Flognarde aux Pommes et Figues
(Flognarde with Apples and Figs)
Flognarde (pronounced “flon-YARD”) may have a peculiar name, but it’s a delightful, versatile dish, appropriate for either dessert or brunch; a fluffy, fruit-filled, half-pancake, half-custard metamorphosis of deliciousness. And it just so happens that late summer is an excellent time to take advantage of some of the more exotic fruits available. For this flognarde, I chose to pair tart Pink Pearl apples with three varieties of figs of varying sweetness.
Pink Pearl is an apple cultivar developed in 1944 by Albert Etter, a northern California breeder. Pink Pearl apples are named for their bright, pink flesh. They have a translucent yellow-green skin and an aromatic flesh with a delicious sweet-tart flavor.
Figs, as we know the fruit, is actually called the infructescence, which is basically the flower of the plant. These “flowers” with their delicate skin, floral sweetness and luscious texture are worlds away from dried figs and should be savored like the special fruits they are. (After all, they were thought to be food of the gods.)
Fills one 8″ pie pan
3 extra-large eggs
1/3 cup of sugar
1 cup milk or heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla
Zest of 2 lemons
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unbleached flour
Pinch of kosher salt
3 peeled and sectioned apples of your choice + 10 de-stemmed and halved figs (this is an estimate, use enough fruit to generously fill the bottom of your pan)
butter, sugar, cinnamon to coat the bottom of the baking dish
Optional garnish: Confectioner’s sugar, fresh whipped cream
Preheat oven to 400F.
Combine the eggs, sugar, flour, cream, milk, vanilla and lemon zest in a blender and blend until glossy and thick but not overworked, about 30 seconds. Set the blender aside at room temperature while you peel and section the apples and de-stem and halve the figs.
To prepare the baking dish: butter the bottom and sides of the pan; and then pour a small handful of sugar into the pan, rolling it around until all the buttered surface area is well coated with sugar. Tap out and dispose of any sugar that does not bind to the coating. Lastly, add a light dusting of cinnamon. This process helps create a caramelized sugar crust underneath the flognarde.
Once the batter is rested, the fruit prepared and the baking dish readied, it’s time to put it all together! Arrange the apple sections and fig halves in the bottom of the pie pan. Pack them in well, but be careful not to scrape off the butter/sugar/cinnamon coating. Once the pan is filled, pour the batter over the fruit. It’s just fine if a few pieces peek through to the top, uncoated – don’t worry, no need to stir.
Place the baking dish into the oven for 40 minutes. What you’re looking for is for the flognarde to puff up, get toasty brown and glazed on the edges while firm and golden in the middle. Don’t worry if it takes longer – it may take an extra 10-20 minutes. Just remember, the more cooked, the more caramelized and cake-like, the less cooked, the more custardy.
After removing from the oven, you can dust with powdered sugar if desired or serve with a dollop of freshly whipped cream. Best served warm.
This dish gains its brilliance from the interplay between the many layers of flavor and texture – the sweet and tangy fruit in between the sticky caramel “crust” and the silky, brilliant, lemon-tinged custard. Best of all, this dish works with almost any kind of fruit – try it with pears, berries, bananas and every type of stone-fruit you can think of.
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