Get Inspired: Our Top Five Summer Desserts

Baking is a year-round hobby, but with summer around the corner, there's a whole new range of seasonal ingredients available. Check out our top five summer desserts, perfect for finishing off a garden party, summer barbecue or casual picnic.

Paul's Berry Sponge

Great British Bake Off legend Paul Hollywood has created this divine fruit sponge, which will be the showstopper at any summer gathering.

Ingredients

  • 50g melted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
  • 250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 250g caster sugar plus 1 tbsp
  • 8 medium eggs 
  • 600ml double cream
  • 400g strawberries, halved
  • 180g blueberries
  • 150g raspberries
  • icing sugar to dust

 

Method

  1. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Brush 2 x 20cm cake tins with melted butter and line the bases with baking paper. Dust well with flour and remove any excess. Set aside.

  2. Put the sugar and eggs in a large heatproof bowl, then place over a pan of barely simmering water. Whisk with an electric hand whisk for about 7 mins or until the mixture is pale and has trebled in volume. Remove from the heat, then slowly pour in the butter, folding it in as you pour until it is completely mixed in.

  3. Gently fold the flour and a pinch of salt into the egg mixture, then pour into your prepared cake tins. Cook for 25 mins until the cake is golden and risen – a skewer pushed into the cake should come out clean. Allow the cakes to cool for a few minutes in the tin, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

  4. Meanwhile, whip the cream until it just holds its shape, then set aside. Whizz about a quarter of the strawberries with 1 tbsp sugar until smooth, then fold this purée through the cream so you get a ripple effect.

  5. To assemble the cakes, cut each one in half horizontally. Use a sharp carving knife to ensure you get level layers. Put one sponge on a serving plate, spread a quarter of the cream mix on top, then dot a quarter of the blueberries and raspberries around the edge, alternating each time. Repeat this step twice more, put the last layer of cake on top (save a top half of cake for the top layer), spread the remaining cream over, then put the blueberries and raspberries around the edge and pile the strawberries in the centre. Dust with icing sugar just before you serve.

 

Peach & Red Berry Ice Cream Cake

If you're looking for something a bit different that will cool you down on a midsummer's day, this take on ice cream is sure to be a hit.

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 75g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 3 medium egg
  • 100g soured cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

 

For the ice cream layer:

  • 200g raspberries, plus extra to serve
  • 100g redcurrants, plus extra to serve
  • 100g icing sugar, plus 2 tbsp
  • 300ml double cream
  • 250g mascarpone
  • 200g soured cream
  • 3 peaches, stoned and chopped

Method

  1. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm deep cake tin with baking parchment. Put the butter, sugar, flour, eggs, soured cream, vanilla and 1⁄4 tsp salt into a large mixing bowl and blend together using an electric hand whisk. Once smooth, scrape into the cake tin and bake for 50-55 mins until golden and risen, and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool for 10 mins in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

  2. Clean the cake tin, and line with a double layer of cling film. Tip half the raspberries, half the redcurrants and 2 tbsp of the icing sugar into a bowl and lightly crush with a fork, set aside. Pour the double cream, icing sugar and mascarpone into another bowl and whisk with an electric hand whisk until softly whipped and just holding its shape. Fold through the soured cream, peaches, and whole and crushed berries.

  3. Split the cake into 3 even layers. Flip the top layer into the cake tin, so the top now becomes the base. Scrape half the cream and fruit mixture into the tin, spread to the edges and level the top. Flip the middle layer of cake into the tin, top with the remaining cream and fruit mixture, then flip on the final layer of sponge. Give the sponge a gentle press to expel any gaps between the layers, then overwrap and place in the freezer. You can also freeze some extra raspberries and redcurrants to serve alongside. Freeze the cake for at least 4 hrs.

  4. Remove the cake from the freezer 20 mins before serving. Tip it out of the tin onto a cutting board and slice. Any leftovers can be put back in the freezer and eaten over the next 2 weeks. Serve with extra berries and a berry coulis.

 

Blackberry posset with vanilla shortbread Shortbread finger

For a lighter option that is ideal for dinner parties, try this modern take on traditional syllabub from J Sheekey.

Ingredients

For the posset:
  • 1½ leaves gelatine
  • 300g blackberries
  • 400ml double cream
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
For the vanilla shortbread:
  • 125g salted butter, softened
  • 60g caster sugar
  • ½ vanilla pod with seeds scraped
  • 125g plain flour
  • 60g cornflour

 

Method

  1. Cover the gelatine with cold water in a bowl and soak until soft. Meanwhile, liquidise 250g blackberries until they make a fine purée. Put 2 tablespoons of the purée to one side. 

  2. Pour the rest of the purée into a saucepan with the cream, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to the boil and let it bubble for 3 minutes until it thickens. Remove from the heat and sieve into a bowl.

  3. Remove the gelatine from the water and squeeze out excess water. Add the gelatine to the warm blackberry mixture and stir until it has dissolved. Pour into four glasses and refrigerate overnight to set.

  4. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper. Mix the butter, sugar and vanilla seeds together in a bowl. Sieve in the flour and cornflour, and mix until it forms a smooth paste. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to 1cm thickness.

  5. Cut the shortbread into 2cm x 8cm rectangles and place on the baking tray. Prick the dough at even intervals with a fork and bake for 6-8 minutes until light golden in colour. Leave to cool.

  6. Cut the remaining blackberries in half and mix them with the blackberry purée. Carefully spoon the mixture on to each dessert and serve with a vanilla shortbread.

 

CheesecakeWhite chocolate and passion fruit cheesecake

Cheesecake is always a popular option at any time of year. This recipe by Eric Lanlard offers a summery twist to an old favourite that will be enjoyed by everyone.


 

Ingredients

  • 50g unsalted melted butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 100g crushed digestive biscuits
  • 125g white chocolate chopped
  • 125ml single cream
  • 225g cream cheese, softened
  • 225g mascarpone cheese
  • 4 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 125ml passion fruit pulp, sieved to remove pips plus passion fruit and berries to decorate

 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and grease a 20cm springform cake tin.  

  2. Mix the crushed biscuits and melted butter together in a large bowl, then tip the mixture into the prepared tin and press down with the back of a spoon to smooth. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, or until golden then leave to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 150C/gas mark 2.

  3. Put the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and melt by placing the bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Heat the cream in a small saucepan, then pour on to the chocolate and stir until smooth. Put to one side.

  4. In a separate bowl, beat together the cream cheese and mascarpone until smooth. Add the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla then stir in the white chocolate mixture and passion fruit pulp.

  5. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold a large spoonful of the egg whites into the batter very vigorously, then gently fold in the remaining whites until smooth.

  6. Spoon the mixture on to the biscuit base and bake the whole cake for 50–60 minutes, or until set but with a slight wobble in the centre. Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake to cool inside for 2 hours, with the door ajar. Chill in the refrigerator overnight then remove from the tin and decorate with fresh passion fruit and berries to serve.

 

Chocolate pithiviers

This delicate French pastry is Simon Hopkinson's recipe and is perfect for a little bite of sweetness after a summery barbecue.

Ingredients

for the pastry:

  • 250g strong plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 250g cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
  • Juice of ½ a lemon 
  • 150ml iced water

For the crème pâtissière:

  • 250ml milk
  • 1 vanilla pod split lengthways
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 25g plain flour
For the chocolate mixture:
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 small eggs
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 50g cocoa powder
  •  ½ tsp dark rum
  • 125g plain chocolate, chopped

For decoration:

  • 1 egg, beaten (to glaze)
  • icing sugar to dust

 

Method

  1. Sift the flour and salt together into a bowl and add the butter. Loosely mix, but don't blend the ingredients together in the normal way of pastry-making. Mix the lemon juice with the iced water and pour into the butter/flour mixture. With a metal spoon, gently mix together until a cohesive mass has formed. Turn onto a cool surface and shape into a thick rectangle.
  2.  Flour the work surface and gently roll the pastry into a rectangle measuring about 18 x 10cm. Fold one third of the rectangle over towards the centre and fold the remaining third over that. Lightly press together and rest the pastry in the fridge for 10 minutes.

  3. Return the pastry to the same position on the work surface and turn it through 90 degrees. Roll it out to the same dimensions as before, and fold and rest again in the same way. Repeat this turning, rolling, folding and resting process three more times. Place the pastry in a polythene bag and leave in the fridge for several hours or overnight.
  4. To make your crème pâtissière, put the milk in a saucepan with the vanilla pod and heat gently until it just boils. Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and flour, then pour the hot milk onto the egg mixture and whisk lightly together. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook gently until it thickens. Pour through a sieve, remove the vanilla pod and chill.

  5. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs. Add the ground almonds and cocoa powder and beat together. Add the rum together with the crème pâtissière and finally fold in the chopped chocolate then chill.
  6. Roll out the pastry to about 3mm thick and cut into four 10cm and four 15cm squares. Place the smaller squares on a floured board. Using a large ice cream scoop, place a scoop of the chocolate mixture in the centre of each of the small squares of pastry. Brush the pastry edges with half the beaten egg, place the larger squares of pastry on top and press down and around firmly, making sure there are no air bubbles.

  7. Use a 10cm round pastry cutter to cut the filled pastry squares into neat rounds. Discard the trimmings. Press and seal together the edges with a fork to form a decorative pattern. Brush the pithiviers with the remaining beaten egg and dust lightly with icing sugar. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 200C/gas mark 6 for 15–20 minutes or until the pastry is well risen, shiny and golden brown. Remove from the oven, dust lightly with some more icing sugar, and serve hot with thick cream.

 

 

Recipes sourced from the following websites: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/peach-red-berry-ice-cream-cake, https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1583634/pauls-berry-sponge, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/aug/05/20-summer-desserts-fruit-baking, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/aug/08/20-dessert-recipes-chocolate-nigella, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/aug/07/20-dessert-recipes-tart-fool-cake

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