Most of the time a simple jam filling is enough for us pastry people. Jams are great between cake layers, in coffee cakes or in Danishes. But sometimes jams just don’t cut it. Jams are thick, they’re also sweet —depending on the application, they can be far too much so — and have only small pieces of fruit, which can be, quite frankly, disappointing. Should they be a little loose or soupy, as many homemade jams are, they can also weep into whatever you’re spreading them on.
The solution? Fresh fruit fillings. Admittedly these can also be tricky. As with jams, when they’re homemade (as all great fillings should be) they can weep a little. However the upsides are worth the tradeoffs in my mind. A made-from-scratch filling allows the home baker to tailor sugar levels and flavorings to the application instead of buying them pre-formulated in a jar. Consistency (or soupiness) can also be controlled with a judicious use of a thickener or gelling agent. The rewards are far brighter fruit flavors, more flexibility, and, of course, bragging rights. So let’s get to it, I say.