Cherry Clafoutis: a French Gateau
A clafoutis is a “gateau” of cherries settled in a custardy tart, traditionally eaten in the Limousin region of France where cherries are a-plenty. Like most French culinary creations, this dish was created as a way to use leftovers (leftover batter in this case). This rustic, peasant dish typically involves pouring leftover batter in a dish, adding cherries, and baking it.
Because cherries aren’t in season, I used cherries preserved in brandy. Like most French gateau, there isn’t an American equivalent. Gateau, which literally translates to “cake,” is not at all similar to our American concept of “cake.” In fact, most homemade “gateau” are egg-y, custardy tart-like creations with little flour, and they aren’t extremely sweet. This recipe is typical because it uses ground almonds (or “almond flour”), like most French baked goods. However, it is atypical because clafoutis normally do not use almonds. But, the almonds give it a rustic, yet sophisticated flavor.
The silky texture reminds me of a Mexican flan, although it has bite to it, like bread pudding. Although traditionally made with cherries, other fruits can be used, such as blueberries or pears. Also, topping it with freshly-whipped cream is an absolute must. This dish pairs excellently with a rose Champagne (or any Champagne!) I will definitely be trying this dish again when blueberries are in season.
Cherry Clafoutis Recipe, adapted from various sources
1 c. granulated sugar
5 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 c. all-purpose flour, sifted
3/4 c. plus 2 tablespoons almond flour, almond meal, or freshly ground almonds
1 teaspoon salt
1 c. whole milk
1 c. heavy cream
12 ounces cherries*
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Sweetened whipped cream, for serving
* The traditional dish uses unpitted cherries since the cherry pits add flavor. However, using pitted cherries will certainly be easier on your guests.
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 10-inch round gratin dish and dust it with granulated sugar. In a large bowl, whisk the 1 cup of granulated sugar with the eggs and vanilla. Whisk in the all-purpose flour, almond flour and salt until just incorporated. Add the milk and cream and whisk until light and very smooth, about 3 minutes. Pour the batter into the prepared gratin dish and arrange the cherries on top.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the clafoutis is set and golden. Let cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, cut into wedges and serve with whipped cream.
- This dish can be made ahead one day, stored in the refrigerator wrapped tightly in plastic. Serve slightly warm.
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