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Monday, June 14, 2004

Julia Child's Clafoutis Recipe

Cherries seem like such an American fruit. I guess it's the mythology of George Washington and the cherry tree. And then the idiom "as American as cherry pie". But cherries come from Asia Minor and are named after a Turkish town, Cerasus or the Greek city of Kerasounta, depending upon who you believe. Historically they have also been grown in Rome, in England, in France and of course, the United States.

While cherry pie is quintessentially American, my favorite cherry dessert has got to be the cakey, pudding-like French clafoutis, which is traditionally made with cherries. You've got to love clafoutis because it's such a great word to say-- kla-foo-TEE. Just saying it out loud makes me smile. Try it, you'll see what I mean.

I'm not the only one who loves clafoutis. A few years ago in Paris, Lee and I were eating a late dinner in the Marais at a small and rustic Burgundian restaurant. Near the bar was a casual display of desserts. The least elegant of which had to be the clafouti. We watched as we ate dinner, the clafoutis was cut into time and again until only one large slice was left. We ordered it, and before the waitress had a chance to serve it, the chef eyed it and started to serve himself. The waitress snatched it from him and we laughed seeing the sad look on his face and sharing his anticipation of something so plain to look at and yet so delicious to eat.

For things like clafoutis you can't go wrong with Julia Child's recipe. While this serves 6-8 people for dessert, it also makes a wickedly indulgent breakfast for 4!

Julia Child's Clafoutis
serves 6-8


1 1/4 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour
3 cups cherries, pitted
1/3 cup sugar for sprinkling on cherries--I use a little less
powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a blender whirl together the milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and flour. Pour a 1/4 inch layer of the batter in a buttered 7 or 8 cup lightly buttered ovenproof baking dish. Place in the oven until a film of batter sets in the pan. Remove from the heat and spread the cherries over the batter. Sprinkle on the 1/3 cup of sugar. Pour on the rest of the batter. Bake for about for about 45 minutes to an hour. The clafouti is done when puffed and brown and and a knife plunged in the center comes out clean. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, serve warm.