Cherry Clafoutis

Cherry clafoutis.

Nothing makes us happier than growing, cooking, eating and sharing our own food. But there is a slight tyranny to the seasons. If you have cherries, you are cooking with cherries, period. And our Bing cherries are at their peak, so we picked them all. One small tree gave us four large bowls of cherries…all at once. Happily, cherries lend themselves to all sorts of dishes and cocktails (and we do seem to like eating and drinking). So this week you may see cherries in all sorts of dishes. But for now, let’s start with a classic cherry dessert, clafoutis.

Fresh Bing cherries form our orchard.

Clafoutis is a French dessert that combines cherries baked in a light batter, often with some added almond flavor. Think of the batter as “flan-meets-pancake” and you can get an idea of the light, yet rich, texture that rightfully lets the cherries star in the dish. Originally clafoutis featured sour or black cherries with the pits still in. Supposedly the pits add extra almond-like flavor, but as we have Bing cherries and like our teeth, we put pitted Bing cherries and almond extract in our clafoutis. You can also use this basic recipe with other stone fruits or berries, but if you want to be technical it would then be a flaugnarde, but feel free to call it a clafoutis- we won’t tell anyone.

A cherry-pitter is a useful tool if you like cherries as much as we do.

As for the recipe, clafoutis is a classic dish and there are many recipes out there. We chose to adapt an Alice Waters recipe that adds a few extra steps, but also adds extra flavor. In this case we season and pre-bake the cherries before we add them to the clafoutis. The extra cooking improves the flavor and texture of the cherries, but also leaves behind the base of a syrup you can reduce and drizzle on top of the clafoutis at service. Good stuff. We also prefer to cook clafoutis (and many desserts) in individual ramekins, we think it looks good and makes leftovers easier to handle, but a large baking dish works for this recipe as well.

Season the cherries for pre-baking.

Extra cooking for more flavor and better texture- plus you get cherry juice for a sauce.

Place a layer of cherries in the ramekins or baking dish.

Assembling the clafoutis is a pretty easy affair. Pre-cook the cherries, save the syrup, butter your baking dish(es), place the fruit in the dishes, make and add the batter and bake. The batter is the only part of the recipe that requires some extra effort, you need to whip egg whites and then fold them into the batter for the right texture. The clafoutis bakes for about 20 minutes at 375 degrees. While the clafoutis bakes, reduce your cherry syrup for a tasty and pretty sauce. When the clafoutis is done, add the sauce, dust with powdered sugar and serve.

Make the batter.

Pour batter over the cherries.

Bake until browned and puffed.

Dust with powdered sugar and drizzle with sauce. Serve.

And then prepare for smiling faces. The clafoutis is a beautiful dessert that matches its looks with great flavor and texture. The cherries shine with their sweet / tart flavor that is amplified by the almond and the sweet cake. The “cake” is, as we noted earlier, is rich but remarkably light. And we discovered one extra bonus, the clafoutis is also tasty the next day, served chilled. So if you like it, feel free to serve any clafoutis left over for breakfast.

Cherry Clafoutis:

(Adapted from Alice Waters)

Notes Before You Start:

  • Bing cherries are preferred for this recipe, but any sweet cherry will work, you may need to adjust the recipe to add sweetness.
  • If not using individual ramekins, use a baking dish that fits the cherries in one layer.

What You Get: A classic cherry dessert. Tasty and very pretty.

What You Need: No special equipment required, but after you remove the pits from a few dozen cherries a cherry-pitter may feel like a good idea. We have one and love it, even if it gets used just a few months of the year.

How Long? About 45 minutes, with 10-15 minutes of active time. An anytime dish….any time you have cherries.

Ingredients:

(Serves 4)

  • 1 pound sweet cherries (preferably Bing), washed and pitted
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, whites and yolks separated
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 1 pinch salt
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting
  • Sweet butter, for greasing baking dishes

Assemble:

  1. Place a rack in the top third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a baking dish large enough to fit the cherries in one layer. Add the cherries to the dish and sprinkle with the lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon and 1/3 cup sugar. Bake the fruit until tender, about 15 minutes, stir a few times during cooking. When done, drain the cherries and reserve the juice in a small saucepan.
  2. Increase the temperature of the oven to 375 degrees. Butter 4 ramekins (or a gratin dish) and arrange the cherries in a single layer in each ramekin.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat together the egg yolk and sugar until well blended. Beat in the flour, vanilla, almond extract and cream until well combined. Beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt until they form soft peaks (easiest with an electric hand mixer). Stir a small amount of the whites into the batter then gently fold the rest of the whites into the batter. Pour the batter over the fruit in the ramekins. Then place the ramekins in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the batter has puffed and browned.
  4. While the clafoutis bakes reduce the reserved cherry juice, using medium heat, into a thin syrup. When the clafoutis is done, dust with powdered sugar and a drizzle of the syrup. Serve.
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45 thoughts on “Cherry Clafoutis

  1. That looks so good! I haven’t had any sweet cherries yet this year. I’m going to make this as soon as I get my hands on some!

  2. I want one NOW!!! Love cherries .. a bit too early for Swedish – but an other 2 weeks maybe – we are in high of strawberries now. Stunning photos and simple recipe. Will put it on file.

    • Thanks for reading and hope you enjoy when your cherries arrive…Funny how the seasons vary by location. We travel to milder climates later in the summer and often get a second pass at some of the fruit..

  3. This looks great, I was going to do a cherry clafoutis, but all our cherries dropped due to dry weather… so I made strawberry and pimms clafoutis instead. What a wonderful recipe this is – it;s nice to see the traditional version.

  4. It is cherry season here in Berlin, Germany. I have already put up a jar of brandied cherries and this looks like a great recipe to make next. I passed up a cherry pitter yesterday at the kitchenware shop – but today I am going back for it!

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  6. Wow, this looks yummy–and I just happen to have cherries in my fridge right now. :) Any advice for pitting cherries if I don’t have one of those neat little doohickeys?

    • Thanks for reading!

      If you have plastic straws, just push one through the center of the cherry- the pit should come out. It’s pretty quick. Hope that helps.

      • Very cool- and a great post. Turns our another way to pit cherries is on top of an empty wine bottle and with chopsticks. Just put the cherry on opening of the bottle and then push the chopstick through. The pit goes in the bottle…still a bot messy, but it works…

      • Cool trick! Maybe I’ll try that next time. Also, I just posted about my failed attempt to make baked goat cheese, inspired by your much more successful one. :)

  7. love clafoutis, but even more, I love the idea of walking outside to a tree of ripened bing cherries. Alice Waters is one of my heroes :)

    • Thanks for reading. The orchard is a pleasant surprise for us, it took a few years (and some disappointments) but now walking out there is just a delight. Good for the soul…and the fruit is tasty.

      And Alice Waters is amazing- her recipes just work. Her Vegetable cookbook is one of our favorites.

      • mine, too! The orchard sounds like a dream and worth the wait. I just subscribed to your posts, because I realized that I hadn’t already done so. Always tasty!

  8. What a great dessert! I haven’t previously heard of clafoutis! I don’t make good pastry crust, but I do okay with custard, and prefer it actually. I think I could make this and be quite impressive in my presentation! :-) I do love cherries, but I wonder how I’d feel if I had as many as you have to work with!! Debra

  9. I’ve made clafoutis a lot but I’ve never made it with cherries. I think it’s the one Julia originally did. I figured out a way to make it in my toaster oven so I don’t have to turn the big oven on. I haven’t made it yet this summer and I do have fresh peaches so I will have to use them. Thanks for the reminder! Luscious photos!

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  14. I love that you included this in breakfast, too! I like things like clafouti and, also, bread and butter pudding for breakfast. Sometimes leftover from dessert the night before, but also great for a brunch!

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