The leaves are off the silver birch and I am now in my third decade. It’s the first week of October and both of these things surprise me, even though seasons and birthdays are two rare things one can predict. I’m dreaming of third decade goals including goats, pizza ovens, and the world’s largest sunflower patch. That said, I am pleased that my nature continues to be steady: my heart is still mostly called to biking mountain passes and months spent in tents. We celebrated my birthday in the best way I could imagine- a cabin full of friends, a sky full of stars, and litres on litres of wine bag. I don’t know if it was that (or the glow stick filled piñata), but the world feels open and shimmery right now; nesting and adventure-schemes are merging into what will soon be the winter cocoon.
Basically, its my favourite time of year. Welcome October where quiet is encouraged and new ideas burst from the gift of long runs in the chilly woods and a little bit of slow! Welcome crisp leaves, cozy fires, soup, and saturdays with the pottery wheel! Welcome apples and pears! Although, I am only tentatively welcoming their friends- the bears. The other night we were out trail running in the rain and bumped into this moonlit glowing apple tree along the edge of a field. The fruit was glistening and faron and I were blissfully chomping on a tiny orb when we heard the distinct harrumph of large mammal from the bush to the left. We backed away a little, but then saw a group of horses in the distance so brushed it off. Called by the fruit, I swung my arm up towards the tree to grab another apple and my headlamp hit straight into the eyes of a bear. Baby bear. In the tree. Mama cub? Probably in the bushes. Magical, but oh nelly. Fall, in all its messy glory, is here.
Why I am telling you this? While, apples and winter are about to take-over our world, there is a realm of other cozy deserts still to explore. Don’t give up on the stone-fruit yet! December isn’t here for months. I am making it my mission to savour fall and avoid winter bum out through denial of the darkening days.
Weeks ago I picked our plum trees bare in a flurry of over-tired energy; I was proud of myself for getting ‘er done but then quite sad that plum time was over just as it started. I might have exhibited a little prudence and picked bits off the trees at a time. Oh well. I thought I would have to wait another 11 months for more plums but then yesterday noticed a branch with some over-ripe leftovers peering over the neighbours yard. I almost died climbing up our moulding collapsing fence but I was desperate enough for this one last kick at the summer fruit can that I lunged repeatedly at the high branches across the air-space. I managed ten plums and only one leg scratch as collateral damage. The fence wanted mending anyway. And, ten plums is all one needs at a time. Really, any plums are enough for this cake (which also has the generosity to double as “healthy” breakfast the next day). And, if you must, softly cooked apples would work too. Hurrah for seasons and new beginnings. Clafouti anyone?
(Also, need to note; how ridiculous is this? http://www.cbc.ca/news/aboriginal/canada-sets-lowest-standard-at-world-conference-on-indigenous-peoples-1.2779590)
As a note, I used to always make the Julia Child version, which has you first cook a little film on the bottom before putting the pan in the oven. This time I was bold and lazy and avoided this step and somehow it turned out just fine. Sometimes the easy road is better, even though I don’t seem to learn that one very well. Next time I might be bold enough to mix instead of blend, but that is pushing my comfort zone. If you try it, let me know?
Plum Clafoutis (Modified from the Julia Child version)
7 ripe, medium prune-plums
2 Tbsp. butter for the pan
6 large eggs
2/3 cup 2% milk (I used full percent)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp. orange liqueur or triple sec (see Note)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour OR 1/2 cup gluten-free flour blend
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Icing sugar OR Coconut sugar for dusting (highly optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
Cut plums in half and remove the pits.
Brush the inside of a 10″ cast iron skillet or 10″ deep-dish pie plate with the butter. Place the plums in the pan cut side down.
Put the rest of the ingredients (eggs, milk, flour, sugar, juice, extracts) into a blender and whizz for 1 minute. Pour this over the plums in the pan.
Sprinkle the top with the almonds (optional)
Bake for 25-27 minutes until it is gloriously puffy. Sprinkle with the icing sugar/coconut sugar if you would like. I didn’t and it was still really delicious.
Eat warm, cold, or with whipped cream and/or coconut whipped cream.
Note: For a dairy free version this works really well if you replace the milk with 1/2 almond milk and 1/2 coconut cream.
PS: This is also delicious with other fruit- cherries, pears, and peaches have all worked well for me. I bet you could try anything, no?