Little-known fact: I had a brief stint as an au pair in a tiny village west of Paris when I was 18. However, it only took me about two weeks to realize that I’m not cut out for the countryside or crying children. The only upside to country living? A backyard full of cherry trees and an introduction to fresh French cooking.
One thing that I fell in love with was clafoutis, a baked dessert with cherries covered with a thick, pancake-like batter. When cherries started appearing at market this year, clafoutis was the first thing on my mind. My host mom lent me a well-worn cookbook of French classics, and after reading the recipe about 34 times to make sure I understood all the nuances, I baked my first clafoutis.
What it lacks in presentation, it makes up for in taste. I should have used a smaller pan, so that the batter almost covered the cherries, and I should have arranged the cherries a bit more artfully. However, my first attempt just leaves plenty of room for improvement. It tasted absolutely delicious–so much so that I devoured the entire thing in under 24 hours. Since it’s all fresh, pure ingredients, I don’t even feel guilty.
What you need:
1/3 cup sugar (80 grams)
1/3 cup flour (80 grams)
1 pound cherries
1/3 cup milk
1 shot of kirsch (optional)
What to do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and remove stems from cherries–but not the pits. (A traditional clafoutis leaves the pits in the cherries because they release a wonderful flavor as they’re cooked.) Heat milk to a boil. Mix eggs, adding sugar and then flour. Add the boiling milk little by little while stirring to obtain a cream. (Note: you may not need all the milk, or you might need a little more. It should have the consistency of a light cake batter) Add a bit of kirsch if you have any. It will certainly bring out the cherry flavor, but it isn’t necessary.
Spray an oven-proof dish with non-stick cooking spray. Place cherries in the dish. Sprinkle with sugar before pouring the egg mixture over the cherries. Put in oven for 30 to 40 minutes. A few minutes before you take it out of the oven, sprinkle with sugar.
Don’t serve straight away. Let the clafoutis cool for a few hours before serving at room temperature.