Bless Your Spoon: Baking with summer’s fresh whole fruits

Published 2:00 pm Thursday, June 8, 2023

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By Stephanie Williams Dean

Summer is right around the corner and before you know it we’ll be celebrating Christmas in July by baking holiday fruitcakes. I’m not talking about typical seasonal cakes filled with chunky candied fruits. I’m referring to my favorite pound cakes — those made with ripe whole fruits.

Loosely categorizing fruit into five groups: there are the pome fruits such as apples and pears and the citrus fruits such as oranges, pineapples, limes, lemons and grapefruit. There are stone fruits (drupes) such as apricots, cherries, peaches and plums with a single seed inside. Tropical fruits include bananas, mangoes, pineapple and melons. And we can’t forget all the tasty seasonal berries. Gosh, we have abundant fruit choices!

How many new forms of fruit should recipe writers include? We already have canned varieties, frozen, candied, dried, in preserves and jams, and in baby foods. So, my best answer would be one that includes whole, fresh fruit.

That being said, I still enjoy the obscure, delicious dessert recipes found in vintage cookbooks, but finding one that calls for fresh fruit — sometimes, that’s a feat. The fruit folks at Dole Corporation must have made a fortune on their crushed, tidbit and sliced varieties of canned pineapple. Compared to the taste of fresh fruits, they can’t hold the attention of a taste bud.

Despite that fact, don’t get me wrong. Canned fruits and other forms often are the ingredients used to bake our favorite cakes and other desserts. These confections will always be some of our most loved, traditional desserts. Many have been passed down from generations before us and from that aspect, there’s no better recipe.

If you think about it, back in the day folks didn’t have access to the freshest fruits and vegetables unless they grew a garden. Today we have local farmers markets and large supermarkets filled with fruits we’ve never even heard of. We have a plethora of fresh products from which to choose.

My favorite dessert is a fresh fruit pound cake served as a layered dessert. On the bottom is a crème anglaise sauce (custard) with a toasted slice of a plain or fruited pound cake arranged in the center, then more fresh fruit or a coulis (sauce) of fresh fruits added — and all is topped by a dollop of plain, fruited, or liqueur flavored cream, sour cream, or cream cheese — whipped. For a different presentation, this dessert also looks pretty layered in large, fancy glasses.

Crème Anglaise

• 2 cups heavy cream

• ¼ cup sugar

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• 6 beaten egg yolks

• 1 Tbsp. brandy (optional)

In a saucepan, combine heavy cream, sugar and vanilla. Mix well. Bring to a boil while frequently stirring. Remove from heat. Stir half the hot sugar mixture into the beaten egg yolks. Then stir the entire egg yolk mixture back into the hot sugar mixture. Continue to cook 5 minutes or more while stirring until thickened. Cover and chill in the refrigerator. Warm before serving. To serve, puddle some warm sauce on a dessert plate. Arrange a toasted slice of pound cake in the center.

Very Berry Coulis

• 1 quart fresh chopped or whole, small berries

• ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar

• ½ cup Grand Marnier

In a saucepan, combine fruit and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring. Reduce heat and cook while stirring until fruit is tender but not mushy. Keep warm. Serve cake with warm coulis. You can use a variety of fruit, but use liquors that pair well with the fruit you’re using.

Fresh Fruit Toss

• 1 cup dry white wine or champagne

• ¼ cup honey

• 4 ½ cups of favorite fresh fruits

• Chopped fresh mint

In a bowl, assemble chosen chopped or small whole fruits. Add wine, honey and mint, and toss fruit to coat. Use just enough necessary to adequately coat. The recipe is just a base to which you add, according to taste. Serve over a slice of toasted pound cake.

Cold Oven Fresh Fruit Pound Cake

• 2 sticks softened, salted butter

• ½ cup Crisco shortening

• 3 cups sugar

• 1 small box fruit flavored Jello

• 4 eggs

• 3 cups all-purpose flour

• 1 tsp. baking powder

• 1 tsp. salt

• ¼ cup whole milk

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• ¾ cup finely chopped fresh berries/fruit

In a mixer bowl, cream butter and Crisco until fluffy. Beat in sugar and Jello (optional). Beat in eggs, one at a time, thoroughly mixing between each addition. Beat in flour, baking powder, and salt while alternating with milk and vanilla. Mix well. Fold in chopped berries. Mix well. Bake in greased and floured tube pan starting in a cold oven set at 350-degree oven for 1 ½ hours or until tests done.

Fresh Strawberry Bundt Cake

• 4 beaten eggs

• 1 Duncan Hines white cake mix

• 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

• 3-ounce package strawberry gelatin

• ¾ cup Wesson vegetable oil

• 1 pint sliced fresh strawberries/other berries

• ½ cup sugar

• 1 cup chopped pecans

• ½ cup sugar

Glaze

• 1 cup sugar

• ½ cup water

• 2 Tbsp. softened salted butter

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• Whipped cream topping

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs until fluffy. Add cake mix, flour, and gelatin while alternating with vegetable oil. Mix well. In a bowl, combine strawberries or other berries with sugar and toss to thoroughly coat. Fold sliced strawberries and chopped pecans into cake batter. Mix well. Bake in a greased and floured 10-inch tube or tube pan in a preheated 350-degree oven for 55-60 minutes or until tests done. When done, wait 10 minutes and turn cake out. While cake is still hot, punch holes in top of cake. For the glaze, in a saucepan, bring water, sugar, and butter to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Drizzle over top and sides while cake is hot. When serving, top with sweetened whipped cream topping.

Fresh Fruit Frosting

• 1 stick softened, salted butter

• 3 ounce softened cream cheese

• 1 pound confectioners’ sugar

• ½ cup chopped fresh fruits

• ½ cup flaked coconut

• ½ cup chopped pecans

For frosting, cream butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in sugar. Mix well. Stir in chopped fruit or whole fruit if small enough. Spread frosting between layers, on top and down sides of a baked and completely cooled cake. Serve immediately or refrigerate frosted cake until ready to serve.

Multi-Fruit Whipped Cream Cheese

• ½ cup sugar

• Dash of salt

• 1 juiced orange

• ½ tsp. grated orange zest

• 1 juiced lemon

• ½ tsp. grated lemon zest

• 2 beaten eggs

• 4 tsp. cornstarch

• 1 cup pineapple juice

• 8 ounces cream cheese

In a saucepan, combine sugar, salt, orange juice, orange zest, lemon juice, lemon zest, beaten eggs, cornstarch and pineapple juice. Cook at medium heat while stirring until thickened. Chill until cold. In a mixer, whip the cream cheese. Fold the chilled fruit mixture into the cream cheese. Serve over fresh fruit.

Liqueur Flavored Whipped Cream

• ½ cup heavy cream

• 2 Tbsp. confectioners’ sugar

• 1 tsp. liquor, to taste

In a mixer bowl, whip cream with confectioners’ sugar until soft peaks form. Beat in enough liquor to your taste. An alternative is to add flavored extracts or fruit juices.

Citrus Whipped Cream

• 2 cups whipped cream

• Confectioners’ sugar, to taste

• Orange liqueur, to taste

• Grated orange zest, to taste

In a mixer bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form. Add desired amount of sugar. Then add orange liqueur and orange zest and mix well. You can also use the juice and zest of other citrus fruit according to preference. Combine fruit zests and liqueurs as to which pair best.

Grand Marnier Fruit Topping

• 4 beaten egg yolks

• ½ cup sugar

• 1 tsp. cornstarch

• 1 cup warm whole milk

• ¼ cup Grand Marnier

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• 1 tsp. orange zest

• ½ cup whipped cream

In a processor, add yolks, sugar, and cornstarch. Process Add warm milk and blend well. Pour into a heavy saucepan and cook over low heat while whisking until custard thickens and coats spoon. Remove from heat and stir in Grand Marnier, vanilla and orange zest. Cool completely and refrigerate 3 hours. Before serving, whip the cream and fold into the sauce. Pour over fresh fruit.