Cherry Clafouti is a Traditional French Dessert Recipe From Limousin
Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries in Limousin
Sometimes life really does seem to be a bowl of cherries in Limousin, this hidden corner of rural France! It's June, the sun is shining, wild flowers line the country lanes, the woodlands and fields are green and the cherries are ripe. What could be better? This really is living the good life!
June is the time to make that most traditional Limousin dessert, Clafouti (or clafoutis). It is so simple - just a sweet batter poured over a layer of cherries or other fruit and baked in the oven. You can eat this dish as a hot pudding, or a cold dessert. Very similar to the Limousin flognarde, both calfouti and flognarde can be made with different fruits.
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Cherries are Good for Your Health
"There's a significant body of evidence suggesting that cherries are one of the most nutritious fruits you can eat," said panel member Russel J. Reiter, Ph.D., a prominent nutrition researcher at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.
Along with all red fruits recent studies have shown that cherries are good for you. They contain antioxidants but cherries contain a unique combination of antioxidants that are not found in other fruits and they may have anti-inflammatory benefits which can give some relief from joint pain.Studies have also found that cherries can lower blood level cholesterol.
The Cherry Harvest in Limousin
Limousin, known as the bread basket of France, is famous for its fruit trees and especially for the Limousin Apple. We are blessed with a wonderful climate, warm to hot in summer but with enough rain to make everything, including the weeds, grow like mad! Not only are apples and pears produced commercially, but every garden has an array of trees that provide fruits or nuts from May to November.
The first tree to fruit is the Cherry and the earliest varieties ripen at the end of May. Picking can continue right through June. After that we have plums, peaches, apples, pears figs and then, finally, the medlar which is harvested after the first frost of November.
Cherry clafoutis ingredients
- Enough cherries to cover the base of a shallow, ovenproof dish
- 600ml /1 pint of milk
- 175g/6oz plain flour
- 100g/4oz sugar (reserve some of this to sprinkle on the top)
- 4 eggs
- Vanilla essence (optional)
- Butter to grease the dish
- Lightly grease the dish and cover the base with a layer of cherries. Here the local ladies don't stone the fruit - you have to do that as you eat the clafouti!
- Put the flour and sugar into a bowl (reserve a dessert spoon of sugar for later).
- Make a well in the flour mixture and add the eggs. Begin to incorporate the eggs into the flour by mixing from the centre and letting the flour fall in from the sides of the bowl. As the mixture thickens, gradually add the milk. As with all batter mixtures, the aim is to make a smooth batter without lumps. If lumps do arrive, squash them against the side of the bowl and, if all else fails, sieve the mixture to remove any lumps!
- Pour this batter over the cherries
- Bake in a moderate oven, 375°F, 190]c or gas mark 5 for about 45 minutes to an hour. The dish is cooked when the centre is just firm when you press lightly with your finger tips. The top should be golden brown and the edges rise slightly.
How to serve clafouti
Sprinkle over the rest of the sugar, or you can dust with icing sugar, then serve clafouti as a hot pudding, a cold dessert or as a cake. Hot or cold it goes well with cream, crème fraiche or custard (the French call custard Crème Anglais). It also goes well with ice cream, or just eat it by itself.
You can decorate it with fresh cherries or with sugared cherries or flowers. Sugared flowers are easy to make and look pretty on the plate.
These photos were taken in our gardens at Les Trois Chenes Bed and Breakfast in Videix, Limousin, France.
Cherry clafoutis served with cream
Know Your Cherries
Types of cherry
There are over 1000 types of cherries, but they fall into two categories: sweet and sour, although there are also dual purpose cherries. I don't know what type of cherries we have in Limousin, but I do know that they are very different! Our neighbours' tree in the picture is much earlier than ours, but in our garden we have a yellow cherry that grows very big and fat. We also have a small, black cherry that has sour fruit - we leave that tree to the birds! The tart black cherries are most often associated with clafouti and these sour cherries are higher in vitamin C and beta carotene than the sweeter varieties.
How to pick cherries
Whether you buy your cherries or pick them yourself make sure your cherries are: firm but not hard, shiny, firm and plump with fresh stems and unbroken skin. They should not have soft, brown patches or show any signs of mould. If you intend to keep your cherries for any length of time, leave the stem on the cherry as it helps to preserve them.
Frozen cherries are ideal for making Clafouti. Keep the stems on and spread cherries in a single layer on a baking sheet. Freeze until firm and then pack into plastic freezer bags. Remove as much of the air as possible and fasten tightly. Leave in the freezer until needed.
Other methods of preserving fruit include pickling, making jam, bottling in alcohol or syrup.
Cherry Clafoutis gifts - nice as pie!
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How to find our gorgeous, Limousin cherries
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