Sour Cherry Clafoutis


My Clafoutis fixation began when a thoughtful dinner guest brought dessert. It was several years ago on a warm summer night in Brianny, a small village in Burgundy France. Our friends live in a big farm house and barn they’ve converted into a cozy sprawling home, where they welcome us. In this village, it’s not unusual to bring a pail to your neighbor and come back a few hours later for your fresh milk, still warm from the cow’s teat. It’s an incredibly magical place.

The Clafoutis captures the essence of summer when you feature seasonal fruits like cherries, plums, apricots or berries. There’s no fussing with pie crust either, a real plus in hot weather. Typically, cherries are used, but the sky’s the limit. I’ve also since tried plums with orange blossom water which turned out quite wonderfully.
The name of the dish comes from the French word clafir meaning “to fill up”. This makes a lot of sense because the dessert is essentially the filling of the pie, loaded with fruit, without the crust. The base is much like a pancake batter so you do get your “doughy” needs met, but effortlessly. Once baked, the texture is similar to a bread pudding, only much lighter and creamy custardy- less crispy on top.

In Burgundy, we are always so well fed and there is always guaranteed edible inspiration. I once stumbled upon a ripe plum tree on a bike ride. I quickly turned my shirt into a bag for the plums, knotting it a couple times to carefully cradle the juicy little fruits. We made plum tartes with these small french plums. Sophie Vittoz, the mother of the house, puts together spontaneous daily meals to feed each and every one of us- visitors and/or artisans and handy men and women renovating the surrounding ruins owned by the family. Whenever we host a dinner, it’s usually up to the guests to bring dessert.  I had heard that every cook in France makes a killer Clafoutis, and so to, the Clafoutis appeared!

I was strolling the farmer’s market at Tompkins Square Park a couple Sundays ago, looking for dessert ingredients. At Red Jacket Orchards, I happened upon some tart juicy cherries which became the star of that evening’s dessert. To my Clafoutis I drizzled in some rosewater and rainwater madeira which brings it to the next level.

Sour Cherry Clafoutis

Serves 6-8

1 Tablespoon Butter (for buttering the pan)

Arrowroot Flour for dusting the pan

2 lbs sour cherries, or plums, apricots or berries

3 large eggs

1-cup maple sugar

1/3-cup arrowroot flour

1 ½ cups milk

Splash of rainwater Madeira

2 teaspoons rosewater

Powdered sugar for garnish

Preheat the oven at 375.

  1. Butter and flour a 10-inch cast iron skillet, gratin dish or pie plate.
  2. Pitt the cherries and drizzle with rosewater in the bowl. Lay the fruit out along the bottom of the baking dish.
  3. Beat the eggs with the sugar and the flour. Once the mixture is smooth add the milk. Then add the Madeira. Pour the batter over the fruit.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes until the top is nicely browned and a skewer comes out clean. Avoid over baking to ensure custard like texture.
  5. Let cool and dust with powdered sugar. I like to serve this with vanilla ice cream or crème fraiche or strained Greek yoghurt.