Summer Fruit Desserts

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Plum Upside Down Cake
05 Jul 2012
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Please note: Alison Barnett is a freelance kosher food writer and chef. The Orthodox Union makes no endorsements or representations regarding kashrut certification of various products/vendors referred to in her articles, blog or web site.

One of my favorite things to do during the summer is go berry picking. Born and raised in Ohio, fruit picking is “the thing to do!”  Drive 15 minutes, park at a farm and pick all the fresh strawberries you desire.  Most of the time I consumed more in the field than collected in my basket.

Once the berries were picked, we would drive home and bake a strawberry shortcake or eat them fresh with a little whipped cream.   Sometimes I would wonder why we would even do anything to the fruit. Fruit is naturally sweet and when you pick them at just the right moment, you wonder how something so simple could be so delicious.

Fresh fruit is so plentiful during the summer months, so take advantage! If you can’t go picking, go to farmers markets or buy only locally grown produce for the most natural and delicious tasting fruit you will ever eat.

While in my non–kosher culinary school, I remember one of the hardest moments was not being able to take a bite of the fruit tarts and cakes. I would grab an apple and a few berries and eat them raw as everyone else ate the baked and cooked delicacies. So as much as I preach eating fresh fruit, there’s really nothing like an upside down cake, a lemon meringue pie or raspberry ice cream staring you in the face and teasing you with their tantalizing smells.  I vowed I would recreate the most loved of those recipes, as judged by my classmates and my sense of smell, and adapt them to my kosher lifestyle.

Enjoy the fruits of summer desserts with Strawberry Shortcake, Raspberry Sorbet, Plum Upside-Down Cake and Lemon Meringue Pie.

Strawberry Shortcake (dairy)

10 servings

Strawberry Shortcake, a must–have for my older sisters birthday and debuted in the Ohio State Fair, this cake is the shortcakes of shortcake!  One bite of this and your eyes will roll back in pure happiness.



Whipped Cream Frosting and Filling:


  1. Preheat Oven to 350°F.  Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans.
  2. In a large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat butter and sugar till light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Reduce speed to low and add the rest of the ingredients.  Beat 2 minutes on high.
  3. Spoon batter into pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cake cool completely.
  4. Whip the cream, sugar and vanilla.  Mix ¼ of the cream with 4 cups of sliced berries.  Put in the middle of the two cakes.
  5. Spread the rest of the whipped cream on top of the cake and garnish with the rest of the strawberries.

Raspberry Sorbet (pareve)

2 to 4 servings

I believe is keeping it fresh and healthy during the summer.  This raspberry sorbet is made with avocado, making it naturally dairy-free and oh-so creamy.  I recommend serving this straight from the food processor to your bowl.



  1. In a food processor, process avocado, berries, lime and vanilla.
  2. Combine water and sugar in a pan and simmer on stove till sugar dissolves and creates a simple syrup.  Pour the simple syrup** into the food processor and process till smooth.
  3. Serve immediately or freeze for later.

Plum Upside-Down Cake (pareve)

10 to 12 servings

Do you know someone with a sweet tooth?  Look no further!  This dense and moist cake plays balances so perfectly with the tart plums.  Make it your own by replacing the plums with any fruit you would like.  I want to try cherry next!



  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.  Spray a springform pan and cut out a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter together until light.  Beat in lemon zest.
  3. In another bowl, whisk egg whites and milk.  Beat in the flour mixture and milk- egg white mixture, alternating, ending with flour mixture.  Beat till smooth and scrape down bowl after each addition.
  4. Sprinkle just enough brown sugar to cover the bottom of the springform pan.   Put The fruit on top of the brown sugar, covering the entire bottom of the pan.  Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 45-60 minutes till toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Cool, release the springform pan, and serve bottoms up.

Lemon Meringue Pie (pareve)

9 to 12 bars

One day, in a very tiny apartment in NYC, my sister and I were enjoying a fabulous piece of fresh lemon meringue pie.  Savoring each bite, we thought, “It doesn’t get better than this!”  The tangy lemon filling, contrasted by the sweet meringue top, finished off by the flaky buttery crust. Suddenly an idea popped in our heads: The only way this could be any better was if it were FROZEN! Genius! It might be a Barnett thing, but the rule is, (almost) any dessert is better frozen.



  1. Make dough and chill.  Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Meanwhile, take a 9×9−inch pan and cover the bottom with parchment paper and overlap on all edges (this will make taking the bars out the pan easy). Take the dough out of the fridge and press it into the bottom of the foil lined pan till it covers the bottom.  Bake 20 minutes till lightly golden.
  3. 06lemonmeringueinshellLower oven to 400°F.
  4. Zest the lemon peel and squeeze the lemon juice, reserve for later.  In a 2-quart saucepan, mix cornstarch,  pinch of salt, and 1 cup sugar; stir in water.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils.  Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks, and stir in small amount of the hot cornstarch mixture until blended; slowly pour egg-yolk mixture back into the hot cornstarch mixture in the saucepan, stirring rapidly to prevent curdling (no scrambled eggs!). Place saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly, about 4 minutes, until thick. Remove from heat and stir in butter, lemon juice and peel.  Pour into cooled pie crust.
  6. 09lemonmeringuebakedIn a small bowl, with mixer at high speed, beat egg whites, cream of tartar and a pinch of salt until soft peaks form when beaters are lifted. Gradually sprinkle in remaining ½ cup sugar, 2 Tablespoons at a time, beating until sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites standing stiff peaks when beaters are lifted.
  7. Spread meringue over filling to the edge of the crust (meringue shrinks when cooked). Swirl the meringue with the back of a spoon to make an attractive top. Bake 10 minutes, until meringue is golden. When pie is cool, place in freezer. When ready to serve, take the foil out of the pan and cut into bars.

Best Pie Crust in The World (pareve)

Yields 1 pie crust

I usually make a few batches at a time and freeze them. They freeze great!



  1. Process the flour, salt, and shortening in a blender or with a pastry blender. Sprinkle in ice water until a ball is formed. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight.

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Alison Barnett is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in New York City, works full time for Synagogue Services at the Orthodox Union and is an intern at Solo Restaurant at night. As one of the only observant Jews in the ICE non-kosher culinary program, she wants to demonstrate that an observant Jew can do what he or she is passionate about within the realms of Jewish law. Visit her blog to get a taste.

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.