French country cooking is really the most simple form of cooking there is, even though words like Clafoutis make it sound fancy. A Cherry Clafoutis is one of the most typical French farmhouse desserts, and you can make it in a snap! So put on your best French accent, wipe some flour on your face to make it look like you’ve put in a lot of effort to make this “fancy French dessert.”
Some of the best recipes are celebrations of simple ingredients. In this case, there are only five main ingredients for a Cherry Clafoutis: flour, eggs, sugar, milk, and (of course) cherries. In fact, the verb “clafir” means “to fill.” So a Cherry Clafoutis is a cake filled with cherries (and now you’ll always remember the name!) Of course, the cherries are interchangeable with other stone fruit, but cherries represent the true French classic. By all means, when plums, apricots, and peaches are in season try those as a substitution. Remember, this dessert is going to be no better than the quality of ingredients that you’ve put into it. Use the fruit that is optimal! That’s a tenet of simple French country cooking.
At Hipcooks, we “cheat” a little to make this dessert when cherries are not in season (say, for Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day, hint hint). These days, you will easily find frozen pitted cherries at the grocery, and they’re frozen at the height of ripeness. Thaw frozen cherries (or another stonefruit) in a colander over a bowl to drain the excess juices. (Incorporate the juice into your next smoothie or make a cherry soda — a reward for the chef!)
We love a Clafoutis so much, we’ve also tinkered with making a gluten-free version by replacing almond meal for the flour. It’s more nutrient-dense and has a lovely flavor, despite changing the consistency of the classic. Here’s our version of a gluten-free Fig Clafoutis.
When a simple dessert is as delicious as this one, don’t worry about pomp and circumstance. It needs no decoration or adornment. A simple no-fuss dusting of powdered sugar is fancy enough. Enjoy it warm from the oven or cold the next day. For breakfast or brunch, or as a dessert on a Sunday eve. Just don’t forget that little dusting of flour on your cheek, so people will think you’ve made a big effort. Place it on the table with a simple flourish: Et voilà … bon appétit!
½ cup sugar
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon almond extract or vanilla bean paste
other optional flavorings, depending on your cherries: a scrape of lemon zest, a little drizzle of amaretto, a sprinkling of cinnamon and clove
1 cup milk
¾ cup flour, plus a little extra for dusting
2 cups pitted cherries (if you're using frozen, thaw in a colander over a bowl to catch the juices)
1 tablespoon butter
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Using a simple kitchen whisk, beat the eggs and sugar together until they lighten in color and become slightly more voluminous. Add a pinch of salt and either the almond or vanilla extract.
Mix in the milk slowly as you continue to whisk. Place the flour in a sifter and sprinkle it into the batter and energetically mix.
Prepare your pie dish or ramekins by generously covering the surface with butter. Don't be shy and use it all! Dust with flour. Lay the strained cherries onto the bottom of the dish, fill with the egg mixture, and pop it in the oven.
Bake for about 35 minutes, until set and just catching golden color. Cool the dessert a few minutes before serving (or serve cold), with a dusting of powdered sugar.
you'll also need a 9-inch (or so) pie dish or six small ramekins or vessels (about 4 ounces in size, but who's measuring?)