Here’s a recipe for an apple clafoutis sweetened with maple syrup and spiced with a little freshly grated nutmeg. If you want to skip straight to the apple clafoutis recipe, click here.
The change in the season has made me restless. I want to press pause, just for a week or two. I want to catch my breath and I want to make big changes. Unfortunately, who has the luxury of time? I feel very distracted by it all lately.
I finally started reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and instead of making me feel better, it’s just compounded my feelings. I desperately need to do a major purge because, after 8 years of occupying the same space and accumulating “stuff”, well, there’s a lot to sort through. And my desire to really go through my things and make decisions is one of the reasons why I want to press pause, just for a week: I need to properly sort through my entire apartment and deal with everything I have
hoarded gathered over the years and make serious decisions. I feel like my entire apartment is full of things that aren’t really me anymore. There are things that would fit the person I thought I wanted to be, and there are remnants of previous careers and so many years of academia. I seem to own a lot of things that I think I have an emotional attachment but that are actually objects that I’ve lacked the courage to part with for whatever reason. My home is filled with items that I thought would bring me joy, but really, I think it’s more the act of purchasing them that made me happy (I know, I know, that’s quite materialistic of me, and I’m rather embarrassed to be admitting this!). Looking around my apartment, it’s become very apparent that I have a hard time letting go and that most of my stuff isn’t really me. I want to regain control of my space and I want it to better represent who I am today, not who I was 8 years ago.
There are corners of my apartment that are filled with things I filed away because I didn’t know how to properly deal with them. And it’s not that if you walk into my apartment, you are going to see piles of crap, but… I am haunted by what’s hidden in drawers, tucked away among the bookshelves, in binders and bins, behind closet doors shut tight… even if you can’t see it and I can’t either, I feel the weight of what’s hidden behind it all, the things I haven’t dealt with and the things I’ve put off “’til later.”
So, the feeling progressed. It started last year (or was it the year before?). I declared I wanted to throw everything outside. I wanted to make a giant pile of all this”stuff,” and I longed to set it all on fire so that I could walk away easily without dealing with it anymore. I joked, but deep down, I was being very serious. I feel like I am struggling to carry a mountain of things that aren’t helping me. In fact, I feel like all those “things” are making it harder and harder for me to work efficiently, but also, that baggage prevents me from truly enjoying the space I have. I open a drawer to get a knife, and then I glance at all the other things in the drawer, and I feel like I can’t breathe. There’s order in the chaos, thankfully. I have a system. But there are also layers that are hindering the system, obscuring the contents, and I find today that I have a hard time reaching for what I want because all I see is these other things that I have no time to deal with.
Last week, I realized there would never be enough time. so I paused for a morning. I took photos of a bunch of stuff, and then I shoved the photographed items into the trunk of my car. I uploaded the photos onto kijiji and I made a decision. If I can’t sell them, they are going straight to the Salvation Army. Some of the stuff is professional equipment that would be more appropriate for a small food business (remember when I thought I was opening that nameless bakery 3 years ago?), and it breaks my heart to think of the expenses I made that might never be recouped. Still, I can’t carry around these things forever! It’s like I’m staring at all the little little hopes and dreams I had that fell apart, the careers that never took off, the projects that failed. And of course, not everything was a complete disaster, and a few morphed into something unexpected. The end result is still the same: I’m carrying around a significant amount of baggage that needs to be dealt with once and for all. I want to move forward. I need to deal with all my crap.
Most days, I feel like I need to move, whether it’s the cold weather or the feeling that I don’t have enough space. Of course, I can’t move until I’ve dealt with all the stuff, the baggage, the skeletons in my closet. And maybe, if I finally properly deal with it all, I might find that I am happy where I am.
I called these clafoutis, but actually, they are flognardes: basically, I shouldn’t call these clafoutis because I used apples, not cherries. So, to be “correct”, these are flognardes. I used sliced apples for this dessert because I love baking with apples (and pears), but in retrospect, I think it would have been better to use diced apple (easier to cut through with a spoon when you sit down to eat them!), and then you can still top each ramekin with a slice of apple to pretty them up if you want. Anyways, you end up with ramekins of batter that puff up like crazy in the oven, like a Dutch baby, and then they settle down as they cool, which is quite apparent in my pictures. These are great on a crisp fall day. Easy to make, and absolute comfort food for when you are going through a life crisis. I’d say it’s probably better to channel your efforts into making dessert, instead of setting the contents of your apartment on fire.
Maple apple clafoutis
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter to grease ramekins
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar for the ramekins
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 small apples, keeping 5 slices to decorate tops, the rest diced approx. 350 grams
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 313 mL whole milk 1 1/4 cups
- 3 large eggs
- 4 tbsp granulated sugar 30 grams
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 83 grams all-purpose flour 2/3 cup
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- Maple syrup to glaze
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Grease 5 ramekins with the tablespoon of butter and then coat with granulated sugar with a tablespoon of granulated sugar (use more if needed).
- Heat a large skillet. Melt the butter then add the apple and cook until soft. Add the 2 tbsp maple syrup and toss delicately to coat. Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the milk, eggs, 4 tbsp granulated sugar, 2 tbsp maple syrup, and the flour. Pour through a fine mesh sieve to work out any lumps, then whisk in the freshly grated nutmeg.
- Divide the cooked diced apples between the 5 ramekins, then pour the batter over top. Top each with a slice of cooked apple.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, until they are puffed and set.
- Let cool slightly before serving. You can brush the tops with a little extra maple syrup and sprinkle with a little more nutmeg before serving.
Janice Lawandi is chemist-turned-baker, working as a recipe developer in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She studied pastry at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa and cooking at l’Académie Culinaire. She has a BSc in Biochemistry from Concordia University and a PhD in Chemistry from McGill University. Visit janicelawandi.com to see my portfolio.