Monday, November 17, 2008

Apple clafouti, or "my oven hates me"

How sad, how burnt you are, apple clafouti. This dessert was meant to be a nice addition to the potluck table at a gathering for poet Linda Bierds and essayist Marybeth Holleman, both of whom were visiting campus as readers in the Changing Climates series, but my oven had a different plan in mind.

I had come up with the idea for clafouti, basically a batter cake with fruit sunk into it, because I had leftover half-and-half from the creamed succotash in the fridge and because my Honeycrisp apples were starting to get a little old. I decided to improvise using a combination of this recipe and pancake mix as a base, since the pan I borrowed from MC was huge and I didn't have enough half-and-half to make a double batch of proper batter.

Using flour, eggs, butter, sugar, and the cream I had left I mixed up the basic recipe for the batter, and also incorporated two cups of prepared pancake mix (with two extra eggs and half a stick of butter added). For the fruit topping, I peeled and diced about five large apples, which I sauteed in half a stick of melted butter and half a cup of sugar until they were mostly cooked through and a syrup had formed in the pan. After pouring the batter into the buttered glass pan, I spooned the cooked apples over the batter and drizzled the remaining syrup on top.

Then I stuck it into my preheated oven, whereupon the oven betrayed me.
See, my oven is old. Okay, my whole apartment is old and also '70s looking—not in the fun way—but that's not the point. My oven has no window in the front and is intent on burning everything I put in it. I've already discussed the difficulties I've been having with baking bread and chalked it up to altitude, but I'm gradually starting to realize that my oven also runs hot, or something, because everything I've been baking at regular times and temperatures has been coming out blackened. I set my oven at 400 degrees for this clafouti and checked it after fifteen minutes (ten to fifteen minutes shy of the specified baking time in the recipe) and found the top beginning to char. When I cut into it at the potluck a few hours later, I found that the bottom of the clafouti had turned to black rubber. Only one corner was relatively unscathed.

If you only ate the top the clafouti was fine, but what kind of dessert is that? Half the folks at the potluck thought it was noodle kugel or something, too; powdered sugar on top probably would have helped, but I didn't have any. People ate it…but not many. Sigh.

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