We’ve all been there! Excited to try a new recipe, only to find that our fruit keeps sinking, or it seems to disappear and leave color-smudged gaps in the bake itself. Not only is it disheartening, but if you’ve made the cake or back for someone else – it can leave you feeling upset too!
Baking should be fun, and while there are plenty of things to learn, it can be challenging. Baking with fresh fruit can be one of the trickiest skills to master.
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Fresh fruit is more complex than dried fruit to handle because they add so much more liquid as they bake – but there are a few recipes that can help you to ‘cheat’ a little bit and use that to your advantage. Fresh fruit works like an absolute treat for things like upside-down cakes and delicious peach cobblers, click here for the recipe for that one!
Why use fresh fruit in baked goods?
Most people start out using dried fruit like raisins when they begin to bake. And raisins can be quite forgiving – taking to most bakes quite well, and unless you add too many, they tend to distribute themselves well too.
However, as time goes on, like most bakers, you are likely to want to try fresh fruit, and not just fresh – but seasonal too. Seasonal fruits and vegetables tend to taste better because they are supposed to be seen at that time of year. They won’t be frozen either – meaning you get the freshest produce.
The difference between frozen and fresh fruit usually comes down to the texture. Even though frozen fruit is flashed at a really low temperature to help preserve it, it doesn’t keep the texture and, in many cases, loses the firmness and shape too.
Should you avoid using frozen fruit? No! Use whatever you like; just keep in mind recipes designed for fresh fruit will have taken that into consideration.
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Tips To Make Baking With Fruit Easy
Delicious, juicy, and packed with a range of flavors – fresh fruit is a joy to bake with, but here are the tips that will help you enjoy baking with it.
Fresh fruit will soften during the baking process, and one of the ways to make sure they are all the same texture and softness is to make sure that as much as you can, you cut them into the same sizes.
Handle With Care
How you prepare your fruit will have a big impact on how it bakes. Cleaning the fruit, carefully removing skins and pits, and letting them dry well before use is a must. While you are doing all the preparation, you should try to handle the fruit carefully so that nothing bruises.
Pies, tarts, muffins, cupcakes, bread, and cakes – they all bake a little differently, and not every type of fruit will fare well when baked for hours. It is also worth noting that it isn’t a good idea to use fresh fruit if the recipe says dried fruit or frozen. Recipes are carefully tested using the ingredients stated, and it is important for the weights and liquid content.
The more often you bake, the less likely you are to make this mistake. New bakers will overwork and overmix dough and batter. The more you bake, the better you get at noticing the sweet spot and when enough is enough.
Did you know that how much flour you’re using varies even when you have used the same cup? Flour can compact down, and it might have more air between the particles in some instances, depending on if you spooned or scooped it in! Instead of relying on your trust cup measurements, try to always weigh the flour. This will give you the most accurate measurement and support the fruit correctly.
Stop The Sink!
Baking with fruit is fun, but it does have a tendency to sink to the bottom of the bake – and if you’re not making an upside-down cake, this can be a bit unfortunate.
Thinner batter like the ones used for muffins and some cakes aren’t going to hold the fruit where you need it. So this should be factored in when baking with fruit.
Thicker batter supports the fruit much better and allows it to hold its position in the bake. But there are some extra tips that you can use to stop your fruit from sinking.
To give your fruit the support it needs to stop sinking, toss the fruit in flour after it has been washed and well-dried. The flour helps the fruit to hold in place, and it can be used for frozen fruit. When you add your fruit, carefully fold it in – and avoid being heavy-handed so the fruit stays intact.
Blind baking and par-baking is your absolute best friend for baking fruit pies. With the crust already crispy and firm, the fruit won’t be able to soak into it and make it gloopy. Fresh fruit has a much higher liquid content than dried or canned, making it more important to take this step.
Unless the recipe says you can substitute fresh fruit with other kinds like dried, canned, or frozen, it isn’t a good idea. However, looking for a different recipe that has the same fruit in it but a different form is going to be beneficial.
Which fruits are best to bake with?
What is the best thing about fruit is that you can pretty much put anything into baked goods. As they cook, the smell will start to waft around the house, and the whole thing is quite delightful.
So what fruits are the easiest (best to start with)?
Cherry pie, Bakewell tart, or gorgeous gateaux! Cherries are great to bake with, almost all sweet dark options. They bake really well and are quite forgiving too.
When you use fresh peaches, you’ll need to prepare them well. For the best texture, it is better to remove the skin; often, blanching will help make this process easier.
Freestone peaches are the best option (free-stone means late summer peaches because the pit is no longer clinging to the flesh of the fruit) because the pit is going to be easier to remove.
Quite often, the recipe will tell you which type of apples are going to work best, but for a good mix of sweet and tart, here are the best apples for baking with Honey Gold, Granny Smith, Pippin, Fuji, and Braeburn. Pink Lady apples are often the apple of choice for many bakers too. But you can change yours based on the amount of sweetness and tang you like.
Choosing a pear is similar to choosing an apple; Bosc pears hold their shape when baked and can withstand quite high temperatures. Anjou is highly recommended, too, and offers a more buttery flavor but a gritty texture.
The trick to getting a good bake with your pear is to bake it when it is at the right ripeness, and you can check that by pressing the neck – if there is a little bit of give, they are ripe. However, this can vary based on the variety that you choose.
Baking with fresh fruit can open up a wide variety of baking options, and this means you can also stick to a seasonal baking schedule if that is something you are conscious of. For those who like to bake with a mixture of vegetables and fruit, here is a great recipe to try: Carrot Cake Recipe.