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Clafoutis: Easy French Dessert Using Plantain Flour

Of all the desserts in my cookbooks, Clafoutis (pronounced Clah-fute-ee) is the recipe I most often recommend to gluten-free newbies.  It’s easy, fool-proof, very versatile, and just sounds so “chic” with its French sound.

Bing Cherry Clafoutis with Plantain Flour: Photo by Tom Hirschfield

Bing Cherry Clafoutis with Plantain Flour: Photo by Tom Hirschfield

With Clafoutis, you can use any flour you like, which allows many people with diverse appetites to enjoy it. So, for example, a person who is new to the gluten-free diet can make a dessert that pleases everyone— including someone who follows a Paleo diet or is dairy-free or avoids grains.

Clafoutis is not only a delicious dessert, but it doesn’t require a blend of flours, just one single flour. As you know, I am always experimenting with new flours. And, I usually turn to Clafoutis as the recipe that allows me to experiment, but always with a successful outcome. Last week, I experimented with plaintain flour, so here is what I learned.

Plantains on the left, compared to bananas on the right. Very similar looking, but do not taste the same.

Plantains on the left, compared to bananas on the right. Very similar looking, but do not taste the same.

Plaintain Flour

What is plaintain flour? It is made from plantains, those banana-like things you see in the grocery store that may be green, yellow, or black. In the photo above, they are a greenish-yellow. Plantains are actually a fruit but, unlike most fruits, we consume them cooked rather than raw. They are often associated with Puerto Rican foods and I have eaten them in Mexican restaurants—boiled, baked, and fried.

If you ever accidentally purchase plantains (thinking they were bananas) your first taste will tell you they’re not bananas. They taste starchy and bland, sort of like potatoes. That bland flavor allows them to be quite versatile. And, it makes plantain flour ideal for gluten-free baking because of that neutral flavor and light color.

I bought my plantain flour from Barry Farms via Amazon, but it is available in some natural food stores and even WalMart. I suspect its availability varies by region. It costs about $4 per pound, but will likely vary by where you buy it.

How To Use Plaintain Flour

Plantain flour is a light tan in color and virtually tasteless. However, that light tan color might add a somewhat darker tint to your baked goods, depending on how much you use. I have seen lots of recipes online, such as pancakes, cookies, cakes, breads, cakes, etc. for using plantain flour, but as I mentioned before I like to try new flours in a recipe I already know.

In the recipe below, I use plantain flour as a single flour. But in most other baking, I would use it to replace about 15-20% of my flour blend. That way, I get some of the advantages of plantain flour, but retain the advantages of the flours in my flour blend.

I noticed that it clumped up when mixed with liquid, so be sure to whisk it vigorously or beat the batter with an electric mixer. It also helps to blend the plantain flour with other dry ingredients before adding the wet ingredients. I didn’t notice any flavor change in the Clafouti, but that’s because plantain flour is bland.

Why Use Plantain Flour

The primary reason is that it’s gluten-free, of course. And it adds variety to our gluten-free diet. But also, it’s grain-free, so it’s useful for Paleo diets.  Plantains are high in fiber, potassium, and— in lesser amounts—magnesium and some B vitamins. While plantain flour isn’t a nutrient powerhouse, it does have other nutrient advantages. For more information about the nutrients in plantain flour, go here and here.

 

Clafoutis

Adapted with permission from Gluten-Free Cooking for Two by Carol Fenster (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017).

Print This Recipe Print This Recipe

Clafoutis is a French dessert that can use any type of flour, thus making it ideal for gluten-free diets. It is simple, delicious, always turns out right no matter how it looks, and lends itself to many variations. Bing cherries are featured here, but I have used figs, apricots, peaches, pears, and nectarines. I used plantain flour but you can use your flavor single flour. It can be served hot or cold, but I prefer it hot—with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream. I like to bake it while we eat dinner, so we can enjoy its enticing aroma during dinner and enjoy it fresh from the oven.

1/2         cup Bing cherries, drained

1              large egg, room temperature

2              tablespoons milk of choice (the richer the better), room temperature

1              tablespoon canola oil

1              teaspoon pure vanilla extract or almond extract

2 1/2      tablespoons sugar, plus 2 teaspoons for sprinkling (or your favorite sweetener)

2              tablespoons plantain flour (or your favorite flour such as amaranth, millet, sorghum, or teff flour)

1/16       teaspoon salt

2              teaspoons sliced almonds, for garnish

1              tablespoon powdered sugar, for dusting

[1] Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Generously grease two 3 ½ x1 ¾ -inch (4-ounce) ramekins.

[2] Arrange cherries in a single layer in each ramekin.

[3] In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, oil, and vanilla until very smooth.  Then gradually whisk in 2 ½ tablespoons of the sugar, flour, and salt until very smooth. Divide the batter between the ramekins, sprinkle with almonds, and sprinkle with the remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar.

[4] Bake until the tops are puffy and the almonds are golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and dust with powdered sugar. Serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings:

Per serving:   270calories; 5g protein; 11g total fat; 2g fiber; 39g carbohydrates; 94mg cholesterol; 146mg sodium

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