Ever since I picked up a pint of Italian prune plums at Detroit’s Eastern Market [people ask if I miss anything about Detroit since moving to Idaho–yes, Eastern Market] in 2011, these late-summer jewels have become my favorite summer fruit.
Thin-skinned with golden flesh that has the texture of a gumdrop, they take some coaxing to wilt into juicy, jammy, goodness. Specifically, they need heat. So Italian prune plums are perfect for baking. The oven softens their pulp and draws out their sugars, without turning your tart into a wading pool of plum juice.
But these little egg-shaped plums arrive at that time of year when the days wake up as Autumn, but return to Summer by the afternoon. So prune plum baked goods can be tricky to season. Example: a prune plum tart with lemon and sweet basil is too summery, while a prune plum upside-down cake with nutmeg is a touch too pumpkin-spice-latte for this time of year.
But an airy, eggy clafoutis, propped up with the robustness of clove and vanilla? Perfect for late summer and early fall.
A clafoutis is essentially a custard, poured over fruit, baked, and served as pie-like slices. In this clafoutis, plum juice and butter caramelize at the bottom and around the edges. The custard wobbles timidly, perhaps unaccustomed to wearing clove and vanilla. Toasted sesame seeds and spending time on the top oven rack give this clafoutis a crisp, almost-brûléed finish.
This clafoutis is bliss. It tastes as gorgeous as it looks, and it couldn’t be easier to make.
Italian Prune Plum Clafoutis with Clove and Sesame Seeds
Serves 4-6 | Adapted from A Platter of Figs by David Tanis
- 1 1/2 lb. Italian prune plums (about 15 plums), halved and pitted
- 1 tbsp. butter at room temperature
- 1/2 tsp. whole cloves
- 1/2 tsp. sesame seeds
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/3 C. packed brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp. flour
- 1 C. whole milk
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a 10-12″ baking dish with the butter [I like a ceramic tart dish, but a cast-iron or enameled skillet works as well].
- Toast cloves over medium heat in a dry, heavy-bottomed skillet. Remove from heat when you begin to smell the aromas release. Let cool, then grind to powder and set aside.
- Toast sesame seeds over medium heat in that same skillet used for the cloves. Remove from heat when some of the seeds begin darkening. Let cool, set aside.
- Arrange plums in baking dish. Sprinkle ground cloves over plums.
- Whisk eggs with sugar and flour until well-incorporated. Add milk and vanilla, and incorporate.
- Pour the mixture over the plums and into baking dish, then sprinkle toasted sesame seeds over the mixture.
- Bake at 375°F on top rack of oven for 45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool to room temperature before serving.
NOTE: If you prefer vanilla beans to extract, substitute your heart out. I opted for the extract because I wanted to use the fantastically intense vanilla extract I recently picked up in Mexico.