Grills and picnic tables become the preferred method for cooking and entertaining, and it’s a time to relax when it comes to eating. Who can feel uptight when dining al fresco, with birds serenading and the aroma of fresh-cut grass and char-broiled burgers perfuming the air?
That said, just because you want to be as far away as possible from a hot oven, it doesn’t mean you should totally slack off when it comes to dessert. Especially if you hope to impress guests or want to create a beautiful dish that sings of the season.
Our suggestion is an angel food cake roll, slathered with creamy vanilla icing and topped with juicy summer berries.
The ultimate sponge cake, angel food cake is the perfect summer dessert because it’s so airy and refreshing. (There’s no fat at all.) If you use a box mix as your base for the roll, it’s also incredibly simple to put together – no fretting about over-beating the egg whites or having too heavy a hand with the flour, or trying to figure out what to do with all those leftover yolks. Plus, it calls for just 15 minutes of baking time, so you won’t even heat up the kitchen.
If you’ve never done a jelly roll-style cake, this might seem like a sure-fire recipe for disaster. I know I was a bit nervous about trying my hand at it. But the cake actually ended up being really easy, if somewhat messy (I sent powdered sugar flying everywhere when I flipped the cake out of the pan.) The only real challenge was finding a clean dish towel.
Some notes of caution: Resist the urge to grease the pan before adding the batter (the cake won’t rise properly if you do) and don’t panic if the cake feels sticky when you start to pull off the parchment – it will easily peel away. Also, be sure to flip the hot cake (with oven mitts) onto the dish towel in one fell swoop. It won’t break in half, I promise.
Be generous when dusting the dish towel with powdered sugar. It will prevent the cake from sticking to the cloth.
You’ll be amazed at how easily the cake rolls up inside the towel, but you have to work fast, while the cake is still warm and pliable (cake stiffens as it cools). Don’t be afraid to roll it as tight as you can, as that will result in more spirals of filling.
The cake unrolls just as effortlessly after it’s cooled. It will have a slight curve, so it neatly rolls back up once it’s been filled.
I used a red, white and blue combo of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, but any combination would work. For a more decadent dessert, you could add 3 tablespoons of cocoa to the batter and some grated semi-sweet or milk chocolate to the icing for a chocolate roll.
Or go even lighter, and simply dust the cake roll with powdered sugar instead of icing it, and serve the remaining fruit on the side.
However you make it, one thing is guaranteed: You will have guests oohing and aahing, and the cake will quickly disappear.
Angel food cake roll with summer berries
This version of an angel food cake is light, fruity and creamy. Adapted from www.tasteofhome.com
Boxed angel food cake mix, plus ingredients to prepare
1/4 cup plus 3/4 cup powdered sugar, divided
8 ounces light cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups diced fresh strawberries, divided
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, divided
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries, divided
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 10 1/2-by-15 1/2-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper (make sure that it lays flat on the bottom). Do not grease the pan.
Prepare angel food cake mix according to package directions.
Pour cake batter into prepared pan. Place in oven and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the top is golden and springs back when lightly touched.
Loosen cake from the edges of the pan.
Spread out a clean kitchen towel and sprinkle evenly with 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Flip warm cake out onto the towel and carefully remove parchment paper while cake is still warm.
Immediately roll up cake, in the towel, starting at the short end. Place seam-side down on cooling rack and let cool completely at room temperature, 1 to 2 hours.
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add 3/4 cup powdered sugar, vanilla and heavy cream. Beat on low until combined, then on high for 3 to 4 minutes until fluffy and stiff peaks form. Unroll cooled cake and spread with half of the filling.
Top iced cake with half of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.
Carefully roll cake back up and place on a serving plate.
Spread top and sides with remaining icing and top with remaining berries. Serve immediately (leftovers are best eaten within 24 hours).