The fall season is synonymous with baking; as temperatures cool down, we seek and find comfort in foods that warm the soul and nourish the spirit. Memories of days from childhood spent sipping hot apple cider, coming home from school to the smell of freshly baked gingerbread, indulging with pumpkin spice and apple cider doughnuts, all contrive to make us long for those crisp, cool autumn days to deliver us from the stifling heat of summer. After those long, hot summer days where we do very little cooking and baking and instead fill up with salads, fruit, and sandwiches, autumn comes and rescues us, reawakening our energies as it infuses everything around us with life, from the trees ablaze with color to the produce we eat. The bounty of food in the fall means there are so many wonderful options for baking, but you may not know where to start. We will highlight some of the best fall produce to use in your baking endeavors this fall.
The sheer varieties of apples to choose from may overwhelm you, but they all serve different purposes, ranging in taste from a softer to a crisper bite, and from tart to sweet. If there are varieties you would like to try but aren’t sure if they would be best for baking, grab a few different kinds at the market and see what you think of the flavor. While you can usually buy apples year-round, they are at their best from September to November, perfect for the fall season. When selecting organic apples at the market, look for ones that are firm with no bruising and are vibrant in color. The skin should be tight and smooth and they should smell fresh. There are so many options for using apples in your baking: baked apple and cinnamon oatmeal, apple tarts, apple pie, fresh apple cider, apple cider doughnuts, and much more!
The sweet potato is incredibly versatile as it can be used in both sweet and savory dishes and is an invaluable ingredient when it comes to fall baking. To ensure you buy sweet potatoes that are actually sweet (those with pale yellow flesh are not sweet), look for the organic, darker variety with thick, smooth skin and bright orange flesh, making sure there are few bruises when you pick them out. For sweet treats made with sweet potatoes, try roasting them with some cinnamon and honey, bake a sweet potato pie, whip up some sweet potato chocolate pudding (yes, you heard right, a healthy pudding!), or bake a sweet potato and apple casserole.
Oh, the glorious pear - nearly as versatile as the apple, but with a uniquely sweet and subtle spicy flavor that pairs so well with cinnamon and vanilla in a variety of desserts. When selecting at the market, test for ripeness by applying light thumb pressure near the pear's stem. If it is ripe, there will be a slight give. Pears are delicious on their own (again, much like apples), but truly come alive when combined with other ingredients or baked in sweet desserts. Try drizzling some with honey or maple syrup and seasoning with cinnamon to bake for about 20 minutes - then add to oatmeal for a perfect homemade batch. But don’t stop there! Why not try pear pie, pear strudel, and pear cobbler? Make the most of this delectable harvest.
No list of fall produce would be complete without the glorious pumpkin. This squash makes its way into many desserts (although it can also be enjoyed in savory dishes, such as pumpkin soup), and while canned pumpkin will certainly serve its purpose, it’s so much better to enjoy this beauty fresh while it’s in season. If you have a food processor, making your own pumpkin puree to use in many meals is so simple. To select at the market, look for organic pumpkins that are small, about 5 to 8 pounds, with tough skin. They are lauded for their concentrated flavor and sweetness. Then have fun baking! Use fresh pumpkin puree to make pumpkin spice pancakes or if you live in a slightly warmer climate but still want a taste of fall, try out pumpkin spice smoothies. You are only limited by your imagination, as the possibilities are nearly endless: pumpkin spice doughnuts, pumpkin pie, baked pumpkin spice oatmeal, pumpkin dip for gingerbread cookies, pumpkin biscuits, pumpkin scones, pumpkin bread, chocolate chip pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pound cake, and much, much more!
To round out our list, we’d like to mention that whatever you might be baking, it can be fun to add festive colors to your desserts with natural food dyes (much healthier than anything with artificial ingredients). Traditional fall colors are often orange, brown, red and yellow. And of course, red and green are perfect as the Christmas season approaches. We have a wonderful selection of natural food coloring, with holiday packets as well as individual red and yellow packets (and more!). You can make orange coloring by simply combining red and yellow, or make some green coloring by combining our blue and yellow packets. We hope you have fun coloring your favorite fall desserts and baking up a storm with the wonderful harvest of fall produce available!