Baking with Summer’s Bounty
One of the best experiences of summer can be found right in your local supermarket. Aisle upon aisle of berries and stone fruit, fresh from the farm waiting to be carted home. Dark red cherries, ready to burst with its sweet juices, plump and delectable blackberries, the bounty of summer beckons out to you from nearly every shelf! The best way to enjoy summer’s largesse is to enjoy it fresh, of course. But if you are in the mood for an extra special treat, you could bake up a batch of blueberry muffins or incorporate some cherries into a luscious pie. Here are some tips and simple recipes for baking with some of the fruits of the season.
Blueberry muffins or cupcakes make for a delicious summer treat. The perfect muffins have berries that are evenly distributed in the batter. Blueberries can sometimes be denser than the batter they are mixed in, and could sink to the bottom of the batter. There is a simple way to avoid this. Right after you mix the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, etc.) simple take out 1-2 tablespoons of this flour mixture and spoon it over the berries. Toss the blueberries with the flour mixture until the fruit is well coated in the flour. This helps the berries to adhere well to the batter, resulting in evenly-suspended berries.
While fresh berries are perfect and are readily available this time of year, frozen berries will also work just as well. Just be careful to not defrost the berries before you use them. Defrosting the frozen fruit will make its juices run, and result in a streaky batter with mushy fruit.
Toss the frozen berries with some flour just as you would with the fresh berries. The flour will absorb some of the juice from the frozen berries. Make sure you add the frozen berries directly into the mixed and prepared batter, right at the end, to ensure the berries retain their shape and texture.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 160 grams butter (room temperature)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs (at room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup whole milk (at room temperature)
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 package cream cheese (Philadelphia cream cheese, available in Swiss supermarkets), softened
- 80 grams butter at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar)
To make the muffins
- Preheat oven to 180 C. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake or muffin liners.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and set this aside. Take out a spoonful of this mixture and add it to the blueberries, gently tossing the blueberries in it until the berries are well coated with the flour mixture.
- In another small bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest, rubbing the sugar with the lemon zest until it is fragrant. Set this aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using a hand-held mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla, lemon juice, and milk. Beat on medium speed until combined.
- To this, add the flour mixture and mix on low until just combined. Finally, gently stir in the blueberries.
- Divide the batter evenly into 12 muffin cups. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean
- Remove from oven and let muffins cool
To make the cream cheese frosting
- Use a hand-held mixer or a stand mixer to beat together the cream cheese, butter and lemon juice together until smooth and fluffy. Add the confectioners’ sugar in 2 additions, beating on low speed after each addition. You could adjust the amount of sugar or juice as needed.
- Spread the frosting over the muffins and serve with a couple of blueberries as a garnish
The cherry season is fleeting – it begins in June and ends in July, making these delicious stone fruit all the more desirable! Sweet and mildly tart cherries are not just delicious, as a bonus, they are also high in antioxidants. A great way to enjoy them is to bake them in a pie.
Cherries need to be pitted (de-seeded) before baking. If you have a cherry pitter, this makes the job relatively simple, however, you could also just use a sharp paring knife to cut open the cherry and remove the seed.
All fruit pies need a little thickener (such as flour or cornstarch) to thicken the filling, to prevent a very runny filling. A top crust on a pie needs to have a few vents or openings so that it can release steam and helps in preventing the crust from getting too soggy.
- 300 grams pitted cherries
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- Juice and zest of 1 lime
- 2 sheets of ready-made shortcrust pastry (available as ‘kuchenteig’ in Swiss supermarkets)
- Preheat your oven to 180 C
- Press one of the pie crusts into a pie plate or cake pan. Cut off any excess pie crust that overhangs. mix the cherries with the sugar, flour and juice and lemon zest and keep aside for 10 minutes
- For the top crust, cut out the second pastry sheet into a round the size of your pie plate of the cake pan. Cut out a few vents in the sheet.
- Pour the cherry mixture into the prepared pie crust. Over this, place the second pie crust and seal off the edges.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Allow to cool before serving.
Photos by Shinta Simon