There is the porcelain from Limoges, there is the lace from Tulle and there is the clafoutis! What do all of these specialties have in common? They all make the pride of a region in the center of France called Limousin where clafoutis is originally from.
The origin of the word clafoutis is the subject of an etymological controversy. According to some people, the word would originally come from the Occitan word clafir or claufir which means “garnish” or “filling”. For others, the origin of the name goes back to the Latin expression clavum fingere which means “to plant a nail”, referring to the cherries, which are “planted” in the dough.
In Occitan, clafoutis is sometimes called pelhaire, as well as milliard or millard auvergnat.
Traditionally, clafoutis is a cake prepared with black cherries, preferably bigarreau. They are immersed in a dough similar to waffles, made from flour, eggs, milk and sugar.
For the purists, the secret of this delicious dessert lies in the cherry pits. It is strongly recommended not to remove the pits in order to preserve the juice, flavor and nutrients of the fruit.
Over time, several versions of clafoutis have appeared, so much so that it has now become a dessert for all seasons as instead of cherries, people have been using all kinds of fresh fruits. The fruit that is used should be firm and not release too much juice. The addition of liquid to the dough may compromise the consistency of the clafoutis after baking. The right consistency is reminiscent of a sweet pudding.
But beware ! Purists will still say that a clafoutis that is not prepared with cherries cannot be called a clafoutis but should be called a flognarde, like the excellent apple flognarde that Véra prepared for Bastille’s Day.
The use of other fruits makes it possible to prepare many equally delicious variations. Some examples of interpretations of clafoutis, or I should say… flognarde include pear and chocolate, white grape, apple, nectarine, apricot, banana, or mixed fruits.
Cherry is said to be the favorite fruit of the French, since its triumphal arrival during the Middle Ages. Among the fans of the fruit, are two illustrious people. Louis XV was so fond of cherries that he pushed for its development by encouraging the discovery of new varieties. He is also responsible for optimizing the cultivation of modern cherry. As for Napoleon, he loved cherries so much that the type of cherry he preferred now bears his name.
During the Middle Ages in France, cherries made it to the menus, whether raw or cooked in wine, and started to be served as dessert. This delicate and sweet fruit was widely appreciated, but do was the wood from its tree.
Did you know that there are numerous myths and legends about cherries from all over the world? Here are a few of them:
– In Greek mythology, the leaves of the cherry tree were the sacred plant of Venus and its fruits always carried good luck in love.
– For the Italians, always so romantic, and in Sicily precisely, it is said that love declarations made under a cherry tree lead to a lucky and happy relationship.
– The Saxon legends say that the cherry trees shelter the gods who protect the fields.
– The Chinese claim that cherries represent feminine beauty and the Japanese made cherry blossom their national symbol. Japan also provides its own explanation for the pink color of its flowers: they say that originally, cherry blossoms were white but after the samurais died in a battle, they were buried under cherry petals, which became rosy because of the blood of the mighty men.
OK, I admit, I have regularly made cherry clafoutis with pitted cherries in syrup (yes, what a sacrilege!) but my excuse has been that I have three young children who did not allow me to prepare a genuine clafoutis with whole cherries. This time, and specially for 196 flavors, I have stayed true to the authentic and traditional clafoutis recipe by using cherries with pits. A pure French delight that is fairly easy and quick to prepare.
And if it is the cherry season, you should not hesitate one more second!
This recipe is validated by our culinary expert in French cuisine, Chef Simon. You can find Chef Simon on his website Chef Simon – Le Plaisir de Cuisiner.
- 1 lb cherries
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 cup flour
- 4 Tbsp butter , melted
- 1 pinch salt
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 2 Tbsp butter (to grease the pan)
- 3 Tbsp sugar (for the garnish)
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Remove the cherry stems.
- Grease a round pan with butter and arrange the cherries.
- In a bowl, blanch the sugar and eggs. Then add the flour and salt. Stir in melted butter. Then pour the milk and stir to obtain a light and smooth dough. Pour the mixture over the cherries.
- Bake the clafoutis for 40 minutes.
- Sprinkle with sugar as you take the clafoutis out of the oven.
- Serve warm or cold.