Once a year, I make the traditional French cherry cake known as a clafoutis. To me, baking one of these summer desserts is as necessary as whipping up Thanksgiving turkey or a pot of Superbowl chili: the season just cannot pass without it happening.
Now there are two schools of thought on this dessert— the old school French way is to leave in the cherry pits for maximum flavor. This of course means that those lucky enough to be eating your clafoutis will also need to be warned about the pits, and there will be more work involved in the enjoying of their gateau. Basically people will be spitting at your table.
But you will also find recipes that insist your cake will be just as flavorful (and more manageable) if you de-stone your cherries.
Either way, you will have a delicious, family-friendly dessert with a whiff of Provence and a ton of fruity flavor.
I have done both: destoning for a more refined baking pan version.
And this weekend, a version that left in the pits for a something bit more rustic.
Did the second version taste any better? I don’t know. But the cherries did receive a lot of praise for the flavor and juiciness.
And this cake is so easy to make, almost like a pancake batter that’s baked, that you can try it both ways and make the decision for yourself!
I use this recipe from Williams-Sonoma but I made a few changes:
-To make it a bit lighter, I substitute whole milk for heavy cream.
-I used fresh cherries with the pits still in.
-I used a buttered 10 inch pie plate, but you can use a baking dish if you have a pretty one.
-I let the cake batter rest in the fridge for about an hour before baking. I do the same thing with pancake batter if I have the time (quick tip: I think pancake batter is even better if you let it chill in the fridge overnight before using).
But no matter which recipe or technique you try, the best thing about clafoutis is you can experiment: sprinkle cinnamon into the batter, top the cake with slivered almonds.
Make it your own, pits or no-pits.