Winter Fruit Gratin with Rum Raisins
Sugar-Dusted, Rum-Soaked, Winter Fruit Gratin
It’s 7 a.m., February first, and I’m sitting beside a roaring fire, watching the hot pink sunrise. So far, I’ve done nothing more ambitious than scatter bird seed and add a couple of birch logs to the wood stove. My outside thermometer reads -1F. Mornings like these always stir the baking bug, sometimes just for the comforting fragrance of warm vanilla.
When Iâ€™ve got a busy schedule â€”and I havenâ€™t been to the market in a few daysâ€” I often bake something simple, utilizing an ingredient I always have on hand: fruit. Iâ€™m still waiting to harvest enough ripe Calamondin oranges or limes for a tart, but as usual, apples and pears from the local market are overflowing my fruit bowl. Time for another winter gratin!
Gratins are endlessly adaptable and come together in a snap for a simple weeknight dessert or, when glazed with jelly or dusted with a bit of confectioner’s sugar, a pretty brunch. I’ve made them in baking pans and cast iron skillets; often using unpeeled apples or firm pears, and if I have both I will combine apples and pears together. Quince makes a delicious gratin as well, when in season. I love adding cranberries or raisins to fruit gratins; especially when soaked in spirits like rum or brandy. You can make this dessert gluten free by using almond flour and/or vegan by swapping plant-based milk and butter for the dairy. In other words, this is a crowd-pleasing, house favorite.
Winter Fruit Gratin
2 lbs apples, pears or quince (3-4 apples), cored & thinly sliced. Peeling is optional (I prefer a more rustic & colorful gratin)
1/2 cup flour (use 1:1 gluten free if you like, or almond flour)
1 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs at room temp (vegans can try Just for Allâ€™s egg substitute)
pinch of sea salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract (sub rum or brandy if desired)
1/2 cup milk (sub almond or other plant-based milk if vegan)
2 Tbs butter, melted & cooled (coconut oil/butter sub for vegans)
1/2 cup raisins (or dried cranberries), pre soaked in spirits if desired
2 Tbs rum or brandy (calvados) for soaking raisins (optional)
Confectionerâ€™s sugar or cinnamon for dusting or apple jelly for glazing (optional)
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving (a divine option)
Preheat an oven, with rack centered, to 400 degrees F. Butter (or spray) an 8â€ square baking dish or cast iron skillet.
Set 1/2 cup of raisins in a small bowl with 2 Tbs rum, to soak.
Place sliced apples/pears/quince in the baking dish or skillet.
Mix the flour and baking powder in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and salt with a whisk for a couple of minutes until the eggs are light and the sugar is well blended. Add the vanilla, milk and butter, whisking all the while. Add the flour mixture and whisk until you have a smooth batter.
Add the raisins or cranberries (no need to drain), to the sliced fruit and toss to combine.
Fold the batter into the fruit mixture with a spatula, gently turning until all the fruit is well coated. Level and slightly smooth the lumpy top.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until risen at middle and golden on top. You can check for doneness with a knife inserted at the center. If it pulls out clean, the gratin is ready.
Cool for 20 minutes before dusting with confectionerâ€™s sugar, or brushing with jelly, and serving.
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