We got home from the pool today and discovered the raspberries I’d left out in a colander, after washing them for breakfast, had attracted a crowd of fruit flies. I guess we’re at that point in summer when everything needs to stay in the refrigerator.
The boys ran around me all day playing cops and robbers, and I could just as easily have been my teenaged self, watching my younger brother play the same game, or my grandmother Lorene, with my dad and his brothers. Summer somehow feels outside of place and time, and this day was no exception.
At the farmers market last Saturday, I was amazed to see that every kind of bean now seems to be available – romano, dragon, cranberry, green beans in a couple of varieties, and a few I’m forgetting. And there were small, earthy potatoes, beautiful in an ordinary way, carrots barely larger than those that get weeded out, summer squash in a riot of shapes, yellow and purple beets and kohlrabi and tender stalks of broccoli and CORN! And berries and cherries. I bought more than I could comfortably carry on the mile-long walk home.
I bought so many cherries, we still have some remaining nearly a week later. I pitted all that we had left – about 4 cups worth! – then filled the blender with about half of them, along with an approximately equal ratio of maple yogurt. We had smoothies for an afternoon snack. Then I made a clafoutis. There is nothing like cherries baked into something, and this particular something is quite special because of the carmelized sugar on top. It’s so simple to make, and so luxuriously good. If I bake nothing else all summer I’ll be satisfied knowing that I made this.
Adapted slightly from Tartine by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson
This recipe also works well with raspberries, apricots, and peaches.
2 cups (500 ml) whole milk
¾ cup (150 g) sugar, plus ¼ cup (50 g) sugar for topping
½ of a vanilla bean
pinch of salt
3 large eggs
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp (50 g) all-purpose flour
2 cups pitted cherries (or other fruit)
Preheat the oven to 425F. Lightly butter a 10-inch pie dish or ceramic quiche mold.
In a small saucepan, combine the milk, vanilla bean, 3/4 cup sugar, and pinch of salt. Place the pan over medium heat, stirring intermittently to dissolve the sugar, until the liquid is just under a boil. Remove from heat. Meanwhile, crack one of the eggs into a large, heatproof bowl. Gradually add the flour to the egg, whisking continually, until there are no lumps remaining. Add the remaining 2 eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition until the mixture is smooth.
Slowly ladle the hot milk mixture into the flour-egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the batter into the prepared dish. Gently, evenly distribute the fruit into the batter.
Bake until just set in the center and slightly puffed and browned around the outside, 30 to 35 minutes.
Remove the custard from the oven and turn up the temperature to 500F. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup sugar evenly over the top of the clafoutis. Return the custard to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to caramelize the sugar. Watch it carefully, as it will darken quickly.
Cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature. Leftovers make a terrific breakfast, straight out of the refrigerator.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings.