Of all the delicious fruits to arrive in the shuk throughout the year, it’s cherries that my kids look forward to the most and with the greatest consensus. Pretty much anything other fruit will cause at least one of the three to turn their (adorably cute) noses up. Cherries, whether black, red or the blushing yellow variety are always a hit. For the last 2 years however, the crop has been affected by weather which has been reflected in their price. A full crop in 2012 saw prices at NIS 6 or 7 per kilo whilst this and last year they’ve been up around the NIS 20 mark or higher. Still, to buy a kilo once a week is fortunately not going to break the bank and as a healthy treat they can’t be beaten.
Cherries are fantastic in baked desserts and although I don’t generally bake because my wife is a dessert genius, I’ve finally got around to making a dish that I’ve been meaning to try for a while – clafoutis – a fairly simple and unintimidating, baked French dessert consisting of cherries and a sweet, custard like batter – and what could really be wrong with that?
Here’s an added bonus – as with a lot of classic dishes, there is a certain aspect of the recipe which are keenly debated – specifically whether the cherries should have their stones removed before cooking or not. Advocates of leaving the stone in insist that amygdalin, a chemical present in the stones, adds to the flavour of the dish. Those in favour of removing the stones, do so largely due to ease and elegance of eating the dish. In effect therefore, an opportunity to be lazy and not remove the stones whilst claiming that by doing so you are remaining true to the original spirit of the dish!
An additional factor in it’s favour is that most of the ingredients are probably already in your store cupboard or fridge so very little forward planning is required.
Don’t fancy cherries? I hear this works well with blueberries and the same principle should work with other sweet stone fruit such as peaches and plums. Would be delighted to hear other suggestions and reviews.
This recipe is based on the one published in the wonderful series that the Guardian newspaper runs, comparing the variations in various chef’s recipes to try to find the perfect version. I’ve omitted the booze as I’m not buying a bottle of kirsch to be used once….
Approximately 1/2 a kilo of cherries – you decide whether to pit them or not
20 grams of melted butter + a little extra to grease your dish with
50 grams of flour
50 grams white sugar
1 tbsp brown or demerera sugar
250 ml regular (3%) milk
2 eggs, beaten
pinch of salt
couple of drops of almond or vanilla essence
Preheat your oven to 180c / 350f
Mix the flour and caster sugar, whisk in eggs, milk and melted butter until smooth, add the almond or vanilla essence
Add cherries to the batter mixture
Grease your pie dish and sprinkle the bottom with brown sugar
Pour cherry / batter into the pie dish
Bake for 1 hour
Allow to cool before serving. The consistency here is more flan like than cake – there is very little flour involved after all – good vanilla ice cream or custard would be wonderful served alongside