Did you know there’s only 3 seasons in Chicago? Allergies, heatstroke, and hypothermia. When visiting during Allergies there’s so much in bloom and it’s so gorgeous. In fact, EVERYTHING is in bloom and pass the Flonase, please. No one visits during Hypothermia because they respect themselves. Oh, but Heatstroke (Summer)! With music and food festivals on seemingly every corner and a generous amount of Lake Michigan hangout spots, the city is at its prime in the Summer. It’s just blazing hot and humid.
Living without air conditioning for most of my life meant making gooey butter cakes in the middle of the night in August, sweating out my body weight. Having it now means just because it’s summer doesn’t mean treating yourself is limited to cold things (though I couldn’t resist adding those favorites). Here are some of my favorite summer baking recipes to make the cool days better and the hot days excellent.
10 of My Favorite Summer Baking Recipes and Treats for a Chill Summer
• Summer Tomato Galette – I have a confession to make – I don’t like fresh tomatoes. Don’t let my mother tell it because she swears I do, and gives them to me every time we have a meal together. Do I like pizza? Yes, am I alive?! Do I love cooked tomatoes in soups? Absolutely. This galette, however, is very pizza adjacent. I say, get the most beautiful tomatoes you can find because your brain responds to beautiful things, and go to town. Also overload on goat cheese. No one is ever mad at more goat cheese. Between this and Joy’s single-serve berry crostata I’m declaring this a hot galette girl summer!
• How to make one giant cinnamon roll – I’ve never known an occasion where you didn’t need a cinnamon roll. Please, tell me if I’m wrong. And! This isn’t a dozen cinnamon rolls so it’s even better! This cinnamon roll is a win all around, every time. That’s it, that’s all.
• Lemon Blueberry Gooey Butter Cake – The combination of lemon & blueberries screams summer sunshine to me. Serve this to your friends on the patio or your buildings rooftop, or serve this to yourself via a giant spoon. Either way it’s an impressive dessert any time of the year.
• No-Bake Tres Leches Cake – I am a huge fan of icebox cakes. Take a chocolate wafer, or a graham cracker, put cream on top and let the refrigerator do the magic for you. It honestly feels like a miracle confection. This combines graham crackers, sweetened condensed milk, maraschino cherries and a little fridge time. I know Luxardo cherries are THE cherries to have but I will never shun the maraschino (even if they are bleached… I’m so sorry for saying that out loud).
• Small Batch Baked Funnel Cake – Hi, friends, I’m gonna need you to hold my hands and look into my eyes for just a second. These are brushed with butter after they come out of the oven. I’m tearing up just writing this. Are you understanding the urgency here? Great. Yes. Okay, we can let go of each other’s hands now. I have hand sanitizer for all of you.
• Saltine Cracker Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches – Are you a sweet & salty fan? I was the little kid asking for a Payday candy bar when everyone else wanted Snickers. That and I’ve been 65 years old from the age of 5. But this recipe satisfies the part of my brain that craves sweet and salt all the time. Plus it’s an ice cream sandwich – y’all this is basically a dream come true.
• Roasted Strawberry & Coconut Popsicles – Popsicles are perfect to me. A sweet treat on a dang stick. These are elevated – I can’t get over the addition of toasted coconut in these! These popsicles are classy enough for a warm night out under the stars, yet (figuratively) trashy enough to stick top down into a piña colada. We love a well balanced dessert, friends.
• Summer Strawberry Sheet Cake from Smitten Kitchen – This is a bold and weird statement but Deb Perelman sits at right right hand of Ina Garten in my mind. Never once has she led me astray with her recipes. She tests them and retests them, always looking for ways to make things easier for her readers. If I’m ever in need of something simple yet absolutely show-stopping I’m calling on Joy or I’m calling on Deb. This summer cake is no different. Take all the strawberries you can find, make this one bowl cake and LIVE. Your friends and family will teeter between awe and jealousy, the pocket in which I dream of living.
• Creamy Vegan Strawberry Milkshakes from Minimalist Baker – Coconut milk and coconut cream are blessings, truly. It whips up like an entire dream, it’s lovely in coffee, you can make ice cream from it, and you can make these milkshakes. It’s 4 ingredients! That means the distance between you and vegan bliss is so very short. Also why have I never thought of freezing coconut milk into ice cubes?? Brilliant!
• Erin Jeanne McDowell’s Book on Pie! – Erin McDowell is The Pie Queen, there is no question about that. Her love of baking and pie in particular is overflowing and infectious. (She also just followed me on Instagram *hair flip* and I freaked out for 12 minutes straight.) If you’re needing a cookbook that will be a staple in your pie baking repertoire, I highly recommend The Book on Pie.
• Bonus! Joy the Baker magazine! – Have you done yourself a favor and picked this up yet? The whole magazine reads like a vacation that you don’t want to end. There’s so many recipes, I have dog-eared nearly every page. This ships to you for free, friends. This is the key to an unforgettable summer! Trust me. Better yet, trust Joy!
Enjoy my favorite summer baking recipes and Happy Heatstroke (Summer) from Chicago!