Well happy Pride weekend and all that.
Frankly, I had conveniently managed to forget about it until my friend Sean mentioned that Cloris Leachman was to be Grand Marshall in this weekend’s big parade.
I’ve never much cared for Pride Weekend. It’s not that I don’t enjoy being gay, because I do. I can quote old movies with abandon, not worry about child support payments, and get away with saying things that most straight people would never dare to say.
And, of course, I am proud of the fact that I know who Cloris Leachman is. I think every homosexual is required by law to quote freely and liberally from The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
I love being gay. I just don’t love big parades– they make me wonder how I’m supposed to get across town. It’s kind of like how I feel about Christmas. I love the spirit of the thing, but I hate the clothes, the crowds, and the decorative motifs.
So no pink today, no Sarah-Tucker-there’s-a-rainbow-on-your-table.
But there is fruit.
That’s the best tie-in I can think of for clafoutis.
Many of you know this dessert already– it is, at heart, baked pancake batter dotted with fruit. There are recipes for apricot clafoutis (delicious), clementine clafoutis (if you don’t know how I feel about clementines, please visit here), and eggplant clafoutis (?). If you can stick it into pancake batter, it’s probably been made into a clafoutis.
A traditional clafoutis, however, is to be made with cherries. Amen.
Some folks run with the pancake theme, serving them warm and puffy and fresh from the oven for breakfast like one would a Dutch Apple Pancake. Do what you will, but the flavors blend together and texture becomes more custard-like if you have the patience to allow it to spend the night in your refrigerator.
The clafoutis is sort of like a Pride weekend trick– if light and fluffy, fresh and hot is your thing, go for it. Out of your life and on to the next dessert, as it were. I just happen to prefer my clafoutis after it has hung around my kitchen for a little bit and settled down.
And I’m kind of proud of that.
Serves 4 to 8-ish, depending upon how you slice it.
This charming, no-fuss little number hails from the Limousin region of France, located not quite in the heart of the country, but more or less where the liver might be located.
Traditional clafoutis calls for leaving the pits in the cherries, the wisdom being that the pits lend a pleasant almond-like flavor to the dish. Of course, there are so few people left living in the Limousin region and those who remain are mostly elderly, that chipping a tooth is not considered much of a risk.
1 pound of cherries (or enough to populate the surface of an 8-inch pan without touching each other), pitted or not pitted. The choice and the risk are yours.
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
3/4 cups heavy cream (you can get away with using milk, but the day-after texture will suffer greatly, I promise).
6 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 to 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Powdered sugar, for dusting
1. Preheat oven to 350° F
2. In a blender, combine eggs, flour, cream, salt, vanilla and almond extracts, and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Blend well, scraping down the sides of the blender from time to time. Or whisk aggressively. Your choice. When blended, add half the slivered almonds to the batter and stir them about.
3. In an 8-inch cast iron skillet or heat-proof baking pan, add butter and 2 tablespoons sugar until all is melted, slightly nutty-smelling, and syrupy. Add cherries; cooking and coating them for about two minutes.
4. Pour the batter gently into the pan around the cherries. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the and pop into the center of your oven.
5. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until sufficiently browned and puffy, remove from the oven and let cool.
6. If your clafoutis is not sufficiently browned and puffy, do as I both say and do– sprinkle the remaining almonds over the top and pop it under the broiler. Works like a charm unless you burn it.
7. Dust with powdered sugar for garnish just before serving with crème fraîche, lightly whipped cream, or all by itself.