I am always unprepared for the intensity of this season, ruled by the sun and violent storms.
The heat feels suffocating and damp, and when the wind blows, it is a hot wind. Every day the shining white clouds build up into flickering, violet storms piled high in the hazy sky, and where they break the lightening snaps and crackles, and thunder rolls around the sky, shaking everything under the stinging rain.
Even in the glaring sunshine there is the sound of thunder at the edges. When the sun does shine, it beats down, baking and bright.
With all the rain and sun the grass grows and grows. The garden becomes a hopeless tangle. The cows are moved each day through the high, green pasture, filled with beautiful wildflowers and smelling like honey. The milk flows and flows, udders are brimming full each morning. The milk jars are heavy with cream, and the butter is the color of the gold at the end of a summer rainbow, tasting of grass and richness.
And eggs, piles of them with bright yolks. This is also the season of berries – blackberries to be picked from briary tangles, blueberries dripping from the bushes in the orchard. And all over the black cherry trees are bowed down with fruit.
Clafoutis is a dessert very dear to my heart, half way between a custard and a cake. As a surly adolescent I was dragged on long hikes in the Alps-martimes with my grandmother and her sister on beautiful afternoons, the mountains before us blue in the golden sunshine, the pure air smelling of the bunches of fragrant wild lavender that grew between the rocks.
We would settle in a comfortable place, perhaps beside a water trough flowing with spring water from high in the mountains, and eat slices of the cake Ta-ta Gaby had baked, having a cherry pit spitting contest meanwhile, because the cherries are baked into the cake with their pits still intact.
In fact, the most terrible cake I’ve ever tasted was a Clafoutis made by Cousin Genou who tagged along on one of these outings. She had removed the pits and it was like eating sawdust, so I can only assume the cherry pits serve some essential function.
Black Cherry extract (extremely easy to make) is essential to this version of Clafoutis, though I only had the cherries soaking in brandy for 3-4 days rather than the usual 3 weeks.
Black Cherry Clafoutis
Butter (just a bit for buttering the pan)
2 cups cherries
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 cup cream
3 tablespoons Black Cherry Extract
For the glaze:
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Black Cherry Extract
- Heat the oven to 350F so it will be nice and hot.
- Butter a cake or tart pan, and spread the cherries out in a single layer on the bottom.
- In a bowl whisk up the eggs with the sugar. Sift in the flour and whisk well to avoid lumps.
- Pour in the cream gradually while whisking, make sure it looks smooth.
- Whisk in the black cherry extract.
- Pour over cherries in the buttered tart pan.
Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes, or until set. Cool gently.
For the glaze, mix the honey and black cherry extract together with a fork, and brush on top. Serve at room temperature.