Tuesday, July 17, 2007

kitchen essentials — a useful baking paste

oh, prunes .... what can i say. i really don't like you and never have (i swear you must be best friend of the sweet potato i am trying to like). every dish you ever showed up in, i avoided like the plague — sweet potato and prune tsimmes, lamb or beef tagines (stews), fruit compote and prune filled hamantaschen for the purim holiday, only to name a few.

you even bring back scary memories of that green glass (welches) bottle filled with your juice that every grandparent always kept, and swore by, somewhere in the back of the refrigerator. after repeated urging that it would be good for me and "help me", i finally caved in. i remember taking a sip of you when i was eight, thinking you might have tasted good. boy, was i were they wrong — i ended up gagging while everyone else had a good laugh :)

you really tasted that bad. well, to me at least....

it seems prunes [and sweet potatoes] just have a way of "weaseling" their way into both the ashkenazi and sephardi jewish kitchen; guess i must be missing the gene to like them with the relish that others do.

a few years ago, it became the "in thing" to lower fat content in baking by using fruit (pastes) such as those from apples, banana, and, of course, prunes. i have to admit, i've never been into the whole low fat baking craze. after trying quite a few recipes of this sort, 9 out of 10 resulted with less than passable results, especially in the area of final baked texture.

i do think, however, there are a few recipes out there than benefit from using a paste such as one made from prunes, especially when paired with chocolate, and yield excellent results. when i'm feeling guilty for having over indulged in the regular baked goods world, i resort to some of these recipes using the following paste. a recipe for one of those excellent baked good will follow, but for now, here's the kitchen basic which stores well in the fridge for quite a while.

simple prune paste [for baking]

while not the most appetizing concoction on its own, this powerful paste really works its stuff in certain baking situations. it acts to lower fat content, allowing you to use less oil or butter, and keeps things extremely moist for long periods of time.


1 pkg dried prunes, no pits (check them to make sure)


place prunes in either a blender or food processor.

add a few tablespoons of water.

blend the mixture until it is a smooth paste.

add enough water so that it blends nicely. it must be completely smooth and thick.

do it in small batches if you don't have a powerful blender or food processor.

place in a glass or plastic container and store in fridge. it will last several months if sealed air tight.

how to use it? check tomorrow's post :)


Emily DeVoto, Ph.D., said...

I love prunes (cooked, raw, in hamantaschen, whipped, whatever)... I keep forgetting about using it as a fat substitute.

burekaboy — said...

hey emily - forgot about that prune whip business....blech, double blech!! LOL. i'll even send you a 'sacklet' of prunes instead of gelt come hannukah , each individually wrapped in gold foil {evil grin}. for me, the prune's only saving grace is that it works in baking.

Lannae said...

Here is the deal, I call them dried plums. I like dried apricots, dried cranberries, and dried plums. Prunes, not so much. I have to agree with you, the "low fat" craze of adding apple sauce or banana usually ends up with something that is less than passable. Or, a waste of time, money and resources because no one want to eat it. That is just plainly a waste of food. If I am going to eat a treat, I am going to eat the real deal, otherwise I am going to feel burned and cheated.

burekaboy — said...

hey lannae - dried plums sounds so much more appetizing than prunes ;) i remember when i was little i thought they were rotted, overgrown raisins. boy, was i surprised when i found out they were dried up plums!

most of my "experimenting" with those substitutes ended up with nasty results, usually in the form of rubber. LOL.

have to say, the chocolate cake is good despite using the puree. only 1/4 c oil. original version said it had 1 1/4 c!

i know what you mean though, desserts should taste like desserts :)

Anonymous said...

I actually just started making a batch of Lekvar a few days ago, which isn't exactly what you have going here, but it's prunes just the same. haha. I really wanted some pastries but got busy with life and forgot about it, it's in the fridge waiting for for use. :-) Thanks for the reminder!

burekaboy — said...

jamila - hope the pastries turned out good. will look forward to seeing what you made with the lekvar. i don't think you'd want to use this as a substitute!! LOL.