No, this is not a new, hip term to use when someone in your vicinity sneezes, but the name of a wonderful, custardy French dessert that is as easy to make as it is delicious. Whip up one of these for your friends or family and watch how fast it disappears ( seconds are not mandatory but are usually demanded. )
Clafoutis is farmhouse dessert, with the kind of simple, homey goodness that country cooks have perfected out of the need to find easy-fix and tasty uses for an abundance of ripe, luscious summer fruits. Clafoutis is not one of those intimidating ( but scrumptious ! ) configurations one admires in the jewel-box windows up-scale French pastry shops – it’s comfort food.
Clafoutis can be made using fresh fruits or canned fruit, but my personal favorite is made with cherries. I have experimented with jarred and fresh cherries and like the results of both. But of course, jarred cherries allows one to have fruit on hand for whenever the urge for quick and easy to bake clafoutis strikes.
So, I was particularly intrigued when I recently spied jars of plump, whole cherries in light syrup packed and grown by the Red Hills Fruit Company in Oregon on a grocers shelf when I was traveling. The bountiful Pacific Northest is home to many fruit orchards, and juicy, tasty cherries rank among the most sought after. We often get requests from our customers for interesting varieties of jarred cherries ( for baking, sauce-making, fillings, quick chutneys or sweet spoon fruits, etc ) so I purchased a jar and dusted off my treasured clafoutis recipe. I purchased black cherries and used the entire 12 ounce jar of fruits ( drained ) in the recipe. We loved the cherries and loved the results, so I quickly placed an order for our store for the Black Cherries in Light Syrup and the Royal Ann ( Ranier ) Cherries in Light Syrup.
My tried and true clafoutis recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, written by, in my opinion, one of the best food chroniclers of our time, Susan Herrmann Loomis. Susan is a colleague who has the good fortune to live in Normandy, France, and this book is her French Farmhouse Cookbook. My copy is testifiably dog earred and flagged with many post-it-notes, and just reading thru her headnotes for each recipe reminds me of how much Bob and I love France and treasure the memories we have of our many trips there.
This is Susan’s recipe, courtesy of her publisher, Workman Publishing in New York. Of all the clafoutis recipes that I have tried, I like this one because Susan is very good at crafting recipes, so if you follow her instructions, you will get great results. This clafoutis is eggy and custardy but firm – when it cools you can cut it and serve it in slices (I am not a fan of clafoutis recipes that yield pudding-like results.) It also gets nice and puffy and browned around the edges which gives it a great appearance.
Clafoutis by Susan Herrman Loomis Serves 6-8
12 ounces fresh or jarred fruits, drained of syrup if necessary
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons sifted, unbleached all-purpose flour
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups milk
3 large eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Butter a 9 1/2-inch pan ( I use a 10 inch round cake layer pan) round tart pan or baking dish.
Place the fruits in the pan and spread around evenly.
Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl and mix with your hands. Whisk in 1 cup of the milk until smooth. Then add the eggs one by one, whisking briefly after each addition. Whisk in the sugar, the remaining 1 cup milk, and the vanilla extract.
Carefully pour the batter over the fruit, and adjust the spacing of the fruits if necessary. Drop small bits of the butter over the top of the mixture and place the pan on the center rack of the over. Bake until it is golden and puffed, and no longer liquidy, about 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool thoroughly before serving.