Julie Walsh, the Head Pâtisserie Chef of Le Cordon Bleu, one of the leading schools for culinary arts, wine and management, has shared some tips for choosing the right fruits for your recipes, desserts and cakes, using a variety of culinary techniques.
Fruits fall into five categories: fruits with stones; citrus fruits; exotic or tropical fruits; hard and soft fruits and berries. They can also be classified in more detail: simple, aggregate or multiple. A simple fruit is one that has developed from a single pollinated flower and these are the more commonly found fruits, such as apples, pears and tomatoes. Aggregate fruits refer to several parts put together to make a whole fruit which is the case for strawberries, raspberries and some citrus fruits belonging to the Rosaceae family, such as lemons and oranges. There are many fruits where one fruit develops from multiple flowers, such as pineapples, pomegranates and figs.
It is impossible to discuss fruits without highlighting their varied health benefits. The Diploma in Gastronomy, Nutrition & Food Trends, which can be completed in 3 months in Spring or Autumn, is for those who want to discover seasonal recipes that are both delicious and nutritious while understanding the benefits of each ingredient.
So, how do you decide which fruit to use? The answer lies with knowing just how each fruit is supposed to be prepared and cooked. This will help you decipher what will work well for your particular recipe. Soft fruits can either be poached or oven-baked. Citrus fruits, such as pineapples, can be hard or soft and are either poached or used in a juice. When it comes to soft fruits, handle with care, as they can be easily bruised and damaged. To avoid this, if you need to wash soft fruits, do so with cool water under a low pressure. Berries are best when cooked quickly, such as sautéing. If you are baking a cake with berries, a top tip is to use frozen berries in your scone dough, cake batter or cake mixture as this will help prevent it from bleeding out. As hard fruits tend to lack moisture, they cook best in poaching liquid, as this helps them to absorb more liquid. Apples are hard fruits, strong in flavour and, to retain this flavour, apples work best when they are cut into pieces. Take the recipe for a tarte Tatin (a reversed apple baked tart), in which the apple is diced into small pieces to help release its flavours. This recipe is taught in the Diplôme de Pâtisserie at Le Cordon Bleu, among many other dessert recipes. This programme can be completed in either 9 months or 6 months intensive and, by the end of it, you’ll gain creative and practical skills and techniques.