First., let’s talk about pronounciation: it’s “cla-foo-tee” not “cla-foo-tis.” I’m no pronunciation snob, and I muck up English and French alike, but this is important because one sounds like a dessert and the other sounds like a disease. So that said, cla-foo-tee is a farm style French dessert that’s essentially a fluffy crepe batter poured over fruit and baked. It takes no more than 1 hour start to finish (with maybe 10 minutes of actual work), so it’s a great dessert to make for last minute dinner guests. Cherries are the classic choice for clafoutis, but ripe stone fruits such as plums, peaches, or nectarines also work well. Half or quarter the fruit depending on its size. In terms of cherries, I think sour cherries make the best clafoutis – their tartness seeping into the surrounding sweet custard, but use any cherries available in season. Sour cherries don’t really grow here in New England, but occasionally you’ll find them frozen in specialty food shops. If you ever find yourself in upstate New York or Michigan in the summer, be sure to find a cherry farm and stock up. In a pinch (or in the dead of January), use tart dried cherries soaked in water or brandy overnight.
½ cup/100g sugar (This is the quantity for sour cherries. Reduce by half to a third for sweeter fruit)
1 cup/220g whole milk
4 tbsp/50g unsalted butter plus more for the pan
1 vanilla bean
1 scant cup/80g all purpose flour
2 tbsp brandy, kirsch, or rum (optional)
2 cups/400g pitted cherries or enough to cover the bottom of your pan in a single layer
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the milk and butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds into the milk mixture. Heat just until the butter is melted and then set aside. Whisk together the eggs and sugar until thick and pale yellow (ribbon stage). This will take a few minutes by hand or about 1 minute in a mixer. Mix in the flour and whisk until no lumps remain. Strain the warm milk into the egg mixture, add the brandy, and mix well to incorporate.
Generously butter a 9 inch pie plate or cast iron pan. Spread the cherries in a single layer evenly over the bottom of the pan. Pour the batter on top of the cherries and bake for 30-40 minutes until puffed and golden brown. To test for doneness, jiggle the clafoutis gently – the inside should be solid not soupy. A toothpick inserted into the center of the clafoutis should come out clean.
Cool the clafoutis at least 1 hour at room temperature, top with confectioner’s sugar, and then slice and serve as is or accompanied by the thick yogurt below.
Thick Yogurt for Pouring
1 7oz/200g tub Greek style whole milk yogurt (or use crème fraiche)
1-2 tbsp cream or milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
½-1 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
A little grated lemon zest (optional)
This is my favorite topping for clafoutis. Barely sweet, it’s perfect on pies, crisps, or any fruit based dessert.
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well. Dollop generously over the sliced clafoutis or serve in a small pitcher and let your guests pour for themselves.