Sweet, Savory, Decadent, Healthful - All occasion baking with Mani Niall
Fruits of Summer!
Almost nothing inspires me to bake more than the avalanche of fruit at the farmers market and grocery store in early summer. As usual, I buy more than I can eat! While some folks might be tempted to make jams and preserves to capture this bounty, I use the oven. Yes, for me the oven can capture the taste of these wonderful fruits, at the peak of their ripeness, into muffins, cakes and tarts. I always share with friends and family as much as possible, and can reliably be called on to bring dessert to any gathering. But I can’t resist hoarding a few for myself, popping a few muffins or even a slice of galette into the freezer, to be savored another day.
Apricot Cornmeal Upside Down Cake-
This was inspired by a lemon upside down cake I did a few years ago and it is good enough to be re-visited with other fruits. Accustomed mainly to corn bread, many people are surprised and delighted by the combination of fruit and cornmeal. Apricots have a very short season and, for me, are one of those fruits better cooked than fresh. These are great as a breakfast or brunch “muffin” and also fancy enough to serve with ice cream for dessert. If you have any of these growing in your garden - fresh mint, verbena or lemon balm - they make a nice accent, simply mince and sprinkle over the top when serving.
Lemon Blueberry Muffins-
Sometimes you just want a blueberry muffin. When they are ripe and juicy, fresh and plump—almost nothing is faster or tastier than blueberry muffins. It’s that simple. Adding a bit of both the juice and zest of a lemon makes the flavor that much more intense.
Plum Nectarine Galette-
A galette is a free-form tart, baked on a sheet pan instead of in a tart pan. The crust is rolled wide and the fruit piled not quite as thick as in a pie. The edges of the crust are then folded over and baked. I find them simpler than pies in many ways—the fruit tends to bake off moisture more easily, reducing the chance of a soupy filling. It might be a bit early for nectarines in many parts of the country, so feel free to use whatever stone fruits you have available. Plums, or plums and apricots are good choices.