Introducing clafouti

Henri has a fruity French dessert for your next summer party

Henri’s first experience with clafouti was not a pleasant one. Not that my first attempt at this delicious classic French dessert wasn’t highly successful—it most certainly was, naturellement! Instead it had to do with the occasion: our sixth-grade end-of-the-year swim party, in the small Midwestern town of my youth.

I prepared a scrumptious black-cherry clafouti, hoping that an exotic and unexpected delicacy alongside the traditional hot dogs, potato and macaroni salads, coleslaw and root beer might provide one last opportunity to win over the affections of at least a few of my classmates.

Alas, ’twas not to be. Instead, I incurred naught but ridicule, including Karl Hjertstedt’s putting a little flag on a toothpick in his piece and pushing it across the pool on a paper plate. The whole class watched, laughing as it sank in the deep end.

Unfortunately, many years later, Karl—thrice divorced and a grandfather at 37—was genitally dismembered by one of his own pit bulls.

Clafouti (or clafoutis, both pronounced cla-fu-TEE) is a classic summertime pudding cake from Limousin (south-central France), traditionally made with black cherries and an egg-and-flour batter, then dusted with cinnamon or powdered sugar. Also known as flaugnarde, especially when made with other fillings, such as peaches, plums, pears, apples, strawberries, blueberries, cranberries or figs, it’s perfect for the abundance of fruits available this time of year, and offers a welcome change from the ubiquitous cobblers, tarts and pies of the season.

And it’s very easy and quick to make, in a pie pan, a baking dish, or even a cast-iron skillet. Delicious hot or cold, as dessert or breakfast. Try pairing with a chenin blanc, or even a sparkling wine, such as a Gloria Ferrer brut.

Cherry Clafouti

(adapted from

1 pound pitted cherries
1 tablespoon butter
4 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 tablespoons Amaretto
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk

Preheat oven to 375. Coat inside of pan or skillet with butter. Place eggs, 3/4 cup sugar, vanilla extract, almond extract, Amaretto, flour and milk in a blender: puree till smooth.

In a mixing bowl, toss the cherries with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Place three-quarters of the cherries and their juices in the bottom of the baking dish. Pour the batter over the fruit; arrange the remaining cherries on top.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the top is brown and a knife or toothpick inserted into the middle of the dish comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes before serving (cake will sink slightly). Sprinkle with powdered sugar or cinnamon.

Note: traditionally, clafouti is made with un-pitted cherries, as the stones are said to enhance the flavor. It’s easier to eat, though, and less messy, with pitted cherries.

Peach Clafouti (or Flaugnarde)

(adapted from Julia Child)

5-7 peaches, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup cognac
1/3 cup granulated sugar

Combine and chill in refrigerator for one hour. Then, pour liquid from fruit into large measuring cup. Add enough milk to make 1 1/4 cups liquid. Pour into blender, and add:

1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup flour

Blend on high for one minute. Preheat oven to 350. Coat inside of pan or skillet with butter, and add 1/4-inch layer of the mixture. Heat on stove or in oven until it begins to set up (3-4 minutes). Spread peaches over the batter. Sprinkle cinnamon over the top. Add remaining batter and bake in oven (about an hour). Remove and sprinkle with powdered sugar or cinnamon.