Someone please lend us a hand-- solve this mystery if you can-- is it cake or is it pan? Who's clafouti?
It's funny now how some things have such deep history by now. Vital Information may be all Mr. Local Food Guy here in 2007, but here
we were five years ago on Chowhound, basically having the same conversation-- and in my case, having the same dessert I made yesterday, cherry clafouti/clafoutis. As I said then, I make this every year when cherries get really good, not least because I'm still working my way through recovering my investment in that first bottle of kirschwasser, cherry liqueur. It's one of the definite milestones of summer for me and my family, the one or maybe two clafoutii/clafoutises I manage to make while cherries are good and cheap.
Traditionally this is a dessert of whole cherries, baked in a kind of pancake-like batter without a crust. My version, though, is Joel Robuchon's adaptation from the Simply French book written by Patricia Wells, which turns it into much more of a traditional custard tart with a splash of liquor for sophistication. Robuchon's version has a sweet pastry crust (I use the recipe in the same book, which has a whole vanilla bean in each crust and is quite wonderful), and it pits the cherries and then bakes them for a few minutes in the kirschwasser and sugar to get some of the liquid out.
Pour a simple custard around it, using vanilla sugar
and a little more of the kirschwasser:
And bake till it's browned and set. I could make this in November with cherries from Chile or New Zealand, I'm sure, but even though I'm no localvore overall, this is one of those things I feel honor bound to make only when cherries are in season-- and of course the reward for my punctiliousness is how especially wonderful the cherries are (I bought mine from the Flamin' Fury peach guy at Green City last week). I hold back, I don't make this the rest of the year, then summer comes and it's like an old friend is in town for a short visit. If I could have it anytime I might not make clafouti for years. Since there's only a short window of time in which I can have it, I never miss it.
What's your clafouti, in that same seasonal way?