The Whole Cherry Theory
So what’s the deal with using whole cherries in clafoutis? There are three main arguments for leaving the pits in. The first has to do with taste. Specifically that cherry pits give off a vaguely almond-y flavor as they bake, infusing the cherry flesh (and to a lesser extent the batter) with complex flavors and aromas. The second has to do with texture. Ripe sweet cherries are extremely juicy, and when their skin is ruptured, they leak cherry juice into the batter. This is a bad thing in that a) cherry juice, like virtually all fruit juice, is acidic, and, b) clafoutis batter is a custard. Custards and acids make a very poor combination because acid incites egg proteins to clump up. While the amount of acid in cherry juice isn’t enough to curdle the clafoutis custard per se, it is enough to give the finished clafoutis a slightly grainy texture. The last argument has to do with appearance. As anyone who’s ever pitted sour cherries for cherry knows, cherry juice stains. When it leeches out into the batter, it gives the clafoutis a bruised appearance that’s not terribly attractive. But why tell when I can show?