Even though raspberries, strawberries, apricots and blueberries might not be at their peak right now, those kinds of fruits — and their subsequent jams — are the wildflowers of the kitchen. Of course, you can bake with jam or citrus any time of year, but this season is a time for light, easy-to-transport desserts that you can serve at a picnic, an Easter brunch or a potluck.
The lemon cake might be the easiest to transport, but if you don't have to travel far, pull out a bundt pan and the cake holder to make the beautiful raspberry-and-flower-dotted cake from "Suqar," which would be just as good with strawberries. Both the Italian jam rolls and Mary Berry's coconut cake are suitable for using any jam you have in the fridge, from a classic blueberry or strawberry to a spread made with fig or pineapple.
And finally, on baked goods like these, homemade whipped cream with just the right amount of sugar is hard to beat, but you'll never catch me turning down a spoonful of Cool Whip.
Raspberry-Yogurt Bundt With Maple Glaze
Many Eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cakes include yogurt, both for flavor and moistness, although we’ve also made this delectable cake with sour cream, which works just as well. We like to chop the raspberries, rather than leave them whole, which creates flashes of sharp sweetness that speckle the lovely tender crumb. It’s easier to do this with frozen fruit, so if you’re using fresh raspberries, stick them in the freezer for 30 minutes before getting started. You could substitute a ring pan or a regular circular tin for the bundt tin; however, when made in a regular tin, the cake will need a few minutes longer in the oven.
— Greg and Lucy Malouf
2 1/3 cups (10 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup Greek-style yogurt or sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs, lightly whisked
1 cup (about 5 1/2 ounces) frozen or fresh raspberries, roughly chopped
Fresh raspberries or blueberries, to decorate (optional)
Edible flowers, to decorate (optional)
For the maple glaze:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 ounces powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon Greek-style yogurt or thick cream
Heat the oven to 375 degrees and grease the bundt tin. (We do this even with nonstick tins, and if your tin is not nonstick be especially liberal and thorough so that the cake turns out easily and you don’t spoil the shape.)
Set aside a teaspoon of the flour, then sift the rest together with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix together the yogurt and vanilla extract.
Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the paddle attachment for around 4 minutes, or until very pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, little by little, scraping down the sides and ensuring each amount is incorporated thoroughly before you add more.
Lower the speed and add the flour in 3 lots, interspersed with the vanilla yogurt. After each addition, increase the speed and mix in well for 10 to 20 seconds.
Toss the chopped frozen raspberries with the reserved teaspoon of flour, then fold into the cake batter gently, but so they are distributed evenly.
Spoon the cake batter into the prepared tin and smooth the top evenly. Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until the cake is coming away from the sides of the tin pan and an inserted skewer comes out clean. The surface of the cake should be golden brown and spring back when gently pressed.
Allow the cake to rest in the tin for 10 to 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and cool completely before transferring to a serving plate.
For the glaze, combine the butter and maple syrup in a small saucepan and heat until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat, stir in the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Allow to cool and thicken a little, then stir in the yogurt. Drizzle the glaze over the cake, garnish with berries and edible flowers, if desired, and serve at room temperature. Serves 8 to 10.
— From "Suqar: Desserts & Sweets from the Modern Middle East" by Greg and Lucy Malouf (Hardie Grant Books, $40)
Girelle alla Marmellata (Jam Buns)
When I lived in Canada, I was used to cereal or the occasional eggs and bacon for breakfast. But, when I came to Italy, I had to get used to a croissant or a slice of cake or even a cookie or two. To tell the truth, I got used to it quite quickly. And then I discovered these wonderful yeast buns rolled with jam. This recipe is an easy yeast bread and is not too sweet — so good with a cup of coffee.
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon lukewarm milk, plus more for brushing
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
Pinch of salt
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 to 1/2 cup jam
In a small bowl, combine the milk and yeast; let the mixture sit for 5 minutes, then stir to combine.
In a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, combine the flour, milk mixture and sugar; mix to combine. Add the egg and mix for 5 minutes on medium-low speed. Add the butter and mix until combined. Add the salt and lemon zest and continue beating on medium-low speed until the dough is thoroughly combined and smooth, approximately 7 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, and cover it with plastic wrap and a large kitchen towel; let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free area until it has doubled in size, approximately 2 hours.
Uncover the dough, reserving the plastic wrap and kitchen towel. Line a 10-inch-by-14-inch baking sheet with parchment paper.
Remove the dough from the bowl and roll it into a rectangle approximately 12 to 14 inches long. Spread the jam over the top of the dough within 1/2 inch of the edges. Roll up the dough and slice it into 3/4-inch buns. Place the buns on the baking sheet, cover the baking sheet with the plastic wrap and kitchen towel and let the buns rise for another 2 hours.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the buns with the additional milk and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until golden. Let the rolls cool or eat them warm. Makes 10 buns.
— From "Authentic Italian Desserts: 75 Traditional Favorites Made Easy" by Rosemary Molloy (Page Street Publishing, $21.99)
Coconut and Jam Cake
"Great British Baking Show" judge Mary Berry says this coconut and jam cake is best served warm.
4 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup superfine sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup self-rising flour
2 cups milk
1 1/4 cups shredded coconut
4 tablespoons raspberry jam
Heavy cream, to serve
Heat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 10-inch shallow ovenproof dish.
Measure the butter, sugar and eggs into a bowl and beat using an electric hand-held whisk until smooth. Add the flour and whisk again. While whisking, pour the milk in a steady stream to make a smooth batter. Fold in the coconut.
Spread a thin layer of jam over the base of the dish and then pour in the batter from a low height. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until well risen and golden brown with a slight wobble in the middle.
Serve warm with cream. Serves 6.
— From "Fast Cakes: Easy Bakes in Minutes" by Mary Berry (Quercus, $35)
Lemon Yogurt Cake
April and lemons go hand-in-hand in my book. This is mostly because I love baked goods with lemon and April is my birthday month. You do the math. This cake is moist, tangy and sweet, and you’ll want to eat every crumbly crumb. It would be an easy contribution to a potluck, a treat for co-workers on a dreary morning, a perfect partner to a cup of afternoon tea. Or coffee. Or motor oil. It’s really just about the cake. If it helps, you can call it “Lemon Yogurt Bread.” I think that automatically whacks, like, 60 calories off of every slice. If you want to make it extra pretty, take a zester to the outside of a lemon and make a handful of stringy lemon peel pieces, a couple of inches long. Dredge them in sugar and place them decoratively on top of the loaf right after you take it out of the oven. Or just eat the darned thing. (Just let it cool first.)
— Jennie Geisler
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of an 8 1/2-by-4 1/4-by-2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.
For the glaze, combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake. Makes 1 loaf.
— Adapted from TheFoodNetwork.com