magazine Issue 36
1/3 cup caster sugar
300ml pure single or pouring cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup plain all-purpose flour
1 punnet blueberries
½ punnet blackberries or mulberries
1 punnet raspberries
½ punnet strawberries, halved and hulled
icing (confectioner's) sugar, for dusting
Preheat over to 160ºC.
Brush oven proof dish with butter.
In a medium bowl combine eggs, sugar, cream and vanilla extract and whisk until frothy.
Sift flour over egg mixture and whisk until smooth.
Pour batter into prepare oven proof dish and scatter berries evenly throughout the dish.
Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour or until the centre has just set and golden.
Remove from oven and dust with icing sugarto serve.