Saturday, 13 June 2009

My grandma's cherry clafoutis

The first cherries hit the market last week. I noticed them immediately, heaped chest high at every stall in their bright crimson dress. I heard them whisper sweet nothings to sun-craved shoppers, promising to conjure a thousand summer memories in a single juicy bite.

I, however, am not one to be swayed by pretty cherries. I shot a quick glance over my shoulder at the Neapolitan, found him lost in his weekly, quasi-mystical contemplation of the window display of the nearby DYI shop, and thought it safe to spurn the cherries.

At my usual fruit stall, to each cockney-accented ‘Wot can I get you luv?’, I replied merrily ‘a pound of apricots, half a dozen peaches, a pint of raspberries, stuffing the trolley to bursting point with my favorite summer fruit. Cherries, I’m afraid, didn’t make the cut.

For you see, while the Neapolitan and I pride ourselves on our agreement over life’s bigger questions—notably the superiority of Italian gelato to American ice cream and that of his aunt’s parmiggiana to many competitors’ I can’t name here for obvious reasons-- we stand irreconcilably apart on cherries. He loves them. I don’t.

Now obviously I could buy cherries to please him –and I often do—but a part of me always resists the purchase, particularly early in the season, when I think they’re overpriced and there’s so much other lovely fruit to be had.

I was having such a day, and thought I had gotten away with it, when a sharp poke in the back and an urgent “did you get me some cherries?” confirmed that Italian men do actually have eyes in the back of their heads.

Anyway, we ended up with the cherries. How good they were, I’m afraid we will never know, because by the time we remembered them they had spent a very rough weak at the bottom of our overzealous fridge. I was about to bin them, when I remembered the only time I have ever liked cherries: in my grandmother’s clafoutis.

I don’t have a go-to clafoutis recipe, so I called her. Do not be mad at me for the vague measurements, be mad at her. All I can say is that it’s an invitation to trust your instincts a bit.

600 g cherries
1 large glass of full fat milk
1 large glass of flour
1 smaller glass of sugar (I used a bit less)
1 tablespoon of rum
Three eggs

A hair pin
A ceramic pie dish

It is up to you whether or not to pit the cherries but if you have children at the table you may want to just to make everyone's life easier. It is a pain, but with the hair pin, you will get it done. I have no idea whether this is the proper way of operating the pin, but it’s the way that got me through the 600 grams of cherries in roughly 15 minutes.

Insert the pin as near to the cherry stalk as possible, go in deep, circle the pit to detach it from the flesh. Take the pin out, press the butt of your cherry, the pit will burst out. Well done. For those of you addicted to kitchen gadgets, my lovely neighbor Anna assures me there is a cherry pitting device out there. She owns one.

Once the pitting is done, you’re laughing. Beat the three eggs with the sugar until frothy. Progressively add the flour and then the eggs and the rum. Keep whisking to avoid lumps.The batter should be a little more liquid than a pancake batter. If it’s not, just add a bit more milk. If it’s too runny, add some flour. Pop into the oven at roughly 200 degrees for 35 minutes or until puffed up and golden.

Serve warm, if you can.


  1. This looks amazing! Once the cherries are ready it doesn't seem like a lengthy process at all!
    I didn't know about the hairpin trick, I will definitely try it the next time! Love the pictures.

  2. I must stop reading this blog before breakfast. These recipes are too tempting!

    Beautiful photos. Beautiful writing.