The Final Proof: July 2015
Make summertime berry delicious
By Jane Dummer
Baking with summer berries is as easy – and yummy – as pie, not to mention highly nutritious
There is something special about summertime desserts made with fresh berries that brings back memories of the lazy days of summer vacation.
Whether it was strawberry shortcake (as a kid, it was my job to whip the cream with the electric beater, as my brother sliced the strawberries) or picking berries at Cross’ raspberry patch for pies, tarts and turnovers, simple berry recipes in the hot summer sure hit the spot!
Berries offer beautiful colours, flavours and textures, especially when they are freshly harvested at their seasonal peak. Plus, we know that berries are full of health benefits. They are loaded with antioxidants, fibre and vitamins that promote immune and digestive health, making them a scrumptious base for pies and jams.
I love it when health and indulgence come together in one food, such as berry pies. And who doesn’t like pie? It’s as easy as pie to think about adding the fresh, ripe berries to that flaky buttery crust.
However, it seems there’s a generation that has missed out on the fundamentals of how to make a pie. Lisa Sanguedolce, founder and owner of LeDolci Culinary Classes, Custom Cakes & Bake Shop in Toronto, agrees.
“When people attend our Perfect Pie Class, they want to bake a pie like Grandma does,” Sanguedolce says. “We go back to the basics of how to make pies from scratch with seasonal berries and fruit. We teach the participants how to make the perfect crust and how to prep the berries and fruit for the filling. We find people want to learn in a fun and relaxed environment. Plus, at the end of class everyone goes home with new skills and a pie that is ready to bake.”
LeDolci also offers a fruit tart class that’s more advanced on the pastry side of baking, using seasonal fruit, berries and chocolate. The final product is decorated with beautiful glazed fruit and berries. The tarts are fancier than the basic berry pie and make a nice option for a summertime garden party. The gang at LeDolci purchases large quantities of fresh seasonal berries from local Ontario farmers and markets, and then makes purees. They freeze both the purees and the whole berries to use year-round in their cakes and cupcakes.
Berries are some of the most beautiful foods in the world and they blend well with other fruits to produce bold new flavours. Who doesn’t like a pie popping with the sweetness and tartness straight out of the field? How does peach raspberry amaretto crumble galette sound? Yes, please!
Kyla Eaglesham, owner of MADELEINES in Toronto, is the master baker behind this creation. “We don’t add any sugar to the peach raspberry filling as the crumble provides the sweetness to the pie,” she says. “And yes, this pie is delicious and very popular.”
After 10 years in retail, MADELEINES opened a production kitchen in 2012 and sells wholesale to retailers, including Pusateri’s Fine Foods, and offers direct custom orders. Strawberry rhubarb galette, mixed berry with oat crumble galette, Niagara sour cherry (not a berry, but I thought I’d mention it) pie and wild blueberry with praline (almond, pecan and hazelnut) crumble top the seasonal pies on the menu.
“We purchase from preferred farmers and work directly with a wholesaler who specializes in produce,” Eaglesham says. “We acquire the berries when they are in season and freeze extra for pie orders during the offseason, including Thanksgiving. Responding to a shift in the way people shop, we created a better website, allowing customers to pre-order in advance, which gives us time to coordinate the berries and fruit we need to have on hand. However, we still take pies direct to some urban farmers markets including Farm City and CityPlace. This continues to nourish our relationship with the customer while offering the seasonality they are requesting.”
Even though berry season is only a few weeks out of the year, and I’m known to keep a stash of fresh picked frozen berries in my freezer, nothing beats the delicious sweet, tart taste of summer in a pie made from scratch at the peak of the season. Happy summer!
Jane Dummer, RD (www.janedummer.com), known as the Pod to Plate Food Consultant, collaborates and partners with the food and nutrition industry across North America.