When it comes to fruits in baked goods, apples, in one or more of their many forms — from dices to slices and juice to sauce — lead in usage. While apple is the characterizing fruit flavor in many baked goods — like apple pie — other times it is the bulk behind berries, citrus or tree fruits. This is because apples are an abundant and economical fruit that come in durable formats that withstand the baking process. Their neutral flavor and natural sweetness allow other fruits and characterizing flavors to shine.
“Our apple processing plant is located in the heart of the beautiful Pacific Northwest where we have access to growers of the best apples in the world,” said Dirk Davis, director of business development, Ever Fresh Fruit Co. “In addition to conventional apples, we are the region’s largest certified organic apple processor. Our process allows us to vary dice size, apple variety, antioxidant treatments, packaging and more, to fit each baker’s unique requirements. We regularly process Granny Smith, Fuji, Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious and Gala apples with sources of supply for other varieties if a product requires it.”
Prunes are another fruit often used in baked goods. Most of the time consumers do not even taste them.
“Our prune ingredients may be used in baked goods to perform behind-the-scenes roles as flavor enhancers and texture improvers,” said Kate Leahy, spokesperson, Sunsweet Ingredients. “Our concentrates and puree, for example, can smooth out the flavor of whole grain flours while amplifying sweetness and adding moisture. They can also mimic fat and help lower total calories. In gluten-free formulas, our ingredients help with binding, moisture and color. They are also high in antioxidant phenolic compounds, which make them excellent flavor stabilizers.”
Prune ingredients may also provide visual and flavor appeal.
“Prunes pitted with Sunsweet’s proprietary pitting system are the most uniform pitted prunes in the world,” Ms. Leahy said. “They are higher in fiber and lower in sugar than raisins, dates and cranberries. Using the dices in place of other inclusions brings a more caramelized flavor to cookies and bars. When baked, they crisp up around the edges in cookies and scones. Whole pitted prunes may also be featured on top of Danish, almond tarts and other kinds of classic pastries.”
The company also offers prune bits, which are made by dicing a paste made of prunes. They are free-flowing, low in water content and easy to mix into batter and dough.
“Prune bits can be used as an inclusion in place of other types of dried fruit or as a paste when rehydrated in water and blended together,” Ms. Leahy said. “When rehydrated in water or a flavored liquid, they can be turned into a paste and used like prune puree but with a lighter flavor and texture. They can also be blended with apple puree for a lighter-colored fat replacement.”
Sunsweet Ingredients’ prunes work best in bakery items that are soft or chewy because the sorbitol within prunes attracts moisture. This, along with the natural antioxidants present in prunes, assists with extending shelf life of fresh-baked items by two to three days.
“The antioxidants in prunes preserve flavor while preventing rancidity from developing in butter or nuts while the sorbitol binds moisture,” Ms. Leahy said. “These ingredients alone, however, do not inhibit mold or staling.”