Cherry Clafoutis

I’m often one to scoff at the idea of clafoutis, a rustic French pudding like cake from the Limousin region, especially when found on the menus of restaurants I perceive to be, well, fancy. It just seems so dressed down and simple. Fruit covered in what amounts to pancake batter? Blah. I was shocked to find it on the menu at Stella! last week next to a decadent grilled cheese sandwich of Delice de Bourgone and Chocolate Ganache. My own experience with the dessert is limited, due to underwhelming experiences in the past and my bratty refusal to try it again. I’m just not that into it.

Trying to reach past my comfort zone and my stubborn taste buds is important to me and on a recent night when dinner with friends called for a dessert, cherry clafoutis recipes kept popping up all over my Google Reader. As I’ve written in the past, cherries are one of those truly wonderful seasonal fruits, which are almost impossible to find off season. Not one to miss an opportunity, I gave in to the nagging urge to attempt another Clafoutis.

It’s a pretty hassle free dessert, with the exception of the resulting cherry red finger,s and I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. A light, custard flavored cake. Imagine a thick crepe overflowing with cherries and that is essentially what you’ve got here. The cherries are pitted and sauteed in sugar and butter which allows a lovely, thick syrup to form, informing the flavor of the custard. Usually a Clafoutis is served with creme fraiche, yogurt, or lightly whipped cream. If this sounds like too much, just give it a good dusting of confectioners sugar. Due to a combination of shear laziness and bad timing we enjoyed our Clafoutis cold, a happy mistake that really brought out the custard flavor a fact that we all rather enjoyed.

As I am not one experiment with baking, a medium I am all too uncomfortable with, I used this recipe and substituted buttermilk for whole milk.

Have I found a new love and respect for the Clafoutis? Not particularly. Is it a perfectly tasty, perfectly respectable dessert. Certainly. Try it for yourself and see what you think.

Cherry Clafoutis (serves 6-8)

1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 lb cherries, pitted
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp sugar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven.  Wash the cherries, remove the stems and pits.

In your food processor or blender place the flour, salt, eggs, 2 tablespoons (25 grams) sugar, milk, and vanilla extract.  Process for about 45 – 60 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Once the batter is completely smooth, let it rest while you prepare the fruit.

In a large 9- inch (23 cm) heavy nonstick ovenproof skillet melt the butter over medium heat making sure the melted butter coats the bottom and sides of the pan. When the butter is bubbling, add the pitted cherries, and cook until the cherries have softened a bit and are coated with butter (2 – 3 minutes). Then sprinkle the cherries with the sugar and cook until the sugar has dissolved and turns into a syrup (1 – 2 minutes). Pour the batter over the cherries and bake for about20 minutesor until the clafoutis is puffed, set, and golden brown around the edges. Do not open the oven door until the end of the baking time or it may collapse. Serve immediately with a dusting of confectioners sugar and yogurt, creme fraiche or softly whipped cream.