Thursday, September 3, 2009

Cherry Clafoutis

If you mix plenty of unpitted black cherries into what may best be described as a slightly thickened crêpe batter, you will have the makings of a traditional clafoutis (a type of batter cake from the farm country of southern France). The recipe is old but not ancient, probably dating from around the 1860s. The unusual name (sometimes spelled clafouti) comes from clafir, a dialect word meaning "to fill".

According to Larousse Gastronomique, when the Académie Française defined clafoutis as a "sort of fruit flan", inhabitants of Limoges protested, forcing the institution to change the definition to the more acceptable "cake with black cherries". Black cherries are the meatiest, juiciest, and sweetest of all cherries and they're left unpitted because the pits are thought to enhance the flavor of the batter with a perfume faintly reminiscent of almonds. Whole cherries are also less likely to bleed into the batter.
A perfect clafoutis has a deep golden brown crust on both the bottom and the top. And the only way to achieve this is to bake
it in a sufficiently hot oven. At too low a temperature, the flour
separates from the rest of the batter, settling at the bottom of the
pan and leaving a pale custard behind.
Though black cherries are the classic addition, clafoutis is made
today with all kinds of fruit.

Julia Child's Cherry Clafouti Recipe
1½ hours 10 min prep
SERVES 6 -8 , 4 for breakfast
1 1/4 cups milk
2/3 cup sugar, divided
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour
3 cups cherries, pitted
powdered sugar, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Using a blender, combine the milk, 1/3 cup sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and flour, and blend.
Lightly butter an 8-cup baking dish, and pour a 1/4-inch layer of the blended mixture over the bottom. Set remaining batter aside.
Place dish into the oven for about 7-10 minutes, until a film of batter sets in the pan but the mixture is not baked through. Remove from oven (but don’t turn the oven off, yet).
Distribute the pitted cherries over the set batter in the pan, then sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Pour the remaining batter over the cherries and sugar.
Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 60 minutes, until the clafouti is puffed and brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm.

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