Fresh cherries are in the markets now and what better use for them than a classic French clafouti? This dish is a simple pancake-type batter baked with an abundance of ripe cherries. The pancake puffs up and the edges get sugary crisp and brown, the cherries soften and meld with the batter, and it comes from the oven fragrant and delicious. Serve it warm for dessert, brunch, or breakfast with a little whipped cream or creme fraiche, if you like. The traditional version of the dish does not call for pitting the cherries, but I think it’s a good idea. You can also use other seasonal fruit for clafouti; peaches, plums, nectarines, and figs are excellent substitutes. Think of this recipe as a guideline to fast, simple summer fruit desserts.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound cherries, stemmed and pitted (if desired)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
a generous pinch of salt
1 tablespoon kirsch, brandy, or rum
Whisk the eggs lightly in a medium bowl. Add the flour and whisk to combine, then gradually mix in the 1/4 cup of granulated sugar and the milk. Add the salt, vanilla, and the kirsch or other liquor, if using. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Butter an 8 or 9-inch pie plate with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Coat the buttered dish with 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar. Arrange the cherries in the pan; crowd them in as tightly as you can in a single layer ( you may not use the entire pound, depending on the size of your pan). Pour the batter over the cherries and place the dish in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375F and scatter the remaining tablespoon of butter, cut into small pieces, over the top of the clafouti. Bake an additional 20 to 25 minutes, or until the custard is puffy, browned and set in the middle. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with additional granulated sugar, and serve warm. (You may want to set the baking dish on a non-stick pan, just in case of spill-overs).
(slightly adapted from “Eggs” by Michel Roux)