Don’t Sleep On Spring Fruits

Bi-weekly Bon Appétit Associate Editor Christina Chaey writes about what she’s currently cooking. Pro tip: if you can Sign up for the Healthyish newsletterYou will get the ball before anyone else.

I’ve never been a fruit person. I always have frozen bananas and berries in the freezer for SmoothiesBut in the volatile seasonal produce space, I’ve always picked ramps over rhubarb (okay, good, no fruit) and corn over plums.

Fruits often require foresight and patience – two things I generally miss, but especially in the kitchen. You don’t buy avocados the day you want to make a lot of them Party size guacand you don’t buy peaches the day you do Plan on cake. My problem is I want to make cake NOW. And in three days, when those peaches are perfectly ripe, I want to do something different (probably guac). Or I’m busy living my life because my plans are finally unpredictable and spontaneous again, two words that I had to work out of my vocabulary for 1.5 years! I can’t afford to bend my newly discovered social plans for PEACHES !!!!

The thing is, like fruit Sourdough starter, lets you know when it’s ready for you, not the other way around. I learned this last week when I bought several pounds of beautiful but a little too firm apricots to make a brioche cake. But in my rush to bake the cake in time for a party (a party!), One thing led to another: I used the unripe fruit, didn’t have my dough fully checked, and ended up with something flat, dense and, yes, technically spicy ( but not the cake I was looking for). It didn’t make it to the party.

I had all but forgotten about the remaining apricots until I noticed two days ago that they were finally perfectly ripened, blushing in their bowl, and giving way when I gently pushed them in with my thumb. I didn’t have a plan for them, but they shouted anyway: We are ready for you! To slow down and make room for the unexpected, I took an hour to bake them in this sublime pudding cake (I dipped halved apricots for the rhubarb.) The fruit sank into the batter and slowly baked in jelly bright orange pockets while the edges of the cake became both crispy and chewy, almost mochi-like, with a sugar-stained crust. And so you didn’t think this cake was related to anything, I actually took it to a tiny dinner party. And days later we’re all still talking about how good everything was – the cake, but also the company.

Spring baking:

Photo by Alex Lau

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