Spring celebrations — like bridal showers, baby showers, and graduation parties, or even book club, picnics, and brunch with friends — call for the prettiest of sweet treats. Whether it's a stylish naked cake piled high with fresh fruit or pillowy sweet rolls you can serve at a morning get-together, we've got recipes that will work for any occasion. They come together quickly, taste delicious, and look gorgeous on any party table. And it's all thanks to fast and fancy baking.
What Is Fast and Fancy Baking, Exactly?
We're fans of smart recipes every night of the week, but when it comes to baking for special occasions we have a few extra requirements. For starters, the dessert should look just as fabulous as it tastes with no super-expensive ingredients or fancy tools required. It might sound like a tall order, but with the right recipe you can have it all.
These recipes are meant for everyone, whether you're just getting your feet wet, you're a seasoned baker, or you're like me (a cook and sometimes baker who prefers to stick with uncomplicated recipes and strives for wow-worthy results). Each of these desserts, in their own way, do just that.
Lean on make-ahead moments for faster assembly.
The good news about baking up these totally impressive treats? You don't have to spend the whole day in the kitchen. There are those afternoons when a baking project is what you're after, but with these recipes we're all about delicious efficiency. The trick to making fancy baking fast is to take advantage of any and all make-ahead moments.
Prep strawberry cream cheese swirly buns a day in advance, then tuck them in the fridge so all that's left to do is bake them in the morning. You get to serve warm buns from the oven — no early wake-up call required. What about cake? Not only does this lemon raspberry number come together in a single bowl, but the cake and whipped frosting also have some sweet make-ahead potential.
And everything about our strawberry rhubarb shortcakes, from the biscuits to the fruity filling and cardamom whipped cream, can be made ahead of time. Assemble them just before serving for the best results. The same goes for pink Champagne poke cake; the cake, filling, and frosting can be prepared up to a day in advance.
Harness the power of sweet, fresh berries.
Sweet, fresh berries are finally back and will be flooding markets any second. Like us, I'm sure you can't get enough of them. A scattering of fresh raspberries and a little lemon zest is just the right finishing touch for an easy lemon cake. Pair diced strawberries with a thick swipe of sweetened cream cheese for swirly buns that everyone will be excited to wake up to. Or coax out even more sweetness from strawberries by roasting them along with rhubarb for easy shortcakes for a crowd. And because there are few better matches for Champagne, fresh strawberries are puréed into a sweet syrup for a pink Champagne poke cake.
One small twist gives sweet treats a fancy spin.
One of the simplest ways to give sweets a fancy spin is just by adding something a little unexpected. For strawberry-rhubarb shortcakes that means roasting the fruit and pairing it with delicately spiced cardamom whipped cream. Flaky palmiers instantly become more fancy when met with a double dose of chocolate, both swirled through the spirals and added as a soft outer coating. Classic pink Champagne cake gets a fun twist when turned into a poke cake with strawberry filling.