Cici asks: When adding nuts or fruit (e.g., dried cherries, raisins) or even chocolate morsels to a recipe that doesn’t originally call for it, are there any adjustments that need to be made to account for their additional moisture/oil content?
My short answer is: nope! Add away! Chocolate chips, nuts and dried fruits won’t change the moisture content of your baked goods, so go for it! Just be sure to start out with a small amount, as it’s easy to add more to taste, but difficult to take out if you decide you may have thrown in too much.
Adding chopped fresh fruit on the other hand may change things a little, but I tend to add it without caution. Personally I would rather have desserts on the slightly under-baked and moisture-rich side than dry and/or over-baked. If you are worried about the moisture content of your baked goods, you can lightly coat any fresh fruit you are adding with flour. This is an especially great trick when making fruit pies, to keep the filling from getting too juicy.
When I am making something like a berry or banana cake, in which I want the flavor to be there, but not pieces of fruit necessarily, I will puree my fruit. Then, I will use my puree in place of about 1/2 to 3/4 of the liquid my cake or baked good calls for, which is usually water or some form of non-dairy milk*. Another little trick of the trade is that lemon actually makes berry flavors stand out, so if I’m making something with berries, I’ll be sure to add some lemon zest to the batter!
I hope that answers your question, Cici!
One of my favorite desserts to make is strawberry cake, covered in frosting, and smothered with ganache — I like to think of it as a baked chocolate covered strawberry! Because fresh fruit as a decoration tends to bleed all over frosting, my secret weapon is dehydrated strawberries as garnish!
*If you want dessert that is a little less sweet, you can use fruit puree in place of sugar instead of the liquid. You can even add a bit of sugar or agave to the puree.