Classic Provençal Clafoutis

Like natives of Provence (the area of southern France and northern Italy,) we have learned the simple pleasures of foraging for wild foods and edibles in our backyard and public green spaces. One man’s weeds are another man’s salad! Even in urban areas there are many wild treats if you know what to look for. Mulberries are frequently ignored by neighbors as are dandelion greens, crab apples and even nettles. (Although we know there are edible mushrooms in the region, we have never attempted to harvest any as the potential for disaster is too great.) Imagine our surprise to find a cherry tree dripping with bright red ripe cherries overhanging the street in our neighborhood. What better way to celebrate tis find than with a traditional Provençal dish from the Limousin region of France.

The classic clafoutis is a French delicacy. Freshly picked cherries in a batter, flavored with brandy and sugared. The name “clafoutis” originated from clafir a verb in Provencal dialect meaning to "to fill” as in to fill the pan with batter. Clafoutis became quite popular throughout France during the 19th century. Other fruits can be used to create this pancake-like confection, but when other fruits are used it is properly called a “flaugnarde.”

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon brandy
  • 2 cups fresh sweet cherries, pitted
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and place the rack in the center of the oven.  Combine flour, sugar, salt, eggs, milk and brandy in a mixing bowl and beat until the batter is completely smooth, let it rest for about an hour while you prepare the fruit.

While Provençal purists claim that cooking this dish with the pits still intact gives it more depth and flavor, we recommend that you rinse the cherries and remove the stems and pits. In a large 9-inch non-stick ovenproof skillet melt the butter over medium heat and coat the bottom and sides of the pan. When the butter is bubbling, add the pitted cherries, cooking the cherries for 2 to 3 minutes until they have softened a bit and are coated with butter. Shake the pan gently to evenly distribute cherries in the bottom of the pan trying not to just eat them right out of the pan!

Pour the batter over the cherries and bake for about 20 minutes or until the clafoutis is puffed, set, and golden brown around the edges. Remember not to open the oven door until the end of the baking time or the clafoutis may collapse similar to a soufflé. Serve immediately with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar and plenty of forks.

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