Let Fruit Spring Into Action for Scrumptious Spring Desserts

By Lisa Messinger

April 10, 2014 7 min read

"Rustic Fruit Desserts: Crumbles, Buckles, Cobblers, Pandowdies, and More" by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson (Ten Speed Press, $23)

Spring and summer may bless you through markets or your own backyard with feasts of fruit. Take a little time, though, to fill up not only on those treasures, but another helpful one, too: Schreiber and Richardson's "Rustic Fruit Desserts."

Anyone who has been fortunate enough to taste pandowdies knows that they make pans anything but dowdy. The deep-dish dessert is an irresistible heap of fruit, brown sugar or molasses, spices and butter that has been crowned with what's baked into a crisp and crumbly biscuit crust. Often served warm with cream or ice cream, it has a yum factor that's off the charts.

In Schreiber and Richardson's world, it's not how the cookie crumbles, but rather what crumble, buckle, cobbler or pandowdy you'll wow diners with next. If you're a fruit lover, there's a good chance you'll fall hard for these heartfelt crumbly fruit creations. In fact, they are just what made this cookbook one of my favorite fruit-filled ones of all.

You really haven't lived until you've tasted hot apple cobbler on just-baked cheddar cheese biscuits, however, an upside-down sweet cherry cake with caramel topping comes close. Similar originality rules throughout the photograph-filled book, such as a pear cobbler made with hazelnut biscuits and an upside-down stone fruit cake prepared with cornmeal.

Your guides have wisely divided the book by season. Culinary wisdom is a strong suit of these well-versed visionaries. Schreiber, the founder of Wildwood Restaurant, is winner of the James Beard Award for Best Chef of the Pacific Northwest. Richardson owns the popular Portland, Ore., bakery called Baker and Spice.

Their experience with fruit shines throughout the sophisticated flavor combinations and techniques. Schreiber, in addition to his kitchen experience, works with the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Richardson's bakery rose from her involvement with local farmers' markets. One of which — fortunately for us — is where she and Schreiber met.

RASPBERRY FOOL

1 dry quart (4 cups) raspberries

1/2 cup, plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

Pinch of fine sea salt

1/4 cup raspberry or orange liqueur, or 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup cold mascarpone

2 cups cold heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Yields 8 servings.

Mix 3 1/2 cups of the raspberries, 1/2 cup of the sugar, the salt and liqueur together in a bowl and use a pastry blender or a fork to mash the berries. Let sit for 20 minutes to draw out some of the juices. Strain half of the berries back into the bowl through a fine-mesh sieve and discard the seeds.

Place a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer into the freezer for 5 minutes. Then put the mascarpone, cream, cinnamon and the 3 tablespoons of sugar in the bowl, and mix on low speed using a handheld mixer with beaters or a stand mixer with the whisk attachment.

Once the mixture has come together, gradually increase the speed to high and whip until soft peaks form.

Fold in the raspberry mixture just until combined. Do not worry about incorporating it completely; a few streaks of cream are just fine. Distribute the fool between 8 serving cups and chill for 30 minutes. Garnish with the remaining 1/2 cup raspberries before serving.

To store: This fool is best served the day it is made. Covered with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator, any leftovers will keep for an additional day, but the fool will not look as pretty.

OLIVE OIL CITRUS CAKE

Cake:

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus a bit for oiling the pan

1 tablespoon, plus 3/4 cup, granulated sugar

1 1/4 cups unsifted cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

3 eggs, at room temperature

Zest of 1 grapefruit

Zest of 1 orange

Zest of 1 lemon

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon lemon oil (optional)

Glaze:

3/4 cup confectioners' sugar

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

Yields 8 to 10 servings.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Using a paper towel, coat a 9-by-2-inch round baking pan with olive oil, then sprinkle it with about 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar.

To prepare the cake: Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together twice. Using a handheld mixer or stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs, 3/4 cup sugar and zests on high speed for 5 minutes, until the eggs are thickened and lighter in color. Add the vanilla and lemon oil. Turn the mixer down to a medium-low speed and drizzle the 1 cup of olive oil into the batter, pouring slowly along the edge of the bowl. Add the flour and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cake is golden and has domed slightly in the center. Cool to room temperature.

To prepare glaze: Sift the confectioners' sugar into a small bowl. Add the grapefruit juice and whisk to combine. Pour the glaze over the cooled cake.

To store: Wrapped in plastic wrap, this cake should keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.

Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the author of seven food books, including "Mrs. Cubbison's Best Stuffing Cookbook" and "The Sourdough Bread Bowl Cookbook." She also writes the Creators News Service "After-Work Gourmet" column. To find out more about Lisa Messinger and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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