What I’m Baking: Sour Cherry Clafoutis

I love cherries. Sweet, juicy, delicious cherries! Up until a few years ago I wasn’t crazy about sour cherries. Mainly because I’d only had the unbelievably tart ones that are not even palatable unless covered in piles of sugar. Then one day I was picking saskatoon berries at my local U-pick and noticed that they had a sour cherry u-pick section. I grabbed a fat dark red cherry off of the bush and stuck it in my mouth, expecting to regret that decision. But to my surprise, it was a little tart, but also very sweet! I immediately decided I needed a sour cherry tree/bush for my own yard, and was happy to find that they sold young bushes at the u-pick, so I ended up taking one home that day.

My cherry harvests from that bush have been pretty minimal since I planted it – maybe a handful or two every season. Last year I decided I wanted another bush because I was a bit disappointed by the lack of harvests from the first bush, so I ended up planting its star-crossed lover on the opposite side of the yard (the varieties are Romeo and Juliet). But luckily this year I got the first decent harvest from the older bush (the newer one gave me a grand total of 3 cherries). And luckily I had picked all of the cherries 2 days before the giant hail storm that wiped out most of my garden!

So I decided to make sour cherry clafoutis, my favorite summer dessert, using Martha Stewart’s recipe. If you like butter and eggs and sugar and sour cherries (who doesn’t?!), you will love this recipe.

Sour Cherry Clafoutis

Here are a few notes on the recipe:

– I kind of fail at making traditional pie crusts, but this recipe works for me because of the egg yolk which keeps the crust from crumbling and making a terrible mess. It will crumble a bit, but you can stick it back together. And if you use tart pans that don’t require you to make fancy pie edging like I do, your tart will look great.
– It is a really simple recipe but you do need a little planning ahead since the dough needs to be refrigerated for at least an hour before you bake it. I usually make the dough either the day before or else as soon as I get home from work in the afternoon (if I’ve remembered to bring the butter to room temperature beforehand).
– The only thing that sucks about this recipe is having to pit the cherries. I have this cherry pitter from Lee Valley which seems to work pretty well, but if you’re pitting a lot of cherries at once, I recommend you do it outside because things will look like a murder scene when you’re finished.
– I’m pretty sure this recipe would work for other fruit and berries. Specially, I’m thinking raspberries or plums.

I’ve learned recently that the newer sour cherry varieties are bred to be sweeter than traditional sour cherries, which would explain why I wasn’t really crazy about sour cherries up until the last few years. I’ve also pruned my cherry bushes to be more tree-like and this has been great so far. I’m always really hesitant to planting trees in my back yard because it is such a small space, but the cherry trees will probably be no bigger than 7 or 8 feet when fully mature, so they are really perfect for my space.

I’m going to use the remaining cherries for sour cherry lemonade, or perhaps a boozy drink with gin. But I would love to hear about any recipes you’ve had success with!

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