I was wandering around the produce section of my local market when I noticed some beautiful looking dark red, almost black cherries.
Seeing as cherry season is almost over and the one thing I have realized since arriving in the Dordogne a month ago is that people really buy and sell fruit and veggies in season. When the season is over, good luck finding whatever it is you are looking for. Just two days ago, I wanted asparagus and could not find any no matter where I searched. When I mentioned this to my neighbor, she smiled and simply said: “But the season is over, next year you will find more”. This can be a bit frustrating to someone who is used to walking into Whole Foods and finding almost anything, any time, but I must admit that the produce here does taste so much better. The strawberries are juicy and sweet and taste like you imagine they should taste in a perfect world, the tomatoes are so flavorful, the peaches absolutely succulent. I would rather wait a year for my next asparagus but know they will be delicious and isn’t it always better when you have to wait for something? But I digress, so back to my cherries. They were calling out to be bought and made into a clafoutis. A clafoutis is a typical French dessert. It is considered a cake but is actually more like a pudding. Firm, eggy, custardy, yummy.
It is baked in a pie pan or tart dish and served cut into wedges once it is cool. It is even delicious the next day, simply store in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before eating. Traditionally it is served simply dusted with confectioners or powdered sugar but no one will tell if you wish to serve it with cream. There is some controversy amongst chefs whether the cherries should be pitted or not. The purists will insist on using the whole cherry and they claim that the cherries retain more of their flavor and juice but then you do need to be careful to not chew on a pip and make sure to place a small pit bowl on the table for your guests to dispose of their pips or they can use their plates which is what I do. I usually remove the pips first but this time decided to try the whole cherry method. Both taste equally good to me, it is simply a matter of personal preference. This recipe can easily be adapted for other fruit. You can use blueberries and raspberries, small plums, apricots or even dried fruit – prunes soaked in liquor makes a delicious clafoutis.
Makes 6 servings
1 pound/450g sweet cherries, stemmed
3 large eggs
1/2 cup/100g sugar
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup/100g all-purpose flour
3/4 cup/180ml whole milk
1/2 cup/120ml heavy cream
confectioners’/powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F/ 180 degrees celsius
Butter a 9 inch/ 23-cm round tart dish
Place the cherries in a single layer in the tart dish
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until foamy then add the sugar and continue whisking while adding the salt and vanilla
Add the flour and whisk vigorously until smooth
Continue whisking gently as you add the milk and cream
Pour the batter over the cherries
Bake for about 45 minutes until the clafoutis is puffed and lightly golden and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean
Place the dish on a rack to allow it to cool to room temperature
Dust with sugar immediately before serving.