Design Cafe & the Plum Clafoutis

I open the cupboard that I call my “baking cupboard” and look at the chaotic way in which the baking tins are stacked up. Exasperated I leave that for another day and move onto the cupboards that I have for my children’s books, games and toys. And I started off with the sorting process in a resigned manner. Well, when you are a  parent of two small children and a home-based baker, sometimes you wonder if the things that you own are expanding in size to fill up the space !  And you rush to search for ideas on how to optimize the space you have at home. Not only does that help in storing well but also finding things just when you need them, in a faster way. 

To me it is always about exploring a new way that can save time – time that is precious and can be spent better with the children, on my assignments, on my baking? But even with the many ideas that crop up, I wondered if there was some way that I could visualize ideas that could ostensibly make my life easier? 

And I stood at the steps of the Experience Center of Design Cafe, fumbling with my shoulder bag at one end and balancing my toddler on the other arm – thinking about the woes of urban homes and why even those people like me who did not hoard excessively found it difficult! 

I found the actual response when I entered the Center – the issue lay with the design. There are so many ways to use space. Existing space. Effective usage of principles – in every aspect of your home. 

I discovered that whether it is your kitchen or living room or bedrooms – the way in which the fitments or panels are made makes a world of difference. 

I loved the small but impactful things – like a pull-out slider to incorporate even brooms, mops and kitchen cloth, or the manner in which the deep shelf behind a bookcase can be transformed into a storage unit or a bar unit. 

I enjoyed discovering the hidden drawers or sliding doors that would open up from a seemingly regular looking unit. 

I actually hesitatingly put my hand on what looked like a cabinet to mount a TV, and give it a little push. With the glee of a little child I saw a crockery display unit right behind it ! 

It made me wonder about how we underestimate the power of simple choices- everything that one has at home can find a place. Only if we know how to create those spaces. And that space did not come with breaking down the walls to create new space.It came from within our home itself. If we know how to unlock, respect and manage that space well.

When I walked through the Kitchen section of the Design Café Experience Center, I was struck by the imagination that was used in each one of the 9 kitchen models that were shared. All of them were a classic mix of elegance and utilitarianism.  For example, the skirting was actually designed to be a pull-out flat drawer in which you could put things that you weren’t using that often.

Similarly, as I reached the Living room segment which had a book shelf that my daughter had been pulling books out of, little did I realize that it had a deep cupboard behind which was so spacious. I saw 2 different types of living rooms and while personality wise they were different, the principles of optimal use of space ran through both.

Due to our focus on ensuring great interiors for the Living room or the Kitchen, a lot of us skim through the essentials like the wardrobes in the Bedrooms. However, given how critical they are for storage, I liked the emphasis that is laid on them, at Design Café. It was interesting to see how these could be used not only for keeping one’s clothes but also as a hidden TV cabinet for those who prefer to have it in their bedrooms. What I loved the most about them was the range – depending on one’s taste the wardrobes were subtle in design and colours but also opulent for those who preferred that option. They met the needs of bedrooms that exist in small modern apartments or large heritage houses.

My visit to Design Café left me with a sense of awe without overwhelming me. To a lay person who didn’t know about design principles, the simplicity of its approach resonated.  It felt me with a sense of deep satisfaction, which comes from seeing a cozy and livable home, rather than one which seems just out of a coffee table book.

And because it struck the right notes of elegance and simplicity, the recipe I have for you today is also along the same lines.

Homemade plum compote which is free of refined white sugar was put to good use in this yum and traditional Plum Clafoutis.

I love the clafoutis because it is a balance of elegance and simplicity, fruit and custard, light and filling. So one can eat it with anything like cream or even ice cream. But I prefer it as is.

It contains barley flour and raw unrefined sugar.


75 gms raw unrefined sugar

75 gms butter

300 ml milk

2 eggs

50 gms barley flour

2 tbsp ground almonds

1 cup of homemade Plum compote or any fresh berries that you like

Method –

Preheat the oven at 180 degrees C. Melt butter in a pan. Whisk the eggs and milk together. Add the melted butter and mix well until it has got incorporated.

Mix the flour, almonds and sugar in another bowl. Add the wet mixture to this dry one slowly and keep whisking. Make sure it is lump free.

Add the compote and mix it uniformly.

Pour it into a baking dish and bake at the same temperature for 35 minutes or until it is firm.

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