Baking Fruits

 

Baking brings out the natural sweetness of fruits and gives them a soft, luscious texture. The fruit requires very little preparation, apart from coring or stoning. Firm, ripe fruits give the best results. Large fruits make perfect containers for sweet stuffings.

BAKING WHOLE APPLES

Cox's Orange Pippin and Granny Smith's are good apple varieties for baking. For filling ideas, allowing 1-2 tbsp of filling per fruit. After coring the apple, sprinkle the inside with lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Bake in a shallow ovenproof dish to catch the juices.

1. Score around the middle of the apple with a small knife to allow the flesh to expand during baking.

2. Place stuffed apples in a baking dish; top with butter and bake at 200°C for 45-50 minutes.

BAKING HALVED FRUIT

This technique works well for stone fruits, such as the peaches shown here. Halve and stone the fruits, then sprinkle with lemon juice, to prevent discoloration. Place fruit halves, cut-sides up, in a baking dish in a single layer, taking care not to overcrowd the dish.

1. Spoon the filling of your choice into the cavities in the fruit, mounding it slightly.

2. Bake at 180°C until the flesh of the fruit feels tender when pierced, about 15 minutes.

BAKING EN PAPILLOTE

Baking "en papillote" helps keep fruit moist by steaming it in its own juices, with sugar and flavourings. A small amount of butter can also be added for richness. Baking parchment or foil can be used; the banana leaf shown here offers an interesting Asian alternative. Bake at 180°C for 15 minutes.

1. Place fruits in centre of wrapping. Sprinkle with sugar to taste, then sprinkle again with wine or liqueur of your choice.

2. Fold the sides of the wrapping over the filling to form a parcel. Tie with kitchen string to secure.

FILLINGS FOR BAKED FRUITS

Fresh or dried fruits, nuts and spices can be combined to create delicious fillings or toppings for baked fruits. To help the fruits keep their balance in the dish, take a slice off the base to create a flat surface.

• Diced pear, halved raspberries and grated lemon zest.

• Crushed amaretti biscuits, ground almonds and dried cherries.

• Candied fruits and toasted pistachio nuts.

• Chopped walnuts or hazelnuts, brown sugar and honey.

• Snipped dates, dried apricots and cake crumbs soaked in brandy.

• Muesli drizzled with cream.

• Breadcrumbs, raisins and pine nuts moistened with a light sugar syrup and a few drops of orange flower water.

FRUITS FOR BAKING EN PAPILLOTE

• Pineapple, banana and orange.

• Figs and plums, dotted with butter and drizzled with lavender honey.

• Pear, quince and dried cranberries plumped in brandy, sprinkled with cardamom.

• Strawberries, kiwi fruit and peaches.