On a hot summer evening, no one wants to spend too much time in the kitchen. We tend to do a lot of barbecuing here. The baked goods tend to give way to light fruit tarts, ice cream and crisps. Fresh fruit in season is also a favourite.
Our local farmer’s market offers a wide variety of berries, peaches, and, come fall, apples. This year we’ve planted our own garden so hopefully at least some of the veggies will be home grown.
We get wild raspberries throughout the summer and I’ve planted strawberries this year as well. The dogs ate the blueberry bush so that one goes back on the try again list.
The following recipes are geared towards taking advantage of summer’s fruit bounty for the most part.
They focus on easy shortcuts to avoid spending hours in a hot kitchen while still having a fun, refreshing dessert on hand for those momentary cravings or dessert.
1. Grandpa’s Birthday Cake
I know, it’s an odd title but this is my grandfather’s invention. He started making it for my mother’s birthday many years ago.
Since he passed on, I took over that duty but it’s such a light and easy treat to make that it has become a popular family request year round.
- 1 Angel Food Cake – you can make it with a mix or do the really easy thing and pick up a ready made one at the grocery store
- 1 can Devon custard – regular custard will work too as will handmade custard if you’re willing to work that hard
- 1 pound of fresh berries – strawberries are our favourite but others will work
- Whipping cream
Cut the cake horizontally in half and carefully separate the two layers. Cover the bottom layer of the cake with custard. Try not to spill it over the sides. Top with fresh fruit.
Replace the other half on top and cover the whole thing in whip cream (pretend its icing). You can decorate the top with fresh berries as well.
2. Blueberry Tart
This one comes from the Real Simple website and despite looking complicated, it really is simple to make. They use blueberries but it is equally good with raspberries or strawberries.
You could even do a fruit medley on top.
- 1 thawed, 8 oz sheet of frozen puff pastry
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 TB white sugar
- 4 oz softened cream cheese
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ½ tsp grated lemon zest
- 3 TB sugar
- 2 cups of blueberries
Preheat oven to 375 F. Flour your working surface and then unfold the sheet of puff pastry. Roll it into a 10 x 12 rectangle. Move it onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Gently, score a one inch border around the edge without cutting all the way through the pastry.
Brush the border with the egg and sprinkle it with 1 TB white sugar. Bake 18-22 minutes, until puffed and golden coloured. Rescore the border of the pastry, again do not cut all the way through it. Gently press the center flat, leaving only the border raised.
Let it cool for 15-20 minutes until approximately room temperature.
Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add in cream, lemon zest, and 2 TB sugar. Beat until smooth and then pour it over the puff pastry within the confines of the border.
Cover it with blueberries in an even, single layer. Top with remaining TB of sugar.
3. Ice Cream Sandwiches
This is another one of those super easy recipes. I’ve always wanted to try making my own ice cream but have yet to actually give it a go. Luckily for me this recipe uses store bought ice cream
- ½ pint softened ice cream
- 16 flat, wafer style cookies such as tea cookies, shortbread, or ginger snaps
Put a dollop of ice cream on 8 cookies and then top each with another cookie. Get decadent and get fancy ice cream and cookies. You can serve them right away or freeze for up to 3 days.
4. Peach & Raspberry Parfait
The basic recipe comes from Real Simple, although the concept is a simple one – juice the fruit and layer it with ice cream. The juicing technique works well with virtually any cut up fruit or berry, especially strawberries.
You can use any type of fruit or combination of fruit you want.
- 2 peaches, cut into chunks – I leave the skin on but you can skin them if you wish
- 1 ½ cups raspberries
- 2 TB sugar
- 1 TB fresh lemon juice
- 1 pint vanilla ice
- Whip cream
Combine fruit, sugar and lemon juice and let sit for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. In tall glasses or parfait dishes, layer ice cream with fruit. Try to get at least two layers of each if possible but it will depend on how deep your glasses or dishes are.
Top with whip cream and left over fruit juice.
5. Rhubarb & Strawberry Crisp
Crisp is a classic summer dessert. You can make it with any type of fruit. Apples combine well with red berries while peaches do well with blueberries and raspberries. Play around with seasonings as well. Nutmeg is great with apples while almonds do well with peaches.
Rhubarb on its own is too tart for most people but combine it with strawberries and it is a delightful treat. This recipe comes from Foodland Ontario. I freely admit to loving crisp topping and tend to double the topping recipe just so there is more of it.
- 4 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 4 cups rhubarb, sliced into bite size pieces
- ¾ cup white sugar
- 1 TB flour
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ cup butter, melted
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup large-flake old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. In a large bowl combine the fruit and then add in the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Pour it into the baking pan.
Mix topping ingredients and pour it on top of the fruit. Bake, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes or until fruit is tender.
6. Strawberry Shortcake
This is another summer classic and perfect for strawberry season. I’ve included a recipe to make your own shortcake but feel free to cheat and buy some biscuits to halve and top with fruit and whip cream. This recipe comes from The Chef In You.
- 8 cups strawberries
- 6TB sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 5 TB sugar
- 1 TB baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 8 TB cold, unsalted butter
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- ½ cup + 1 TB whole milk
- 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
- Whip cream
Hull the berries and put 3 cups of them in a large bowl. Crush the berries using a potato masher. Keep mashing until you have a puree of strawberries. Slice the remaining berries and mix them into the puree. Add the sugar (6 TB) in and stir.
Let it sit 30 minutes to two hours. The longer it sits the better it will taste.
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Combine the flour, 3 TB sugar, baking powder and salt. Grate the butter into the mixture and whisk it into a crumbly meal. You can also cut the butter into the flour and mix into a crumbly meal using a food processor. In a separate bowl mix the whole beaten egg with the milk.
Pour the liquid mixture into the flour. Combine it with a rubber spatula until it begins to form clumps. Turn it on to a floured surface and knead it lightly. You don’t need to overdo it. Pat it into a 9 x 6 inch rectangle that is about ¾ inch thick.
Cut your biscuits using a biscuit cutter or a floured glass rim. Put your biscuits on a baking sheet and brush with egg white. Sprinkle with remaining 2 TB sugar. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden in colour.
Let them cool a bit until still warm but okay to handle without burning your fingers. Halve your biscuits and fill with strawberry mixture and whip cream.
Top with the other biscuit half. I like more strawberries and whip cream on top but you can leave them neat and pretty if you wish.
Whatever you choose to make, enjoy all the season has to offer in the way of fresh fruit and never doubt the power of whip cream to elevate things to a new level.
Cover photo: www.sweetntreats.com