Cooks or Bakers

A friend described the two major yoga teaching styles currently in existence: she claimed that one was Cooking, the other Baking.

A Cooking style yoga teacher doesn’t sweat the details, adjusts her sequence on the fly, adds a pinch of this or a dash of that and creates a fabulous, organically-designed class. A Baking style yoga teacher prefers an accurate mis-en-place of poses, alignment and language, structures the class so its sequence progresses logically, and creates a fabulous, precisely-designed class. One is not better than the other; both styles have merit, and completely depend on the teacher’s personality. Take enough yoga classes, and you’ll soon figure out which teacher is a Cook, which one's a Baker, and which teaching style resonates with you as a student.

Whether I (Martine) an in kitchen, or I’m designing, teaching or taking a yoga class, I am a Baker through-and-through. Loosy-goosy descriptors like “dash” or “scant” make me peevish because I need accuracy. I find it soothing. I also like repeatable, predictable results which is why I’m a stickler for methodology. I will always follow a recipe to the letter the first time I prepare something to ensure that I’ve got a result that can be duplicated or used as a control for future experiments.

Which brings me to clafoutis, easily one of the best French summertime desserts. It is essentially a thick crêpe batter poured over whole cherries (with their pits*) and baked for an hour. The batter puffs up in the oven, then falls as it cools, surrounding the cherries with a thick, sweetened custard. The clafoutis could not be simpler to prepare, and should be eaten lukewarm or cold, preferably outdoors so that you can spit, toss and squirt the cherry pits into the neighbor’s yard.

Clafoutis aux Cerises

Serves 6-8

3 cups cherries, washed

1 1/4 cup milk

3 eggs

2/3 cup sifted all purpose flour

2/3 cup white sugar, divided

1 T rum (this will make it taste more French) or vanilla extract/paste (this will make it taste more vanilla-y, more like an American baked good)

1/8 t salt

Powdered sugar for dusting (optional, but it does really dress it up)

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.

2. Place milk, eggs, flour, 1/3 cup of sugar, rum, and salt into a blender. Blend on high for 1 minute. If you don’t have a blender, you can combine these ingredients by hand or in a mixer, then strain the batter when you’re ready so it's not too lumpy.

3. Butter a 7- to 8-cup gratin or pie dish. It should be approximately 1 1/2 inches deep.

4. Pour a 1/4 inch slip of batter into the dish, and set the dish in the oven for 1-2 minutes so that the batter firms up. This will create a stable base for the cherries.

5. Remove dish from oven. Working quickly, place the cherries on the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle them with the last 1/3 cup of sugar, then top with remaining batter. Bake for 1 hour.

6. When the clafouti is puffy and browned, and a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean, remove and let cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if that's your style.

* The cherry pits are critical! Not only do they impart an incomparable flavor, they are one of the reasons the dessert is so fun. If you don’t want pits in your clafouti, prepare it with berries or sliced fruit. Clafouti is versatile that way.