Bastille Day Cherry Clafoutis

Bastille Day Cherry Clafoutis    | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Bastille Day Cherry Clafoutis  | Image: Laura Messersmith

So many of the recipes I love to make are inspired by the flavors and traditions of France, so in honor of Bastille Day I wanted to make a classic French dish to celebrate a country that has given so much to the culinary world. As I scrolled through the Google results looking for inspiration I came across a dessert called clafoutis.

The descriptions and photos I studied made it sound like a recipe straddling the borders of pancake, soufflé, and custard (distinctions that seem to depend on cooking time, flour content, and batter ‘fluffiness.’)

Intrigued and psyched to find a dish that didn’t involve a ton of actual cooking on this humid quatorze julliet (I do want to make bouillabaisse some day, just not on in the middle of summer!) I decided to attempt it. I came across many other recipes that used other fruits and contained variations on the batter proportions, but decided to go with Saveur’s recipe, which uses the traditional black cherries. 

Bastille Day Cherry Clafoutis    | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Bastille Day Cherry Clafoutis  | Image: Laura Messersmith

Lessons Learned:

The biggest challenge I encountered was regulating my oven temperature. Remember all the trouble I had with the Honey Vanilla Pound Cake a few weeks ago? Well, I think I found the culprit: wonky calibration. I discovered when I bought an oven thermometer that my oven runs about 20 degrees cooler than the marked temperature. Turning it up 20 degrees doesn’t fix the issue because then it over compensates. As a result, I nearly burned my Bastille Day Cherry Clafoutis! Thank goodness I checked on it after about 10 minutes. I think I salvaged it by covering the top with foil and reducing the temperature for the remaining cooking time….

Small Kitchen Friendly?

Yes, absolutely! I used a 9” cast iron skillet (heavily buttered with a pastry brush), but any baking dish about the same diameter should work. All the mixing takes place in a blender, so all I needed was a small bowl for the pitted cherries, measuring cups and spoons.

A note on pitting cherries: Even though traditionally the cherries are just de-stemmed and added whole; I’m just not interested in dodging pits when I’m trying to enjoy a delicious dessert so I did pit them for this recipe. However, I don’t own an olive/cherry pitter… Food52 to the rescue with this DIY kitchen hack using a beer bottle and a chopstick. I tried it and it really works!

The Verdict

Black cherries are one of my favorite fruits and are definitely the star of this Cherry Clafoutis. The batter surrounding them is fairly mild even with the strong doses of liqueur and vanilla, a little more salt (I started with 1/8 teaspoon but I think ¼ or even ½ might be better) would help enhance the flavor. I like the lightness bread pudding-esque texture, but next time I’d like to try a variation that uses even less flour for a more custard-y result.

Fourth of July City-style

 An Ode to Flag Cake  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

 An Ode to Flag Cake | Image: Laura Messersmith

This past weekend a tide of New Yorkers flowed out to the beaches along the East Coast for Independence Day celebrations complete with traditional flag cakes, clambakes, and sparklers.

Mike and I stayed put in the city, our feet planted firmly on the concrete sand, and once Hurricane Arthur passed us by - thankfully taking the sticky temperatures with it - we had three days of blissfully cool air and holiday-quiet streets.

I love New York at its bustling high water mark when the sidewalks are packed, but there’s something so amazing about having it to yourself for a few days too. The traffic thins out making it possible to cab it from the East Village to the Upper West Side in 15 minutes (unheard of!), restaurants are less crowded, and the pace slows to an easy-going stroll. Heaven.

We had two lovely evenings exploring new spots downtown, re-watched a solid portion of Top Chef Season 6 (aka Vegas with the Voltaggios), and I made meandering progress through the Judith Jones memoir I picked up a few weeks ago from a shady spot in Central Park.

Mix in a healthy splash of Rosé and a generous handful of the ripe peaches and berries perfuming the air around the farmers market and you have the perfect recipe for Fourth of July in the city. We’re both feeling refreshed, ready to return to our regularly scheduled programming, and thankful to already be home. No road trip required.

How was your weekend? Did you do something special to celebrate the Fourth? 

PS: This is my Ode to Flag Cake: Vanilla Chobani + Fresh Strawberries & Blueberries. Delicious and no oven needed!

An Ode to Flag Cake  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

An Ode to Flag Cake | Image: Laura Messersmith