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Rose, when she came to visit the other day, arrived with a basket full of ripe cherries fresh picked from her mother’s Bing tree. They are a red deeper than claret, deeper than burgundy. Almost black, but throbbing with a juicy light red heart on the inside. And they are sweet.

I’ve eaten plenty of them throughout the day while fixing breakfast or warming a cup of coffee. I ate some while preparing lunch. And when Janet arrived on short notice, we had cherries and Peak Frean digestives with our tea.

It’s simple fare of a prosperous farming area.

That was yesterday. This is today. One of the cherries had a soft spot and I rued the passing of time and the ripe, luscious crispness of the fruit. They were already beginning to pass.

Late in the afternoon, I had a nap, and while I was dreaming of railroads and pioneering and mining  in Stewart, in British Columbia as a result of leaving the Knowledge Network television programming on as I dozed, the thought of cherries must have mixed along in there. I remembered Frank and his bakery skills. He had a passion for cherries and bought them in pounds-ful at a time.

Long and lean, never gaining a pound from the day he was eighteen until now, he could eat all these luscious things he thought to make – good French peasant fare.

At cherry time, he cooked one clafouti after another. Oh, they were good!

He mixed up a batter for crepes, greased the bottom of a frying pan with butter and then filled the batter until there was hardly any in relation to the cherries he put in, pits and all.  He fried that up just as if it were a pancake and half way through the cooking, he could flip that cumbersome cherry pancake over and cook the other side. It took about a half hour for everything to cook right through.

I’ve forgotten the recipe for crepes, but a recipe for pancakes ought to do. The only difference is the leavening agent, really.  So I dug into my faithful tattered green copy of  the New Basic Cook Book published in 1936 and updated in 1956.

In the index it said, for Pancakes, see Griddle cakes, page 131.

I’m too lazy to read all the directions. I sifted the more-or-less measured flour, the salt and the baking powder in one bowl by whipping it all around with a fork. I wasn’t going to have to wash a sifter in addition to the bowl. I mixed the egg and milk, generally speaking, until it was consistent then tossed the dry stuff and the wet stuff together.  The mixture was already rising at an alarming rate so I hastened to add the cherries and get it into a baking dish that I could put in the oven. There’s no way I was going to try to flip the clafouti. It would land on the floor!

I put the dish in the oven, guessing at fifteen minutes to cook it, since it would cook both bottom and top at the same time.

There’s no evil twist to the tale, sorry folks. It came out of the oven, light and fluffy,the cooked cherries having lost their deep ruby colour and had gone somewhat pale, but the immediately surrounding cake had taken on a rubescence. The rest was a golden crisp griddle cake.

There is a recommendation in the book for variations with pecans or apples or bacon. All sound delicious.  So I go back, now that the  ‘cake is baked and highly successful and read the preamble. How times have changed.

It says:

Since griddle cakes should be eaten immediately after cooking, they are not adapted ideally to the servantless household unless they can be baked at the table on an electric griddle.

Serventless household?
I don’t remember many servantless households in the ‘Fifties. I don’t remember any, come to think of it. It was post war. People were more prosperous than during the Depression or the war years, but there was barely a family that had servants. Unless….

I don’t remember Mother sitting at the breakfast table on the days that we had pancakes. Only when everyone else had had their greedy fill of these delicious ‘cakes done always in the fry pan and garnished with raisins or blueberries did she have time to sit and enjoy some for herself.

How little we appreciate when we are young. How little we realize. I think we may have had a servant after all. Bless you Mom!


2 Responses to “Clafouti”

  1. swatch Says:

    This looks goood – my mouth is watering – I loved this story. There is a cherry farm up in the mountains above Ceres where we sometimes go and pick in spring – I just love this taste.


    Hi Swatch,
    You too could eat a delicious Clafouti.
    Here’s the recipe – one cup of flour, two teaspoons of baking powder, one table spoon of sugar and a half teaspoon of salt.
    Separately, one egg in a one cup measure and top it up to one cup with milk, stirred until an even pale yellow. If you follow my lazy ways, pour it into a buttered pan for the oven and stuff it with washed cherries. Cook it at 350 F for 18 to 20 minutes.
    If you haven’t got cherries, use any other fruit – blueberries, peaches, apricots, strawberries, raspberries….. Some become a bit mushier than others though, once cooked.
    Eat it hot, straight out of the oven. If some is left over, you can toast it when you come back for seconds, thirds or fourths. Mmmmmm! Good.

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