“All my life I have faced a dilemma that the French sum up as being ‘between the hammer and the anvil’, a sort of ‘between-the-devil-and-the-deep-blue-sea’ situation. In my case, the two poles of this dilemma are savoury and sweet. I refuse to allow the more celebrated savoury cuisine to be considered in any way superior because, for me, with my beginnings in pâtisserie, desserts are an affair of the heart .”
Michel Roux – Excerpt from his Autobiography Life is a Menu (Reminiscences and Recipes from a Master Chef)
Constable – London – 2000
Oh what a beautiful sentence to describe desserts! “An affair of the heart”! That is exactly how it should be. Pâtisserie is so exact, so precise but yet so imaginative and indulgent.
When I first attended baking classes in a local Culinary School that’s exactly what I expected to find, the technique of course, but with a pinch of madness and creativity. Instead I found a Head Baker who had not a single inch of passion in himself or in what he was doing.
What does it make you almost moan when you have a bite of a well executed dessert? In my opinion is the amount of passion and feeling the chef can express while doing it, because let’s face it, anybody who can follow directions can cook a mousse au chocolat, a sponge cake or (like in this post) a clafoutis. But it takes real talent and devotion to be able to make the WOW factor be present. Mr. Roux has that ability.
To him, a french classic revisited.
Clafoutis (French Baked Cherry Dessert)
- 4 eggs
- 160 g flour
- 160 g butter (for the batch)
- 300 ml milk
- 120 g caster sugar
- 2 vanilla pods
- 60 g butter (for the baking process)
- 400 g ripe cherries, stoned ( stalk removed )
- A pinch of sugar
Preheat the oven to 200°C
Beat the eggs in a bowl with a fork without overbeating just slightly, then lightly beat in the flour.
Melt the butter (for the batch) in the meantime (either in the microwave or stove) and let it cool aside.
Whisk in the melted butter, and slowly whisk in the milk and the sugar.
Cut the vanilla pods lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add the vanilla to the previous mixture.
Take 20g of the butter (for the baking process) into small pieces and set aside. Use the remaining 40g to grease an ovenproof dish, about 20 cm of diameter. You can also bake smaller size clafoutis by using the same batch and filling smaller dishes.
Spread the cherries evenly over the base of the dish, then pour the batter mixture over them.
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 200ºC. Lower the oven setting to 180°C, and cook for a further 25 minutes.
Top the clafoutis with the reserved butter pieces and bake for another 5 minutes, or until set.
To check if it is fully cooked insert a sharp knife or a baking “needle” in the middle, if it comes out clean, the clafoutis is cooked.
Sprinkle with sugar and let sit for 5 minutes. Serve it warm, from the baking dish, on its own or accompanied by whipped cream or Crème Anglaise.
Thanks for reading 🙂