There was no post on Wednesday due to a crisis. The featured recipe was to be a plum flaugnarde. To define flaugnarde, it is necessary to describe clafoutis. In the Limousin region of France, clafoutis is a baked dessert made of cherries blanketed by custard. The pits are left in the cherries as they are thought to contribute to the flavor. A flaugnarde is simply a clafoutis made with any other kind of fruit.
My intention was to make a flaugnarde with a mixture of Italian plums and greengage plums (Prunus domestica var. italica), or Ringlotten, as they are called here. The word Ringlotte is a corruption of reine claude (Queen Claude), the French term for this variety of plum that was first cultivated in Moissac, France in the 16th century. The cultivar was named after Queen Claude (1499-1524), the short-lived duchess of Brittany and wife of King François I. Since Sir Thomas Greengage brought this variety from France to England in the 18th century, it bears his name in English. The greengages that I bought at the market were labelled Bertigamer, a sort that the seller told me was quite old. Unfortunately, precursory research into Bertigamer – where they came from, the history of their cultivation in Austria – has been unfruitful so far.
The real problem, however, was the custard crisis. Though I followed the free-standing custard ratio of 2 parts liquid to one part egg in Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio, I ended up with a flaugnarde that tasted good but whose consistency left a lot to be desired. A second attempt with less milk also failed to achieve a firm, solid custard layer, but the third time (with a roughly 1:1 ratio plus some cornstarch just to be safe) was the charm.
Mixed Plum Flaugnarde
650 g mixed plums (I used Zwetschken and Bertigamer Ringlotten)
150 ml (3/4 c) milk and/or heavy cream (I used half milk, half Schlagobers)
2 Tbs red wine
75 g (½ c) whole wheat flour
30 g (¼ c) ground walnuts
2 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs cornstarch
a pinch of salt
Cut the plums in half and arrange in a tart pan.
In a bowl, beat the eggs, milk, and wine together. Stir in the rest of the ingredients one at a time, making sure the batter doesn’t clump together.
Pour the batter over the plums.
Bake at 180°C (350°F) for 50 minutes or until the custard has set and is attractively browned.