We are about to enter the season of Clafoutis.
There are many ways to make Clafoutis - this one is the Raymond Blanc version.
I discarded the Jamie Oliver version for being too insufferably blokey, and I still have not forgiven him for being so inexcusably rude to all those (you) fat Americans, even though it might have been excusable if he were not trying to take their (your) money away from them (you).
I happened to vist The Honorable Richard Townley Strachey one Sunday afternoon, and he was experimenting with Clafoutis. He had about 2 cwt of fresh cherries to play with, plus the rest of the ingredients, most of which are listed below.
As I arrived, Mark One came out of the oven (Mark One is not his brother you understand - his brother is called Charles), and we threw it down our necks as soon as it was cool enough not to hospitalise us.
Although delicious, it was not delicious enough for Richard, who made a second batch.
Making a second batch means halving and pitting about 2 lbs of fresh cherries, so I helped him - a bit.
In about half an hour, a second - slightly better - Clafoutis came steaming out of the oven as the ferry comes steaming out of Cowes, and it was delicious again. Not quite delicious enough for Richard, though, so he began the third batch.
I think he got it about right after the 8th or 9th one, but by that time my palette had become a bit jaded, so I was not really in a position to say.
Anyway, it turned me on to Clafoutis, so I was pleased to see it on the desert menu of a restaurant I visited a week or two later.
The waitress asked, "Can I get you anything else?"
I asked for a Clafoutis.
"Just one?" she asked again, and I looked around me before confirming the order. I was beginning to think the chef was going through the same self-torment as Richard.
Ten minutes later, she brought me a cup of tea.
I thought she looked a bit perplexed. Good job I didn't ask for a pot.
For marinating the fruit:
500g cherries, best quality fresh; stoned
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp kirsch (optional)
For lining the mould:
1 tbsp melted butter
3 tbsp caster sugar
For the batter mixture:
100g plain flour
3 whole eggs, medium organic
1 egg yolk, medium (organic or free range)
6 tbsp caster sugar
2 pinches salt
6 drops vanilla essence, the best! (optional)
160g whipping cream
70g unsalted butter
1 lemon, zest finely grated
Mix together the cherries, sugar and kirsch and marinate for 2 hours to maximize their flavour.
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
Brush the inside of a round cast iron or china baking dish with melted butter. Add the caster sugar and shake the dish so as to coat the inside of the dish. This will give a lovely crust whilst cooking.
In a mixing bowl add the flour and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs, caster sugar, vanilla essence and lemon zest to the well. With a whisk incorporate slowly the egg mixture into the flour until you have a smooth consistency.
In a small saucepan heat the butter until it reaches a golden hazelnut colour and leave to cool.
Slowly whisk in the milk followed by the cream and finally the butter.
Mix the mixture with the cherries and their juices and pour up to ¾ high into the buttered and sugared baking dish.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. The clafoutis is cooked when the blade of a knife inserted into the mixture comes out completely clean. To serve, sprinkle caster sugar over.