There are many bakes out there that have perennial appeal – our lockdown saviour banana bread, a good chocolate cake, a trusty batch of shortbread cookies – but there is also a special kind of joy to be found in baking with the seasons. Though each season brings with it a different bounty, from autumn's orchard fruits and winter's citrus offerings to spring's perfect pink rhubarb, it is hard to argue against the claim that summer boasts the most exciting range of produce to inspire your baking and keep it varied. As early summer's fuzzy apricots, juicy cherries and sweet strawberries give way to the perfumed peaches and juicy nectarines of high summer and then the plump blackberries and earthy figs of summer's end, each of the warmer months brings with it a different offering to bring colour and flavour to your kitchen creations.
If you share our love of baking with the seasons, The Violet Bakery Cookbook is the cookbook to know. Author Claire Ptak is the owner of east London bakery, Violet, and the accomplished baker behind Harry and Meghan's wedding cake, no less. In her beautiful cookbook she shares the recipes behind the bakes that have people queuing right around the block (yes, long before we had to queue to get in everywhere…), all of which are made with low intervention and organic ingredients, meaning that a rotating array of seasonal produce is at the heart of these recipes and is the secret to their wonderful flavour. In this feature we have rounded up ten of our favourite bakes, puddings and desserts from the book that make summer produce the star of the show.
Apricot and Almond-Polenta Muffins
If almond cakes are your bag, you'll love these extra almond-y breakfast muffins. Made using polenta and almond paste to impart a beautiful flavour and texture, they are embellished with roasted apricots but can also be adapted to suit whatever fruit you have available, from cherries to figs.
From the book
The Violet Bakery Cookbook
Beautiful recipes from Claire Ptak, baker of Megan and Harry's wedding cake
Delicious sweet and savoury bakes
Inspiration for everyday baking and special occasions
Yellow Peach Crumb Bun
This crumb bun has become an essential fixture on the Violet menu, with the fruit dotted into the buttery base of this recipe altered according to the season and the nuts in the crunchy sugared topping adapted to match. For a summer variation Claire recommends yellow peaches with the skins left on (so as to turn the bun a pleasing pink) paired with pecans or almonds.
Pistachio, Hazelnut and Raspberry Friands
Nutty, buttery and easy to make, these raspberry-studded friands are mouthfuls of utter delight and all too easy to demolish in just one sitting.
Strawberry, Ginger and Poppy Seed Scones
The combination of sweet strawberries and sharp crystallised ginger adds plenty of intrigue to these summertime scones. Serve with a dollop of clotted cream, a generous spread of butter or just as they are – with a cup of tea, of course.
Summer Fruit Spelt Cake
This light and nutty spelt cake is the perfect base for a scattering of summery fruits. Finish with the optional rosewater icing to add a touch of sweetness and a celebratory feel.
Raspberry and Star Anise Crumble Muffins
Make the most of plump sweet raspberries while they are at their best by pairing them with aromatic star anise in these generously-proportioned muffins. If you love your cakes and bakes to have contrasting textures, you'll find the spiced crumble topping an irresistible touch.
Apricot Kernel Upside Down Cake
Every baker's repertoire needs a reliable upside-down cake. Claire's apricot version brings this retro recipe right up to date by using not only the fruit's sweet, tart flesh but the noyau, or kernel, which imparts an intense almond flavour. Best served with a dollop of Disaronno-spiked cream.
This nostalgic summer pudding is the ultimate celebration of summer berries. Served chilled, it's currently occupying the number one spot on our list of desserts to serve in a heatwave.
The short and sweet cherry season should be enjoyed to the fullest – eat them straight out of brown paper bags from the greengrocers, bake them into almond cakes, preserve them for times when they are no longer available, and roast them under a heavenly scone topping with this cobbler recipe.
Wild Blackberry Tart
As the summer nears its close, and the British hedgerows grow laden with plump blackberries, head out for a forage and make this simple tart bursting with juicy fruit spiced with cinnamon.