Recipes that make the most of summer’s best berries

Blueberry muffins on a cooling rack.
The best blueberry muffins have way more berries than batter.
(Ben Mims / Los Angeles Times)

A tour through the farmers market last Sunday left me gobsmacked with the abundance of berries currently spilling out — quite literally at some stands — into the streets. Strawberries, the beauty queens of berries, are the obvious draws for tourists and citrus-weary Angelenos, but the blueberries and raspberries — slightly tart — are also delicious this time of year. Not to mention, the blackberries and all their cousins like boysenberries, olallieberries and other hybrids can be found in certain stands that appreciate their unique attributes.

To make the most of the baskets I bought, staining my tote bags and shirt a deep purple or magenta, I will bake up a storm to stock up my freezer with fruit-packed pastries and desserts.

Blueberries will pull double duty: In these buttery biscuits, which I’ll make and stash in my freezer so I can bake them off when I need them and enjoy for months, and then in my easy muffins that, as the name implies, are mostly berries with just enough batter present to shape them into said muffins. Those will keep fresh for days at room temperature, and due to my predilection for eating two at a time for breakfast and another as an afternoon snack each day, mine won’t last long on the counter.

This raspberry semifreddo is the perfect kind of chilled, tart dessert to keep on hand in the freezer for when guests come over, when I need a last-minute dessert for a dinner party, or for when the craving hits just before bed. (It also, blessedly, doesn’t require an ice cream maker, the bowl of which I always forget to freeze for when I need it.)

Similarly, I’ll keep this blackberry cobbler on hand in the freezer for last-minute dessert needs when only something baked and bubbly will do. It’s insanely easy to whip together and consists of only six ingredients (Use regular milk if you don’t have half-and-half.)

Then finally, my partner loves strawberry shortcakes, so I’ve been making a lot of iterations lately, from the split biscuit-style to a crumbly sponge cake baked in the shape of those “dessert shells” you buy at the grocery store. For the former, though, I love this rye biscuit version that spoons halved strawberries, brightened with slices of tender citrus, over the top and dolloped with sour labneh or yogurt.


It’s a showcase for the most beautiful berries of the season, when all you want is a great excuse to eat something sweet and decadent any time of day.

Blueberry Biscuits with Rhubarb Compote

These biscuits are craggy and crisp outside and bursting with berries inside. Feel free to substitute raspberries or blackberries here, but not strawberries — they’re too watery. This recipe makes fantastic use of any frozen fruit you need to use up too.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 30 minutes.

More-Berries-Than-Batter Blueberry Muffins

These muffins are as easy as making pancakes, and maybe even easier because they’re all done at once. Small amounts of cinnamon and almond extract bolster the aroma of blueberries, and even though these muffins are packed with the fruit, the cornstarch ensures they’re incredibly light.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 40 minutes.

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Raspberry Semifreddo

This easy ice cream dessert is not too sweet, just a little tart and creamy and crunchy at the same time. If you don’t feel like turning on the oven, it’s the best option and plays up the raspberry’s bright character beautifully.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 25 minutes.

Blackberry Cobbler

Probably the simplest fruit dessert there is, fresh blackberries are topped with a plain, sweet and creamy dough, then baked until bubbly and fragrant. Prep this dish then keep it in your freezer to pull out and bake when the craving hits, And always — always — serve it with vanilla ice cream.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 40 minutes.


Rye Shortcakes with Strawberry-Mandarinquat Compote and Citrus Labneh

When strawberries are small and young, their leaves are still tiny and tender. Keep them on the berries for both aesthetics and the earthy taste they impart that balances the sweet fruit and rich biscuit. If you’re using kumquats, thinly slice them just like the mandarinquats because their skin is edible too. But if you’re using another citrus with a bitter, thick rind, peel the rind from the citrus and slice the fruit into thin wheels or segments.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 1 hour 10 minutes.

The Los Angeles Times Food Bowl returns

Los Angeles Times Food Bowl returns this month with a series of events and celebrations (some will be in person; others will be virtual). Events include celebration meals at Phenakite and Guelaguetza; a panel on women in food led by Jenn Harris; and, in commemoration of Juneteenth, an exploration of Black foodways hosted by newly arrived Times reporter Donovan X. Ramsey.

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