The 6 Best Practices for Baking With Fruit, According to a Cookbook Author

Rich-hued rhubarb, pint-sized baskets of sweet strawberries, and peaches so ripe you can smell them a mile away—it must be time to get our summer baking on.

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Farmer's market season is one of our favorite times of year. Almost overnight, vendors' stalls transform into a playground for produce-lovers, filled with an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. Whether you're baking our mixed berry biscuit cobbler, plum tart, apple crisp, pluot crumble, or Grandma's prize-winning pie, use these tips and tricks from Canadian food blogger Marcella DiLonardo, author of Bake The Seasons, for the most delicious, fruity, summery desserts. Here we go!

Shop for what's in season.

The most important tip for baking with fruit: cook with what's in season. There are so many benefits to baking with local produce: It's more cost-efficient, it reduces our carbon footprint and, most importantly, locally picked fruit lends the best flavor to a recipe. Fruit that's picked at peak ripeness (unlike imported produce) offers a natural sweetness to your final dish. What's more: Berry picking is so fun!

Choose fresh over frozen.

When it comes to flavor, fresh is always better than frozen. When baking with frozen fruit, the fruit often lacks in flavor and swells in water content, resulting in a liquid-y pie filling or mushy cake. If frozen is your only option, thaw and drain the fruit completely before adding it to your mixing bowl.

Keep 'em clean.

To ensure dirt and pesticides don't become unwelcome ingredients in your recipe, thoroughly wash and dry your fresh produce. Fruit is already full of natural juices, so adding more liquid contributes to a messy filling.

Uniformity is key.

Similar to cooking with vegetables, it's important to slice or dice your fruit into evenly sized pieces. This ensures the fruit in your crisp, crumble, galette, or pie bakes through consistently. It's also more pleasant to bite into when fruity components are well sliced or diced.

Dust fruit in flour first.

When baking with fresh fruit—like for loaf cakes, coffee cakes, or muffins—dust the fruit lightly in all-purpose flour before adding it to the batter. This keeps fruit from sinking and collecting at the bottom during baking. This tip applies to nuts and chocolate chips, too.

Give it a garnish.

When prepping your fresh fruit, save some for a garnish. A slice of fruit or sprinkle of berries makes a beautiful and delicious addition for serving. A little homemade whipped cream never hurt, either!

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