A classic French dessert from the Limousin region of France: Cherry Clafoutis done well - full of juicy, sweet black cherries, topped with a light custard, and cooked so it retains just a little wobble, is... well, heavenly. I'll never forget my first clafoutis; a gift from the chef in a little restaurant on a trip interstate; it was love at first bite and I was determined to make one as soon as we returned home. I quickly found there are hundreds, thousands even, of recipes for this dessert around, and I'll admit to baking more than my share utter disappointments - everything ranging from heavy and stodgy, to runny and tasteless...
Fast forward several years and I am so glad I persevered - a large box of the most beautiful, juicy, Tasmanian black cherries arrived on our doorstep today and instantly I knew just what to do with them!
This is the perfect dessert to serve guests - it's ridiculously easy, completely delicious, and everything can be prepared in advance, so that all you need do is pour a batter over some cherries, bake and serve.
Limousin (Cherry) Clafoutis
600g sweet black cherries
3 tablespoons kirsch or amaretto
70g caster sugar
30g unsalted butter, melted
270ml whole milk
2 free-range, organic eggs
50g plain flour
2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
pinch of sea salt
Wash the cherries, place them in a medium bowl and give them a gentle bash with the end of a rolling pin to break their skins a little. Add kirsch or amaretto and stir through caster sugar. Cover and set aside for 2-3 hours.
Preheat oven to 170C and using a pastry brush, grease a 25-28cm oven-proof tart dish or cast iron skillet with a little of the melted butter.
Mix together remaining butter with milk and eggs. Whisk flour, soft brown sugar, lemon zest and salt in a bowl and gradually beat in the milk mixture till smooth. You could also use a stick blender for this, but I haven't found it necessary.
Tip the cherries and their juices into the prepared dish and pour over the batter.
Bake in the top half of the oven for about 35-40 minutes, until just set and light brown around the edges, but retaining a little wobble in the centre. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, dust liberally with icing sugar, and serve warm with crème fraiche or vanilla ice cream if you wish (I prefer without).
C(h)ook's notes -
- To pit or not to pit? Traditionally, the cherries are not pitted (yes!) - they will impart the most beautiful bitter almond-like flavour, but it's a bit fiddly for your guests and could even result in a trip to the dentist. I'm leaving this completely up to you!
- Substitute mixed berries, apples, pears or other in season stone fruit, or...
- For cherry clafoutis out of season - weigh and wash cherries (pit if desired), and freeze in a single layer on tray/s lined with greaseproof paper. Once frozen pop them into zip-lock bags and label - they should keep for about six months;
- If you're serving the clafoutis at a dinner party you can make the batter 1-2 days in advance. Soak the fruit a couple of hours before your guests arrive and you'll have very little left to do once your guests arrive;
- You can also reheat the clafoutis - cover with foil and warm in a hot (200C) oven for about 10-15 minutes.