Fruits and Nuts in Bakery

The role of fruits, dry fruits and nuts in bakeries is difficult to overemphasise. Walnuts, pecan nuts, hazelnuts, almonds, cashew nuts (cashew nuts are actually seed, scientifically speaking), mangoes, bananas, oranges and apples are extensively used in a variety of bakery operations.

The fruits and nuts often significantly enhance the quality and nutrient value of the bakery and confectionery products. Besides contributing to the taste and health of bakery and confectionery products, fruits and nuts also contribute to the colour, flavour and texture of bakery and confectionery products.

Applications and Health Examples

Take the example of raisins. Raisin cake can be a wonderful delicacy as can be the cinnamon raisin buns.  Oatmeal raisin cookies are also delightful. Raisins can have application in puddings, muffins, and salads too. In Indian desserts like kheer and halwa, the role of these tiny delicacies should not be underestimated.  

Raisins are not only great to taste but are endowed with wonderful health benefits. They are high on energy, low on sodium and are devoid of cholesterol. For mountaineers and backpackers, these dry fruits are added into high-energy food supplements. Their rich carbohydrate content has the potential to make them a good post-workout snack. If you want to put on some healthy weight without getting laden with unnecessary cholesterol, raisins should be the part of your diet. 

Moreover, raisins can prevent or give relief from constipation as they are good source of dietary fibre, and can counter anaemia. Raisins are rich in iron and potassium.  A handful of raisins can give you healthy dosages of B vitamins, iron and potassium. Potassium can reduce the blood pressure and tension of blood vessels, and iron can fight anaemia. Therefore it is not surprising that recent scientific findings have shown a positive correlation between reduced hypertension and consumption of this delicious dry fruit.

Then let us take the example of pomegranates. In Turkey, pomegranate sauce is used as a salad dressing or to marinate meat. In Azerbaijan, a sauce is derived from pomegranate juice, which is named as narsharab. It is generally served with fish and tika kebab. In fact, this sauce can complement many meat and fish dishes.

Pomegranate jam and jelly can also be enjoyed at breakfast tables. It is about time pomegranate jam and/or jellies become more abundant in the Indian bakery & confectionery industry.

 Similarly, though pomegranate juice is commonly known but bakery cafes can surprise the guests with pomegranate shakes. Infusing of bananas in this uncommon shake would add to its taste. Pomegranate smoothie is a delightful beverage. Pomegranate juice can be used to make delicious cakes too. Dried pomegranate seeds can have application in granola bars, or can be used as a topping for yoghurt and ice-cream.

At the same time, pomegranate seeds are spruced with several health benefits. According to Wikipedia, a 100 gm serving of pomegranate arils provides 12 percent of the daily value for Vitamin C, 16 percent daily value for Vitamin K and 10 percent daily value for folate. Besides that, pomegranate seeds are richly endowed with dietary fibre and have moderate calories. Dietary fibre facilitates digestion. What is more, pomegranate arils are devoid of cholesterol and saturated fats. Pomegranate in diet can facilitate weight reduction and keep the cholesterol in check. Regular intake of pomegranate gives an impetus to your immunity.

Pineapple is another fruit with wide applications in the bakery and confectionery industry. Pineapples are used in fruit salad, and are also used as pizza toppings and as grilled ring in hamburgers. Pineapple jam and jelly are common items in breakfast tables and the use of pineapple in ice-cream and yoghurt is also not that uncommon.  Pineapple bread can also be a delicacy at the breakfast tables, and it is about time more bakeries in the country place it on their shelves. Pineapple cake is however, quite rampant in its usage across bakeries.

Pineapple is endowed with several health benefits. Raw pineapple is an excellent source of manganese and Vitamin C. It is also rich in copper and potassium. Potassium facilitates controlling heart rate and blood pressure, whereas copper helps in red blood cell synthesis.

Pineapple is also spruced with impressive content of soluble and insoluble dietary fibre like pectin. The pineapple fruit has a mixture of proteolytic enzyme named bromelain that facilitates in digestion of food by breaking down protein. The bromelain content of raw pineapple gives a sore mouth like feeling which is often experienced while eating the fruit.  Bromelain is also characterised by anti-inflammatory, anti-blood clotting properties and can help to prevent cancers. Bromelain also facilitates the health of heart. Studies have shown that intake of pineapple on regular basis also helps to tackle indigestion and arthritis.

Factors to Consider

But some precautions should be adhered to for maintaining the quality of many of these fruits and nuts in bakery operations. For example, for all walnut lovers the brownie with walnuts is a delight but when once in a while a bad walnut explodes in the mouth it gives a despicable taste and takes a while to be rinsed out! 

Once a culinary expert said that  “Walnuts in the shell should be stored in a cool, dry place. One needs to be more careful with the shelled walnuts because walnuts contain high percentage of oil, which can easily turn rancid. Exposure to light, moisture or heat will reduce their shelf life. Once opened, walnuts are best stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. For long-term storage, one can also freeze shelled walnuts in airtight plastic bags; they thaw quickly at room temperature.” 

Retaining moistness of cakes that use nuts in generous proportions is also an issue worth exploring. “In the case of a dry fruits cake it is always good to bake at a low temperature and use a water bath in the bottom shelf of the oven which helps to keep the cake moist too. Also to make sure nuts don’t sink to the bottom thereby making the end product bottom heavy, it is advisable to coat the liquor soaked nuts with flour. Honey as part replacement for sugar in the recipe is also one technique that can be used, as on account of its hydroscopic property it helps draw moisture from air,’ added the said expert.

Similarly, while using cashew nuts in bakery recipes, their high moisture and oil content should be taken care of.  The sogginess of cashew nuts needs to be avoided. It can be done so by wrapping the cashew nuts in icing sugar and then roasting them in oven. Soaking of nuts in liquor is recommended for anything from 12 hours to 24 hours but if you leave them longer – it might not be harmful to the nuts; though might not give increased improvement in the result.

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