Easy recipe for French Cherry Clafoutis, a classic dessert from the Limousin region in France. Traditionally made with cherries, it's so good for picnics and breakfast too. What cherries are best and discover our family's tips to make it light.
What Does a Cherry Clafoutis Taste Like?
The classic clafoutis is simply a baked custard with cherries, eggs and flour as the main ingredients.
So, is it eggy? Well, as it's a custard, there are 4 eggs in it plus a yolk but it's not really eggy like an omelette or a savoury quiche.
The batter is not unlike the batter used for French pancakes (crêpes). Likewise, eggs are used in crêpe batter but does it taste eggy? No as there's some flour in it. I prefer not to add a lot of flour to the recipe, as I find too much makes this a bit heavy and even a bit rubbery. To make it light, I prefer this recipe ratio.
The fresh fruits are also baked or roasted in the batter, which concentrates their flavours and makes them juicy. As we keep the cherry stones in, the result is a cherry dessert that explodes with natural flavours, with a slight hint of almond.
Many French chefs also create their own spin to the classic.
For example, French chef, Anne-Sophie Pic adds cinnamon and butter to the batter. She pre-cooks the cherries and serves it with a cinnamon cream. Chef Philippe Conticini also adds cinnamon - but also adds hazelnut flour, orange zest and tops with a Speculoos (Biscoff) crumble. While it's good, it's certainly not like the traditional tasting recipe.
What Cherries are Best for this Clafoutis Recipe?
Any kind of fresh cherries are best for a clafoutis. It depends how you like your cherries! Do you like them acidic or extra sweet? We had a Napoleon cherry tree in the garden and honestly, they were so acidic that we'd add too much sugar and it wasn't the same pleasure. So I wouldn't recommend, personally.
However, if we're lucky enough to visit Antoine's parents in Provence during cherry season in the early summer, my mother-in-law, Madeleine proudly rustles up her Clafoutis with local bigarreau cherries, les Burlat.
These dark-skinned cherries are huge and firm, deliciously sweet with only a slight acidity. Equivalents are Bing, Chelan, La Early Red (although it's black!), Black Douglas. They're easy to spot as are darker in colour and have a slight heart shape to them.
This recipe is also good with wild cherries (merises in French).
For more, see our French cherry market produce page.
The French word, Clafoutis, is occasionally spelled Clafouti in Anglophone countries, as the ending 's' isn't pronounced.
It sounds just as it's written, "Clafootee".
What Does Clafoutis Mean?
According to my Larousse Gastonomique French culinary dictionary (the hard copy has a better explanation), Clafoutis comes from the ancient French verb, Claufir. Clafir, in modern French, also means to fill (remplir) or sprinkle (parsemer).
Can I Cook Cherries without Pitting Them?
So many clafoutis recipes call for pitted cherries. However, just like it's traditionally made in the Limousin, we cook the cherries whole without pitting them. The result is that the clafoutis comes with a warning sign before eating (watch out for the stones!) and most of us politely dispose of the stones at the table. I say most of us, as Antoine - in his more natural Corsican style - rocks on the back of his chair, plotting his target as he catapults and projects them less than delicately into the garden, shrugging, 'Heh, je plante!' It's his Corsican way of saying he's planting cherry trees. Oh, pul-ease!
I may mock but keep the whole cherries with their stones. During baking for just 30 minutes, the stones impart their slightly almond flavour into the Clafoutis and don't explode their juices if they're unpitted. It's also far quicker than extracting the cherries with dark cherry-juiced hands like Jack-the-Ripper!
What's more, there's no need to buy any fancy pitting gadgets. So just throw them in as they are naturally and get the family to do the gardening at the table. However, if serving to those more fragile, I'd recommend you remove the stones.
Gluten Free Clafoutis Recipes
This recipe uses a little flour but to make a gluten free version, replace with half the amount of cornflour or cornstarch (Maïzena in France).
Likewise, for a gluten free version, replace plain flour with ground almonds (almond flour) as it's such a lovely combination with summer fruits. See my other Clafoutis recipes:
- Strawberry Almond Clafoutis recipe made with ground almonds or pistachios (on video and in this recipe post, I also make it with Mirabelle Plums or Apricot and Lavender);
- Blueberry and Lemon Clafoutis; and
- Raspberry and Lemon Verbena.
Cherry Clafoutis Recipe - the Classic French
Printable recipe card below
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/360°F (gas 4).
- Prepare the dish: butter an ovenproof china or pyrex dish (22cm diameter and 5cm deep) large enough to hold the cherries in a single layer. Sprinkle in the sugar, shaking it all around so that it coats the surface of the dish.
- Place the washed and dried cherries in it. An easy rule of thumb for amount of cherries used is that they should fill the dish in one layer. So when baking, they will be evenly distributed. We normally keep the stones but if you prefer without, then pit them first.
- Prepare the batter: combine the flour, vanilla powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Using a balloon whisk, mix in the eggs until the mixture is smooth. Continue whisking adding the milk, cream and Kirsch (or almond extract).
This way there will be no lumps in the batter.
- Optional nutty topping: I often add slivered almonds which toast nicely in the oven, adding a lovely texture - but this is not classic. Normally it's without but I love how the flavour echoes the almond-likeness of the cherries.
- Bake for about 35 minutes or until lightly browned and set. Leave to cool slightly then lightly dust with a little icing/confectioner's sugar.
Do you Eat Clafoutis Hot or Cold?
A cherry clafoutis is never served hot, straight out of the oven.
First leave to cool and either serve slightly warmed, at room temperature or chilled.
Serve slices directly from the dish.
Cherry Clafoutis - Crème Brûlée Style
Like most French households, we make this every cherry season. It's such a popular dish that I often make it without the recipe! Except this one time I completely forgot to add the sugar in the batter. In any case, there isn't much sugar in the batter as the cherries add some of the sweetness as they roast in the oven while baking.
So I added 1-2 tablespoons of Cassonade (French light brown sugar, refined cane or demerara) on top of the baked Clafoutis once it had cooled. As a result, I scorched the top with a blowtorch (or toast under the grill for a couple of minutes). It was a culinary mistake that ended up as a surprise treat - much like the Tarte Tatin.
What shall we call it? A Cherry Clafoutis Brûlée? If you love caramel like us, then this version is for you.
Speaking of caramel, don't forget the other custard cream classic, crème caramel.
Easiest Clafoutis Recipe on Video
To see how versatile this dessert is, see my Clafoutis demonstration video, made with different fruits and its gluten free version.
- deep ovenproof china or pyrex dish (22cm diameter and 5cm deep)
For the ovenproof dish:
- 10 g (1 tbsp) butter softened
- 10 g (1 tbsp) sugar
- 500 g (18oz) fresh black cherries washed, not pitted
- 50 g (2oz/6 tbsp) plain flour (all-purpose)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon vanilla powder (or extract)
- 65 g (3oz or ⅓ cup) sugar
- good pinch salt (fleur de sel)
- 4 eggs organic
- 1 egg yolk
- 150 ml (¼ pint/ ⅔ cup) whole milk
- 125 ml (4fl oz/ ½ cup) pouring cream (or 15% half fat cream)
- 1 tablespoon Kirsch/Amaretto liqueur (or 3 drops almond extract)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/360°F (gas 4). Butter an ovenproof china or pyrex dish (22cm diameter and 5cm deep) large enough to hold the cherries in a single layer. Sprinkle in the sugar, shaking it all around so that it coats the surface of the dish. Place the cherries in it (that have been washed and dried).
- Combine the flour, vanilla, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Using a balloon whisk, mix in the eggs until the mixture is smooth. Continue whisking adding the milk, cream and Kirsch (or almond extract). Pour over the cherries.
- Bake for about 35 minutes until set and lightly browned.
How to Serve ClafoutisLeave to cool and serve at room temperature directly from the dish or chilled with a light dusting of icing/confectioner's sugar.
Clafoutis RecipesThis dish is also delicious made with small fresh mirabelle plums, or see my recipes for a strawberry clafoutis or blueberry clafoutis when cherries are not in season.
Gluten Free ClafoutisReplace the flour with half the amount of cornflour/cornstarch for a gluten free version.
Cherry Clafoutis BrûléeSprinkle 1-2 tablespoon Cassonade/light brown or cane sugar on top of the chilled (baked) dessert, then either scorch the sugar using a blowtorch or pop under a hot grill for 2 minutes.
This recipe post was first published 11 June 2015 but has now been completely updated with new images
Have you tried this savoury asparagus clafoutis yet? It's a delicious light and summery supper dish with parmesan sauce.