This old-style French cherry clafouti dessert, given to us by Auvergnat grandmother Jean Barbet, calls for unpitted cherries. This is the tradition in the region, not as a labor-saving shortcut, but because the pits are believed to add flavor to the cake. If the idea unsettles you, don’t hesitate to use pitted cherries.–Editors of Saveur
LC $*@2!!! Cherry Pits! Note
Yes, you could leave those pesky little pits in the cherries in keeping with the romanticized notion of imparting an almondy nuance to the cake. Or you could easily pit them. When facing a mountain of cherries whose pits you want to wrest from their place, you’ve got all manner of options, including pricey cherry pitting gadgets, the tip of a sharp paring knife, a bobby pin, a paper clip that’s partly unbended, even a cleverly Macgyvered fork. But you tell us. How do you fish out the pit? Tell us in a comment. And no matter what you do, wear an apron and be ready to wipe purple splatters from the counter.
- Quick Glance
- 5 M
- 45 M
- Serves 8
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 6 large eggs
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cups milk, preferably whole milk
- 2 tablespoons kirsch (optional)
- Pinch salt
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups sweet cherries, stems removed, pitted if desired
- Confectioners’ sugar, if desired
- 1. To make the cherry clafouti, preheat the oven to 400° F (204°C). Generously butter a 9-inch cast-iron skillet or a 9-inch baking dish.
- 2. Add the vanilla, eggs, sugar, milk, kirsch if using, and salt to a blender and blend just a few seconds until combined. Then add the flour and process until smooth, about 1 minute.
- 3. Pour the batter into the buttered skillet. Scatter the cherries over the batter. Bake until a golden brown crust forms on top and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if you like.
Recipe Testers Reviews
I halved the recipe and baked the batter in individual bowls, which took less time (less than 20 minutes, which was good since we’ve have 100-degree weather here all week), and made for a nice presentation at my dinner party. The classic version is with plums, but this cherry one was much appreciated because cherries just came into season here in Virginia. The bright red blobs contrasted nicely with the cheery yellow custard. The touch of Kirsch was lovely, but make sure to use good Kirsch, or there can be an unpleasant chemical-like flavor to your clafoutis. If you don’t have Kirsch, a drop of almond essence would go nicely as well. There were no instructions on how to pit the cherries, but I have a cherry pitting device from OXO. People have found bobby pins to be useful as well. Just make sure to wear a shirt that you don’t mind staining when pitting cherries!
I had a feeling this would be a success for brunch, so I made two! Having heard that leaving the cherries unpitted is the traditional method, I didn’t pit them. The French, who originated the clafouti, feel the cherry pits add a subtle almond-like taste and aroma to the clafouti. Leaving the cherries unpitted helps to prevent the red cherry juice from running into the batter. When the recipe said to blend the ingredients together, I used a blender, but a whisk would work just fine. Not only did the clafouti puff up, but the berries themselves both swelled and softened while baking, loosening their pits, and making it easy to eat, even with the pits intact. My baking time was a little longer than specified, since the top crust wasn’t yet golden brown enough at 30 minutes. I did dust it with confectioners’ sugar, but skipped the optional Kirsch, and felt it was fine without. The clafouti was visually appealing when I removed it from the oven. I brought it to the table and served right from the cast-iron skillet. Although I served this as a brunch entree, it also can be a dessert, and using other fruits would be just as delicious. Blueberries come to mind, and I’ve also seen recipes for prune, apple, fresh fig, fresh apricot, and, yes, grapefruit, as well as a savory version. If I made the traditional cherry version again, I might add a small amount of almond extract to accentuate the subtle almond flavor of the cherry pits. Note that not only can the clafouti be served warm from the oven, but also at room temperature, making it a versatile concoction—not only freeing up burner space by using the oven, but also freeing up the oven if made in advance. And, as a happy postscript: of my bakers-dozen tasters at brunch, two have requested this recipe.
The main thing I enjoyed about this recipe was the light, airy taste of the clafouti. It reminds me of the German pancake we had in Frankfurt. It sure was fun to peek into the oven and watch it rise. The confectioners’ sugar was a perfect part in the final wonder of it all. (In fact, the more the better.) The baking brought out the sweetness of the cherries, with a tiny bit of tartness to contrast against the sweetness of the total dessert. I had two pieces, and had to restrain from getting another one. This would be good with a nice brunch.
This was a very easy, quick recipe—after the cherries were pitted. I put my mom to work pitting them, and she used a grapefruit spoon—it worked like a charm. Since the recipe referenced crepes, I mixed the batter in a blender. That worked great! But, I think my eggs were too big, as I needed a larger pan for the clafouti (and additional cherries to fill the pan). Next time, I’d measure my eggs (assuming 1/4 cup per egg) to make sure that I have the right volume. I didn’t have Kirsch, so I used amaretto instead.
This is actually quite a basic oven pancake recipe, and can be used with other seasonal berries. I used the Kirsch, and the flavor was quite good. You may need to adjust the baking time, if you use a different type of pan.
Summer dessert couldn’t be much easier! Very quick to put together, if you don’t pit the cherries. It makes for a clean presentation that way, as well. I had it for dessert one night, then for breakfast the next morning. I used a cake pan, and I worried that the egg mixture would stick to the pan, but it didn’t. Sprinkling confectioners’ sugar on the finished product adds a little bit of extra sweetness, as this is not a sweet dish on its own. The Kirsch adds a bit more cherry flavor, however, I’m sure it would be just as good without it.