Category Archives: Pies & Pastries

Peach Apricot Slices

Peach Apricot Slices

Sugary whole wheat crust filled with custard made from pureed peaches and apricots and topped with sweet California peaches

Amaaaaazing! Super creamy, fruity and fresh. Here’s the link to the recipe. Enjoy!

Coconut Pumpkin Pie with an Almond Crust

I better get a move on with all these recipes. Christmas is almost here and I’m still trying to catch upon everything from Thanksgiving! So I’ll keep this post short and sweet.

What: Coconut Pumpkin Pie with an Almond Crust

Where: From 101 Cookbooks

Why it’s special: The filling is made with coconut milk and the edge is lined with roasted almond paste. (The paste SHOULD have been a spread for the crust, but I forgot and only remembered last minute to use it.)

Coconut Pumpkin Pie (recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks and Butter)

INGREDIENTS

Crust (Makes enough for 2)

3 cups plain flour
1/2 cup super fine sugar
1 1/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
2 egg yolks
4 tbsp cold water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Filling

2 cups hazelnuts (divided) , toasted (I used almonds.)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spic
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon arrowroot (or cornstarch)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 extra large eggs PLUS one for glaze, lightly beaten
1 cup coconut milk

METHOD

For the crust

  1. Put the flour, sugar and butter into a food processor or stand mixer. Mix on a low speed until mixture resembles very coarse breadcrumbs.
  2. Add the egg yolks, cold water and vanilla, and process until a dough forms.
  3. Form two disc from the  dough and wrap each separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

For the nut paste

  1. Puree 1 1/2 cups of the toasted hazelnuts in a food processor until they turn into a hazelnut paste, past the ‘crumble’ stage. Set aside.
  2. Chop the remaining 1/2 cup of hazelnuts and set aside separately, these will be sprinkled on top after the pie is baked. (I forgot this entire part and only as an afterthought did I use the paste to line the edge of the pie. Spread on the crust would have been better.)

For the filling

  1. To make the pumpkin pie filling, whisk together the brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice blend, salt and arrowroot. Stir in the pumpkin puree, and vanilla. Now stir in the eggs and coconut milk until just combined. Set aside.

Assembly

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. When you are ready to make your pie, remove one of the discs of pastry from the fridge. (The other you can save for your next pie.)
  2. On a lightly floured surface, or between two sheets of baking paper, roll out the dough until it is big enough to line your pie dish.
  3. Lightly flour the dough and gently roll it up onto your rolling pin. Then unroll it into your pie dish, easing it in and pressing it into any edges. Trim the excess pastry, leaving a 2cm (1 inch) overhang.
  4. Before filling the pie crust, crumble the hazelnut paste on top of the pie dough into the pie plate, quickly and gently press it into a thin layer across the bottom creating a layer of hazelnuts that will sit between the dough and the filling. Using the last egg gently brush the decorative edges of the pie dough. Use a fork to prick the pie dough a few times to prevent air bubbles.
  5. Fill the pie crust with the filling and bake for about 50 minutes – the center of the pie should just barely jiggle when you move the pie – the edges should be set.
  6. Let the pie cool a bit, this makes slicing less messy. Serve straight or with a dollop of bourbon-spiked, sweetened whipped cream or creme fraiche and a sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts.

Someone's excited for pie!


Classic Apple Pie with a Braided Crust

There are no surprises when it comes to apple pie, which is probably one of the reasons it’s such a classic and beloved dessert. Flaky crust; sweet and tart filling–a good one will soothe and fill every heart, soul and tummy with content!

That said, this pie did surprise me: First, by it’s interesting cook-before-you-bake filling and second, by its overwhelming popularity. It was more popular than the coconut pumpkin (recipe to come soon) AND I was asked to make a second, larger one just two days later!

It’s basically one recipe I used here, from Butter. The filling requires stewing before baking, which was a new concept to me. I was worried that the apples would end up a smushy mess, but they didn’t. They totally held they’re shape. The cooking softened the tartness and allowed the juices and spice to really marry and develop. As for the crust, it’s basic and really good–flaky, buttery, light. As with any crust, just be careful not to over work it when you roll it out–it’ll be hard and heavy if you do. The cool shaping into braids idea came from Food For My Family. I saw her photo on Tastespotting and decided to try to recreate it the effect. It turned out to be super simple and so very delicate and pretty!

I love this pie: yummy filling, lovely crust. The first one was great and the second was even better! I threw a handful of raisins in with the apples. They added a nice juicy pop, I thought. Also, I was able to serve the pie still warm and it was awesome. I’d definitely suggest serving it warm if you can.

Enjoy!

Classic Apple Pie (recipe courtesy of Butter and Food For My Family)

Serves 8-10.

INGREDIENTS

Crust

3 cups plain flour
1/2 cup super fine sugar
250g (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
2 egg yolks
4 tbsp cold water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Apple Filling

8 large Granny Smith apples
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp cornflour

METHOD

For the crust

  1. Put the flour, sugar and butter into a food processor or stand mixer. Mix on a low speed until mixture resembles very coarse breadcrumbs.
  2. Add the egg yolks, cold water and vanilla, and process until a dough forms.
  3. Take a third of the dough, shape it into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. This will be your lattice. Form a disc with the remaining dough and wrap it in plastic wrap. This will be your crust. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

For the filling

  1. Peel, core and chop the apples into 2cm (1 inch) cubes.
  2. Combine the apples, sugar, cinnamon and water in a saucepan. Cook, over a low heat for 20 – 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. The apples should be soft but still hold their shape.
  3. Drain the juice from the apples into a small bowl. Stir in the cornflour until it dissolves and return this mixture to the apples. Mix to combine. Set aside.

Assembly

  1. When you are ready to make your pie, remove the larger disc of pastry from the fridge. Preheat the oven to 365 F and grease a pie dish well.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, or between two sheets of baking paper, roll out the dough until it is big enough to line your pie dish.
  3. Lightly flour the dough and gently roll it up onto your rolling pin. Then unroll it into your pie dish, easing it in and pressing it into any edges. Trim the excess pastry, leaving a 2cm (1 inch) overhang.
  4. Fill the pastry shell with the apple filling.
  5. Remove the smaller disc of dough from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface or between two sheets of baking paper, roll out the dough until it is big enough to cover your pie dish. Trim the extra dough so that you create an even lip that just reaches the edge of the dish.
  6. Roll out the excess dough and cut into thin, long strips. Then braid and line the edge of the pie. Press gently to seal.
  7. Brush the entire pie with water or egg wash. Sprinkle with a little sugar.
  8. Bake for 40 minutes to an hour, until the crust is golden brown.

Pretty braided crust

Another Portland Thanksgiving

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I’m home again. I baked, I ate, I traditioned. After all that, I’m ready for sleep.

I’ll write about the pies tomorrow.

Ciao ciao and happy thanksgiving

Theresa

Lemon Peach Scones

I made these ages ago. I’m sure I would have been able to write a quirky short story to accompany this recipe. Back then. Now, however, all I can do is keep things short and sweet and just post the dang recipe.

Before I do, let me just say two things:

1) The lemons: My former CEO let me raid the lemon tree in his “Babeland” backyard. (He’s German and according to him, there are a lot of babes in the Marina.) Serious huge lemons–the size of a small child’s head actually–and, surprisingly, they were not completely dry and flavorless. On the contrary, every gigantic pulp bit was bursting with juice.

2) The peaches: Handpicked from the Haight Street Farmer’s Market. It may have been a while ago, but I STILL remember just how gorgeous they were. And also huge–again, the size of a small child’s head.

This recipe I found on Always With Butter is awesome. Super simple. I picked it because it used A LOT of lemon. I also thought it would be able to handle the addition of my farmer’s market peaches.

Giant lemon + giant peach = epic combo for scones!

Oh, the original recipe included a glaze, but I skipped it. Too sticky. These are good just on their own. Hope you like them 🙂

Lemon Peach Scones (recipe adapted from Always With Butter)

INGREDIENTS

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tsp grated lemon zest (I used like 1 tbsp!)

1 large peach, cut into bite size chunks

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven at 350 F.
  2. Sift together baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar.
  3. Cut in butter until it forms coarse crumbs.
  4. Mix in juice and grated zest.
  5. Quickly and gently fold in the peach chunks.
  6. Form into two disks and cut each into 4 pieces.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool before serving

 

Hefeschnecken (Sweet Rolls with Hazelnut-Raisin Filling)

Alright, one recipe for you. (Blogging after being away for such a long time is hard!) Sugary, sticky, pull apart rolls filled with ground hazelnut, grated apple and raisins! In German they’re called “Hefeschnecken” which literally means “yeast snails”. Ick, I prefer my English title. 😀

By the way, the recipe I used is from my favorite Swiss cookbook, Tiptopf. I think it’s the one all the kids use when they learn to cook at school. It’s the best!

Enjoy!

Hefeschnecken (recipe from Tiptopf)

INGREDIENTS

Sweet Dough

300 g flour

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbsp sugar

60 g (2 tbsp) butter, at room temp.

20 g fresh (2 1/4 tsp active dry) yeast

100 ml milk

1 egg

Filling

3 tbsp apricot jam (I used plum)

150 g ground hazelnuts

3 tbsp sugar

1 apple, grated (with peel is fine)

1/2 cup raisins

zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon

4-6 tbsp milk or cream, at room temp.

Glaze

5 tbsp confectioners’ sugar

1 tsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp – 1 tbsp water

METHOD

For the dough:

  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and sugar. Add the butter, mixing lightly with your fingers until mixture is crumbly.
  2. Stir together yeast and milk. Allow to sit and “activate” for ca. 5 minutes. Then, whisk in the egg.
  3. Make a well in the flour mixture, pour in the wet ingredients and mix, gradually bringing the dry into the wet. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Then cover, put in a warm place and allow it to rest until doubled in size.
For the nut filling:
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together ground nuts, sugar, raisins, grated apple, lemon zest and juice and milk or cream. Note: the filling should be moist, but not runny.
For assembly:
  1. Roll the dough out into a rectangle, 3 mm thick.
  2. Spread the apricot jam over the surface of the dough, followed by the nut filling. Then distribute the raisins evenly over the top.
  3. From one end of the dough, start rolling. Once rolled, hold the outermost dough layer in place and slice into 5 cm thick disks.
  4. Lay the disks cut side up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the bottom half of a cold oven. Turn on the heat to 220 C and bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and quickly prepare the glaze.
For the Glaze
  1. When the rolls are about ready to come out of the oven, mix together the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice and water until combined.
  2. With a pastry brush, spread evenly over the hot rolls.


Torta della Nonna (Italian Grandmother’s Ricotta Tart)

This is bad, and I mean real bad. Because it is too good—too good for New Year resolutions, too good to for a nondescript name like “Grandma’s Pie” and seriously too good to resist.

My 2011 began with such promise. After proclaiming it The Year of the rabbit Me, I made goals like “no more yogurt and cereal for dinner”, “cut back on sugar” and “say ‘yes’ to people and activities that make me happy and ‘no’ to those that don’t.  I am proud to say that breakfast for dinner is no longer a part of my daily life; I also started learning Japanese taiko drumming (this city is seriously the best; you can do/find everything here), I’m joining a choir again, I’m volunteering more in the arts, and I even left the city last weekend to visit a friend. Yes, I crossed to the other side of the bay (very Sex & The City girls go to the Hamptons—too funny since I’m not sure East Bay really counts as a weekend retreat.) Anyway, that’s all good stuff. But sugar. Sugar, sugar, sugar. No gold star for me there.

I knew what I was doing when I made the ricotta cheese; it was for this tart. Very bad. I also knew what I was doing when the next evening I decided to make oatmeal raisin cookies with coconut and walnuts. Again, very bad. (Recipe to follow shortly, of course). I’ve resolved to be better. Starting this week. After my cookie post I have a healthy oven-braised chicken recipe to share.

Now to the tart. It’s another recipe from someone’s grandma, so you know it’s been tried and tested by an Italian grandma somewhere. The pastry recipe I got from Mario Batali via the Food Network, though I’m not sure it’s really from his Nonna. And the filling recipe I took from Cook Almost Anything, and apparently, it’s from her mother. Regardless of origin, both are fantastic.

I went with Mario’s pastry recipe as it required way less fat (as in 3 tbsp each butter and olive oil vs almost 1 cup butter). It was simple to put together and when finished reminded me of pasta dough. As for the filling, I particularly liked the addition of semolina and lemon zest. I added raisins to the mix and the additional handful almonds for topping, but otherwise left the recipe alone. Assembly and baking are pretty standard. The tart will rise a bit while in the oven, especially in my case since my dough was still a bit raw after 35 minutes and I had to bake for an additional 10. One thing worth noting about the dough is that it is not supposed to be too golden, so don’t keep the pie in for too long waiting for the right color because you’ll just over-bake it and end up with a dry custard. In hindsight, I probably should have baked for only an extra 5 minutes as I think my custard would have been a smidgen creamier. Oh well, next time. Overall, though, I’m happy with my efforts! And by the way. I baked it Thursday, and it was gone Sunday night. (And yes, I did share 😛 )

Enjoy!

Torta della Nonna

printable recipe

INGREDIENTS

Pastry (adapted from Mario Batali recipe via Food Network)

2 cups all purpose flour

1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

3 tbsp sweet butter plus 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, melted together

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Filling (adapted from Cook Almost Anything)

1 1/4 cup whole milk

scant 1/2 cup semolina

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1 1/4 cups whole milk ricotta cheese

2 large eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup raisins, optional

handful almond flakes, optional

confectioner’s sugar, optional

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

For the pastry

  1. To make the pastry, make a well in the flour, and place egg, yolks, sugar, butter and olive oil mixture in the center and proceed as you would with fresh pasta, i.e. bring flour in bit by bit until the liquid in the well is thick enough to bring together with your hand. Knead until the dough is smooth, then allow to rest 10 minutes.

For the Filling

  1. Heat the milk in a saucepan until just warm – rain in the semolina, stirring as you do to stop any lumps forming. Add the lemon zest and continue to stir until the mixture thickens and comes away from the side of the pan. Take it off the heat to cool.
  2. Push the ricotta through a fine sieve – this just helps to lighten the mixture. (Skipped this step…no fine sieve.) Place the sieved ricotta into a large bowl, add the eggs, sugar, lemon juice and cooled semolina mixture and using an electric mixer, beat until thoroughly mixed. If using, stir in the raisins now.
  3. Prepare the pastry case: Divide the dough into two—two-thirds for the base and one-third to form the top.
  4. On a well-floured surface, roll the larger piece out to line the base and sides of a loose-bottomed 20 cm/8 inch round pie pan. Make sure the pastry overhangs the lip to make joining the top easier.
  5. Pour the prepared filling into the case, smoothing it out to level the surface. It will rise when it cooks so don’t worry if it doesn’t reach the top of your pie case.
  6. Roll the smaller piece of pastry to form a circle a little larger than the pie pan.
  7. Brush the lip with a little milk before placing the pastry top – press down to make sure the dough sticks and then trim to size.
  8. Lightly brush the top with the milk, a sprinkle of sugar and, if using, a handful of almonds.
  9. Bake in a preheated 350 F for 30-35 minutes or until the pastry is golden and cooked through. (Mine needed 45 because after 35 the dough was still raw. To prevent burning, I covered the pie with a piece of foil with the center cut out.)
  10. Remove from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes in the pan before removing it to a wire rack. At this point, you could dust the top generously with confectioner’s sugar. (I chose not to.)


Heavenly Pear Custard Kuchen

When I’m an old lady with a dozen little grandkids at my knees, this is what I will make for them. The original recipe is actually from someone’s grandma, so you know it’s good. I changed it ever so slightly and only because I didn’t have all the ingredients listed.

Normally I like to use my favorite sweet pastry crust recipe for pies, but in her post, Jules talks about the cookie-like crust and how it is really the star of the pie, so I went with hers. You know, I’m glad I did because the crust really is something special—it’s crumbly, crunchy and full of sugar and spice. The custard is lovely too, not too sweet and tastes incredible in combination with the pears. Instead of the called for whipping cream, I used evaporated milk because that’s all I had. I don’t think it affected the flavor or texture very much. One thing about the pears: it’s important that they are soft. If you use canned, then you don’t have to worry, but if you use fresh, be sure to poach them first. I happened to have two fresh pears at home already, which is why as part of my prep, I peeled, halved and cored them and then poached them in water flavored with lemon juice and a little sugar until soft yet still firm. The original actually called for canned plums, which I’m sure would also taste amazing, as would perhaps apple and peach.

Grandmas always make things with love, which I suspect is the real secret ingredient to this pie. So make it with a full heart and share it with the ones you love.

Enjoy!

Heavenly Pear Custard Kuchen (adapted from Jules Food)

printable recipe

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup butter, at room temp.

1 cup sugar

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour, sifted

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 can pear halves or 2 fresh, which have been peeled, halved, cored and poached

1 cup whipping cream (I used evaporated milk)

1 large egg, at room temp.

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 F. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a separate, smaller bowl, mix together flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking powder.
  3. Add dry mixture to the creamed butter and sugar and blend together. Reserve one-third for later use. Press the remaining dough mix into a 9-inch tart or springform pan.
  4. Distribute the pear halves over the crust. Sprinkle the reserved dough mix evenly over the top. Bake at 375 F for 15 minutes.
  5. Whisk together the egg and whipping cream (or in my case, evaporated milk).
  6. After the first baking phase is finished, pour the custard over the pears and continue to bake until the top is golden and the custard is set, 25-30 minutes.

Japanese Kabocha Pumpkin Pie

Finally, the recipe. I’m keeping this post short and only talking about the pie itself.

I know kabocha because I grew up eating it. My mom always braises it in soy sauce and sugar, which is still my favorite way to eat it. However, kabocha is different from pumpkin. According to Wikipedia, it’s not even pumpkin; it’s winter squash. AND in some cultures, it’s even considered an aphrodisiac. Wow, who knew.

Image courtesy of tainongseeds.com

So how exactly is it different? Well, it’s thick and nutty like chestnut and becomes caramel-sugary sweet like a sweet potato when roasted.  So you can imagine how this might change the texture and taste of your traditional pumpkin pie: slightly more dense, sweeter and creamier. As for the rest of the pie, I used my favorite sweet pastry dough recipe from TipTopf cookbook from the crust and followed a recipe found on The Delightful Repast for the filling.

Enjoy!

Kabocha Pumpkin Pie (adapted from TipTopf and The Delightful Repast)

printable recipe

Makes one 9-inch pie

INGREDIENTS

Sweet Tart Pastry / Muerbeteig

7/8 cup (200 g) all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

6 tbsp, plus 2 tsp (100 g) very cold unsalted butter, diced

2-3 tsp sugar

zest of 1/2 an organic lemon, grated

1 egg, at room temp., whisked

2 tbsp cold water

Filling

3 large eggs

1 3/4 cups kabocha pumpkin puree

2/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 12-ounce can evaporated milk

Sweetened Whipped Cream Topping

sugar

1tbsp maple syrup, optional

METHOD

Sweet Tart Pastry

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Add the butter and with your fingertips, gently rub flour and butter together until evenly combined.
  2. Mix in the sugar and grated lemon zest.
  3. Make a well in the dry mixture. Pour the egg and water into the well and with a fork, very quickly whisk the flour into the egg (working from the outside in). Once the dough starts forming, use your hands to gently pat it into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and freeze for 15-20 minutes. (Or you can press the dough into the springform first—I put a plastic sandwich bag on my hand to do this, in order to avoid sticking and overhandling—and then chill.)

Filling

  1. Preheat oven to 450 F. About 10 or 15 minutes into the oven preheating and pie shell resting in the freezer, make pie filling by mixing all above listed filling ingredients in the order given in a medium bowl. (I threw everything into the blender and mixed.) Set aside.

Assembly & Baking

  1. When oven is ready, remove pie shell from the freezer and pour in the pie filling. As soon as you put it into the oven, reduce the temperature to 425 degrees; bake pie for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 40 to 45 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. After you’ve made pumpkin pie a few times, you can tell just by looking whether or not it’s done. It should be fairly firm but still have a little jiggle left.
  2. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Serve with whipped cream sweetened with a few tablespoons of sugar and a tablespoon of maple syrup (optional).


Blueberry Flan Tart


I wish I had the energy to write a better post about this cute tart. My mind, however, is consumed with too many things right now, leaving little room for more creative prose.

The blueberry flan filling is fresh and light from the yogurt and lemon zest. And 3 cups of blueberries? Oh, yes! As for the crust, though I liked it, it wasn’t as good as my favorite sweet tart dough recipe from TipTopf.

Enjoy!

Blueberry Flan Tart (adapted from The Three Cheeses)

INGREDIENTS

Crust:

scant 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

generous 1/3 cup cold butter, diced

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla

3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (frozen may take longer to bake)

Filling:

2 tbsp all purpose flour (Forgot to add this, but turned out OK)

2 cups plain yogurt (I used non-fat, which was fine)

1 large egg

2/3 cup sugar

2 tsp lemon or lime zest, finely grated

1 tsp vanilla

pinch each of salt and vanilla

METHOD

  1. In bowl or with a food processor, combine crust ingredients until well mixed. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Press doug somewhat firmly into a large (10″ or about 25 cm) cake tin or springform pan.
  3. Whisk or process together the filling ingredients until very smooth. Set aside.
  4. Sprinkle blueberries over top of the crust.
  5. Pour prepared filling over blueberries.
  6. Place cake pan in oven and bake at 375 F / 185 C for about 60 minutes, until nice and golden on the top. Serve warm or cool. (Joni, one of the Three Cheeses, suggests waiting overnight before cutting into, which is what I did. It was a good idea–the next day, the custard had firmed up even more and the crust had softened slightly, but was still nice and crumbly!)