The first post is always the hardest. I wanted to find a painting/recipe that really represented me and the things I love to set the whole tone for the rest of the blog. I knew I wanted something French because I have been on a French kick lately and something with stone fruit. We are heading into autumn here and ripe stone fruits are everywhere. As soon as I spotted Cézanne’s Still Life with Plate of Cherries I knew it would produce the perfect inaugural post.

Paul Cézanne, Still Life with Plate of Cherries, 1885-87
oil on canvas, 58.1 x 68.8 cm, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Paul Cézanne’s Still Life with Plate of Cherries took over two years to complete and with just a cursory glance, one can notice that the scene is not quite right however it takes a hard look to spot the incongruities. The back edge of the table doesn’t line up and the perspective of the side-by-side plates is different. It complicates the viewer’s entrance into the space and places all of the importance on the fruit subjects. The white plates seem to frame the fruit and draw the viewer’s eye immediately to the centre of the canvas. Cézanne often painted objects from the earth and homemade works (pots, bottles, and floral fabrics) from his home in Provenance (1). Like the way Cézanne highlights the fresh fruit in his painting, the cherries and nectarines are the focal point of the clafoutis inspired by the painting.

Clafoutis is always made with cherries and when substitutions are made for other berries it is commonly called flognarde. Even though I have added nectarines to my clafoutis I kept the cherries to keep it true to form. It is a custard-like dish made by baking fresh fruit in a batter in a baking dish. The batter is similar to that of pancakes and to keep the dish completely traditional the cherries not to be de-pitted because it causes them to lose flavour . “Originally from Limousin, the dish’s name comes from Occitan clafotis, from the verb clafir, meaning “to fill up” (implied: “the batter with cherries”) (2).

{Cherry & Nectarine Clafoutis}

serves 6

1 teaspoon butter
500 grams cherries
2-3 nectarines, halved, pitted and cut into wedges
3/4 cup double (thick/heavy) cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs
1/4 cup caster sugar
2/3 cup plain flour
icing sugar

Preheat
the oven to 180C (350F/Gas 4). Use butter to grease a 23 cm (9 inch) round baking dish and put the nectarine wedges and cherries in a single layer on the bottom. Put the cream in a small saucepan and add the vanilla essence. Gently heat for a few minutes and remove from the heat, add the milk and cool.

Whisk the eggs with the sugar and flour, then stir into the cream. Pour into the greased round baking dish over the fruit and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden on the top. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

Substitutions: you could substitute the vanilla extract with one vanilla pod or almond extract to give your clafoutis a different flavour.