Clafoutis is a French fruit custard or sometime called a flan. Most European regions have their own versions of this custard. When I was in high school Julia Childs The Art of French Cooking was broadcast by my local university UHF channel. She would come on just as I would walk in the door from school. I would quickly turn her on and sit down and watch her. This was her first season and every Wednesday she would be on. I continued to watch her until she retired. I still like to watch some of her old shows on youtube. One of the recipes I scribbled down was her cherry clafoutis because we had cherry trees and my mother would freeze them. This was a simple cheap little dessert that I could make.
You can actually make clafoutis with any fruit you have on hand but it is wonderful using berries. Originally the French made it with whole sweet cherries with the seeds in them. I always take the seeds out. It was also baked in a heavy skillet or baking dish.
I also made one for a friend using blueberries I had frozen a few months ago. This one was made in a pie pan. I topped both of them with slivered almonds.
What Julia did with hers was pour about a third of the batter in the baking pan and bake that for about 8 minutes then take it out of the oven then put the fruit on top of that with part of the sugar that was saved from the recipe. Then you spoon on the rest of the batter on top of the fruit. Most recipes normally don’t call for that, you just pour all the batter in the baking pan and then drop the fruit on top. I did not sprinkle any of the sugar on the cherries because they were very sweet cherries. So the batter had only a third of a cup of sugar in it, which made it plenty sweet. I did sprinkle the sugar on the blueberries because they were slightly tart. Also I left the berries thaw and drain before using them. Therefore if the fruit you are using is sweet, then you only need the 1/3 cup of sugar in the batter, but if your fruit is tart you will need the second 1/3 cup to sprinkle over the fruit before you spoon the rest of the batter over the fruit.
With the cherry one I used almond flavoring instead of vanilla and the blueberry one I used with the vanilla some lemon zest. You can flavor the custard anyway you like. One other thing she did was being very generous with the butter when greasing the baking pan. I sprinkled some of the reserve sugar in the pan and coated the butter with it. That helps make a nice crust on the custard. You can serve it warm or cold but you do have to let it set to firm up, if you plan to cut it in wedges.
Sweet Cherry Clafoutis
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk
- 2/3 cup of sugar divided in half reserving 1/3 cup
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 pound of sweet bing cherries or a 1 1/2 cup of fruit
Preheat oven 350 degrees. Grease baking dish or pan with butter and be very generous. Dust with some of the reserved sugar. A 9 inch cast iron skillet can be used.
In a mixer or food processor blend eggs, 1/3 cup sugar, milk and vanilla. Add salt and gradually add flour. Mix until smooth. You don’t want any lumps.
Pour 1/3 of the batter into the baking dish or pan. Bake it for 8 minutes and remove from oven. Don’t turn oven off because you are going to return it back to the oven to finish baking.
Add fruit evenly on top of the partially cooked custard. If fruit is tart sprinkle it with the rest of the reserve sugar. Sweet fruit will not need it. Now spoon the rest of the custard batter on top. Return to oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. If a tester comes out clean it is finished. It should be brown around the edges. Let it set to firm up before serving about 15 minutes. It can be served warm or cold.
You may recognize the blueberry clafoutis as Impossible Blueberry Pie. There was a whole series of impossible pie recipes promoted by Bisquick in the late 1960’s. Their test kitchen simply substituted the flour with bisquick. Maybe Julia had a bigger influence on our food culture then what she is given credit for.