Summer Baking Specialties

By: Stephanie Larkin

Summer is a great time of year for baking and cooking because there are many possible activities available. Barbecues, family reunions, block parties, pool parties, and summer weddings are all possible summer activities where you can bring your own baked foods. What better time is there to show off your baking skills with some light summertime recipes that are the perfect ending for any festive celebration from a backyard cookout to a beach blowout?

Of course, summertime baking calls for a lighter hand with the sugars and fats, and if you are planning a day outside, food safety considerations are an absolute must. Here are some of the things that you should consider when baking in the summertime.

1. Keep it simple.

Summer is not the time for elaborate cakes and recipes. Heat and humidity are the enemy for most kinds of frosting and glazes, and can make ruin most baked goods. Keep summertime baking on the light side too, sponge cakes and meringues are great summer dessert bases.

2. Avoid dairy-based fillings and toppings that will spoil in the heat.

Whipped cream frostings and custard fillings are usually a poor idea for any outdoor event in the summertime. If you are unable to keep éclairs and cream puffs on ice for the duration of the event, save them for another time of year.

3. Reduce sugar.

Instead of sweetening fruits with sugar, try adding spices and flavor enhancers like vanilla, cinnamon or lemon zest.

4. Take advantage of summer’s bounty.

Fresh peaches, berries and melons are perfect desserts all by themselves, but if you want to go a little fancier, here are some tips for using fresh fruits in your summer baking.

  • Riper fruits are juicier and sweeter, so you use less sugar to get the sweetness you want.
  • Instead of sprinkling berries with sugar to ‘bring out the juice’, try macerating them in orange juice or a few tablespoons of liqueur.
  • Mix berries or sliced peaches with a little bit of lemon juice, add water and cornstarch and boil until the fruit is soft and pulpy. Strain off the liquid to use as glaze in fruit desserts, and puree the fruit to use in place of fat and sugar in cake recipes.
  • Top meringue cakes or sponge cakes with fresh fruit and a spoonful of freshly whipped cream for the perfect summer dessert.

5. Lighten up cake, bars, cookies and cupcake recipes with sweeteners.

There are a number of sugar substitutes on the market that have versions made expressly for baking, such as Splenda Sugar Blend, a natural sugar substitute. Any of these can be substituted for sugar in recipes on a one for one basis.

Summertime Specialty Recipes

What would the 4th of July be without strawberry shortcake? This delicious item is a perfect dessert after a big meal of chicken, hot dogs and hamburgers. Can you imagine the family reunion without your family’s famous refrigerator cake? Some desserts are so associated with summer that it is hard to imagine having to give them up. Guess what? You don’t have to! These light summer recipes are reduced sugar versions of some favorite summertime classics.

Just Like Strawberry Shortcake

Sponge Cake is a perfect substitute for shortcake in strawberry or peach shortcake. The texture is light and airy, and the open grain lets it soak up juices and syrups.

Sponge Cake:

Two eggs

1/3 cup granulated sugar substitute

2 tablespoons of corn starch

4 tablespoons flour

8 inch round pan OR 8x12 inch jelly roll pan, greased and floured

Beat eggs in a small narrow bowl on high speed with electric mixer until they are thick and creamy. The color should be nearly white. A spoon drawn through the eggs should leave a mark which does not disappear.

Add sweetener one tablespoon at a time, beating after each addition.

Sift half the dry ingredients into the bowl on top of the egg and sugar mixture. Fold into batter. Sift the rest of the dry ingredients into the bowl, and fold into batter.

Pour and spread mixture evenly into the pan.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes (round pan) or 7-10 minutes (jelly roll pan). The sponge cake is cooked when your finger leaves a slight mark that disappears almost immediately.

Glazed Strawberries

1 quart strawberries, hulled and sliced

¼ cup orange juice

Pour orange juice over strawberries and set it in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

Whipped Cream

1 pint fresh heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla

¼ cup sweetener

In a narrow bowl, whisk or beat the ingredients and then cream with sweetener and vanilla until stiff peaks form.

To assemble, place a slice of sponge cake on plate. Ladle a half a cup of berries over the cake. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and drizzle with ‘syrup’ from strawberries.

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About Author:
Stephanie Larkin is a freelance writer who writes about topics pertaining to food and cooking often discussing specific products such as Baking Pans.

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