Summer Sweetness: Baking With Berries
Photos by Carli Wentworth
In The Heat Of Summer, there’s one reprieve that bursts with all the flavors of the sun: fresh berries. July is the perfect month for you to enjoy all the sweetness berries have to offer. There is a multitude of ways to prepare these treats. They are perfect to use in salads, sauces for grilled chicken and fish and, of course, as a dessert. One of my memories growing up is Grandma taking me to pick blueberries. We would bring our baskets, sunscreen and a big floppy hat to the patch. The only rule she had was not to eat more than I picked. After each row, Grandma would ask me how it went, and I would tell her, “It was ok.” Mind you, my face and clothes were covered with blueberry juice and my basket was nearly empty. Needless to say, I was not good at picking them but excellent at sampling and quality control.
If your idea of a super summer dessert is a big bowl of berries, then you’ll love my vanilla cream sauce. This is a fixture in my house. It’s perfect to keep in your refrigerator for up to a week in a Mason jar. Just pour it on berries and serve.
For breakfast, one of my summer favorites is fresh blueberry muffins. My recipe starts with a muffin mix “base.” It is so simple to make, and the best part is that you probably have all of the ingredients in your pantry right now. Mix the baking base and then store it in an airtight container for up to three months and you’ll be ready for muffins anytime. This base allows you to use any “mix-in” to create the flavor of your choice. You will never need another store-bought muffin mix when you have this deliciously easy mix at your fingertips!
Berries with Vanilla Cream
2 c heavy cream
1 c buttermilk
1 T vanilla paste
2/3 c sour cream
3/4 c powdered sugar
Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or blackberries
In a large bowl whisk together all of the ingredients except for the berries. Store the cream in a Mason jar or airtight container in the refrigerator. Pour over berries and serve!
12 c all purpose flour
6 c sugar
1/4 c baking powder
2 T baking soda
2 T salt
Mix all of the dry ingredients and store in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Discard after that time as the baking powder loses effectiveness and your muffins will fall flat.
Fresh Blueberry Muffins
3 c baking mix
1/2 c vegetable oil
½ to 1 c milk (you want your batter to be thick!)
1 c fresh blueberries
Add baking mix to a large bowl, and stir in eggs, oil and milk. Stir just until combined. Gently fold in blueberries. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Either line a muffin tin with paper cups or spray thoroughly with no-stick spray. Using an ice cream scoop, dip out muffin mix, filling cups about three-quarters full. I like to add nuts or turbinado sugar to the tops of my muffins before baking. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.
Banana Nut: ½ c mashed bananas, 1/2 c chopped pecans
Fresh Strawberry: 1 c crushed strawberries
Pumpkin Nut: 1/2 c pumpkin puree, 1 t pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 c chopped pecans
Blueberry Almond: 3 T of mix plus 3/4 c fresh blueberries combined in a small bowl helps berries not to fall to the bottom of your batter, 1/2 cup sliced almonds.
Cinnamon Doughnut Muffins: Bake muffins with the mix but no mix-ins. As soon as muffins come out, brush with melted butter and roll in 1 c of cinnamon and sugar and serve warm.