05 July 2020

Cherry Cherry Cherry

The first time I ever encountered a clafoutis was in 8th grade. My friend Debbie and I made two dishes for an 8th grade French class cooking competition - an apple clafoutis, and an onion soup, both from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. We made the onion soup at my house, and the clafoutis at hers - but I had to have my mother supply the rum because her house was a dry house. We also began with a spectacular fail: the pie plate exploded. The recipe called for a portion of the batter to be poured into a glass pie plate and baked in the oven for a few minutes to set it up, so the fruit wouldn't sink to the very bottom of the pan. We thought we'd be clever and set up the batter on the stovetop. Um, yeah - that pie plate got hot, shattered into pieces, and shot across the kitchen. 

 Funnily enough, I have only ever made apple clafoutis - never cherry, though cherry is allegedly the ur-clafoutis. It may be because all the cherry clafoutis recipes I ever see call for sweet cherries - and if you've ever had a cherry pie made from sweet cherries you know that they are curiously insipid baked. 

 This, right now, is sour cherry season - a fleeting moment to seize upon - and yesterday our farmer's market was open and bustling. I brought home a quart of sour cherries, thinking I'd make a pie. But something set me looking in a different direction, and happily a sour cherry clafoutis recipe popped up. Of course, I adapted it; I am pretty incapable of following a recipe to a T. The result was delightful. 

[Rabbit hole: Wander around the house wondering what happened to my copy of The Auberge Of The Flowering Hearth. Light upon the 1984 Larousse gastronomique and look up clafoutis: "a dessert from the Limousin region of France, consisting of black cherries arranged in a buttered dish and covered with fairly thick pancake batter." Dive deeper, into the 1961 first American edition of the Larousse gastronomique: "Clafouti: A homely preparation in Limousin, this is a kind of fruit pastry or thick fruit pancake, made usually with black cherries." Wonder idly why the earlier Larousse doesn't use the final S on clafoutis, but the later one does. Feel both ridiculous and smug for owning two different editions of the Larousse. Google cherry clafoutis. Find excellent discursive piece on the Guardian website: "A particular speciality of the Limousin region, where it's traditionally made with the local griottes, or sour morello cherries..." Pat self on back for thinking that sour cherries would make a good clafoutis.]

Sour Cherry Clafoutis (adapted from Beekman 1802)


1 T.  butter
1 qt. sour cherries, pitted
3 large eggs
1/2 cup spelt flour (or use regular AP flour)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup Swerve (or use granulated sugar)
pinch of salt
2 T. demerara sugar
1 T. kirsch or mirabelle (cherry or plum brandy) or 1 T. vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter a 9 or 10" pie plate.

Place the cherries in the pie plate. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Add flour, milk, cream, Swerve (or sugar) and salt, and whisk together until well combined. Pour the batter over the cherries. Sprinkle the top with the demerara asugar and bake for 45 minutes, or until set. Let cool slightly on a rack and serve warm. (The clafoutis will fall as it cools.)