Casual dessert Cherry clafoutis is a cinch to prepare

Aaron Hutcherson

THE WASHINGTON POST – Cherry clafoutis is a simple peasant dessert from the Limousin region in France. It features the stone fruit baked in a dish with a flour-thickened custard batter. The plump, juicy cherries are suspended throughout the batter and a sprinkling of sugar on top produces a delicate, crackly crust.

It’s my new go-to dessert for highlighting the fruit at its peak.

In my quest to come up with a recipe to share, pastry chef Lisa Donovan gave me two options, “Julia Child’s is a good one. David Lebovitz’s is a great one.” The two are pretty similar, with slight differences in the amount of sugar, extracts used and the process. In the end, it’s hard to argue with greatness, and the recipe shared here is closer to Lebovitz’s version. “It’s meant to be a rustic, casual dessert, so feel free to personalise it,” he wrote on his blog, and so I did.

I reduced the amount of sugar ever so slightly to suit my tastes for not-very-sweet desserts, as well as to compensate for the sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar added before serving.

I also added some salt, which I noticed was missing from his version, to enhance all of the other flavours in the dish.

Cherry clafoutis. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

Some traditional recipes for clafoutis instruct you not to pit the cherries – which sounds like a dental emergency waiting to happen – as the pit is said to impart an almond flavour to desserts. Instead, almond extract produces a similar effect without risking a chipped tooth.

The rest of the recipe is quite simple. The batter comes together with a quick blitz in the blender. Pour the batter over the pitted cherries in a buttered cast-iron skillet or baking dish, sprinkle with a little extra sugar to form a delicate crust and then bake until set. Give it a quick dusting of confectioners’ sugar once out of the oven and dessert is ready to be served.

Cherry clafoutis is typically eaten warm, but it’s still delicious at room temperature or straight from the fridge in the morning for breakfast. While it’s great on its own, a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream would be a nice touch.

CHERRY CLAFOUTIS

Active time: 15 minutes

Total time: One hour

Serving: Six to eight

This classic dessert is incredibly easy to prepare. Just blend together a simple batter, pour it over sweet cherries and bake until set. The most time-consuming part is pitting the cherries if using fresh, but frozen fruit that has been thawed and drained works well, too.

Storage Notes: Once cooled, leftovers can be refrigerated for up to three days.

INGREDIENTS

Unsalted butter at room temperature

Three cups stemmed, pitted sweet cherries

Three large eggs

One-and-one-quarter cups whole milk

Half cup plus two tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

Half cup all-purpose flour

Two teaspoons vanilla extract

Half teaspoon almond extract

One-quarter teaspoon fine sea salt

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

DIRECTIONS

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Grease a 10-inch cast-iron skillet (or other similarly sized baking dish) liberally with butter. Lay the cherries in a single layer in the skillet.

In a blender, combine the eggs, milk, half cup of sugar, the flour, vanilla and almond extracts and salt and blend on high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour the batter over the cherries and sprinkle the top with the remaining two tablespoons of sugar.

Bake the clafoutis for about 45 minutes, until the custard is just set and a knife or cake tester inserted in the centre comes out relatively clean.

Let cool for at least five minutes (the clafoutis will deflate as it cools), sprinkle with the confectioners’ sugar, divide into six to eight even slices and serve warm.