Figs spell summer and are found on virtually every wayside here in Malta. A nutritious food for "free" that I just couldn't turn down. This classic French clafoutis is perfect for summer fruits. This version is gluten-free and with its nip of Vin Santo (or other dessert wine as you fancy), it becomes a rather special number to grace summer dinner tables.
Image: Courtesy of The Red Bistro
I've often wondered if green figs are just an earlier, under ripe version of the deep purple variety that arrives in our markets in later summer. But as there's a definite dearth of figs mid summer, I assume that the far tastier, riper, aubergine coloured ones of late August into September are in fact a different variety. No one here in Malta, my mid-Mediterranean neck of the woods, has been able to tell me! One of those weird gaps in local knowledge that I've come to accept as part of life on small islands. But, hey, who's complaining when you get a food for free?
Clafoutis is a very simple French classic that lends itself to a brunch, a dessert and even a cake. Usually, it's a slightly heavier egg custard but this version has the egg whites whipped up into a meringue and a rising agent so ends up more sponge like than the traditional clafoutis. This means that you can eat it cold as a cake, sliced up (ideal for picnics), transported in delightful individual ramekins. A clafoutis is one of the easiest desserts to translate into a gluten-free version; I used almond flour and maize flour.
Green figs seem a little less tasty than those later relatives, so I decided to up the anti by soaking the sliced figs in Vin Santo. A few generous tablespoons of any sweet dessert wine (if you don't have a Tuscan Vin Santo to hand) infuses the fruit nicely. If you prick holes in the clafoutis just as it's cooling out of the oven and drizzle in a bit more vino, you'll have a lovely 'adult' dessert for dinner parties. See how versatile this classic is! For anyone with a Mediterranean climate (California et al), figs probably mean summer too! Where figs grow probably has a six-month summer climate. If you're in colder climes, hunt some out to give you a taste of the South. Do give this gluten-free dish a try with a nip of whatever takes your fancy!
All images © Liz Ayling 2013
Drunken Vin Santo Fig Clafoutis -- gluten-free recipe
Just substitute the ground almond and the cornflour for regular self-raising for a non gluten-free version. Baking powder has gluten so don't substitute it for the soda & tartar if you need a totally gluten-free version. Serves 6 (ramekins)
- 400g figs, sliced thinly
- 50cl Vin Santo (to soak figs in) or use a Sherry, Marsala or other dessert wine
- 50g cornflour (maize flour)
- 50g ground almonds
- 3 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1.5 teaspoons baking soda
- 100g caster sugar, plus some to sprinkle on soaking figs
- pinch of salt
- 4 eggs (large), separated
- 15cl milk
1. Butter the ramekins or single large souffle dish.
2. Wash, pat dry and slice figs thinly, then soak in the Vin Santo and sprinkle a little caster sugar over. Leave to infuse for an hour.
3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 180°C. Then, mix the ground almonds, cornflour, sugar, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
4. Separate the egg yolks and whites carefully and beat the yolks lightly. Then, add a little at a time to the dry ingredients and mix well.
5. Drain the figs from the Vin Santo and add the strained-off wine and the milk to the mixture, beating in well.
6. In a separate bowl, and with scrupulously clean beaters, whisk up the egg whites to firm but not too solid peaks. Then, fold the meringue carefully into the clafoutis mixture, a little at a time, ensuring you don't beat or knock out the little air bubbles.
7. Pour a little of the clafoutis mixture into the bottom of the ramekins, then add a few slices of figs, and repeat until you are 1cm (small ramekins) or 2cm (large, single mould) from the top. Dress the top of the mixture decoratively with remaining fig slices. Sprinkle on a little more caster sugar.
8. Bake small ramekins on a metal baking sheet for around 25-30 minutes until risen and lightly golden. A single, large dish may take 40 minutes. The clafoutis should be firmish but not hard to touch when baked. It will be less light than a regular Victoria sponge though.
9. Cool on a rack, and keep in the ramekins. Serve hot, warm or cold. For dinners, serve warm with single cream or, prick a few holes in the warm clafoutis and drizzle over some Vin Santo and serve with extra sliced figs.
From Mediterranean inspired recipes at The Red Bistro, a family kitchen blog based in Malta.
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