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Fruit is the Star of this Rustic Dessert

While I’m usually more than satisfied to enjoy a handful of bright red cherries or bite into a juicy white peach, with its rosy-hued flesh, sometimes I want to step it up with a baked dessert.

One of my favorite summer desserts is a French-style pudding. This giant baked pancake showered with confectioners’ sugar is a spectacular, yet rustic dessert – and the good news is that it is the definition of a Seriously Simple dessert.

Cherry Clafoutis – pronounced “klah-foo-TEE” – became popular in France in the 19th century in the town of Limousin, where they cooked the unpitted cherries in a vanilla-scented batter. Each family had their own closely guarded recipe. The thinking was that the pits added extra flavor. They obviously didn’t have a cherry pitter gadget that makes pitting cherries painless and quick.

Any variety of cherry is fine to use, though I tend to prefer Bing, Queen Anne or Rainier – the sweeter the better. Make sure to remove the stems and then pit them using a pitter. If you are really in a hurry, you can use frozen pitted cherries; but thoroughly defrost and drain them first. White peaches have a distinctly floral quality, but you can use any fresh peach variety or even nectarines.

Serve this directly from an ovenproof baking dish or you can serve it from a nonstick gratin dish or cast iron skillet, which gives it a casual, homey touch. This is best served right out of the oven.

INGREDIENTS
White Peach and Cherry Clafoutis
Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 medium white peaches, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cups pitted fresh sweet cherries or thawed, drained frozen cherries
  • 1 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups half-and-half
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Place the baking dish on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the bottom of the dish with 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar. Spread the peaches and cherries in the bottom of the dish and bake for 10 minutes. There may be a lot of juice; do not drain. Set aside.

2. While the fruit is cooking, in a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs with 3/4 cup of the granulated sugar until blended, about 1 minute. Add half the flour mixture, then the half-and-half, then the rest of the flour mixture. Add the vanilla and lemon zest, and stir to combine.

3. Pour the batter over the fruit. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Bake until puffed and golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Dust the top with confectioners’ sugar, using a fine-mesh sieve, and serve immediately.

Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.


Tasty tips

  • Look for cherry pitters in cookware stores or on online like the Oxo pitter (oxo.com).
  • Use this recipe as a template for other seasonal fruits, such as apricots, plums, apples or pears.
  • This is also good for breakfast, brunch or afternoon tea.
  • Use a serrated peeler to peel the peaches.

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