I really love cherry season, and for some reason, cherries are the fruit I get most excited about baking with. I know this is strange–I think it has something to do with memories of Hostess Cherry Pies. Anyway, turns out that nothing from my kitchen has ever tasted like a Hostess Cherry Pie (I’m not really sure how they accomplish it, to be honest), but my adult tastes don’t enjoy them much anymore, anyway. So, if you’re interested in doing something with the cherries you’ve just picked up from a fruit stand, here’s a great option. A clafouti (which, I believe is pronounced “cla–foo-tee”) can be a dessert or if you live at my house, a breakfast food. Ina Garten’s recipes, which I’ve used here, calls for pears, but I’ve adapted it back to the more traditional cherries. Essentially, this is a custard (crepe-like) batter baked with fruit. It’s very simple to make and it looks great straight out of the oven, but stays quite hot, so if you’re serving it to kids, best to wait for 15 minutes or so (the cherries capture a lot of heat). This recipe is adapted from Garten’s Barefoot in Paris.
1 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 c. plus 1 T. granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
6 T. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. heavy cream (you can use milk here, it will just lessen the creaminess, which works for me!)
2 t. pure vanilla extract
1 t. grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/4 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. almond extract
1 c. sweet cherries
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 10 x 3 x 1 1/2-inch round baking (pie) dish and sprinkle the bottom and sides with 1 T. of the granulated sugar.
Beat the eggs and the 1/3 c. of granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. On low speed, mix in the flour, cream, vanilla extract, lemon zest, salt, and almond extract. Set aside for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, pit the cherries either by slicing them in half or with a cherry pitter. Sprinkle the cherries in the baking dish, and pour the batter over the cherries. Bake until the top is golden brown and the custard is firm, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar.