A clafoutis is one of my favourite desserts and the recipe I most often use for it (well I have only experimented with a couple of others) is this one from my friend Susan.
The traditional clafoutis would be cherry and another favourite of mine is apricot. I looked in the fridge and found a few of each so I decided to put them together. Why not!
It's important to have the right size of baking dish, not too shallow nor too deep. I find this 20cm Pyrex dish is just the right size for a single layer of fruit and the batter.
The batter is simple to make and quite forgiving in terms of ingredients. This time I had a tub of Elmlea single (which is largely buttermilk) and some whole milk. I often add a sprinkling of flaked almonds which is not really traditional but we like it!
Another essential piece of kit is a cherry stoner. Some say that the cherries should not be stoned because stones add flavour. For me, spitting out cherry stones takes away some of the joy that is a clafoutis so I always stone them. The problem is in finding a good cherry stoner that works. I have had several that don’t, that have been a real pain to use and ended up in the bin.
So, having decided to make an apricot and cherry clafoutis, I went looking for my cherry stoner but the cupboard (drawer actually) was bare! So I had to go and buy one.
First I headed to my absolute favourite shop, the hardware shop in the little town two miles away. They have everything and what they don’t have they can get for you. Sadly, the owner rummaged through boxes of ancient stock and was gutted to find that a cherry stoner was one of the few items they did not have!
I couldn’t wait two days for their next trip to the wholesalers so I headed into the big town. Actually to the retail park just on the outskirts of town, to Dunelm Mill.
On the way there I pondered how much our town has changed and how much I miss it. It's now becoming a ghost town of charity shops and cheap clothing stores, the only decent shops left being M&S, Boots, Wilko and W H Smith’s. I do wonder how much longer they will last, they must be hanging on by the skin of their teeth.
Ours used to be a wonderful small market town. It had a BHS, Richard Shop, a small department store called Turner’s, with creaky floorboards and wrinkly carpet, a bigger furniture store, M&S*, Littlewoods, a myriad of independent shops and, best of all, the Co-op. The Co-op was in a fabulous Tudor style timbered building, and you could buy everything there that you could possibly need, from beds to shoes and cosmetics.
The household linens dept was wonderful, selling curtain fabrics, dress fabrics and a huge range of knitting wool. The toy department was magnificent and best of all was the kitchenware department where you could buy absolutely everything.
When it closed some years ago I was so sad. I knew a couple of the assistants, ladies whose whole careers had been working for the Co-op, and they said it was the internet that killed the shop. People would go to the Co-op to choose something, ask the assistants for their advice based on years of product knowledge and experience, then go home and order it online.
Now these shoppers can no longer see what they’re actually ordering, they have to gamble that it’s something like the description on the website then send it back and wait for a refund. Still, it keeps all those van drivers in a job and saves the online retailers from having to have too much capital in the bank, they use their customers money instead, hanging on to it for a couple of weeks before they send the refund!
Anyway, for £5 I bought the only cherry stoner that Dunelm had and, believe or not, it actually works -without smashing the cherry to bits or splattering juice everywhere! The question is, would I have ordered it if I had seen it on the internet? Probably not, as its bright pink colour makes it look more like a toy than a serious piece of kit!