September 10, 2011

Baking with summer fruit


Before all the summer fruit is gone from the farmers' markets, I need to tell you about two new, gluten-free fruit desserts we got hooked on this summer.

I really love baking with fruit. It adds so much beautiful flavour and colour to baked goods, not to mention it makes desserts more healthful. And when there's so much fruit in the markets, I always feel inspired to turn some of it into an after-dinner treat.

Back in July I had a glut of overripe strawberries, and I remembered a strawberry cake I'd seen on smitten kitchen, a blog I read frequently. It's originally a Martha Stewart recipe. The cake looked simple and I decided to adapt it using my gluten-free flour mix.

It turned out wonderfully. It's a simple yellow cake base with a strong vanilla flavour, and I made it partly with whole-grain flours so it was golden and hearty. The fruit releases its juices in the oven and bleeds into the cake, so every bite tastes like summer.


We fell in love with this cake and made it again with cherries, then again with raspberries. It was delicious with both, but I think I like strawberries best of all. No matter what fruit you use, it should be as ripe as possible so the cake has plenty of flavour.

The second dessert is a similar concept. It was J's idea to try a clafoutis, a French cake traditionally made with cherries. It's one of the simplest desserts I've ever made. Clafoutis is almost like a cake/custard, since there's only a little bit of flour and lots of eggs and milk.

I made it with fat, luscious blackberries, and then with the traditional cherries. I preferred the blackberries since they were so juicy, but on the second go-round I baked the clafoutis less and the custard was more apparent. It almost separates into two layers, with cake on the bottom and custard on top, with fruit in every bite. This would be a great thing to fancy up by baking it in individual ramekins. It would turn something something incredibly simple into a truly elegant dessert.


I adapted the clafoutis recipe from our Larousse Gastronomique cookbook, and it has so few ingredients that you could also add vanilla or almond extract or lemon zest. This is literally the type of dessert you can throw in the oven in about 5 minutes while supper is cooking on the stove (you just have to toss the fruit with sugar a little bit earlier).


A little more about the gluten-free flour mix I mentioned earlier. There are many GF mixes on the market, and many more recipes in cookbooks. When I was first started baking with gluten-free flours, I used them all separately, and there are still recipes where I use them that way. But I also use two mixes from Gluten-free Girl. I use her all-purpose and whole grain flour mixes and so far I've had great success substituting them in many regular gluten recipes.

When substituting GF flour, it's much more accurate to use weights than cups, since all flours have different weights. That's why I started baking with a scale -- and I love it! Fewer dirty dishes and more accuracy. If you bake gluten-free it's one of the best investments you'll make, and I often use it when I cook as well, to weigh vegetables and meat. 


I'll be sharing more of my adapted recipes here soon. For now, whatever flours you might use, be sure to bake with summer fruit while you still can. Here in Edmonton the weather is fantastic, so let's squeeze everything possible out of the end of summer.

Gluten-free Strawberry Summer Cake
Adapted from this recipe

6 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature, plus extra for pie plate
188 grams gluten-free flour (I used 88 g wholegrain mix and 100 g AP mix)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
170 grams plus 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup (118 ml) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound (450 grams) strawberries or other summer fruit, hulled and halved

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform or cake pan.

Whisk flour or flours, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.

Pour into prepared pan. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer (though I had to overlap a few to get them all in). Remember the strawberries will shrink in the oven. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.

Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. Let cool in pan on a rack.

Gluten-free Clafoutis
Adapted from the Larousse Gastronomique

500 g unpitted cherries or berries
butter for pan 
100 g sugar, divided
125 g gluten-free flour
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

If using cherries, take the stems off put do not pit them. This is the traditional way to serve it - apparently the pits add to the flavour of the cake. Wash your fruit and drain in a colander. Toss with 50 g (1/4 cup) of the sugar, and leave for at least 30 minutes so the juices can come out.

Butter your pan. I used a square 9.5 – inch dish which worked great. You could also use a 9 or 10-inch cake pan, but NOT a springform. Arrange the fruit in the pan.

Mix together the flour and the remaining sugar with a pinch of salt. Beat the eggs and add them to the dry mixture, stirring well. Add the milk and mix well until you have a smooth batter. Pour the batter over the fruit and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. You want it to be completely set and browned at the edges, but the middle should still be custardy. If you prefer, you can bake it a few minutes longer until it's browned all over and it will be more of a cake and less of a custard.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm or at room temperature.


Anne said...

I heard today that they weigh all the ingredients in the kitchen at Fid, so you're in good company. These sound wonderful. Clafooouti!
Did I teach you to use 'healthful' correctly? Most people would have said 'healthy'. Bravo! Great grammar skills.
xo Mom

Gustia said...

I bought some raspberries from my favourite vendor this morning in the Monaco market and you've inspired me to make your gluten free clafoutis. I love that you're shaking up traditional French baking! Love your vintage cookware BTW.