Sometimes in food, (and in life) you can have too much of a good thing. Like today. Today I just had too many peaches. Never a bad thing, really. With summer at a definite end, I find myself clinging stubbornly to the last few nectarines and apricots and peaches and plums, eating as many as humanly possible before they trickle out of the fruit store altogether, being replaced by the far less exciting winter bounty of mandarins and pears. Perhaps the appeal of stone fruit is their fleeting lifespan. Only in summer, only for a few days at a time. They are almost always underripe the day you buy them, far too firm and a little sour even. So you sit and wait and watch them in the fruit bowl day by day, willing them to soften just that little bit faster. Then BAM. Perfect ripeness. Blink and you’ll miss it. You have a window. You have a solid three day window to cram in as many nectarine-ricotta toasts and peach salads as you possibly can, in the vein home of being able to enjoy every single one in their prime. Usually this plan works out fine, everything is okay, and you can rinse off your sticky hands in the ocean and smile contently about all the good peach juice you had running down your chin this morning. But sometimes things go wrong. Very wrong. Things pop up – you meet friends out for breakfast and out for lunch and you spend long days swimming and sunbaking and being young and your peaches lay forgotten, only to be remembered three days too late – when it has entered that almost shrivelled, squishy stage of general decline. Game over. Thanks for playing.
But alas! Not so fast! Actually, I’m going to stop with this introduction now, it’s getting a little pathetic. Basically this story ends with me feeling like a hero and rescuing my forgotten stone fruit, turning it into a clafoutis, and eating it with a ginormous scoop of vanilla ice-cream.
Peach, Apricot + Ginger Clafoutis
(adapted from the clafoutis Queen herself, Julia Child)
A big bunch of overripe peaches and apricots, sliced
(I used three giant peaches and two apricots)
One and a quarter cups of whole milk
One third of a cup of sugar
A teeny pinch of salt
Two giant tablespoons of freshly grated ginger
One vanilla bean, seeds scraped
Half a cup of flour
Another third of a cup of sugar
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Whisk the flour, one third of a cup of sugar, salt, milk, grated ginger and vanilla bean seeds together. Pour a little (about a centimeter or so high) of the batter into a lightly buttered baking dish. Pop it in the oven for a brief few minutes, until there is a film over the top of the mixture. Take it out of the oven. Now spread all your fruit on the top. Make the pattern a little pretty, if you feel the need. Place the vanilla bean on top. Sprinkle over the other third of a cup of sugar. Pour over the rest of the batter. Let a little bit of the fruit peek out though, it will look prettier this way. Then back to the oven it goes. Bake for around forty minutes – maybe a little more, probably not any less – until the clafoutis is puffed up and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Enjoy outstretched on a blanket in the last few rays of strong sunlight for the year, with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream roughly the size of a tennis ball.