Cherry season is in full effect! Quick! Get ’em while you still can. The cherries at the farmers’ market have been quite impressive this season, especially considering that some crops were ruined due to the late rain we’ve had this year. A few weeks ago I picked up the most incredible Rainiers. They were plump, slightly blushed golden globes, perfectly crunchy and sweet. I destroyed a pound of them all by myself.
Luckily, there were still a ton of cherries at the market last weekend. So I carefully handpicked two pounds. And went home armed and ready to make a clafoutis.
Within my personal collection of cookbooks, I found five different clafoutis recipes. In Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child describes clafoutis as fruit flan. That pretty much sums it up. After much debate, I decided to go with the recipe from the Tartine cookbook, which was a hit. Because I’m obsessive, I couldn’t stop thinking about one of the other recipes that I had passed on, so I gave it a go the next day.
Sadly, the second clafoutis didn’t quite set right, but it had a really nice flavor and was very different from the first. I was determined to make it work so I picked up more cherries and went for round three. After revisiting the recipe, it turns out that I misread the number of eggs, which explains why things weren’t right the first time around. While the redo was much better, I still had stronger feelings for the very first clafoutis.
Tartine’s version is exactly as Julia describes clafoutis – fruit-filled, sweet and eggy. The vanilla infused custard smells heavenly as it bakes. And the cherries are practically ready to burst when the clafoutis comes out of the oven. It’s surprisingly light for a custard. You might actually be shocked by how much of it you accidentally eat in one sitting. Clafoutis is the perfect summer dessert because you can pretty much use any stone fruit or berry that’s available. And it’s the easiest thing to throw together, which means less time in the kitchen and more time to enjoy these long sunny days.
adapted from Tartine by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson
makes 1 10-inch custard
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
pinch of salt
3 large eggs
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
2 cups sweet cherries, pitted
1/4 cup sugar (for topping)
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Butter a 10-inch ceramic quiche plate or pie dish.
In a small saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, vanilla bean, and salt. Place over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, until just under a boil. While the milk mixture is heating, break 1 egg into a heatproof mixing bowl, add the flour, and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Add the remaining 2 eggs and whisk until smooth.
Remove the saucepan from the heat. Slowly ladle the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Add the almond extract and whisk until incorporated. Pour the mixture into the prepared mold and add the fruit, making sure that the fruit is evenly distributed.
Bake until just set in the center and slightly puffed and browned around the edges, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and raise the oven temperature to 500°F. Evenly sprinkle the sugar over the top of the clafoutis. Return to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to caramelize the sugar. Watch carefully as it will darken quickly.
Let the custard cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before serving. Dust with powdered sugar right before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.