Summer is truly the season of sweets. Our freezers are consistently stocked with one too many pints of ice cream, our fridges with the sweetest, juiciest summer fruits. We've traded dense chocolate cakes for cold, creamy desserts, and welcomed the triumphant return of pie with tart fruit fillings and flaky crusts.
But hot summer days pose a challenge in the kitchen: working with pastry dough suddenly seems like a Herculean task; those gorgeous summer berries refuse to stay fresh for more than a few days; and turning on our ovens is a test of strength and bravery.
Luckily, following a few simple tips and tricks can help you to avoid some inevitable hot-kitchen mishaps and pull off the perfect summer desserts, from ice cream to cakes to crumbles.
- As intimidating as it looks, pie dough is really just a combination of five simple ingredients — flour, water, salt, sugar, and fat. Choose your fats right, and you'll pull a perfectly flaky, golden brown crust out of the oven every time.
- Always work with ice-cold fat. If you're using butter, try freezing the stick overnight and grating it into your dry ingredients.
- When rolling out dough, plastic wrap is your best friend.
- We love our lattices, but fresh summer fruit shouldn't be hidden. Instead, dress up your pie by lining its edges with intricate braids and crimps.
- Flavorful summer fruit is often all you need for a refreshing dessert. Add a drizzle of brown butter to your raspberries, dollop some rose cream on top of your strawberries, or pile a combination of fruit atop of a piece of light angel food cake.
- Don't let your berries turn to mush before you get a chance to use them. Wash them in a solution of water and vinegar, then store them in an airtight container lined with paper towels.
- While you have the vinegar out, remove those pesky berry stains from your summer whites.
- As berries fade from the farmers market, stone fruits will take center stage — here are the best ways to pit them.
- First, get the scoop on the history of ice cream.
- A pint of store-bought or homemade ice cream can go a long way — use a scoop for an ice cream float or create a custom ice cream cake, all without a recipe.
- Looking to serve it up plain? Heed these five tips for better ice cream, then finish off your scoops with an unexpected topping.
- Ice-cold whipped cream is just as decadent (and versatile) as ice cream. With a few handy tricks, whipped cream is incredibly simple to make; you can even make it ahead of time.
- Lost your whisk? Whip it with a fork.
- Nestle it in between layers of an ice box cake, or simply add a plain dollop to shortcakes, fruit, and pie.
- Stuck with surplus of whipping cream? Take some cues from our community and use it for everything from caramel sauce to crème fraîche.
Crumbles, crisps, and cobblers
- Know the difference between a crumble and a cobbler? We don't quite know either. But we do know that warm fruit and buttery, rich toppings are a match made in heaven.
- With a simple ratio and a few tricks, you can make any crisp or crumble in just five steps.
Photos by James Ransom and Mark Weinberg
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