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Seasonal Fruit Desserts

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Written by Heather Jones   
Monday, 21 June 2010

ImageI absolutely love this time of year. I have so much fun visiting my local farmers market and seeing the rainbow of delicious fruits on display.  Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and peaches - oh how I love peaches. My mind instantly goes into overdrive thinking of all the fun things I can make, everything from cocktails to jam. 

Always in search of inspiration, I was thrilled to see that one of my favorite cookbook authors, Deborah Madison, had a new book out: Seasonal Fruit Desserts.  Deborah Madison is most well-known for the award winning "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone", but she started her career working at great restaurants including Chez Panisse and Greens and is considered one of the foremost authorities on cooking using fresh, seasonal ingredients. 

Despite the title of the book, the recipes aren't listed by season or ingredient, but instead by dessert type: Fresh fruit in Syrup, Roasted and Sautéed Fruit, Pies and Tarts, Puddings and Gelees, and many more.  In the introduction Deborah talks about her own love affair with fruit, tips on growing your own, the importance of appreciating local varieties and ten hints to remember when preparing great fruit desserts. My favorite of her hints is how to "Save a falling cake", which unfortunately there have been many in my past.

Speaking of cakes, the recipe we're sharing with you today is the Olive Oil-Orange Chiffon Cake (see recipe below).  As someone who is notorious for producing the driest cakes ever, the Olive Oil cake is a godsend. This one in particular is super light in texture and moist all at the same time.  The orange flavor is not overpowering, truly one of the best cakes I've ever made.

Olive Oil-Orange Chiffon Cake

From Seasonal Fruit Desserts by Deborah Madison. Broadway (2010).

A tall 10-inch cake, serving 10 to 12

This is an impressive tall cake with a flavor that's not quite recognizable, provided by the olive oil, which is used in place of the usual bland "salad" oil. While cake flour is highly refined and a far cry from the whole-grain flours we're rightly urged to eat, it does make a cake that's flawlessly light, and this is one of the times I do use it. Use a nonstick angel-food cake pan, rub the sides and bottom with butter, and then dust it with sugar to give the cake a subtle crunch. This cake is lovely served with all kinds of fruits, from sugared strawberries to nectarines to citrus compotes.

  • 2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 6 eggs, at room temperature, separated
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup organic white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons orange-flower water
  • Finely grated zest of 2 large tangerines or oranges
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (one pressed with lemon would be lovely)
  • Juice squeezed from the orange, plus water to make 1 cup
  • Confectioners' sugar for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter an angel-food cake pan and dust with turbinado or granulated sugar.

2. Sift the cake flour after measuring it and then a second time with the baking powder and salt and set aside.

3. Using the whisk attachment of a standing mixer, beat the egg whites until just foamy, then add the cream of tartar. Whisk until they begin to form peaks and then gradually add 1/3 cup of the sugar and continue whisking until firm peaks are formed. Avoid getting them too stiff; softer whites will fold more easily. Scrape the whites into a large bowl.

4. Using the same mixing bowl (don't bother to rinse it), beat the yolks with the remaining 2/3 cup sugar on high speed until thick and light colored, 4 to 5 minutes. Lower the speed and add the vanilla, orange-flower water, and zest, then slowly add the oil.

5. Gradually pour in the juice; then sprinkle on the flour by spoonfuls until all is added. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and reach thoroughly around the bottom of the bowl with a rubber scraper to make sure all the dry ingredients are mixed in.

6. Pour the batter over the egg whites, then fold together using about 8 strokes. Pour the batter into the pan and bake until tall, golden, and pulling away from the pan, 45 to 50 minutes.

7. When done, don't invert the cake; leave it upright to cool. To speed things up, you can lift the cake out of the pan, but leave it attached to its bottom. When cool, use a knife if necessary to separate the cake from the pan, invert it onto a platter, and dust with confectioners' sugar.

SERVE WITH

  • Citrus with Orange Caramel (page 59)
  • Fresh Cherry Compote (page 261) and whipped créme fraîche
  • Blackberries with Rose Water (page 42) or Blackberry Fool (page 206)
  • Whipped cream and fruit or just fruit between layers of the cake
  • 1 cup cream, softly whipped and sweetened with 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon orange-flower water, and the juice of a very dark blood orange to tint it pink
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves stirred into whipped cream

 

Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 22 June 2010 )
RosemaryR (Registered) 2010-06-21 12:49:10

This is a wonderful cookbook !! I borrowed it from the library and then had to purchase it. I'm up to my elbows in early season fruit here at the farmers markets. Yummy !!
I couldn't agree more
foodieprincess (Author) 2010-06-22 12:13:33

Rosemary,

This book has definitely become my go to for fruit desserts. I'm enjoying it so much!
Food Writer & Chef
Flying Foodie (Unregistered) 2010-06-22 14:23:49

Great to be introduced to this website. I've been pondering summer desserts for a few weeks....
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