The most popular recipe online is a five-minute chocolate cake. In an era when everything is fast and packaged, the goal is to do the maximum in the minimum amount of time. Professional cooks, amateurs and even cooks-by-necessity keep handy recipes in a drawer that don't require whipping or complicated preparation. They call for widely available ingredients, and most importantly, take little time to make and don't use lots of dishes.

Efficiency is the name of the game. In most recipes, the cake comes out too sweet, spongy and lacking clear-cut character.

So when I recalled clafouti while writing a column on Julia Child last month, I realized I had stumbled on a treasure trove of desserts for anyone in a hurry. Clafouti is somewhere between an apple pancake and French flan. It takes less than five minutes to make and honorably stands up to the test of sweet French delights. Another rarity: It's popular both with children and adults.

Clafouti is made from a relatively thin batter of eggs, milk, sugar and flour. It's easy to digest and a good end to a late-summer meal. It's fat free (except for the chocolate recipe, which has a little ) and can utilize the wide array of late-summer fruits: figs, pears, plums, nectarines, peaches, grapes and red fruit.

Generally the fruit is marinated in alcohol and sugar before baking. The alcohol in the recipe may meet your taste or whatever you have in the house: white wine, Champagne, Grand Marnier, Port, Amaretto, kirsch, cognac or arak. The classic French version, which originated in the Limousin region, uses unpitted black cherries that are soaked in cherry liqueur. The French insist the cherry pits enrich the flan's taste during baking.

Clafouti means "filled delight," a name that describes the gaps between the fruit that fill up with batter. Traditional clafouti is baked in a well-greased round shallow pan, a frying pan or individual clay ramekins that can be served directly to the table. It's served hot with whipped cream or powdered sugar sprinkled on top. Anyone not big on formality can enjoy hot clafouti placed in the center of the table - each guest can grab a spoon and eat straight from the pan.

Fig clafouti in silan and Marsala

Ingredients (6 servings ):

12 ripe figs

For the marinade:

1/3 cup Marsala or Port

3 tablespoons silan

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

 

For the batter:

1 cup milk

1/4 cup (50 grams ) sugar

3 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup (70 grams ) sifted flour

3 cups sifted ground almonds

1 tablespoon butter to grease the frying pan

Preparation:

Place the figs in a medium bowl, pour the marinade over them, mix and let stand for one hour, stirring periodically. Strain and set aside the liquid. Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Put the batter ingredients in a blender and add the liquid from the soaked figs. Blend on high speed for 30 seconds (up to this point you can prepare in advance and keep refrigerated). Alternatively, you can lightly beat the ingredients in a big bowl with a hand-held beater.

Generously grease an oven-safe frying pan or individual clay ramekins. Arrange the figs evenly spaced, pour the batter around them and bake for one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and eat hot (the clafouti will fall a bit as it cools ).