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I attempted a cherry clafoutis recipe the other day. It tasted good, but it was not what I wanted and didn't resemble the more custardy clafoutis I've had in the past (although according to sneff, a clafoutis is certainly cakelike which makes me wonder where the custard/cake fusions have come from). It was actually like a slightly eggy coffeecake. Perhaps due to my not having a food processor and not using self-rising flour, and perhaps overbaking it and such it just wasn't right. Still, it tasted good enough that I thought, how can I make this something fabulous (although still not clafoutis)?

First off, it needed more cherries. Second, it needed to be thicker. Third, it really needed the flavor and scent of almonds. Fourth, it needed to be absolutely decadently moist and tender in texture without being custardy. Think still like cake but better. I pondered a bit and came up with the following variation. I call it Cherry Almond Cake here, but I've been calling it "not-foutis" to myself. My brother-in-law came up with that coinage and it amuses me.

It has lots more cherries. I doubled the recipe and added an almond layer. It is very almond and pushes every last one of my almond buttons. And the texture is amazing and exactly what I had intended. It's moist enough that pinched crumbs stick together and it has a lucious tender texture without being mushy. The slivered almonds add crunch, the cherries add tart zing, and I'm altogether glad that I have more of it waiting for breakfast.

It's not difficult to make and quite quick. There's a small amount of fussiness, but this still satisfies my "easy to make" desperation this holiday season as I was frantically attempting to finish my gift knitting. This is the only baked good which came out flawlessly and as intended the first time. It's also good holiday baking as the finished cake isn't very thick, being perhaps a little more than an inch in height but quite long and wide. One will easily cut up into 50 or so 1.5" squares. At two per person, that's 25 servings, although if it's the only dessert, I'd figure on 3-4 pieces per person. If there are other desserts, one will go a long ways as it's quite rich.

Ingredients:
8oz almond paste (not marzipan which has more sugar)
0.5c (100g) sugar
2 large egg whites

2c. (280g) flour
1.25c (250g) sugar
2 sticks+ 2tbsp (250g) chilled butter (it's actually 2 sticks+ 5tsp, but there is such a thing as too much precision when it doesn't really matter)
0.5tsp baking powder

4 large eggs
0.5tsp almond extract (the real stuff please)

100 or so sour cherries in light syrup (or sweetened juice) or kirsch (this includes enough so you can snack on a few while topping the cake). These can be replaced with canned or brandied peaches (in juice) cut up into half inch pieces (or slice 'em, whatever looks pretty is fine). I used cherries I'd canned with my sister when I visited her one summer in Seattle and they were canned with just a bit of sugar. Any moist fruit would do but stone fruit, especially cherries, peaches, and apricots, go particularly well with almond. And of course fresh fruit would work as well.

0.5c slivered or sliced almonds, I use slivered almonds but sliced would be particularly pretty.

Requires a 12" diameter tart pan (with minimum 1" tall sides) or cake pan or a 9x13" cake pan. If using a pan which has a scalloped edge, grease it well, and it's better to use a false bottomed pan as it may still stick. If using a round pan, grease the sides well also, but you can run a knife along it if it gets stuck. Or you can make a collar of parchment paper but it's a pain getting it to stay put. If using a rectangular pan, you can run the parchment up the sides which cuts down on greasing the pan.

Preheat the oven to 425°F with the rack in the middle of the oven.

Grease the pan giving extra attention to the sides and cut out a sheet of parchment paper to fit the bottom. Lay the parchment into the pan and lightly grease the top of the parchment as well.

In a mixing bowl, break up the almond paste into chunks and then beat with the sugar until it looks like lumpy sand. Add the egg whites and beat until smooth and somewhat lighter in color. Spread to evenly cover the bottom of the pan. It will be very sticky so you may have to hold down the parchment as you're spreading it around.

In a bowl (you can use the same bowl), combine the flour, sugar, butter and baking powder. Cut in the butter until there are no bits of butter larger than peas.

In another bowl, beat together the eggs and almond extract until combined. Mix the flour/butter mixture with the egg until completely combined.

Spread dollops of the mixture over the almond paste mixture and then gently smooth it out until it's entirely covered and even. Try to avoid squeezing out the almond paste mixture. The flour/butter/egg mixture is very thick and sticky so this will take a bit of care.

Arrange the cherries (or other fruit) over the surface and lightly press them down as you place them just so they don't shift when you move the pan. Then scatter the almonds over the top. Note, you can place the cherries haphazardly or you can place them neatly as I did. It looks prettier as a whole if they're haphazard, but placing them carefully means that every single piece will have the equivalent of at least one whole cherry in it, even if it's in bits. I'm more concerned with everyone getting cherries, and once it's cut up it looks fine. Especially if the cherries are placed in circles and it's then cut into squares.

Bake for about 22 minutes until the edges are golden brown and the top is starting to turn golden. Do not overbake or it will be dry. A picture of the finished product is here and a picture of it cut is here.

Cool in the pan and then cut into squares and serve. A spatula or something to lift it from the parchment paper makes it easier to remove the pieces as it remains a bit sticky and is moist enough to cling to the paper.

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