Take one look at most food bloggers’ Instagram feeds, and you’ll find photographed baskets of fresh strawberries. It’s that time of the year when strawberries are big, red, and perfectly sweet; there’s none of those white, tasteless strawberry knock-offs you find sitting unloved at the supermarket. While I have yet to photograph my own farmer’s market bunch, that doesn’t mean I’m not buying them. In fact, for the past month, they’ve been a must-have on my weekly grocery list. In the everyday sense, I love eating them with my morning yogurt or as a side to some scrambled eggs and toast. When I’m looking to use them in a dessert, I’ll either do a berry pie or galette, as I’ve already told you guys how much I love pie crust. To mix things up, I decided to make this strawberry flaugnarde (pronounced flow-nyard), a traditional French dessert from the southwest of France.
While flaugnarde can be made with a variety of fruits, the base of the dessert is always the same: a custard batter. Now, if you’ve ever made or seen clafoutis, you’ll probably be thinking these two look like they’re the same thing, and you’re pretty much right. The only main difference is that clafoutis has been known to be made with sweet, black cherries according to French tradition. While many of us have put our own twist on clafoutis, that doesn’t change the fact that the French consider clafoutis to be of only one variety. Flaugnarde, however, can be made with peaches, plums, apples, pears, berries, etc. The reason I love flaugnarde is because, to me, it’s perfectly simple and beautiful in that French countryside sort of way.
Personally, I love this type of cuisine. While I say that I am an avid fan of French cuisine, what I really mean is that I am an avid fan of cuisine from the south of France. My best friend, who lives in Paris, often takes trips out to the country to visit her boyfriend’s family. She often describes the amazing foods that his mom will make, all from scratch. Whether they’re simple foods like mayonnaise, or more elaborate items like brioche, this mom makes everything by hand, without fancy tools, from start to finish. The foods are rustic and simple, ingredients fresh and genuine, and yet the dishes are completely impressive all the same. This is what I call the art of cuisine, and this flaugnarde is a wonderful example of that. Flaugnarde is so incredibly easy to make. Simply place your preferred fruit at the bottom of a tart pan, loaf pan, or pie pan (your choice); then, whisk the rest of the ingredients in a bowl (eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla), and pour this batter over the fruit. While it bakes, the edges of the flaugnarde will really puff up, similar to a dutch baby pancake, and then quickly deflate once it’s out of the oven. The custard thickens into a sort of flan/bread-pudding consistency, and becomes absolutely irresistible. I sliced the flaugnarde into individual slices, but I honestly couldn’t stop at just one piece.
- 1 c strawberries, stems removed and quartered
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 c granulated sugar
- 1/2 c whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 c all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp lemon zest
- 1/8 tsp kosher salt
- powdered sugar for dusting on top
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a small tart pan or a 9-inch loaf pan well.
- Arrange quartered strawberries on the bottom of the pan, very slightly spacing them out from each other.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together until pale and foamy. Add the whole milk, vanilla extract, all-purpose flour, lemon zest, and salt. Whisk to combine and create a smooth batter.
- Pour the batter over the berries in the pan, and bake the flaugnarde for approximately 30 minutes. Top should be golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean or with just a few crumbs.
- Let the flaugnarde rest in the pan for at least 15 minutes before removing. To remove, gently lift both ends of the flaugnarde and transfer to serving plate; otherwise, you can serve in the pan. Dust with powdered sugar and, optionally, enjoy with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream.