In early summer when the cherries come into season here in Washington State, we celebrate with a Pacific Northwest Bing Cherry Clafouti. Fresh Bing cherries steeped in liqueur then baked in a rich batter held in a buttery shortbread crust.
The Washington Cherry-
The clafouti is a traditional French pastry that isn't well-known in America. Clafouti, or clafoutis, is typically made with cherries, but other fruits work well like rhubarb, blackberries, apricots and later in the summer peaches. The clafouti, pronounced claah-foo-tee, opens your taste sensations to the flavor of fresh cherries in a different style of tart.Jump to Recipe
I live in the eastern part of Washington State in the Spokane area. Wenatchee and Yakima in the central part of Washington, are home to some of America's largest cherry orchards. Cultivated cherries date back to the late 1840's in the Pacific Northwest. The Bing cherry is the number one variety harvested and is deep purple-red and sweet. The Bing is perfect cherry for eating yet also fine in baked goods.
The Rainier, an orange-reddish cherry, is large, less sweet and more expensive because of its limited supply. The Rainier is almost always eaten fresh and not used in pastries or pies. Pie cherries and sour cherries aren't seen in markets as much. Usually canned, they are usually used for cakes and pies in batters that call for a lot of sugar. Read about Washington Cherries at the Northwest Cherry Growers-Washington State Fruit Commission.
A French Cherry Tart from America's Home Kitchens-
In our Clafouti recipe, we pit fresh cherries then soak them in kirsch, (cherry liqueur), overnight boosting their flavor and juices while adding a bit of booze. You can also steep the cherries in rum, brandy, bourbon. We prefer to use pure spirits rather than a flavored liquor like coconut rum or vanilla vodka which masks the cherry flavor too much. Gobel Non-Stick Tart Pans come in a variety of shapes and sizes to create sweet and savory tarts, appetizers, desserts and more.
Easy Shortbread Crust-
Rather than using a basic pie crust, we use our recipe for shortbread to make the crust. Shortbread is a mixture of butter, powdered sugar and flour, giving the crust body yet a flaky, buttery flavor and delicate crumb.
See our recipe for Apple Tart with Smoked Cheddar Custard and Toasted Hazelnut Shortbread. We give you the tips on making the crust, (without the hazelnuts). And never throw away pastry or shortbread crumbs. In our Clafouti recipe, we use the shortbread trimmings to thicken the custard during baking.
The clafouti is baked in a tart pan with a removable bottom, revealing the crust and presenting the clafouti for serving. The batter for a clafouti is a blend of eggs, milk, cream and a bit of vanilla. As the cherries bake, the batter sets into a custard-like texture. Traditionally the clafouti is served at room temperature with whipped cream, but it's also good slightly warm or chilled and served with ice cream.
Amaretto Cherry Clafouti
In early summer, cherries come into season here in Washington State and we always celebrate with new cherry recipes. The clafouti is one of our favorites, and this year we've added a new clafouti. Fresh Bing cherries steeped in Amaretto almond liqueur then baked in a rich batter held in a buttery shortbread crust.
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 12 tbsp. butter, melted
Cherry Clafouti Batter-
- 1 ½ lbs. pitted Bing cherries
- ⅓ cup Amaretto, (Italian almond liqueur) substitute German Kirsch or cherry brandy
- 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¼ vanilla bean substitute ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- ¼ cup powdered sugar for dusting
For Shortbread Crust-
Heat the oven to 350. In a bowl, combine the flour, powdered sugar and melted butter and stir to combine and make a dough.
Using your fingers pat the dough into the bottom of a 9" round non-stick tart pan with removable bottom. Use a paring knife to trim the excess pastry from the edge of the tart pan. Save the pastry crumbs. Prick the crust all over with a fork to help keep the crust from rising while baking. Another great technique is to put a sheet of parchment on the dough and add some pie weights.
Par-bake the crust just until it is set and just starts to brown, about 10 minutes.
Cherry Clafouti Batter and Baking-
Place the cherries in a glass bowl or plastic container. Don't use a metal bowl as it will react with the liqueur. Pour in the Amaretto liqueur and toss the cherries. Let the cherries steep in the liqueur for at least one hour at room temperature or covered in the fridge overnight.
Heat the oven to 375.
Add the flour, salt and sugar to a mixing bowl. With the mixer running, add the whole eggs, egg yolks milk and cream and blend on low speed. Cut the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the batter, or pour in the vanilla extract. Mix the batter again to incorporate the vanilla.
Drain the cherries from the liqueur, Reserve the liqueur for making cocktails and sauces. Arrange the cherries in a single layer in the shortbread crust.
Pour the batter over the cherries up to about ¼" from the rim of the tart pan. Using the trimmed pastry crust, and sprinkle the bits over the cherries and batter. The pastry crumbs help thicken the batter during baking and add texture to the top of the clafouti. Sprinkle the sliced almonds on top or the cherries.
Bake the clafouti in the oven until the top is browned and the custard is set, about 40 minutes. Remove the clafouti from the oven and place on a cookie rack. Let the clafouti cool 10 minutes, then unmold from the outer tart shell ring. Cool before serving.
When the clafouti is cooled to room temperature, dust with powdered sugar and cut into slices. Serve the clafouti with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.