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Cherry clafoutis is a dessert originating in the southern part of France, in an area known as Limousin. It is traditionally made with cherries, though other fruits also can be used. The fruit is placed in the bottom of an oven-safe dish. A simple batter is made and poured over top of the fruit. The dish is placed in the oven and cooked until it is done, after which it is sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar and served warm or hot.
The batter for the dessert is a basic flour, egg and milk mixture with some sugar added. The consistency can vary depending on the tastes of the person making the cherry clafoutis. It can range from being very stiff, like a traditional cake batter, to a very thin mix. The results can range from a dense cake to a not-quite-solid filling that is a cross between a cake and a pudding.
The traditional fruit used in a clafoutis is the cherry. These could be black cherries, sweet cherries or sour cherries. In the 19th century, cherry clafoutis was baked with the first ripe cherries of the season. As time progressed, it became a dish that was made with whatever fruits were in season at the time.
Part of making the dish is the cooking vessel for the cherry clafoutis. It is meant to be baked in the same container in which it will be served. Classically, this is a deep earthenware bowl. Such a bowl will help to retain heat and brown the sides of the dessert. Retaining the heat after cooking is done is important so it can be brought to the table and served while it remains hot, although some people prefer it served merely warm.
There are options other than an earthenware bowl for baking and serving cherry clafoutis. One is a cast iron skillet. This is practical and still provides a nice presentation. The cast iron will retain heat and keep the dessert warm for a long time. An important aspect of the cooking dish is that it must be buttered before being filled to help the cake brown, prevent it from sticking and provide flavor.
Clafoutis does not have to be made of just of cherries. It can be made of nearly anything that can be baked into the batter. Fruits such as pears, figs and plums are all popular ideas. When clafoutis is made using a fruit other than a cherry, it is sometimes called a flaugnarde instead of clafoutis, though the basic concept is the same.
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