Recipe, words & photography by Harriet Davidson
Cherries, they mean long summer days, they mean Christmas, they mean road-side fruit stand stop offs. I spent the French summer this year plucking cherries from cherry trees dotted around the tiny village I was working and living in. One of the dishes that sticks with me most from the summer was a clafoutis that we made with these just-picked beauties. A favourite dessert of mine, and when you’ve picked the cherries yourself, well…
I’ve left the pit in the way the French do, it always makes me smile – like they’re not going to bow down to their diners, waste their time pitting the fruit. As food writer Faye Levy said in a 1982 article for The Washington Post titled To Pit or Not to Pit:
‘Cherries present an obstacle that discourages many cooks: Removing their pits is not only time-consuming, it’s difficult to do without mashing the fruit, losing the precious juice and getting stained fingers. Cherry pitters (which often double as olive pitters) save some time but don't really solve the problems of bruised fruit and lost juice. Resourceful cooks in cherry-rich France, Italy and Eastern Europe have come up with a smart and simple solution: They leave the pits in.’
So, I say leave them in, just remember to warn your guests to prevent any mishaps that could arise from a surprise cherry pit.
The Australian cherry industry recently lost hundreds of tonnes of cherries after heavy rains, and there’s expected to be plenty of blemished little beauties around over summer – don’t be scared of them, they’ll be perfect in this dessert, and you’ll be supporting the growers. I personally love a cold clafoutis the day after it’s cooked, once it has had a chance to settle, so it’s up to you whether you serve it warm straight from the oven, or let it cool. A simple dessert for those long summer days ahead. Bon appétit.
I personally love a cold clafoutis the day after it’s cooked, once it has had a chance to settle, so it’s up to you whether you serve it warm straight from the oven, or let it cool.
4 large eggs
110 g (¾ cup) all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt flakes
90 g (½ cup) white castor sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or seeds from half a vanilla pod
1 tablespoon Kirsch (cherry brandy) or rum (optional)
500 ml pouring cream
500 g cherries with stone
Butter, for greasing
Preheat your oven to 180°C
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, flour, salt, sugar and vanilla, and whisk for 5 minutes.
Add the brandy and mix to combine, then pour in the cream, whisking again for another few minutes.
Butter a ceramic gratin dish that’s about 25 cm in length and pop your cherries in. Pour your batter over the cherries – it should be about 2 inches deep.
Pop the dish into the oven and cook for 40 minutes, or until golden on top and the middle of the clafoutis is just set. Remove from the oven – it will have puffed up in soufflé fashion, and will settle as it cools. Serve warm, room temperature or cold.