Recipe: Cherry clafoutis
- Credit: Archant
Make full use of the first cherries of the season and try our recipe for cherry clafoutis
Recipe by Louise Pickford
One thing I love about living in France is the seasonal celebration of ingredients. The first cherries of the summer are likely to be celebrated by the baking of a cherry flan or clafoutis.
Made with a combination of sugar, cream, eggs and flour, the batter is then poured over fresh fruit – traditionally cherries – and baked until set. This classic bistro dessert can be traced back two centuries to the Limousin region of south central France. The name is derived from the verb clafir, an old-fashioned word from the Occitan language (Occitan comes from Latin and is still in use as a regional dialect) meaning ‘to fill’, and refers to the fact that once the fruit has been arranged in the dish it is then ‘filled’ with the batter. At that time, the cherries would have been left un-pitted as the stone or pit contains amygdalin, the active chemical found in almond extract. This would have helped flavour the batter during cooking. Today the cherries are more likely to be pitted and almond essence can be used.
Like most dishes, there are many regional varieties of clafoutis. It is common to find a whole range of different fruits used such as different cherries, ripe plums, apricots or even raisins although purists would argue that the resulting dish would no longer be a clafoutis, but a flaugnarde. Likewise, you may find clafoutis lined with pastry, resembling more of a tart than a flan. Some are heavier than others depending on the amount of flour used, or the texture can be more cake-like and lighter. In Limousin, it is scorned upon to call it a flan and should be referred to ‘a cake with fruit’.
I have had many a clafoutis on my travels. I find I prefer a lighter pudding and have therefore reduced the amount of flour to accommodate this. Also, I always pit the cherries when I make a clafoutis; although it is a little fiddly, I prefer not to risk one of my guests cracking a tooth on a cherry pit! To pit the cherries you can either simply cut around the pit with a small sharp knife or buy a special piece of equipment that will do this for you. It is known as either a cherry pitter or an olive pitter and is available from cookware stores or online.
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• 350g cherries, pitted
• 4 tablespoons golden sugar
• 2 tbsp kirsch
• 15g butter, softened
For the batter
• 60g self-raising flour
• 3 free range eggs, lightly beaten
• 60g caster sugar
• 200ml milk
• 100ml single cream
• seeds from 1 vanilla pod
• icing sugar, to dust
• crème fraîche, to serve
1. Place the pitted cherries in a bowl and add 3 tbsp of the sugar, along with the 2 tbsp of kirsch. Stir well and leave to infuse for 2 hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan. Place all the batter ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer to a jug and leave to sit for 20 minutes.
3. Melt the butter and dust the inside of a 20-25cm round baking dish with the remaining sugar.
4. Spoon the cherries and their juices into the dish and pour the batter over them. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until puffed up and golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool until warm. Dust with icing sugar and serve with crème fraîche
Try our recipes for 6 more classic French desserts including fondant au chocolat and crême brulée