Summertime means more time outdoors and on the road. But that doesn't mean leaving your favorite homemade treats at home. As the weather warms up, we're ready to roll with no-fail recipes and tips for potlucks, picnics, car trips, and summer bake sales. For more advice about roadworthy cooking and baking, read our Baker's Profile of Mary Wilcox, "professional vagabond" extraordinaire!
When you plan your portable feast, think about shapes that will hold up—in the sun, in the trunk of a car, in a picnic hamper. Skip the soufflé and the mousse and go for sturdier creations that maintain their good looks.
• Bundt cakes fare well at room temperature—and because they have a hole in the center, they bake more quickly than "solid" cakes. (That's a big plus in hot weather.) Just be sure to thoroughly grease the pan, even if it has a nonstick coating. Our layered Cinnamon Apple Coffee Cake makes an impressive addition to a potluck and a delicious dessert at a backyard cookout. Fat-Free Carrot Cake is a lower-calorie version of a classic; if you like, give it a traditional finish with Cream Cheese Frosting. Other sturdy, yummy bundt cakes include Trail Mix Fruitcake and Lavender Pound Cake with Lemon Glaze.
• Brownies are perennial favorites at potlucks and bake sales. Try a sophisticated variation such as intensely flavored Espresso Brownies or chili-and-cinnamon-seasoned Fiesta Brownies. Or please a crowd with Classic Cake Brownies, Chocolate Fudge Brownies, or Brown Sugar Brownies. (For more ideas, type "Brownies" into the recipe search box on our home page.)
• Eeny, meeny, mini! Think small—as in quick-baking mini-cupcakes, mini-loaves, and mini-cookies. They're irresistible (and profitable) additions to a bake sale, and easy-to-handle desserts at a beach or park picnic. Our Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins recipe makes a generous four dozen muffins, and our Mini White Chocolate Blueberry Tartlets recipe yields 42 to 48. For a special occasion—say, a Fourth of July party—bake a batch of cheery Mini Cherry Pies. You'll find more photos and recipes for mini-treats on our Bake Sale page.
• Quick breads aren't just for brunch. Use mini-loaf pans for faster baking and a charming presentation. Our favorites: Avocanana Bread (yes, it's made with ripe avocados and bananas!) and Carrot Cake Mini Loaves.
Plan for a Crowd
Scheduling a family reunion or another big party? Follow these large-scale baking tips.
• Sheet cakes like our popular Choco-Nut Sheet Cake are easy to bake and slice for a crowd. If you frost the cake, remember that butter frostings tend to break down more quickly in hot weather. Domino's baking coach, Lisa Basini, recommends a butter-shortening blend to frost the cake and an all-shortening recipe for the decorations.
• Grilled fruit makes a simple and healthful dessert or side dish—and it's easy to make it in quantity. We love these Grilled Nectarines and Raspberries (try plums and peaches, too!). Grilled fruit also makes a delicious topping for moist, sturdy Pass-Around Pound Cake.
Keep Your Cool
Dont forget the salads, side dishes, and beverages. (No oven required!) Some of our favorite outdoor-ready salads include crisp and tangy Cool As a Cucumber Dill Salad, sweet Summer Fruit Salad with a creamy dressing, and bright-green Broccoli Salad with carrots, raisins, and walnuts. For a more filling alternative, our spicy-refreshing Shrimp and Cantaloupe Salad can be prepped in advance, brought to the picnic or potluck in plastic containers, and assembled quickly on the spot. Add a pitcher of Lemon-Limeade or Agave Sangria (for the grownups) and you have an unforgettable feast.
Do you have a favorite easy-traveling dessert, side dish, or beverage recipe for summertime celebrations? Drop us a line and share it!