When the cherry clafoutis (clafouti) smell started wafting from the oven, my son shouted with excitement: “Are you making pancakes?!” And he wasn’t so far off! A clafoutis is essentially crepe batter (no leavener) that is poured over cherries into a dish and baked until golden brown. What you get is a delicious custard with bursts of sweet cherry flavor. Other fruits can be used instead of cherries such as plums, pears, berries etc. Although it is technically no longer a clafoutis but a “flaugnarde”!
I first tried a cherry clafoutis during a flight to Paris. I can’t remember at all what the texture was like, or even the taste. But I still remember how much I enjoyed it! I don’t know whether the clafoutis just shook me out of my boredom or if it really was that good! But I thought it was time to try making it at home! And to be honest, the first recipe I tried was quite disappointing. It’s too easy to end up with rubbery clafoutis. But the recipe I will share with you today from renowned chef Guy Savoy that I found here is just perfect.
Cherries: With Or Without Pits
The clafoutis is traditionally made with whole cherries that haven’t been pitted. The idea of leaving the pits in the cherries for a cake might seem unthinkable to some. But there are actually several advantages:
- Less work for you: This is probably the biggest advantage in my opinion!
- Improved flavor: If you bake the whole cherry as is, you’ll get an amazing burst of juice when you bite into a piece. The cherry pits also impart almond flavor to the clafoutis. Some bakers will add almond extract, if using pitted cherries, to compensate for the loss of flavor. In this recipe, we’ll be using ground almonds.
- The juice won’t leak into the batter: If you cut the cherries, the juice will be released and will stain the batter.
But if you are serving this to young kids or to guests, you’ll probably want to remove the pits. You can either:
- Cut the cherries in two and remove the pits. This is the best way to go if you sometimes find worms in your cherries! You’ll be able to check the cherries before adding them to the clafoutis!
- Or pit the cherries without opening them: You don’t need to buy a cherry pitter if you don’t have one. There are several tricks you can use. I personally used a chopstick. I found this tip in 5 ways to pit cherries. You simply remove the stem of the cherry and insert the thinner end of the chopstick into the stem hole. Then start pushing down gently. Try not to squeeze the cherry too hard to keep the juice in. If you find it hard to push the pit down, try from the bottom side, and push towards the stem hole. You’ll have to experiment with the first few cherries. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll actually want to pit all the cherries!
When pitting cherries, be sure to wear an apron and keep clear of walls! It’s very easy to get the juice splattered everywhere!
How To Keep The Cherries From Sinking
If you want the cherries to stay fully visible on the surface, there are several things you can do:
- When filling the pan with batter, stop before covering the cherries. The batter will puff up in the oven so it’s best to leave a little bit of margin so that the cherries don’t get hidden.
- Use lots of cherries: If you like having lots of cherries in your clafoutis, you could simply pack the pan with cherries before pouring the batter. They won’t sink if there are cherries everywhere!
- Christophe Felder recommends partially baking some batter before adding the cherries and covering with more batter. If part of the batter has set a little, the cherries won’t sink.
Is A Cherry Clafoutis Served In Its Mold?
It’s up to you. You can serve it in the baking dish (such as a ramekin). Or you can unmold it and transfer it to a plate. You can invert it twice, once onto a plate and then onto the serving platter, to keep the prettier side facing up. If you plan on removing it from the mold however, generously grease the pan and cover in granulated sugar before pouring the batter in. If you still have trouble inverting the clafoutis onto a plate, carefully slide a knife around the edges and try again. It’s also best to avoid using a tall baking pan as the clafoutis might fall apart when you are trying to release it from the pan.
Making Cherry Clafoutis, Step-By-Step
Now that you’ve decided whether to keep the pits in or not, and what serving dish to use, we can make the cherry clafoutis!
Mixing the clafoutis ingredients
- Pit the cherries and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C (374°F, conventional setting).
- Grease the ramekins and coat them with sugar (empty the excess sugar into the other ramekin). This will add a nice caramelized layer to your clafoutis and will make it easier to unmold the clafoutis if needed.
- In a small bowl or a measuring cup (the batter will make 1 cup), slightly whisk the egg.
- Whisk in the sugar.
- Add the ground almonds, cornstarch, heavy cream, milk and vanilla extract in this specific order (to avoid lumps), whisking between each addition.
- If you chose to mix the ingredients in a bowl, you could now transfer the batter into a measuring cup. Transferring the batter into a measuring cup will make it easier to pour the batter without spilling everywhere!
Pouring the clafoutis batter into the baking dish
You have several options here. The point is for you to love the clafoutis so pick whichever method you prefer!
- The size of the baking dish: You can use individual ramekins as suggested in the recipe. Or a large baking dish for clafoutis that is served in slices.
- Placement of the cherries: You can place the cherries in the dish and then pour the batter over the cherries. Or if you want the cherries to be more visible, you can place them on top, after pouring the batter.
- Quantity of cherries: You can use as many cherries as you want! You can completely cover the bottom of the baking dish with cherries. Or you can place just a few cherries in a decorative pattern.
Now all that’s left to do is bake them, until they are golden brown!
The clafoutis batter will puff up in the oven. Don’t fill the ramekins completely to the top or the batter will spill over. Fill slightly more than 3/4 of the ramekin. Pictured here are the clafoutis, about 10 minutes before the end of the baking time.
And that’s it! This recipe is so easy to make and you can really adapt it to suit your taste. You can use the cherries as they are, or remove the pits. You can make a large clafoutis and slice it up. Or use small ramekins. I even tried making a cupcake with the remaining batter (pictured above). It looked a bit messier but it was still delicious. I thought I’d share the picture with you to show you the texture of the clafoutis: wonderfully creamy and not rubbery at all!