The 6 Best Practices for Baking With Fruit, According to a Cookbook Author
At long last, summer has arrived. And with warm weather comes one of our favorite times of year, farmer’s market season. Almost overnight, vendors’ stalls transform into a playground for produce-lovers, filled with an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. Rich-hued rhubarb, raspberries, those sweet little pint-sized strawberries, and peaches so ripe you can smell them a mile away mean one thing: it’s time to get our summer baking on.
Whether you’ll be baking fruit pies, tarts, crisps, or crumbles, we’re sharing the top tips and tricks you’ll need to make the most delicious dessert from Canadian cookbook author and blogger Marcella DiLonardo of Bake The Seasons. 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. Aside from it being much more cost efficient and reducing the carbon footprint, locally picked fruit lends the best flavor to a recipe. It is picked when it is ripe (unlike imported produce), offering a natural sweetness to the final dish. Not to mention going berry picking is a fun activity during the warm months!
Choose fresh over frozen
When it comes to flavor, fresh is always better than frozen. Often times, when baking with frozen fruit, the fruit lacks in flavor and increases the water content in a recipe—which often results in a liquid-y pie filling or mushy cake. If frozen is your only option, be sure to thaw and drain the fruit completely before adding it to the mixing bowl.
Keep ‘em clean
Ensure fruit is well-washed and dried. It is important to clean your fresh fruit to ensure no dirt or pesticides are being added to a recipe. However, you should also ensure the fruit is completely dry before adding it to a recipe. Fruit is full of natural juices, but adding any additional excess liquids can cause a messy filling.
Uniformity is key
Cut fruit into evenly sized pieces. Similar to cooking with vegetables, it is important to slice or dice your fruit into evenly sized pieces. This will ensure in a crisp, crumble, galette or pie that everything bakes through evenly. It will also be much more pleasant to bite into when everything is carefully sliced or diced.
Dust fruit in flour first
When baking with fresh fruit for loaf cakes, coffee cakes, muffins, and so on, dust the fruit lightly in all-purpose flour before adding it to the batter. This will help stop the fruit from sinking to the bottom during the baking process. This tip works with nuts and chocolate chips, too.
Give it a garnish
When prepping your fresh fruit, save some on the side to use as a garnish at the end. A slice of fruit or sprinkle of berries makes a beautiful (and delicious) addition for serving. A little whipped cream never hurt, either!