This traditional French country dessert — pronounced clah-foo-TEE — is essentially a flan with fruit that is very popular here during cherry season. It is easily prepared and is best served straight out of the oven, or while still warm.
The big question is whether or not to pit the cherries. Many chefs (Julia Child, Patricia Wells) recommend it, for ease of eating. But unpitted cherries hold up better. That’s the way this dessert has been served to me here in France, and the way I prefer to do it myself.
You will need a 1-quart (1-liter) baking dish, preferably ceramic or glass, with sides about 1-1/2 inches (4 cm) deep.
1 pound (450 g.) fresh cherries
1 tsp. butter
1/3 cup (70 g.) flour
1/3 cup (80 g.) sugar
1 tsp. vanilla sugar or vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3/4 cup (180 ml) milk
2 tbsp. crème fraîche or heavy cream
1 tbsp. extra sugar, preferably cassonnade or demerara
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 (350 F, 180 C).
Remove the stems from the cherries, rinse, drain and pat dry.
Butter a 1-quart (1-liter) baking dish. Fill the bottom of the baking dish with the cherries. If you have too many, set the extras aside for your enjoyment later.
Measure the flour into a small bowl. Add the sugar. If using vanilla sugar, add it now.
Crack the eggs into a medium-sized bowl. Using an electric beater, whip until frothy.
Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix until smooth.
Add the milk and cream. If using vanilla extract, add it now. Mix until smooth.
Pour the mixture over the cherries. Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until the clafoutis is golden and nearly firm in the middle. (You will need to check it — if it’s not yet firm, return to the oven for 5 minutes before proceeding with the next step.)
Sprinkle the extra sugar over the clafoutis and return it to the oven until it is quite firm in the middle, about 5 minutes more. Check for doneness by inserting a sharp knife in the middle. If it comes out clean, the clafoutis is ready. If not, bake it for a few minutes more.
Serve warm. If you are preparing the clafoutis in advance, reheat it gently before serving. Serves 4.