For anyone looking to add a sweet, juicy twist to their baking, stone fruits offer a world of tantalizing opportunities. This guide will help beginners learn how to select, prepare, and bake with these versatile fruits.
What are stone fruits?
Stone fruits, also known as drupes, are a type of fruit characterized by a large, hard seed — or 'stone' — in the middle. Some of the most popular stone fruits are peaches, plums, cherries, and apricots. They're typically in season during the summer months, although preserved or frozen stone fruits can be used year-round.
Choosing and preparing stone fruits for baking
When it comes to choosing stone fruits, look for ones that are ripe but not too soft, as they can become mushy when baked. The fruit should give a little when gently pressed. Avoid fruits with blemishes or signs of mold.
Before baking with stone fruits, they'll need to be pitted. The easiest way to do this is to cut the fruit in half along the seam, twist the halves apart, and then use a spoon or your fingers to remove the stone. Some fruits, like cherries, might require a cherry pitter.
Baking with different types of stone fruits
Each type of stone fruit has its own unique flavor and texture, which can add a different character to your baked goods. Here's a quick rundown of the most popular stone fruits for baking:
Peaches: With their sweet, floral flavor, peaches are perfect for pies and cobblers.
Cherries: Cherries have a tart, intense flavor that shines in clafoutis and tart recipes.
Plums: Plums can range from sweet to tart, and they're excellent in cakes and tarts.
Apricots: Slightly tart and very fragrant, apricots are often used in tarts and jams.
Some delicious stone fruit baking recipes
Now that you know the basics of baking with stone fruits, it's time to start experimenting with some recipes! Here are a few to get you started:
Stone fruit tart: Slice a mix of peaches, plums, and apricots and arrange them on a sweet tart crust. Bake until the fruit is tender and the crust is golden.
Cherry clafoutis: Pit a bunch of cherries and place them in a baking dish. Pour a simple batter made of eggs, sugar, flour, and milk over the cherries and bake until puffed and golden.
Peach cobbler: Toss sliced peaches with sugar and a bit of cornstarch, then top with a sweet biscuit dough and bake until bubbly and golden.
Remember, these are just starting points. Feel free to experiment with different types of stone fruits, flavorings, and recipes.