I can totally understand that some of you may back down over turning on the oven in this current scorching weather, even the most gallant adepts. But no doubt the prospect of enjoying such a beauty as this cherry clafoutis, a traditional French recipe from the Limousin region, is worthy of being taken seriously into account.
You may or you may not join the club, but cherries won’t be in season forever. I must admit that I have a thing for cherries. I just love them through and through for as long as I can remember. As a little girl back home there were one or two bowls full to the rim with cherries always ready to be eaten by the handful. Just from the very first day they hit the shelves to the very last. I still remember how I used eat my fill and pig out on those ravishing, juicy cherries until I got sick (Alas! those were the days…).
So now, buying cherries during the summer season is my daily routine. Aren’t they just a true, plain, genuine pleasure? Whether you have them raw or as part of a dessert they are always a sure hit.
So, if you finally make up your mind and make this clafoutis, you will see that it is a really and truly easy task. Its texture reminds of a flan more than that characteristic of any tart; it is just a simple yet marvellous eggy filling, no crusts of any kind, no leavening agents, only a few pantry staples: flour, milk, sugar and eggs basically. And fruit. Our beautiful cherries are par excellence the ones chosen to name this very tart. In fact, ‘clafoutis’ mean precisely that, ‘cherry tart’, so there’s no actual need to say ‘cherry clafoutis’ when referring to this dessert. Moreover, we can find quite an array of other varieties, such as plums, apricots, apples, figs, etc. However, in these cases we should use the terms ‘flognarde’ or ‘flaugnarde’ instead.
Traditionally, cherries are left unpitted as their pits, when cooked, are in fact the ones responsible for that characteristic subtly nutty flavour. As this was my first clafoutis, I really wanted to taste the real thing, so I decided to follow the established canons to the letter. But if you don’t feel like to take all the trouble to spit them out while eating your tart, you can still make things more exciting by adding a couple of ground almond tablespoons to the flour or increasing slightly the amount of almond extract (please bear in mind that a little goes a long way).
Well, this is certainly the last paragraph before the blog summer pause. I’m counting on your being there on my return with new and fresh baking spirits. So I really hope you give this dreamy French cherry tart a try before it’s too late! Enjoy your summer and see you in September!
Stoneware fluted flan dish by Le Creuset used in this recipe from Claudia & Julia
- 17 ½ oz (500 g) unpitted fresh cherries
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons (75 g) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) Kirsch (optional)
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (20 g) unsalted butter, melted (plus extra butter for greasing the pan)
- 2 tablespoons (25 g) Demerara sugar (plus extra sugar for dusting)
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons (50 g) all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 medium eggs, beaten
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (270 ml) whole milk
- Zest of ½ lemon, grated
- 3 drops almond extract (optional)
- Wash the cherries, remove the stalk but leave them unpitted. Lightly crush the cherries making sure they remain whole and keep their shape.
- Place the fruit in a large mixing bowl, add 2 tablepoons of the granulated sugar and the Kirsch (if using), toss together, cover with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours so that the fruit absorbs the sugar (and alcohol).
- Place the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven (electric) to 180ºC (350ºF).
- Using a pastry brush, grease a 9 ½-inch round ceramic fluted tart pan (no removable bottom required as the batter is pretty runny), sprinkle with the Demerara sugar so that it covers the whole surface and sides. Set aside.
- In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the remaining granulated sugar (¼ cup), milk, melted butter, and salt and mix until smooth.
- Sift flour over the egg mixture and fold it in until you get a free-lump batter.
- Finally, add almond extract (if using) and lemon zest and mix until combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and add the cherries, making sure that the fruit is evenly distributed in a single layer without overlapping.
- Bake for about 35 or until set but still slightly wobbly in the centre.
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle with some more Demerara sugar. Let it cool in the pan on a cooling rack for at least 15-20 minutes before slicing. Serve preferably warm or at room temperature.
There’s nothing quite like a fresh baked clafoutis, but you can keep it covered in the fridge for a further 2-3 days.
- You can also pit the cherries if you don’t feel like spitting out the bones while eating it later. In case you leave them unpitted, do remember to previously warn your guests lest you start getting unexpected dental bills 😉
- Instead of Kirsch, you can also use other liquors such as brandy, rum, sweet wine, Grand Marnier, Amaretto, etc.
- You can spare the tart pan and use your skillet instead. The outcome is simply amazing.
Recipe adapted from The Guardian