I almost decided not to share this cherry clafoutis, since I wasn't sure I loved it. It was only my second attempt ever at the custardy, fruit-filled French cake. The first had been a disaster on account of some misguided substitutions and tweaking. Although this one, adapted from Susan Hermann Loomis's wonderful French Farmhouse Cookbook, initially seemed to me not much better, I kept coming back for more nibbles ("just to make sure") throughout the afternoon, and then in the evening my husband pronounced it irresistible. I was truly sold the next day, when I had a sliver of clafoutis straight out of the refrigerator; the flavor and texture of the custard were best when it was cold.
You can make clafoutis with almost any fruit—cherries, apricots, plums, pears, or even apples. Serve some of the same fruit, fresh and uncooked, on the side for a light and easy brunch. Pitting the cherries takes some time, but otherwise this is truly a lightning-fast batter. Just be sure to leave enough time for the clafoutis to cool completely, and maybe a little extra time to chill it in the refrigerator.
- 12 ounces fresh cherries, halved and pitted
- 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons (125 g) flour
- Heaping 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cups milk
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Butter and lightly flour a 9 1/2 inch tart pan or baking dish; a ceramic quiche dish is perfect. Put the cherries in the dish, cut side down.
Whisk the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk in half of the milk until the thin mixture is smooth. Whisk the eggs in one at a time. Add the sugar, remaining milk, and vanilla extract to the bowl and whisk until smooth.
Pour the batter over the cherries and dot the top with butter. (My batter came right up to the rim of the baking dish, so I set it on a rimmed baking sheet before placing it in the middle of the oven; in the end it did not overflow while baking, but I was glad not to have to worry about cleaning up the oven.) Bake for 25 minutes, until lightly browned and puffy. The center of mine never puffed, but the edges rose dramatically (only to deflate completely during cooling). Cool completely before serving.