Over the weekend, as I stood in the middle of a berry farm with pink- and purple-stained finger tips—and three pounds of fruit on my arm—I couldn’t help but think of my grandmother. When I was little she used to take me on special trips to pick fruit and somehow even managed to keep me from eating more than a piece or two before we got home. Peaches, plums, berries—we picked ‘em all! Once we arrived in her kitchen, she would let me help her work her alchemy to turn this fruit and a few other simple ingredients into her own unbeatable classic summertime desserts. I still use her recipes at least a couple times a month all summer long (I’m the reigning queen of potluck desserts), but sometimes I want to switch it up just a little. So these are my favorite modern twists on the simple, traditional recipes I love. Cobbler, crisp, crumble, pie—the gang’s all here! I think grandma would be proud.
Cast-Iron Peach Cobbler: I love peaches and blueberries together, especially when they’ve got a golden biscuit topping. A cast iron skillet is especially great for baking because it cooks everything more evenly and the fruit will be especially caramelized.
Midwest Tart Cherry Pie: Yes, you could bake this pie all year round (and you’ll want to!) with canned or frozen cherries. But it’s worth it to head to the famers’ market and take advantage of the very brief sour cherry season, your pie will be extra tasty. You can also freeze your own! Here’s how to freeze cherries.
Plum-Coconut Crisp: Plum and coconut are the flavor combination you never knew you always wanted to eat! Trust me, a tender, buttery topping laced with shredded coconut is the perfect complement for warm juicy plums.
Blueberry Refrigerator Pie: Love traditional blueberry pie, but don’t want to keep the oven on for over an hour? For this recipe, once you bake the press-in crust for 10 minutes, you can turn the oven off for good. With three layers of blueberries and a creamy filling, this pie is a blueberry dream come true.
Freestyle Peach Tart: This is by far the best way to show off beautiful fresh peaches. The secret to this recipe is using store-bought pie dough, but the free-form rustic tart (also known as a galette) is so elegant no one will ever guess you didn’t make it from scratch.
Fresh Strawberry-Chocolate Tarts: The only thing that can make a chocolate-strawberry tart even better? Make it a mini! These no-bake tarts save time by starting with pre-made graham cracker crusts so you’ll only need to put in about 20 minutes of cooking time.
Plum Crumble Cake: Ripe, crimson-purple plums are unbeatable studded in moist cake and rich, buttery crumble topping. If plums aren’t your thing, this cake is equally delicious with nectarines or peaches.
Fresh Berry Dutch Baby Pancake: Similar to a large, custardy popover, this beautiful pancake is the perfect vehicle for ripe berries and a strawberry-lemon-flavored glaze.
30 Minutes to Homemade SURE.JELL Apricot Freezer Jam: My grandmother made a lot of jam—and I mean a lot. She made it the old-fashioned way, but this recipe is so much simpler! Apricot is my jam (get it?), but if you prefer strawberries, here’s how to make strawberry jam.
Chocolate-Strawberry Shortcake Whoopie Pies: What happens when you combine strawberry shortcakes, whoopie pies, and chocolate? A luscious, creamy dessert that will make you the most popular baker in town.