Raymond Blanc's Cherry Clafoutis
Clafoutis is one of the great classics of French family cuisine. Of course, my Mum created the best recipe. This dessert is often featured both at Le Manoir and at Brasserie Blanc. Every household, every family, should know this dessert; it is also easy to prepare.
Serves (Yield): 4
Difficulty rating: ●○○
Preparation time: 30 mins + 1hrs maceration Cooking time: 30mins
Special equipment: China baking dish 5cm deep x 20cm, Pastry brush, Cherry stoner.
Planning Ahead: The clafoutis mix can be prepared 1 day in advance. Bake the clafoutis at the same time as you start the meal to ensure it is just at the right temperature at the time you want it, just warm is best.
To butter and sugar the dish
10g Unsalted butter, melted
30g 2 tbsp Sugar, caster
To macerate the cherries
450g Cherries (*1), best quality ripe; stoned } Macerate
50g 3 tbsp Sugar, caster } together
30ml 3 tbsp Kirsch (optional - or more! } for 2 hours (*2) But not much more)
To make the batter
2 Eggs, organic/free range, medium (*3)
45g 3 tbsp Caster sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla essence, the best! (*4)
20g Plain flour
50g Milk, whole
75g Cream, whipping (*5)
1 pinch Sea salt
20g Butter, unsalted, cooked to beurre noisette (*6)
To finish the clafoutis: (optional)
10g Caster sugar
To line the baking dish
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 move around the dish to coat the inside of the dish, shake off the excess.
To make the Clafoutis
In a large mixing bowl whisk the eggs, caster sugar and vanilla essence or puree together until creamy. Add the flour and whisk until smooth(*7) then slowly incorporate the milk, cream, salt and butter (beurre noisette).
Mix the batter with the cherries and their juices and pour into the prepared baking dish.
To cook the Clafoutis
Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30–35 minutes. The clafoutis is cooked when the blade of a knife inserted into the mixture comes out completely clean. (*8) Sprinkle with caster sugar and serve just warm.
Chef’s note (*1):
*1 Cherries – at home we had three fruit trees behind the house, one of them was a Montmorency cherry, bright red, small and deliciously acidic and tangy, but any other varieties can be used. From the big fat Big Arrow to the juicy Morrello. The kirsch is an eau de vie made from cherries, and usually the very variety of cherries that my mum used to use. Orchards of cherries in the UK are being revived and Kent and Hertfordshire are growing some wonderful varieties, such as Sunburst, Kordia, Montmorency.
*2 Maceration – the sugar will slowly permeate the fruit and intensify their flavour.
*3 Egg quality - Always buy Organic or free range eggs. They follow good husbandry practices and good ethical standards. For all preparation where egg white is raw you must use an egg with the lion mark which comes from a vaccinated hen so you run no risk of Salmonella.
Markings on Eggs - There is some red writing on the shell which does give us important information on the freshness, the quality, and provenance.
The “Lion” stamp - Doesn’t mean it is the best quality but you can be reassured it is safe to use in your preparation.
Best-before date – The date sets the shelf life of the egg which is 21 days after it has been laid. Try to use fresh eggs.
Numbers - There is also a number which identifies the standards of quality and assurance scheme and system of husbandry – 0 for organic, 1 for free range, 2 for barn eggs and 3 for cage eggs.
Any of those numbers are followed by a country code (e.g. UK) and a set of numbers which identifies the farm from which the egg originated.
*4 Vanilla syrup or essence – you can buy some extremely bad essences, but make sure you buy authnetic essence of vanilla and not a chemical mix. Every recipe in the world tells you to infuse a whole vanilla pod in milk, cream etc. then to be discarded and occasionally washed off and recycled as Vanilla sugar. A good vanilla pod will cost you up to £2.50 each. I have found a much better way to use 100% of the pod. It is simple and keeps for as long as you want to as the sugar content will act as a preservative, store in a sealed jar in the fridge. Roughly chop together 6 large vanilla pods, removing the hard nib at one end and puree together with a warm sugar syrup (100ml water and 100g of caster sugar boiled together)
*5 Whipping cream – of course you can use just cream but I find it lighter and just as good to use half cream and half milk.
*6 Foaming butter – the foaming butter will give a wonderful roundness to the dish and a nutty flavour to the dish.
The butter will start to foam at about 130C, it will go hazelnut colour at about 150 – 160C which is the stage that interests the most, at this temp the colour and smell is due to the cooking of the solid particles (Whey, milk casein) in the butter, now it is the perfect stage to caramelise the meat with out drying it – see page. At 175C it will burn, which will be highly indigestible and carcinogenic.
152°C Beurre Noisette
160°C Dark Beurre Noisette
170°C Bitter Dark
*7 Simplicity This great classic has the advantage that very little can go wrong. The flour will support the binding of the eggs, which will firm up in to the most yummy desert. It is really foolproof.
*8 When is it cooked – there are a number of unmistakable signs to show when the clafoutis is cooked. If the top surface is slightly convex , it is cooked. If there is a small dip in the centre then it is under cooked. It is always the centre of such desserts that cooks last, so you must check this part. You can check if the Clafoutis is ready by inserting your knife in the middle and if it comes out clean like a cake it is ready.
Other stone fruits would work just as well; Peaches, Plums, Apricots, or Figs used in the same amounts.
1 x chopping board
1 x kitchen scales
1 x China baking dish, 5cm deep x 20cm Æ
1 x Pastry brush
1 x Cherry stoner
1 x Scrape card, plastic
1 x timer
1 x set of tablespoons
1 x Balloon Whisk
1 x Wooden Spoon / Stiff Spatula
1 x set of knives
8 x 6 cm
3 x 9cm
4 x 12cm
1 x 17cm
1 x 23cm
(c) Raymond Blanc