Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Quiet Night with Cherry Cake

When you find yourself at the cool end of a warm day, finished with work and settling onto your couch with a good movie and great company nearby, it is most certainly an occasion that calls for cake.

This fact is only further supported when you have the first of summer's cherries in your fridge, pink, red, and ruby...just waiting for some sugar.

I can personally attest to the fact that on a typical night it often requires great feats of strength to put down the chinese food take-out menu and make yourself something for dinner. Cake? On a weeknight? Who has the time?

Clatfoutis is your answer. Sounds French and fancy, yes. And well, French it is. But fancy? Not this cake. A classic dessert francais, typically baked with cherries though almost any fruit can be substituted, Clafoutis is almost like a custard, but golden brown on top and in this case packed with sweet and tart, brilliant, shiny cherries.

Like couch potatoes Russ and I spent Monday night wielded chopsticks, pitting cherries on the sofa, squirting pink juice on our arms and faces, thankful that our coffee table is already stained and that our carpet is dark...

During the first year of my time spent studying pastry, I took a class with one particularly snappy chef who was known to bring a tear to more than one sweet pastry-chef-in-the-making. Broad shouldered and angry eyebrowed, she never failed to make me chuckle on the days when she would scream, thick with the accent of rural Pennsylvania, "Class! Today we are going to attempt to make clah-FOO-die!"

No matter how you want to pronounce it, who can be angry when you are baking with a bowlful of these?

So. Why now is this dessert the answer? Flour and sugar stirred together, eggs and milk whisked in to combine, in less than a full sentence you are almost ready to put the cake in the oven. You don't even need to cut the cherries. And, in this particular recipe, like many others, there isn't a pat of butter to be found...so if you feel so inclined, pretend its not even dessert.

For this recipe I used muffin tins rather than the traditional round cake pan or skillet, creating mini clafoutis perfect for seconds. Or thirds. Or fourths...

(I just ran to the fridge and ate another one.)

On top of work and bills and meetings and errands, sometimes all it takes is a little cake to bring some well deserved quiet.

I will admit that baking the cake in the smaller muffin rounds created a darker edge than I'd have liked; make sure you keep an eye on the little guys so the outside doesn't burn! With this recipe they will souffle in the oven and sink a bit once they come out. It's okay. Taste one, you'll see.

If you aren't a cherry fan use sliced strawberries, peaches, blueberries or plums. All you need is a few minutes in your kitchen, a calm evening and an appetite for cake. Pick out a good movie, preheat the oven, and treat yourself to a little piece and quiet.

Cherry Clafoutis
adapted from The King Arthur Flour Company's Baking Companion

3/4 C flour
2/3 C sugar
3 eggs
1 1/4 C whole milk
1 1/4 t vanilla
2-3 cups pitted cherries, whole

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease two muffin trays and set aside.
2. In a bowl whisk together flour and sugar.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs until light and foamy.
4. Add milk and vanilla to eggs and whisk to combine.
5. Add egg mixture to flour in three additions, whisking to make sure there are no lumps!
6. Place 4 cherries into the cups of the greased muffin tray.
7. Fill 1/2 of each muffin cup with batter.
8. Bake for 25-30 minutes. A tester should come out of the cakes clean and the tops should just be turning slightly golden.

*An alternative to the muffin tins, as suggested by the cookbook authors, this recipe can be baked in a 9" cake pan for 40-45 min.

approx. 20 miniature clah-FOO-dies!


Kimara@weefolkart said...

I think it is rather serendipitous that I just discovered your blog a few days ago, given I asked my readers today for cherry recipes. OMG these look yummy! (Actually, the post is about cherry appliques, but I've got cherries on my brain right now, and I'm on the lookout for new and yummy cherry creations.) I'm going to go back into my post and add an EDIT linking to your site. Hope some of our readers wander over. Delicious and simple... well worth plugging!

Cortney said...

I came here from Wee Folk Art. Kim is right, these look so good. It's a good thing I don't have any cherries at home or I'd be trying this recipe tonight instead of going to bed like I should. Thanks for sharing.

momma rae said...

also here from wee folk art. i don't have any cherries on hand, but do need to do something with a plethora of blueberries. this looks like just the thing! thanks for sharing! ;)

BooBear said...

Kim doesn't often send us off to another site, so when she does, I listen. I can see why she was impressed. These look delicious. I have a question, though. I never have whole milk in the house. We always use 1/2%. Can I make it with that or do I need to spring for a quarter of 4%?

kaitlin said...

Good question boo bear!

I think there are some recipes where substituting is fine and others where is gets a bit riskier... For this one because there is already such a little amount of fat in the recipe I would try to use whole milk. Alternatively you could add 1T or so of butter and see how it comes out...

Happy clafoutis-ing!

kaitlin said...

And thanks to all the weefolk folks for stopping by for a snack!

It's great to have you.