Summer desserts: cool dishes and ones worth heating up kitchen for
Right-side-up cake from Deborah Madison’s Seasonal Fruit Desserts is worth heating the oven for.
Summer doesn't often inspire us to crank up the oven, but some dishes can make it worth enduring the heat.
Berries and peaches light up with a touch of heat, and tomatoes get even sweeter. And what picnic would be complete without a juicy pie or big, chunky cookies?
A few new cookbooks show how to make the most of summer's bounty.
• The Sono Baking Company Cookbook (Clarkson Potter, 288 pages; $35) folds plump blueberries into tender, sour cream muffins. And chunky, chocolate-stuffed kitchen sink cookies practically scream "picnic." But the book's savories set it apart.
Baker John Barricelli nestles sweet kernels of corn against luscious crabmeat in a decadent French tart, and creates a Jarlsberg-topped cobbler of red, yellow and orange cherry tomatoes.
• Vegetarian cooking guru Deborah Madison has put her knowledge as a pastry chef to good use in Seasonal Fruit Desserts (Broadway Books, 288 pages; $32.50), stocked with no-fuss desserts that exploit summer's just-from-the-farm sweetness.
Some of her simplest desserts require no baking: Plums are gently sauteed with a touch of cardamom, while the hollows of summer melons are filled with berries, wine and herbs. If you do turn on the oven, a right-side-up cake piled with fresh fruit offers a lighter take on the traditional upside-down cake.
• David Lebovitz's Ready for Dessert (Ten Speed Press, 288 pages; $35) promises visceral satisfaction starting with the cover, which features a cake's thick chocolate icing. Inside, almond cookies become cobbler crusts and Guinness-spiked gingerbread gets topped with lime frosting.
When peaches practically ooze their juice at the farm stand, Lebovitz proposes peach mascarpone semifreddo, a frozen peaches-and-cream given a subtle crunch.
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Butter, for coating the pan
All-purpose flour, for dusting the pan
For the topping:
1 1/2 cups fruit (chopped, if large)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
For the cake:
3 1/2 ounces almond paste
2/3 cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
2/3 cup corn flour
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 5- by 8-inch springform pan with butter and flour. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper, then butter that as well.
In a medium bowl, toss the fruit with the sugar, then set aside.
In a food processor, combine the almond paste and sugar. Pulse until evenly combined. Add the butter and pulse until well combined. With the machine running, add the eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the vanilla and almond extracts, and the sour cream. Blend until smooth.
In a medium bowl, mix the corn flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Add half of the dry ingredient to the processor and pulse three times. Add the second half and pulse three times again. Scrape the bowl to make sure everything is well combined, then give it three or four more pulses.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Pile fruit over the top. Bake in the center of the oven until lightly browned and springy when pressed with a fingertip, about 1 hour or slightly longer.
Let stand for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan. Dust with powdered sugar. Let cool to room temperature before slicing.
Makes 8 servings.
Source: Seasonal Fruit Desserts by Deborah Madison (Broadway Books, 2010)