To honour the beautiful cherry, I had intended to make some fancy cupcakes, however my week didn't contain enough hours (you know what it's like!) and so I realised I needed to use our purchased cherries in something a little less time consuming. The cherry cupcake idea shall wait for another day.
The dish which Mr E & I decided to make to feature these beautiful fruits was the easy and straight forward Cherry Clafoutis, though I'm sure you've already worked that one out! I have learnt that the clafoutis is a speciality dish of the Limousin region in France and the name comes from a word meaning to cover or fill.
Having only come across the Cherry Clafoutis once or twice on cooking programmes, and never having sampled it, I crawled through my many recipe books and came across a recipe in Tea & Cake with Lisa Faulkner. I followed this recipe to a large extent, only adjusting it to use kirsch rather than brandy, increase the volume of cherries and reducing the amount of butter used to grease the pie dish.
So although Mr E & I, and my parents for that matter, had nothing to compare it to, we all really enjoyed it. Each mouthful of this gorgeous custard-like mixture studded with cherries was soft & silky accompanied with a slight background hint of kirsch. Of course, you could use a cherry cordial rather than the kirsch, or even omit it altogether if you wish.
The clafoutis can be enjoyed both warm & cold. I enjoyed my portion warm unadulterated, Mr E enjoyed his cold and my parents warmed their portions and served it with evaporated milk. I think a scoop of ice cream would be really lovely with it also. (And I've just realised that most people seem to serve their clafoitis sliced rather than dolloped with a large serving spoon!! Hey-ho, we live & learn! As my mum would say, it all goes down the same way!!)
Now, it transpires that some recipes call for the beautiful cherries to be stoned, others prefer to leave them whole. I've read here that the stone allows the clafoutis to carry a more intense cherry flavour. This said, Mr E & I decided to stone ours, simply because we didn't want the enjoyment of eating the clafoutis to be marred by removing the cherry stones! It also meant that the kirsch could penetrate the halved fruit whilst it soaked. And of course if your diners are particularly young or ill it may be wise to remove the stones anyway!
So let's get to it and bake.
Yield: 1 dessert, serving 6 people.
Time: hands on time 10 minutes; plus 30 minutes bake time.
Adapted from: Tea & Cake with Lisa Faulkner.
You will need:
1 x 22cm pie dish (3cm deep)
For the Clafoutis
250g fresh cherries, washed & stoned
2 tbsp. Kirsch (optional)
30g unsalted butter, softened
135g plain flour
80g caster sugar
pinch of salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
How to make them:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180c / Fan 160c / Gas 4.
2. Soak your prepared cherries in the kirsch whilst you prepare your pie dish and make the custard.
3. Prepare the pie dish. Use the 30g of butter to liberally grease the pie dish. This will stop the clafoutis from sticking to the container.
4. Make the custard. Heat the milk in a heavy based sauce pan, once boiling point is reached sit the milk aside to cool a little. In a good sized bowl mix together the flour, salt and sugar. Add the beaten eggs a little at a time and beat to a smooth consistency. Add about a fifth of the cooled milk to the mixture and stir thoroughly. Add the remaining milk and mix again.
5. Arrange the cherries in your pie dish, mixing any remaining kirsch into the custard. Place your pie dish onto a baking tray set on the oven shelf. Carefully pour the custard over the cherries. Close the oven door.
6. Bake for about 30 minutes, you may need to rotate the pie dish after 20 minutes.
7. Dust with icing sugar. Serve warm or cold.