Thursday, January 15, 2015

Yumful and Worth Sharing: Four Fruit Desserts

Fruit desserts are so lovely, no? Moist and texture-ful. I am avoiding cans, because of BPA concerns, so I’ve switched to fresh pineapple, even though I can’t crush it fully and it ends up uneven. Yum. I love running into a big toothful, and none of that tinny taste. And leftovers!

A friend recently called me out for avoiding BPA, but not worrying about refined sugar and flour. Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself. A small justification is that I use organic flour and sugar, and only take desserts to occasions, so we can spread around the wickedness. If I bring a dessert to your house does it mean I am trying to poison you? Non, mon amour. Non. 

I keep forgetting to take photos, but I will work on that. 

Carrot Pineapple Cake

2 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 ½ c. oil
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. grated carrots
1 c. crushed pineapple, undrained
2 ½ c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 10” tube pan. Combine sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla. Beat well. Stir in carrots and pineapple. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Blend with other ingredients. Pour into pan. Bake 60-70 min. or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 min. Loosen edges and turn out on rack for cooling.

This recipe came from the Oshkosh Northwestern, and is attributed to Brad Storey. Thanks, Brad! That name sounds so familiar. Did I work with Brad at the Oshkosh Public Library?

Cranberry Pie

Double pie crust, all butter
1 package cranberries fresh or frozen
1 c. sugar
½ c. brown sugar
½ c. flour
1 c. walnuts, chopped
1 T. butter

Wash berries. Drain. Mix with sugars, flour and nuts. Pour into unbaked pie shell and dot with butter. Cover with top crust. Slit and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 375 for 45 min.

Because I took this to a holiday party, I cut stars out of the top crust and arranged them around the star-shaped holes. I like to brush the crust with milk before sprinkling large crystal sugar on the crust. It’s a simple way to make it look elegant.

I took this to a potluck, and I was a little worried about a pie that had only cranberries. I threw in a chopped ripe pear, and it added a lovely background flavor and texture, and took on the pink from the cranberries. However, I needn’t have worried.

This recipe was included in my Wisconsin Public Service gas bill. Each month they sent a different recipe, and wow, so good.

Plum Upside-Down Cake

Pineapple is great but something of a cliché in this arrangement, so I wanted something more unexpected. Plums are gorgeous in desserts. Really any ripe fruit would work here, as would any type of nut. One thing I like about this recipe is that the topping is more caramelly than saucy. And buttermilk antes up the goodness. Use real buttermilk, with as few additives as you can find. Alternatively, substitute plain yogurt thinned with milk.

¼ c. butter, plus ½ c., softened
¾ c. brown sugar
2 c. sliced, ripe plums in season
1 c. sugar
½ c. sliced almonds
2 eggs
2 c. cake flour (or all purpose flour minus 2 T. per cup)
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
¾ c. plus 2 T. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla

Place rack in bottom third of oven; heat oven to 350. Butter only sides of 9” round cake pan.

In saucepan, melt ¼ c. butter over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar; cook, stirring, until sugar is melted and mixture is smooth, 2 min. Immediately pour into prepared baking pan and spread to coat bottom evenly. Place plums in decorative pattern on top of sugar mixture; press down lightly. Sprinkle with almonds.

In large bowl, beat ½ c. butter until smooth and creamy. Gradually beat in granulated sugar until light and fluffy, 2 min., scrape down sides of bowl. Beat in eggs.

Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. On low speed, beat flour mixture alternately with buttermilk and vanilla into butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour; scrape down sides of bowl. Spoon batter over fruit in pan.

Bake until cake springs back lightly when pressed in center and cake tester comes out clean, 45-55 min. Immediately run knife around outside edge of cake and invert onto platter. Let stand 5 min. with pan in place. Remove pan and serve cake warm or at room temperature.

I took this to friends’ for dinner, unbaked, and it baked while we dined, so by the time it came out, we were ready for dessert. Great for chilly nights like we’re having just now in Ohio, though obviously plums are not in season.

The recipe is adapted from an original in Tastes of Home.

A lot of our favorite recipes were developed in a time when ingredients were different. I don’t know how much people realize that manufacturing and marketing drive what we might think of as traditional. At least in this country, “traditional” is a fluid concept. As we continue to encounter the aforementioned health effects of eating so much sugar and refined flour, we will begin to see recipes adapt. Dropping whole wheat flour into a recipe balanced for “regular” white flour, for example, doesn’t work. But here’s a recipe made for whole wheat, and it’s amazing. I look forward to seeing more of these, and more recipes that lead us away from refined sugar and more toward less sweet desserts, and desserts sweetened with honey and fruit.

Pumpkin Muffins

1 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 c. brown sugar
¼ c. oil
15 oz. pumpkin
2 eggs
1 c. granola

Preheat oven to 350. Paper-line or grease mini (or any) muffin tins. (I prefer to grease the tin, which reduces waste and also allows the muffin to develop a lovely, non-steamed crust.) Add pumpkin and eggs; beat well. Gradually stir in flour mixture. Spoon batter into tins, 2/3 full. Sprinkle each with ½ tsp. granola (for minis; more for big ones). Bake 15-20 min. or until tester comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 min.; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

The granola I had on hand was date-pecan. Topping a dessert with something sweet can work in reducing the overall amount of sugar within. I saved most of them for an event, but the ones we snarfed right out of the oven were worth the mouth burn.

I had used part of a can of pumpkin for something else, so to get back to the 15 oz. I cooked down a few apples that were one step away from compost. I couldn’t find pumpkin in a jar, but I wonder if I could find it in the frozen section. Some years I’ve cooked down pie pumpkins and found they work best if I drain the puree overnight in a cheesecloth-lined strainer. I love cooking and baking with fruits grown by my Ohio neighbors.

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