Pitting cherry against berry

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Clafouti is sprinkled with conflict. That, and powdered sugar.

There's the clafouti versus clafoutis conundrum, which sets carefree final s-less Anglophones against stalwart s-conscious Francophones.

There's the free-thinking naked-flan contingent versus the dressy pastry-cloaked coalition.

Mere sideshows to the main match, which pits cherry against cherry. Traditionalists, which is to say people from the Limousin region of France, insist on pits in. Everyone else prefers pits out. Limousin, which maintains links to the limousine and Limoges, may know something about taste.

Then there are the details: Almond flour or flour flour? Black cherries or red? Creme fraiche or whipped cream? And the fundamental quandary: breakfast or snack?

Which might be why I'd never attempted clafouti(s). That, and lack of interest. The clafouti(s)s I've come across look like eggs, with cherries. I like eggs. I like cherries. But eggs with cherries never outbid chocolate tart.

Nonetheless, I finally braved clafouti(s) and, after working my way through the sticky bits, baked a nicely balanced one that brings to mind sweet quiche.

I ducked out of the cherry debate by switching to raspberries, risking the wrath of the pro-pit crowd. Apparently if you swap fruit you're supposed to call this dish flaugnarde. I'm sticking with clafouti(s), with sugar on top.

Raspberry clafoutis

Prep: 20 minutes
Bake: 40 minutes
Serves: 8

Ingredients:
1 pint fresh raspberries
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon liqueur (raspberry, pear, or almond pair nicely)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Butter and sugar for pan
3 eggs
¾ cup whole milk
½ cup heavy cream
1/3 cup creme fraiche
½ cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar

Soak:
Tumble berries into a bowl. Sprinkle on 2 tablespoons sugar, the liqueur and vanilla. Mix once, gently. Let sit, about 20 minutes.

Prep:
Butter and sugar a 9-inch ceramic baking dish. Set on a rimmed baking sheet.

Mix:
Whisk together eggs, milk, cream, creme fraiche, flour, remaining ½ cup sugar and salt until smooth.

Fill:
Scoop up berries with a slotted spoon and settle them in prepared baking pan. Whisk remaining juices into egg mixture. Pour egg mixture over fruit.

Bake:
Slide into a 375-degree oven and bake until puffed, golden and set, about 35-40 minutes. Cool. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Enjoy slightly warm or room temperature.

Leah Eskin is a Tribune Newspapers special contributor. Email her at leahreskin@aol.com.
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