A clafouti combines the creaminess of a pudding and the texture of a cake but is easier to make than either one. Cherries are great in a clafouti and I suggest something controversial: making this with whole unpitted cherries. Serve this warm from the oven with ice cream or softly whipped cream.
1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 F. Lightly butter the sides and bottom of a 2-quart baking dish or 10-11 inch pie plate.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the cherries and sprinkle with the 4-6 tablespoons sugar. Add the lemon zest. Stir gently for 5-7 minutes, until the cherries are heated through and slightly tender and the sugar has dissolved and combined with the juices. Remove from the heat and distribute evenly in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Set aside.
3. Place the egg yolks and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a large bowl. With a hand mixer, beat on medium-high until the mixture is light yellow, fluffy and thickened. Stop the mixer and add the milk, cream and flour. Blend on low speed until the mixture is well combined. With a rubber spatula, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the vanilla and mix briefly to incorporate well.
4. Clean the beaters. Then, in a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and salt with the hand mixer until the whites hold soft peaks. Gently fold about one third of the whites into the yolk mixture with a rubber spatula. Fold in the remaining whites until they are well incorporated. Pour the batter over the cherries in the baking dish.
5. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the clafouti is puffed. Open the oven and sprinkle the top with the confectioners sugar. Bake for another 10 minutes, or until the clafouti has puffed slightly more and is more firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool. Serve slightly warm or cool.