What do you get when you are in a mood for a custard, but also a cake? Why, a clafoutis of course!! This divine dessert is a delight, delicious, decadent and droolworthy. And quite simply a cinch to make if you're up to an afternoon of baking, but its not quite time to break out the Christmas recipes.
Thanks to a few bucketfuls of fresh Bing cherries from our friend in Terrace, I have a freezer full of cherries that are just waiting to be made into desserts through the long cold winter. Truly a taste of summer, these cherries remind me of this summer's drive back from Terrace to Edmonton. We had a bucket of cherries between the drivers and passenger seats, and our lips were stained black from snacking on them all the time. Ocasionally we'd toss a couple into the back seat where there was an eager kid just waiting to chow down on them. Ah, memories.
Fresh cherries are not something I grew up with and the cherries we got back in India were either the small, sour varieties or came in a bottle with enough sugar syrup to kill all of their character. Of course, this meant that when I did finally taste fresh cherries off the tree, I was a kid in a candy store... Aditi, Kay and I spent more time at that tree in Terrace than with the in-laws :-)
My favourite recipe for cherry clafoutis is one from Raymond Blanc, God of all French Cooking (and Gallic good looks, of course!) This particular version has been adapted a bit, because I did not have some ingredients, plus I wanted to make it a little lighter. The original version is here, and also available in the BBC's Foolproof French Cookery, so feel free to try them out!
This tastes best warm, just taken out of the oven, and left to sit for a few minutes (if you have the patience), but I have had it the next day cold and with a scoop of homemade vanilla icecream and it's still pretty divine. Of course, it is even better with fresh cherries, but frozen work just as well.
500g cherries, pitted, fresh or frozen (if using frozen, measure them out when they are still frozen)
A couple tbsp dark rum or kirsch
About 100g sugar
100g plain flour
5 tbsp sugar
A pinch of salt
3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
Zest of one small lemon
2 drops natural almond extract
150ml single cream or half and half
70 - 75g butter, melted to a light brown colour
Mix together the cherries, rum or kirsch and sugar in a bowl, and pop into the fridge for a couple hours. If using frozen cherries, leave out for the cherries to thaw. If they haven't thawed sufficiently in time to be added to the batter, defrost quickly in microwave.
Preheat the oven to 180 C or 350 F.
In a big bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar and eggs and egg yolk. Add the lemon zest and almond extract and stir together. Now add the milk and cream and whisk until well blended.
The melted butter should still be hot at this point. Slowly drizzle it into the batter, whisking constantly until it is all incorporated.
Stir in the cherries and any remaining marinade into the batter.
Grease the baking tray or pie pan with a little butter, and sprinkle over some caster sugar.
Pour the batter into this prepared tray or pie pan, and bake for 35 - 40 minutes, resisting the urge to open the oven at this time. Keep an eye on the clafoutis, and when it looks like its browning on the top, gently open the oven, and skewer it. If the skewer comes out clean, the clafoutis is done. If not, let it bake for a few more minutes. Take it out of the oven, and let it rest for a few minutes.
Serve with ice cream or heavy cream.