Around this time of year, it’s the strawberries that are the ‘it’ fruit. When June rolls around, bang! It’s time to break out the hulls, pectin, fifty pounds of sugar and sterilized jars. I, however, chose to make work of the bag cherries that I got over the weekend, and not through jam making… Though I may just try it one of these days.
I scanned the internet, and then turned to some cookbooks to find a recipe for involving cherries. My answer was found in the Cherry Clafoutis! I’d read about it before in a few cookbooks, seen some lovely pictures with the cherries glistening like gems in the golden batter, but never considered making it. It looked easy enough to put together, so why not? I chose to use the Joy of Cooking recipe, figuring it couldn’t go wrong. By the end, however, I learned a few things.
To pit the cherries, I read somewhere on the net to use an unfolded paper clip in the shape of an ‘s’, where you jab the top of the cherry and dig out the pit with it. It wasn’t terribly difficult (ok, it sort of was), but I couldn’t do it without gutting the cherry and getting dark red juice on my fingers. I was beginning to remind myself of a ghost story I read when I was younger. (It would probably turn you off from this recipe if I mentioned it here, I will save it for another time. Preferably Halloween.)
After a while, I gave up and carefully carved out the pits with a small knife (nearly mess free), and half an hour later, I was finished! Now to work on the other half of the recipe. It was easy to just mix the eggs, milk, vanilla, sugar, (no rum, unfortunately), salt and flour together til it was a batter (hand mixer works best to remove lumps), and just pour it over the cherries spread out in a buttered pie dish. I took a cue from a different clafoutis recipe and added a 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, which was a nice touch.
After baking at 375 for 10 minutes, then lowering the temp to 350 and baking for 35 minutes, it was done. It looked… Perfect! Like in the pictures, only real, and the kitchen smelled like nothing else I’ve baked. But when I took a closer look, the center wasn’t looking more pale than it’s golden crust. I wondered, uh oh, did I under bake it? I timed it according to the cookbook… Hmm.
Unsure, I popped it back in the oven for another ten minutes. Sort of more golden than before, but not much. That was when I turned to the internet about it, and Jamie Oliver answered my question. He said,
“It will rise and should be firm around the edges but sticky and gooey in the middle. This doesn’t mean it’s undercooked . . . it means it’s perfect! So be careful not to overcook it or it will just be like a boring sponge.”
Aha! I understood. I had expected the clafoutis to be more cake-like in consistency, but it’s really more like a custard. It still tasted delicious in the end, but it was slightly over baked. Oh well! I know now for next time. And I was still very impressed by how beautiful it looked.
Adapted from Joy of Cooking:
- Butter for greasing the pan
- 1 lb. cherries, pitted or not (frozen cherries, thawed and patted dry. Canned cherries can also be used)
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- 1 cup of whole milk
- 1 Tbsp. cognac or rum
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon (my addition)
- 3/4 cup unbleached flour
- Pinch of salt
- Icing sugar for dusting over
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 10-inch deep-dish pie pan (see Note). Distribute the cherries over the bottom of the pan.
- Beat the eggs and sugar until frothy, about 2 minutes. And the milk, alcohol, and vanilla, and beat until smooth. Stir in the flour and salt. Pour the batter over the cherries and place the pie pan on a baking sheet.
- Bake the clafouti for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake until the top has puffed (it will sink on cooling) and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes more. Transfer to a rack and cool for about 20 minutes.
- Dust with the powdered sugar, if using, and serve sliced into wedges.