The arrival of spring means we’re on the cusp of sunnier days, lush green trees, and—most importantly—some of the year’s best produce. Here in the Northeast, April brings fiddleheads and ramps, followed by May’s rhubarb and June’s precious, bright red strawberries. In other parts of the country, spring means a bounty of apricots, cherries, Meyer lemons, and peas. Regardless of where you are, it’s time to incorporate the season’s produce into your cooking—and baking. Alison Roman’s new book, Sweet Enough: A Dessert Cookbook, is full of recipes that allow us to do just that, no matter what’s popping up at the local farmers market.
I’m a fan of Alison’s previous two cookbooks—especially 2019’s Nothing Fancy, which I used as a manual of sorts to host dinner parties my senior year of college—so I was intrigued when her latest venture, a dessert book, was announced last year. It’s filled with the same type of easy, low-lift desserts she’s become known for, like her ubiquitous Lemony Turmeric Tea Cake (which graced everyone’s Instagram feeds for a month straight), or the crispy chocolate cake that just so happens to be gluten-free. They’re the kinds of sweet dishes I’d love to have in hand when showing up to a dinner party or whip up last minute using whichever pantry ingredients I have lying around. Turns out, there’s one thing that many of these recipes have in common: Fruit, and lots of it.
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To kick off your fruit-filled baking endeavors, I’ve selected three recipes from Sweet Enough to share with you all. For starters, we have Alison’s Blueberry Cornmeal Shortbread Tart, which, in her words, “does everything a pie or galette should do, almost better.” The shortbread base (which doubles as the crumble topping) is pressed into the pan, no rolling required. And the blueberries, she notes, can easily be subbed for blackberries, raspberries, or any combination of the three.
Her Almond Cake With Figs follows a similar logic, this time with a dense, golden cake acting as the base for a whole pound of fruit. Figs and almonds are a natural pairing, hence the recipe’s title, but rhubarb or pears would also work. “Feel free to go off-script with the fruit, as long as it isn’t overly juicy,” Alison writes. “It’s an already tender cake—excessive moisture will make it tough to bake through.”
Lastly, we have the Plummy Pudding, which Alison describes as falling somewhere between a clafoutis and cobbler. “Whatever it is, it’s one of my favorite ways to use up leftover fruit, the type that’s so ripe and perfect, it needs little more than a buttery batter poured around it, containing just enough flour to simply absorb the juices of the fruit as it roasts inside a custardy bath,” she writes. And if you’re not in the mood for plums, it’s not a problem. Peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries, blackberries, or strawberries will all do the trick.
Ultimately, these recipes from Alison’s new cookbook have shown me that this spring and summer, fruit should be doing the heavy-lifting in my desserts—leaving me with more time to enjoy the sunshine.