I remember that my mom would make this on special occasions when I was little. I would always get so excited when I saw it resting in the kitchen. I couldn't wait to eat some! I was fascinated by the rows of pears, totally mystified by how she got them to look so pretty. Now I know that the trick is a very sharp knife, a "trick" that is useful in just about every activity that involves knives.
I asked her for the recipe on an impluse; it was something I hadn't thought about for years. I believe that it is originally from Jacques Pepin, published in a magazine called the Pleasures of Cooking, which had myriad food processor recipes. I think that it may have been published by Cuisinart, which explains this. Every edition had tons of recipes and useful advice on everything from assembling terrines to baking brioche. I quite like looking through the stack of old issues at my parent's house.
The pear clafoutis tastes like a cross between a custard and a dutch baby pancake - light but custardy. The texture really compliments the pear, as the whole thing is soft and slightly chewy, neither crispy nor mushy at all. Just how I remembered it.
4 ripe pears, preferably bartlett
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk ( I used skim)
Preheat oven to 425F.
Peel pears. Slice in half and remove cores and stems. Slice crosswise every 1/4-1/8 inch and fan around a 10 inch round baking dish, stem ends facing into the center. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp sugar.
In a food processor, blend all remaining ingredients until smooth, about 10 seconds. Pour mixture on top of pears.
Bake for 15 minutes at 425F. Turn oven down to 350F and bake an additional 20-25 minutes, until clafoutis is golden brown and a tester comes out clean.
The clafoutis will fall a little bit as it cools. I'm sure that this could easily be whisked together by hand. Serve it warm with a drizzle of butterscotch or caramel topping.
Leftovers can be chilled and eaten for breakfast.