Apples can grow all over the world, so for this month's apple recipe contest, we might well have received a recipe from every country. But that didn't happen: instead, the entries skewed French.
Our runner-up took inspiration from the classic tarte tatin, and the winning dish was as French as can be: apple clafoutis. Since it's French, we Americans are apt to consider it fancy, but the truth is this is a peasant dish, made of pantry staples and in-season fruit. (And to get really technical, since it's not made with cherries, it's called a flaugnarde.)
The flavor is very similar to that of a pancake; you could top the clafoutis with caramel sauce to sweeten it up a bit, but it's not necessary. We recommend greasing your cooking dish very, very well if you're planning on serving it whole. But you might end up just shoving it directly from pan to face. We sure did.
Our thanks, and congratulations, to Clio Tegel of Los Angeles for sending us this winning recipe! Your gift basket is on its way to you.
2 lbs Braeburn apples (about 5)
1/2 cup superfine sugar (regular sugar will work, too)
1 1/4 cup milk
1 tbs confectioners sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp heavy cream
1 oz butter
2 tsps Calvados (We used orange brandy)
Peel and core the apples and slice into roughly half-inch thick slices.** Place in a greased oven-proof dish. (A pie dish works perfectly; you don't want the dish too deep or it takes a lot longer to cook and becomes a bit too cake-y.)
Blend the flour, eggs, cream, sugar, butter, milk and Calvados for 20 seconds (use a double-bladed knife attachment in the food processor, if you have it) until thoroughly combined.
Pour the mixture over the apples and bake in oven at 400F until brown on top. (Roughly 40 minutes.)
Sprinkle the top with confectioner's sugar, and if you like pour another teaspoon of Calvados over the pie.
**Chef Ernest likes to save the peels and cores of apples to make homemade cider, vinegar, and even pectin. You can freeze what you have until you've accumulated enough for a batch.