Julia Child’s clafouti or my sour cherry baked pancake

by Michelle

Julia Child's clafouti or my sour cherry baked pancake

Julia Child’s clafouti or my Sour Cherry Baked Pancake is one of the loveliest desserts in my recipe box. Lovely because it’s easy. It’s easy because I cheat. I do. I’ve done the whole ‘pit the cherry thing’ leaving my finger nails stained for days. I did, until I discovered that sour cherries are available canned or jarred in a light syrup and work perfectly in my Clafouti pronounced kla – foo – tee. It’s an old fashioned simple family-style french dessert. Please note my reference to the adjective ‘simple’.

Long before the movie, Julie and Julia, or the internet, for that matter, I was Julia Child obsessed. In 1986, the year of my pregnancy, I was unable to work. Carrying twins put an immediate halt to my high impact aerobic instructor career. To keep myself entertained, beyond my fascination with my expanding belly and the two lively little rascals that I was growing, I cooked my way through Mastering The Art of French Cooking Volume 1.

Years later, when the novel ‘Julie and Julia’ was released, I chuckled at how familiar some of Julie’s epic recipe-fails were! Julia Child’s first cook book, despite being a classic, is painfully detailed and seemingly impossible. There were times that I’d psych myself out, just by reading the recipe. It’d take me days to work up the courage, to go back, and actually tackle the dish. How much fun would I be having now, had I known that almost thirty years later, I’d be writing a food blog. I could have captured all of my french cooking disasters and ,more importantly, shots of me with really big hair!

Julia Child's clafouti or my sour cherry baked pancake

Imagine my delight, after weeks of trying recipes like Fish Souffle Baked on a Platter – mine was more like fishy scrambled eggs on a plate, Chicken Livers in Aspic, Boned Stuffed Duck Baked in a Pastry Crust and Eggs Poached in Red Wine, when I read, “The clafouti…is about as simple a dessert to make as you can imagine…” I could have wept!

With all of the confidence an extremely pregnant, ego deflated cook could muster, I made my first clafouti. It worked. It turned out that a clafouti’ was really just an oven baked pancake. A tad more custardy but a pancake all the same!

Julia Child's clafouti or my sour cherry baked pancake

Three decades later, I still use Madame Child’s recipe but I stray a little. She parcooks a bit of the batter then drops the cherries and remaining batter on top of the “crust’ and then finishes baking it. Mine goes in the pan, then in the oven. Having used both methods, I can’t figure out why she broke things up. The recipe appears almost at the end of her cook book. Maybe by then, she felt too simple a procedure would be incongruent with the rest of the volume. Also, she uses fresh sweet cherries. I use jarred sour. It doesn’t matter. There’s no way I’m getting into a spitting contest with Julia Child!! Regardless who’s technique you use or if you use sweet or sour cherries, it’s a lovely simple dessert worthy of your recipe box!

my sour cherry baked pancake or Julia Child's clafouti / bitebymichelle.com

Sour Cherry Cherry Clafouti – slightly adapted from Julia Child
Preheat oven 350*F
Serves 6

1 ¼ cups buttermilk
2/3 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup flour
19 oz [540 ml] jar red sour cherries, pitted I used Gourmet Gallery


  • Place cherries in a strainer and allow to drain thoroughly.
  • Lightly butter an 8-cup baking dish.
  • Place all of the ingredients except the cherries in the bowl of your stand mixer.
  • Using the whisk attachment, whisk together until well combined and frothy.
  • Pour the batter into the buttered dish.
  • Drop the cherries carefully over the batter.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 60 minutes, until the clafouti is puffed and brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve warm with whipped cream.

THE LOVE: One of the nicest things about this dessert is that it can easily be served for breakfast!

Julia Child's clafouti or my sour cherry baked pancake

one year ago: broccoli stir-fried with orange, ginger and pine nuts

two years ago: pavlova

three years ago: caprese salad

Julia Child's clafouti or my sour cherry baked pancake

Thanks for reading.