There are many ways to uplift a dessert, my favorite way is to add fruit. Technology has come a long way and nowadays we can find fruit all year round. This versatile ingredient can be added fresh, frozen or dried, fruits are always great additions to your baked creations.
There are many recipes available that use frozen fruit instead of fresh due to fresh fruit not being as “in” season consistently and all year round in some areas. Frozen fruits were once fresh fruits that were picked and flash frozen during their peak of the season growing time. This flash frozen process helps to preserve the natural texture of the fruits, which helps when the fruits are defrosted. Frozen fruits that are defrosted prior to baking will not have a firm texture, like that of fresh fruit. However, once the thawed fruits are baked, the texture becomes the same as if you were using fresh fruits.
Frozen fruits do not need to be defrosted to stir into a batter. The firmer texture makes it easier to stir and thoroughly incorporate without breaking fresh berries and without mashing them. Given that frozen berries are much colder, they sometimes require longer baking times since they draw down the temperature of batters or fillings for pies.
There are certain cases when using fresh fruit is the only option. Fruit tarts should use only fresh fruit. Frozen fruits will release a little more liquid and may require additional thickeners in the recipe.
Fresh or frozen fruit will affect the final texture of baked goods. Fresh fruit can often sink to the bottom of batters. Tossing them lightly with a little bit of flour will help to suspend them throughout the mixture. The flour will absorb the juices that weep out and soak them up at the same time, which will cause that liquid to thicken immediately.
Using dried fruit is a great addition to baked goods. Dried fruits are very dense, so if you substitute them into a recipe, keep in mind the ratio of, five to six pounds of fresh fruit is equal to one pound of dried. Dried fruits also offer a much healthier option for baking.
Dried fruits can be plumped in liquids in order to give the fruit a fuller look in the food. This can be done by soaking in extremely hot water or placing in water and into the microwave. This option is great when fresh or frozen is not available and the plumped fruit will expand and give that “fresh” look.
Fruits are such a simple flavor boost in food and are easily added to recipes. Making your own frozen fruit from fresh ones when it is in season will also give the best flavor and save on costs during the time they are out of season.
To do so, lay fruit out in a single layer on a tray or baking sheet. Place them in the freezer, and once the fruit is solid, place them into freezer-safe bags. This ensures that the fruit is in individual pieces and not a block of fruit, which will be much more difficult to add to a batter. A block of fruit would need to be thawed prior to baking and require liquid to be drained, or more thickener added to the recipe.
Fruits are a naturally sweet delight that fits and adapts into any sweet pastry and dessert.