>> Friday, June 28, 2013
Have I mentioned that I grew up in the heart of Michigan's fruit-growing region? Michigan is known for fantastic apples, cherries, peaches, and berries. When I was growing up in Southwestern Michigan, we celebrated a Blossomtime Festival at the beginning of summer. The priest would go out to the fields to bless the buds. There was a Glad/Peach Festival that I loved, because I grew prizewinning gladiolas in my mom's garden that beat out adult competitors every year. Bike parades, plenty of fruit stands, and summers picking in the hot sun. It was fun growing up in a small town.
One of the biggest and most famous fruit festivals in Michigan is the Traverse City Cherry Festival. Traverse City is beautiful, with just the right conditions to grow luscious crops of cherries every year. They welcome the world to all sorts of cherry-related fun at the start of the cherry season. This year, the festival starts June 29th.
This recipe celebrates cherries, too. A clafoutis is a light and sweet custard pie, similar to a flan, from the Limousin region of central France (yes, my mind is still on a European vacation!). Clafoutis (clah-foo-tee) is usually baked in a wide shallow gratin pan or skillet and cut into wedges. Since we didn't have that pan, and wanted more than thin wedges, we cooked it in a 9x12 casserole dish. It was so quick that I whipped it up in minutes and let it cook while I dressed for a dinner party last week.
It was delicate and fabulous under the Super Moon on the longest day of summer. Oh, do I love cherries!
Flour for dusting the pan
1/2 cup raw slivered almonds
1 pound sweet black cherries, pitted (you can use frozen cherries if you thaw them and drain them)
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk (we used skim milk)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar (we used dark brown sugar in the photo, because it was all we had, but light brown will give it a lighter golden color and a more delicate taste)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup crème fraîche or plain yogurt at room temperature
2 tbsp powdered sugar
DirectionsPreheat the oven to 375 degrees. Oil and flour a 12-inch round baking dish or a 9x12 rectangle casserole dish.
Heat a small dry pan. Toast the almond slivers on medium-high heat until the almonds are golden and fragrant. Allow them to cool, then sprinkle them over the bottom of the cooking dish. Arrange the cherries over the almonds.
In a mixer bowl or food processor, whip together the eggs, milk, and almond extract. Add the sugar and flour and blend until well mixed. Pour over the cherries.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top is well browned and the center is set. Cut into squares or wedges and serve at room temperature drizzled with the cream and a sprinkle of powdered sugar.