Two canning seasons ago Dayton purchased a book entitled “Well-Preserved” by Eugenia Bone when I became interested in the arts of home canning and food preservation, something both of our moms had done for years when we were youngsters. Subtitled “Recipes and Techniques for Putting Up Small Batches of Seasonal Foods,” Eugenia’s book is a wonderful guide and resource for those wanting to know how to “put up” a pint or two of fresh fruits and produce when those items are at their seasonal peak, as well as a collection of recipes utilizing the bounty that has been preserved for enjoyment months down the road. Since sweet, plump Bing cherries happened to be in season when the book arrived I was intrigued by her recipe for preserving cherries in red wine and put up a number of pints. We’ve enjoyed them spooned over vanilla bean ice cream as well as with a dollop of our homemade crème fraîche… delicious! A couple of days ago I was rummaging through the pantry, hungry for a quick and easy dessert, and reached for a pint of cherries in red wine. These, I thought, would be absolutely perfect in a cherry clafoutis…
A clafoutis is traditional in the Limousin region of France during the cherry season, originating in peasant family cooking. A dessert of black cherries arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a flan-like batter it is nearly as simple a dessert to make as one can possibly imagine. Once baked, the clafoutis is dusted with powdered sugar and served lukewarm. There are numerous variations using other fruits including red cherries, apples, plums, apricots, blackberries and pears. When fruits other than cherries are used, the dish is properly called a flaugnarde.
For this dish use fresh, black, sweet cherries when in season. If that is not an option, drained, canned and pitted Bing cherries can be used, as well as frozen sweet cherries which have been thawed and drained.
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Place in a blender jar, beginning with the milk:
- 1-1/4 C whole milk, warmed
Baker’s Note: Warm the milk by placing it in the microwave and heating on high for 1 minute.
- 1/3 C granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- grated zest of 1 lemon
- pinch of ground cloves
- 1 T vanilla
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2/3 C sifted all-purpose flour
Before blending, into a deep dish Pyrex or ceramic pie plate place:
- 3 T unsalted sweet cream butter
Slip the pie plate into the oven to both melt the butter and heat the dish. When the butter has melted remove the pie plate and, using a pastry brush, brush the sides of the plate, including the rim, with the melted butter. Pour the remaining butter into the blender jar. Pulse the blender a time or two, then scrape down any flour sticking to the sides of the jar. Replace the lid and blend at top speed for 1 minute:
Pour a thin film of batter into the warmed pie plate, just enough to barely cover the bottom:
Place the plate into the oven until the batter is just set, approximately 4 minutes. Remove from the oven and arrange over the set batter:
- 1-1/2 – 2 C sweet cherries, well-drained
Sprinkle over the cherries:
- 2 – 3 T granulated sugar
Baker’s Note: If using fresh cherries I would recommend dusting the cherries with 1/4 – 1/3 C granulated sugar.
Pour the remaining batter over the cherries:
Return the dish to the oven and bake for 1 hour. At the end of the baking time the clafoutis will be nicely browned and puffed and a knife plunged into its center will come out clean. As it cools the clafoutis will, as expected, deflate somewhat. When cooled to lukewarm sprinkle with powdered sugar:
Cut into wedges with a sharp knife. This simple, beautiful and delicious dessert will satisfy the sweet tooth of 6 – 8 diners… Bon Appetit!
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