I am a committed year-round baker. The hottest days do not deter me: I can’t resist the siren song of ripe summer fruit, begging to be transformed into something sweet, or fight the urge to turn tomatoes into tarts and zucchini into cakes. Here’s what I plan to make this month. I hope you’ll join me.
1) Beautiful Burger Buns
Sure, you can buy them. But nothing says “I’m extra about grilling” quite like a tray of homemade burger buns. Plush and slightly sweet, with a tender crumb, they live up to their name. Plus, they require only nominal hands-on effort; you can mix the dough in the late morning and still have buns in time for dinner.
2) Chocolate Zucchini Cake
It’s inevitable: Whether you’re growing it yourself or it’s foisted upon you by neighbors, at a certain point this summer you’re going to have too much zucchini. And when that day arrives, you’re going to grate it, mix it with chocolate, and make a cake. This fudgy delight gets a flavor boost from both cocoa and espresso powder, along with a simple icing made from chocolate chips and cream.
3) Tomato Pie with Parmesan and Basil
Perhaps it’s in poor taste to shill for a recipe of my own creation, but shill I will: This tomato tart, with a custard made from buttermilk, Parmesan cheese, and mayonnaise, is a righteous ode to summer and a decadent, beautiful ode to my favorite summer fruit.
4) Strawberry Ice Cream
OK, yes, technically this is not baked. But how could I let summer pass me by without churning a batch of this ultra-creamy dessert? Good on a cone, great in a hot fudge sundae, a natural pairing with a slice of chocolate-zucchini cake, this ice cream contains two special ingredients (you'll have to click to the recipe to find them out) that give it the perfect scoopable, non-icy texture; a full five cups of berries bring the flavor.
5) Lemon-Blueberry Streusel Pie
I like to stock my freezer with pie dough so that a freshly baked summer fruit pie is never out of reach. This single-crust beauty has a tart lemon filling, a layer of fresh blueberry compote, and, to gild the lily, some cinnamon streusel on top. Looking for a contender for your local pie contest? Here it is.
6) Easy Ice Cream Pie
Want an ice cream pie but don’t want to spend a fortune on premium ice cream, and don’t own (or want to buy) an ice cream maker? We got you: This no-churn ice cream pie has only a handful of ingredients and is a snap to put together; it’s simple enough that even kids can make it — and it probably costs less than that pint of salted caramel ice cream at the store.
Perhaps you don’t already know that in addition to cocoa and flour, King Arthur also sells outstanding organic masa harina made from American-grown-and-milled white corn. But now you do! And armed with that knowledge, you can plan to make pupusas. These Salvardoran stuffed corn cakes, filled with refried black beans and cheese and paired with a vinegary slaw-like cabbage condiment known as curtido, are perfect party food.
8) Summer Fruit Crisp
Crisp is probably the dessert I bake most frequently in the summer, varying the fruit as the season progresses. You can use peaches and raspberries, nectarines and blackberries, plums and blueberries — whatever you have on hand. And it’s a perfect dessert for when you’re sticking to a budget because you can use whatever super-ripe, imperfect fruit you might find on deep discount at the market. Because, as it turns out, all fruit is wonderful when baked beneath a cap of brown sugar, nut, and oat streusel, then served warm with a big scoop of ice cream.
9) Chewy Granola Bars
I see you, fellow parents, hauling your kids to camps and beaches. I see you packing snacks, which is 90% of what parents do. And I offer you this recipe, which takes 10 minutes to throw together and uses ingredients you probably already have on hand. Note that the peanut butter is optional, if your kid is headed someplace nut-free.
Looking for more summer bakes? Check out our list of portable, picnic-friendly bakes to enjoy outdoors all season long.
Cover photo (Tomato Pie with Parmesan and Basil) by Rick Holbrook; food styling by Kaitlin Wayne.