julia’s cherry clafouti and a side of ham

“It’s fun to get together and have something good to eat at least once a day. That’s what human life is all about — enjoying things.” ~ Julia Child

Something magical happens whenever I make a Julia Child recipe that doesn’t happen with Martha, Mario, Giada or anyone else.

I hear Joooolia’s voice — cheery, chirpy, hooting and emphatic, reading aloud all the ingredients, explaining what I should do every step of the way, reminding me, “Above all, have a good time!”

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.”

Making french bread on “The French Chef,” Episode 222, 1971, photo by Paul Child (Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University)

Phew! I’m glad she said that, because I wasn’t planning to tackle her 15-page French Bread recipe any time soon. It’s summer, the living is easy, and Julia has just the thing for those of us clamoring for an easy sweet fix. Oui oui, clafoutis!

Cherry Clafoutis (spelled with a final “s” or not, both are correct), originated from the Limousin region of France, a traditional peasant food in the cherry season, and “about as simple a dessert to make as you can imagine: a pancake batter poured over fruit in a fireproof dish, then baked in the oven.”

Yes, it has my name written all over it. I love cherries! And I love saying, “clafoutis.” It’s so, well,  French. ☺ When you’ve had your fill of cobblers and crisps (is it possible?), and want a little something different to take advantage of the bounty of seasonal fruits, clafoutis is the way to go. Julia’s recipe calls for fresh black cherries, but any sweet cherries, canned or frozen, will do. Just make sure they’re pitted and drained (or thawed). If cherries aren’t your thing, use blueberries, apples, pears, or blackberries (a flan made with these other fruits would technically be called a flaugnard).

Anyway you slice it, it’s truly delish! Serve it warm, dusted with a little confectioner’s sugar, maybe with a side of vanilla ice cream. That’s the thing with Mastering the Art of French Cooking — different recipes for different skill levels. Invest a little time or a lot. You decide. The whole point is not to be intimidated by FRENCH CUISINE.

While making this clafouti, I stood a little taller as I channeled Julia, reveling in the whir of the blender and the heady scent of vanilla (an entire tablespoon!), marveling at the perfect roundness of those flirty globes of sweetness. From a simple recipe there is joy in process, a connection to a mentor, a resplendent feast for the senses.


CLAFOUTI (Cherry Flan)
serves 6-8

1 1/4 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour
3 cups cherries, pitted
1/3 cup sugar
powdered sugar

In a blender blend the milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and flour. Pour a 1/4 inch layer of the batter in a buttered 7 or 8 cup lightly buttered fireproof baking dish or  2″ deep pie plate. Place in the oven until a film of batter sets in the pan. Remove from the heat and spread the cherries over the batter. Sprinkle on the 1/3 cup of sugar. Pour on the rest of the batter. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. The clafouti is done when puffed and brown and a knife plunged in the center comes out clean. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, serve warm.
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~Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One by Julia Child, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle (Knopf, 1961).
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Don’t you love the mischievous gleam in her eye? She’s always up to something! (Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University)

To top off this lighthearted post, wanted to share several of my favorite Julia TV moments. She was a natural-born ham and lifelong prankster, who participated in many amateur theatre productions while in school. She even wrote a play once to give herself a lead role. Not exactly the shy sort. She was made for television — totally unflappable, a great improviser with terrific comedic timing. No one can tickle a lobster or pound a mallet like Julia. With her giant fright knife, such a cut-up!

“I think every woman should have a blowtorch.”

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“I always give my bird a generous butter massage before I put it in the oven. Why? Because I think the chicken likes it, and, more important — I like to give it.”

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“Drama is very important in life. You have to come on with a bang. You never want to go out with a whimper.”

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Chef Cornelius making chicken soup with Madame Hen.

“In spite of food fads, fitness programs, and health concerns, we must never lose sight of a beautifully conceived meal.” ~ Julia Child

♥ Tomorrow: Paul Child’s birthday sonnets


Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.


25 thoughts on “julia’s cherry clafouti and a side of ham

  1. You got me at “flirty globes of sweetness” – I have a special thing for strawberries, so I’d probably use those if I try your recipe. I used to create this refrigerated no-bake, grahame crust strawberry chocolate cake with melted Meiji chocolate bars as fillings. That was just heavenly. I lost my friend’s recipe though, I should ask her about it again. 🙂


    1. Do try this clafouti. So simple, very satisfying :). Haven’t had any Meiji chocolate before but the combination with strawberries sounds divine.


  2. YUM! Looks delicious! Sidenote: Bob’s been baking French bread – glorious, warm, crusty on the outside soft on the inside bread! YUMMMMM! And now he’s trying to make me sourdough (my favorite) even though he doesn’t much care for it! 🙂


  3. Jama,
    I can’t wait to try the Cherry recipe. We have an abundance of them here in Michigan. Thanks for sharing the Julia videos; a delight. I nearly fell off my chair laughing several times. Yes, I do miss her.


  4. Didn’t realize Michigan had a lot of cherries. I kind of go crazy over the Hood River cherries from Oregon. I want Julia to come to my house and make spaghetti with me :).


  5. Ah, we’re over Bings here, but I would love to do a plum claufoutis. Maybe later this summer. Meanwhile, I was excited to do some baking and cooking last night, and we all lifted a glass to Julia (even though we made Jacque’s salad…)


  6. I love that recipe and have made it lots of times with lots of different fruits. I’ve so enjoyed “Julia Week” here at Alphabet Soup!


  7. What a nice and simple idea, Jama. I think you are slowly convincing me that I should use more of Julia’s recipes, but I think I’ll skip the pickled cow’s udder mentioned in the last post! Thanks! (& for the videos too).


    1. What? No pickled cow’s udder for you? 🙂 If nothing else, Julia brought to our attention foods and ingredients we’d never have heard about in a million years. The clafouti is simplicity personified; hope you try it sometime.


  8. Yum yum yum! And I love the new (to me) word, “clafouti.” Also loved the video with another down-to-earth amazing icon, Mr. R. Thanks for celebrating Julia’s birthday in your usual inimitable style. :0)


    1. Yay, another person who loves the word “clafouti!” I like to work it into everyday conversation whenever possible to impress people :). “Oh yesterday, I wrote 400 words and then whipped up some clafouti before doing my dusting . . . ” *bats eyelashes*


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