Once a year for a brief time, the air in Washington, DC is filled not only with red or blue hyperbole, but with delicate lacy pink blossoms that capture the hearts and minds of locals and tourists alike. A gift from Japan over a century ago, these trees bloom for only a few weeks but they are the official signal that spring has arrived. If you’re lucky enough to catch them on a peak day when the sun is shining (and you can find a parking space near the Tidal Basin!) you are in for a treat, a sensory explosion that has to be seen to be believed.
This post is just an excuse to show you a few photos my brother and I took when we all went strolling in the midst of it last week. It was a riot of pink, with the white pillars of the Jefferson Memorial in the background, and it never fails to take my breath away.
These romantic trees share only their name with the fresh fruit of summer. All the same, we thought we’d go for the stretch and feature a recipe for Cherry Clafoutis, a French cake that is as pretty as it is delicious. Studded with sweet cherries, themselves a fruit that quickly comes and goes, it allows us to revel in the metaphor and reminds us to enjoy while we can, any fleeting beauty, whenever and wherever we may find it .
(from Earth to Table by Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann)
Suggested ways to present this recipe:
6 individual 1/2–cup ramekins or a 3-cup baking dish or an 8-inch cast-iron skillet.
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons ground almonds
½ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 ½ cups whipping cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
1 pound sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted *
In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, almonds and salt; pulse to combine. Add eggs, cream, vanilla, orange zest and lemon zest; pulse to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Pour into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 12 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange cherries in baking dish(s) of your choice. Stir chilled batter, and then pour evenly over cherries. Bake until golden brown and puffed, about 40 minutes for ramekins and 1 hour for baking dish. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.
* Although the authentic French cherry clafoutis uses cherries with their pits, we here in America may want to go with the pitted ones and Amazon or Sur La Table sells an inexpensive cherry pitter that makes easy work of this ingredient.