BY ASHA JOHNSTON
When thinking of summer, only one thought comes to mind: food. Whether you’re swimming in Antarctica or getting eaten by any of the 5,000 poisonous animals in Australia, all anyone really wants to know are the magic tricks it takes to create the best summer treats.
Lemon Summer Dream Cake
(about 3 hours)
With this recipe, I present a nine-layer lemon cake with a lemon buttercream frosting and an extra lemon-flavored glaze to drizzle over the layers. The cake also contains mixed berries and can be decorated with flowers around the sides. This cake is a perfect summer party treat and will serve about 24 people.
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, add 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 ½ cups of sugar, ¾ teaspoon of baking powder 1 teaspoon of baking soda and ½ teaspoon of kosher salt. Mix the dry ingredients together, then add 3 eggs, ⅔ cup of oil, and ⅔ cup of lemon juice. Once the mixture is smooth, add in ¾ cup of sour cream. In order to make all 9 layers, repeat this recipe 4 times.
Next, grease the cake pans with melted butter and cover them with flour so the cake doesn’t stick to the pan. Bake the cakes for 25 minutes until the cake springs back when touched.
Lemon buttercream frosting
In a mixer with a whisk attachment, beat together 2 cups of butter, ½ cup of whole milk, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and about 6 cups of powdered sugar, adding more or less powdered sugar to taste. When the cakes are cooled, pipe the frosting into the layers of the cake and decorate with desired berries.
The lemon glaze contains a good amount of lemon juice and powdered sugar, both in no exact quantity, but until the desired flavor is achieved. Mix until a thick white glaze forms, and drizzle onto the unfrosted parts of the cake to add more flavor and shine.
Lemon and Chocolate Ganache Tarts
(about 2 hours)
Summer is filled with fruit, lemons, flowers and fun, and both my lemon tarts and chocolate caramel strawberry tarts capture these summer themes. This recipe allows the opportunity to be creative and to decorate with meringue, caramel, fruit and flowers.
Preheat oven to 350 F. On medium speed in a large bowl, blend together 2 sticks and 2 tablespoons of butter, 1 cup of sugar and ½ teaspoon of salt. Add 2 eggs at room temperature and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Turn the mixer off and add 3 ½ cups of all-purpose flour. Mix on low speed until incorporated.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. The dough can be kept refrigerated for up to 2 weeks and can be frozen for up to 3 months. Roll out dough until very thin, then cut the dough into a circle and place into the tart pans. Poke holes into the dough with a fork before placing in the oven, then bake dough for 10 minutes until light golden.
Extra Lemony Filling
Mix 1 stick of unsalted butter at room temperature with 1 ½ cups sugar until combined. Add 4 eggs, one egg at a time until thoroughly mixed. Add in a pinch of salt and ½ cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Stir mixture consistently over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes until a thick consistency forms.
In a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, whisk 6 egg whites on medium speed for 1 minute. Add 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar and then increase the speed to medium and mix for another minute. With the mixer on, gradually add 1 cup of sugar. Once all the sugar has been added, mix the meringue until stiff peaks form.
Caramel Chocolate Ganache Filling
On medium heat, add 20 ounces of semisweet chocolate and 12 ounces of whipping cream, stirring until smooth.
In a saucepan, combine 10 ounces of sugar and ⅓ cup of water. Place over medium heat and stir until mixture comes to a boil. Stop stirring and wait for the mixture to turn into an amber color. Remove mixture from heat and add 5 ounces of heavy cream, keeping cautious as the mixture will bubble and steam. When the mixture smooths out, add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and ½ teaspoon of salt.
Tarts will need to be placed into the refrigerator in order for the custard and ganache to harden before being decorated with additional berries, flowers or meringue.
Mini Mixed Berry Pies
(about 1 ½ hours)
This next summer treat is a mini berry pie recipe which I came up with one day when I found myself wanting something sweet, but not wanting to get stuck with the responsibility of eating a whole pie by myself.
Mix together 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 ½ cups of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Combine in 1 cup of unsalted butter until the mixture becomes sandy. Add 5 tablespoons of water, one at a time while pulsing the mixer. Once the mixture turns into dough, wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Turn oven to 375 F. Wash and dump 1 container of raspberries, 1 container of blackberries and 1 container of strawberries into a large bowl. Gently mix in ½ cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons of flour, a pinch of cinnamon, and ⅛ teaspoon salt.
In a medium-sized bowl, mix together ½ cup of melted unsalted butter, 6 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon of baking powder 1 ⅓ cups of flower and two pinches of salt. Sprinkle over the pies before putting them in the oven, then bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.
I hope these recipes make your summer a little bit sweeter. Enjoy!