Fruit gratin
FoodPerfect when you need a light dessert

Fruit gratin

Rustic desserts are a pleasure to bake because there isn’t any fuss.

Fruit gratin (Photo by Jessica Grann)
Fruit gratin (Photo by Jessica Grann)

If you have ripe stone fruit and five minutes to spare you can make fruit gratin.

Rustic desserts are a pleasure to bake because there isn’t any fuss. This recipe is perfect when you need a light dessert. It’s also a one-bowl recipe that you can whisk by hand.

I happened to have an abundance of ripe nectarines to use up, but you could use peaches, plums, apricots or cherries — and this gratin is especially wonderful with fresh figs. I left the skin on my nectarines for added color and texture but you can peel the skin from your fruit if you prefer.

To make this gratin, you mix a batter and arrange the fruit on top, so it doesn’t have a traditional crust. The batter bakes like a pillowy crepe, just enough to support the fruit. It’s thin and light — perfect for after dinner on a warm evening.

I have not made a pareve version of this but if you’d like to try, I’d suggest using a pareve milk with a bit more substance, like oat milk.

Recipes for gratin traditionally do not include vanilla extract but I like the added scent with the fruit.

Coarsely chopped almonds add a beautiful texture, but if you have an allergy to almonds you could omit them.

I love these rustic desserts because you can have fun with them. You can halve the fruit or arrange it in slices — the important thing is to make it your own.

1 tablespoon butter, plus more to grease the baking dish
3-4 tablespoons sugar, divided
¼ cup flour
¼ cup milk
1 egg
⅛ teaspoon sea salt (two pinches if you don’t have that size measuring spoon)
⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract (a small dash)
About 1½ pounds fresh stone fruit or figs
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped almonds

Preheat the oven to 425 F, with the baking rack placed in the middle.

Lightly butter an 8- or 9-inch baking dish of any shape. You can use a pie plate if you don’t have something with lower edges like a quiche or tartin dish. Sprinkle the dish with 1 tablespoon of sugar.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar, milk egg, salt and vanilla. Mix it as well as possible to incorporate any flour lumps into the batter.

Gently pour the batter into the baking dish.

Arrange the fruit of your choice across the top of the batter. You can do this in any design, with small pieces as shown in my photograph. You can get away with using less fruit if you use thinner slices. I usually halve the fruit, remove the stone and then cut each half into quarters. You could also use full halves of peaches or nectarines — I also suggest using halves if you use figs.

Fresh peaches work well in a gratin (Photo by Jessica Grann)
Place halves center down and arrange them however they fit into the dish. If you choose this option then you may need a little more fruit since the pieces are larger and heavier — I like to have a little extra on hand just in case I need it. It’s better for it to look a little crowded and abundant then to not have enough because there is much more fruit in a gratin than batter. Sprinkle the fruit with 1-2 tablespoons of sugar. If the fruit is naturally very sweet then 1 tablespoon of sugar should be enough. When in doubt, 2 tablespoons of sugar can’t hurt.

Sprinkle with coarsely chopped almonds. Don’t use a nut grinder, just hand-chop them with a sharp knife. It’s a rustic recipe so this only adds to the beauty.

Dot with 1 tablespoon of butter and bake for about 15 minutes, until the butter is bubbling and the edges start to brown and pull away from the side of the baking dish. The fruit should be baked fully, yet still somewhat firm.

Let cool for 10-15 minutes.

This is really lovely served warm with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Enjoy and bless your hands! PJC

Jessica Grann is a home chef living in Pittsburgh.

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