a cherry’s greatest wish? a bed of custard, sweet warm custard ::::
Once again, ’tis the season in California. We are on the cusp of the summer fruit explosion, heralded by the first golden apricots and the exuberant cherry. And so cherry it must be that I earmarked for a seasonal fruit dessert. Enter the clafoutis.
Always inspired to make it with its sweet custardy bed and with its similarity to popovers (one of the best breakfast foods ever), I never had the chance to make clafoutis until my kitchen was overflowing with cherries. Peach and Grub have eaten fresh cherries for part of practically every meal for the last three days. The clafoutis is slightly different from dutch babies, popovers, and even flaugnardes. First, clafoutis implies that cherries are a part of the dish. Often, other fruits substitute, then it is more properly called a flaugnarde. Popovers morphed slightly from the British Yorkshire puddings, also similar to a savory, fruitless clafoutis. Dutch babies are the same as German pancakes, much like pannekoeken, and on the same spectrum as the Finnish pannukakku. Wherever they may originate, they are variations on a theme of eggs, flour, and milk.
To be more authentic in the Limousin-style of clafoutis, cherries must be whole rather than pitting them, the intact pits lending a slight almond flavor and preventing leakage of cherry juices all over the clafoutis. While I was all over lovely cherry juice running in rivulets all over its custardy golden bed, I decided to go traditional (Interpretation: “to save a lot of time by not needing to pit 2 cups of cherries because I feel lazy). I ended up with some leaky cherries anyway.
I discovered that we are a strongly supportive raw cherry family, the cooked clafoutis cherries not appealing to Peach or Grub. They gobbled up the custard but, noses-wrinkled, picked off the soft cherries and shoved them aside (Peach) or abruptly pushed them into my face to inspect (Grub).
This is a good solid recipe. It isn’t mind-blowing. It isn’t complex. It is easy to throw together. If your cherries need a little love and a French accent, this is the dish.
- 1¼ cup whole milk
- ⅓ c sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup flour
- 2 to 3 cups of cherries (I used 2 cups as mine were fairly large), pitted or not - you decide*
- powdered sugar, for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Generously butter an oven-safe round pan (mine was 10-inches in diameter) and set aside.
- Using a hand-held electric mixture or free-standing bowl mixer, mix the milk and eggs together. Mix in sugar, salt, vanilla and almond extracts.
- Adding gradually to prevent lumps (you can also sift it in), add flour and mix to combine.
- Pour in about ¼-inch high amount of batter (if dipping your finger into the pan, it's approximately the tip of your finger). Reserve the rest of the batter for a later step. Put the pan with the ¼-inch batter into the preheated oven and bake until a film forms over the top of it. This took my oven 8 minutes to accomplish.
- Place cherries gently on top of partially baked batter, spacing them randomly. Pour the remainder of the patiently-waiting batter into the pan.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until set and puffed, and a knife plunged into the center comes out clean. (It took my oven 1 hour to achieve this.)
- Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm.
- Serves 6-8 people for dessert (or a few ravenous morning people for breakfast, so long as they are awake enough to not chomp on a cherry pit if you decide to use whole cherries).