When stone fruits are in season I don’t hold back. I spent this years’ winter months scarfing bags of cherries in New Zealand only to return home and wait a short while for the Northern Hemisphere to produce its own ruby crops. Stone fruits have a saturated, yielding quality to them that, for me at least, defines the very idea of ripeness and abundance. Cherries should be eaten greedily in a shady corner of a fiercely hot day, their juices flecking summer linens. I romanticise stone fruits, as I romanticise most things, and I can think of a no more romantic dessert than Clafoutis, a rustic French dish with connotations of haze, swaying poplars and tall towers of summer cloud. It is a sweet, light dish with many margins for error and a base of simple, wholesome ingredients.
I had a mere handful of cherries in the fridge and so fattened my Clafoutis with a stray white peach. In normal circumstances I would relish the soft, yielding fuzz of a peach but for my clafoutis I stripped it bare. It was so ripe I peeled it with my thumbs. There are many variants for making Clafoutis but the essential requirements are eggs, a little flour, a little sweetener, a creamy fat and a splash of milk. Some call for cream, some for kirsch, some for cherries and some for plums, it’s really anyone’s game. Choose a fruit that cooks well in a short time, something that retains it’s shape but is already soft to the bite before cooking.
The right dish and the right attention to detail can produce something quite beautiful, a golden disc bejewelled with glistening, sweet fruits, dusted with icing sugar and eaten outside on a warm evening to the tune of clattering cutlery and lazy laughter….Or one can simply throw the ingredients together and create a wonderful, fruity mess to heap with Greek yoghurt and eat straight from the pan. The batter will rise and puff but sink back once removed from the heat. It’s best eaten warm, still quivering, the fruits jammy and scalding.
Stone Fruit Clafoutis
150g Cherries halved and pitted (300g if not using peach)
1 round white peach
2 large eggs
100g full fat creme fraiche (or double cream)
4 Tbsp full fat milk
2 Tbsp plain flour
3 Tbsp icing sugar
1/8 tsp Almond Essence (be careful, it can be bitter)
Vanilla to taste (I used dried ground vanilla pod but use essence, syrup or bean paste)
A little butter to grease the dish
- Preheat oven to 220C (200C fan)
- Place the fruits into the buttered dish and warm through for five minutes
- Meanwhile mix all other ingredients thoroughly into a batter
- Remove the dish from the oven and pour the batter lowly into the dish, careful not to disturb the layout if you’ve carefully arranged your fruits
- Turn the oven temperature down to 175C (155C fan)
- Cook for 40-45 mins until golden on top and the batter feels firm to the touch but with a slight wobble.