In this fast-paced modern world where almost every food is available regardless of seasonality, the availability of black cherries when not in season is a special rarity. So imagine my surprise when I discovered an abundance of the dark purple jewels at the farmers market.
The cherries were juicy, perfectly ripe and accompanied by their familiar intoxicating sweet aroma. Cherries truly are a seasonal summer fruit that cannot be grown year round… so let me disclose that the cherries were not cheap. It has been a long time since I last saw perfect cherries trickle their way into markets and stores, so I was determined not to let this cherry opportunity pass.
There is no better way to celebrate the dark and elusive beauty of black cherries than with a french clafoutis. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of a clafoutis, consider it as part custard and part cake. Don’t let the tricky name scare you off though, the recipe is actually incredibly simple… the hardest part is pitting the cherries!
French traditionalists (a la Julia Child, Larousse Gastronomique) assert that the proper way to make a clafoutis is to use the whole cherry. This prevents the cherries leaking away their potent juices and the almond flavoured pits are also said to add a further intensity to the pastry-less cake.
Rebelling against the traditional, I pitted my cherries as I love the way they burst, swell and ooze their deep purples hues through the sweet and eggy custard. When hot out of the oven, the eggy clafoutis is surrounded by crisp edges and impressively puffs into a golden soufflé esque dome before inevitably collapsing into a soft, custard like pancake.
Fresh cherries on hand or not, a clafoutis can be made all year round with a multitude of in season fruits and still retain the same deep and luxurious flavour. My rendition is also flavoured with kirsch liqueur which adds an extra layer of sinful to the sweet cherry flavour.
It took every ounce of self-control not to devour the skillet-full whilst photographing. This black cherry clafoutis is irresistible…and always commands an impressive “ooh la la” when presented! I guarantee you will love this recipe as much as I do.
- 3 cups of dark cherries, pitted
- 150ml kirsch liqueur
- 100 grams caster sugar
- 1 tbsp butter, room temperature
- 1½ cups full fat milk
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- ¾ cup caster sugar
- ⅔ cup plain flour, sifted
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- Two hours before cooking, combine the pitted cherries with sugar and liqueur and let macerate.
- Preheat an oven to 180 degrees celsius.
- Grease a 10" cast iron skillet or your choice of baking dish with butter.
- With an electric mixer on low speed combine the milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt in a bowl. Add the sifted flour and mix to combine. Let the mixture sit for up to ten minutes, or until slightly thickened and bubbles have subsided.
- Pour ⅓ of the batter into the skillet and bake for up to 10 minutes or until the top is beginning to set.
- Remove from the oven and and stud the custard with the macerated cherries.
- Carefully pour the remaining batter oven the top of the cherries.
- Bake for a further 20-30 minutes or until puffed, golden and the edges are beginning to crisp.
- Remove from oven, let set slightly and serve warm.