Pit-Off The Ultimate Cherry Clafouti Bake Off

By on July 28, 2018

My friend, Rhea, is a stupendous baker, a professional baker, an accomplished baker. But then, so am I. We were discussing Clafoutis’ yesterday, the ultimate baked cherry dessert you can make for the three precious weeks or so that sweet cherries are in high season.
I told her about my first experience with the Clafoutis in an outdoor restaurant under shade trees in France where people calmly ate their clafouti and spit the seeds out into the dirt.
That very day, after two wedges of the heavenly clafouti, I vowed to make that a part of my seasonal baking repertoire.
Plus, I swore I’d teach all my friends how to spit out the seeds.
Now Rhea, who is undoubtedly more civilized than I am, said the easy answer to that is to pit the cherries before you begin.
But my dear, I calmly explained, the subtle almond like flavor comes only from the seeds as they are baking and you can’t ever get it from a bottle of extract. Really.
She demurred and we agreed to do a Clafouti Bake-off and see just which tasted the best.
It all sounded simple enough. We each retired to our respective corners and began preparing the batters and the cherries. Of course, mine went together faster because I didn’t take the time to pit them. Hers looked glorious as it went into the oven.
As it turned out there were more differences than might first seem apparent. I used twice the amount of cherries so that when I looked at it going into the oven it looked like a lot of cherries with a bit of batter to hold them together. Rhea’s looked like a civilized cake with cherries peeking out.
When we got them cooked it turned out that we had two entirely different baked dishes. Hers was a delicate, civilized round cake ready to cut into wedges with those sweet cherries peeking out.
Mine was, as one might guess, an unruly mountain of cooked cherries held together with a little cooked batter.
Which one was better? Impossible to say. They were equally delicate, equally flavorful, but two entirely different desserts.
Which one was best? Depends on what you’re looking for. Being the cherry-fiend that I am, I preferred my version which had twice the cherries in it. Rhea preferred hers which featured a delicate cake with some cherries.
So what should you do? Make both of them. Then make up your mind what you like best.
Meanwhile I’m sitting here in a cherry stupor from having eaten almost half an entire clafouti all by myself. But they’re only available once a year. Go for it.
Cherry Clafoutis
Makes 6 to 8 servings
3 large eggs
½ cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted + more to grease the baking dish
1 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (OR ½ tsp. almond extract)
2 teaspoons brandy or rum (optional)
2 to 4 cups of sweet cherries, stemmed
Heat the oven to 400°F. Coat a 9-inch round baking dish with butter and set it aside. Beat eggs and sugar until thoroughly mixed in a large mixing bowl. Add butter and beat again.
Add flour and salt all at once and beat again. Slow pour in the milk and beat along with extract and spirits. Batter will be shiny.
Pour cherries into the prepared baking dish and pour the batter over all. Bake about 30 minutes, or until slightly browned and almost set in the middle.
Let it stand on a rack at least 15 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve on dessert dishes.
*The clafouti method can be used with other fruits cut into bite sized pieces: pears, peaches, other stone fruits that are at the peak of ripeness. Plums are good. Some people like a dollop of vanilla ice cream of whipped cream. Me? I say why gild the lily. Just know that you are enjoying summer on a plate. Yes.
BTW: The Clafoutis were French sisters who just loved to bake and got these yummy desserts named for them by their grateful fans.

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About Linda Eckhardt

Linda West Eckhardt, is an award winning journalist, food writer, and nutritionist. Her more than 20 cookbooks have garnered prizes including the James Beard prize for the best cookbook for a text she wrote with her daughter, Katherine West DeFoyd, entitled Entertaining 101, Doubleday. Their follow-up book, Stylish One Dish Dinners, Doubleday, was also nominated for a James Beard prize. Their next book, The High Protein Cookbook, Clarkson Potter, remains a best seller after 12 years. That book was designed to accompany low carb diet plans. Her ground-breaking book, Bread in Half The Time, Broadway Books, was named the Best Cookbook in America by the prestigious IACP, The Julia Child award. Her award winning radio work with Jennifer English, for a national show on the Food and Wine radio network, was nominated for a James Beard Prize for a show called, “I Know What You Ate Last Summer.”