It wasn’t until a few summers ago that I ever considered the possibility of adding fresh cherries to anything other than my fruit bowl. While researching how to teach simple desserts with fresh orchard fruits, I stumbled upon the French clafoutis. Stubbornly, I set out to change the recipe, partly because there are so many variations on this theme and partly because I always want to push the confines of accepted standards.
My kitchen experiments of this classic beauty were acceptable but somehow not impressive.
It is no exaggeration to say that I have had this fruit-baked dessert on my mind for three summers straight. From my varied cooking struggles, I eventually learned to appreciate the simplicity and beauty of foods tested by time, therefore giving up my attempts to create change where it wasn’t needed.
The following recipe is the result of an ever so slightly personalized rendition of Julia Child’s recipe, from her inspiring volumes “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. Below my tribute and ever-so appreciated summer dessert in the shape of a cherry paradise clafoutis, which by the way is simply the French word for a cake baked with fresh fruit in a milk-based batter.
- 300 ml of whole milk of your choice (almond and oat milk work perfectly too)
- three organic eggs
- one teaspoon of vanilla extract or a pinch of fresh vanilla marrow
- one teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest
- 50 grams of raw organic sugar or honey
- 175 grams organic unbleached wheat or spelt flour
- 400 grams of freshly pitted local cherries
- a touch of powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 175 Celsius. Wash the cherries in cold water. Cut them in half and remove the pit with a paring knife. Set the cherries aside. Wash an organic lemon and grate the bright yellow outer layer with a zester.
Meanwhile cover a large tart or quiche form with a piece of fitted parchment paper. Break the eggs into a mixing bowl and pour in the milk of your choice. Add the vanilla, sugar (or honey) and lemon zest and whisk all the ingredients into a pancake-like batter. Layer the cherries on the bottom of the tart form. Pour the batter over the fruit and slide it into the oven. Bake the clafoutis until golden brown, in about 50 minutes to one hour.
Remove this gorgeous dessert from the oven and dust it with powdered sugar. Serve it warm without any further embellishment, or save it for your next breakfast.
I can imagine how delicious a bowl clafoutis can be with a sprinkling of tart red currants, which of course makes for a great visual effect. Strawberries and raspberries will definitely make for a good pair as well, but all on it’s own it is perfect.
This recipe is adapted from Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. Like many many others, I admire here life’s work and will learn indefinitely from her iconic writing.