Pumpkin Pie

PumpkinPie_3

I think I’ve finally settled into my new flat – it’s only been 2 months! Baking has proven to be a challenge, as the oven cooks a bit unevenly. I was so looking forward to this pumpkin pie until it caught a little bit and the wonderful even color on top got marred by a few dark spots. Oh well, still tasted delicious.

Pumpkin pie is a very American dessert it seems. Most people in our London office had never had it before, so I had to show them what they were missing!!

Ramping back up into baking regularly again since we’ve moved has been a bit of a test of willpower. I’ve recently joined a gym again and have been trying to be good about snacking – something that is incredibly difficult when you’re a baker! But I’ve been good and I’ve stuck to only sampling the tiniest of slivers. At least this time!

This pie is incredible, and tastes wonderful served with a dollop of whipped cream!

Ingredients

  • 1 batch sweet shortcrust pastry (I added a tiny bit of cinnamon to my pastry this time as well)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree
  • 1 12-ounce can of evaporated milk

Pumpkin-Pie

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350° F (approx 175°C). Roll and place your pastry into the pie dish. Gently prick the bottom with a fork (don’t go all of the way through though!), line with baking paper, then fill with your ceramic baking beans. Blind bake your pastry for 10-15 minutes, then set aside to cool. Once cool, remove the baking beans by lifting out the baking paper.

2. In a large bowl, mix together all of your sugar, spices, and eggs. Then add in the pumpkin. Once everything is combined, stir in your evaporated milk.

3. Place the pie in the oven to bake for 40-50 minutes. Keep an eye on it to make sure it bakes evenly. Test it with a cake tester to ensure it’s cooked all the way through. If you’d like to add a pastry garnish like the ones I’ve done, add the pastry cutouts about 10-15 minutes before the pie is finished baking so that you don’t burn them.

4. Once your pie is ready, let it cool completely, then serve with whipped cream!

PumpkinPie_2

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Caramel Apple Blondie Pie

CaramelApple

Fall, or Autumn as the Brits refer to it, is just starting to set in. I’m getting excited as we approach October – my favorite month of the year. I’m looking forward to all of the leaves changing. Our new town has a lot more trees than the last place we lived, and there’s a huge park, so we’ll be able to see a lot more of the seasonal changes that really make fall the prettiest time of year.

With the changing of the seasons comes a whole new flavour season – apples, pumpkin, and spices. Can’t beat it!

This week’s bake has been staring at me from the cover of Southern Living once again. Since Ben and I were going to a dinner party, I of course couldn’t come empty-handed. For those who haven’t heard of a blondie before, it’s basically a brownie but without the chocolate. They have pretty much the same texture, but offers a wider flavour palette to play with since you don’t have to compete with chocolate.

The recipe calls for using a cast-iron skillet (which I don’t have). I used a Le Creuset ceramic pie dish and it seemed to work alright. (Although, now I have something new to add to my Amazon list for Christmas!) It also calls for using refrigerated pie crust, but I just made up a batch of shortcrust pastry.

Ingredients

For the pie:

  • 1 batch shortcrust pastry
  • 6 large Granny Smith apples (or any type of apple that’s crips and keeps its crunch when you cook them)
  • 2 cups light brown sugar, divided
  • 1 cup (230 grams) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups flour, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 Tablespoons bourbon (I didn’t have any, so I left this bit out)
  • 3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
For the apple cider caramel sauce:
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
Directions

1. First, peel the apples, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges. You’ll want to work quickly so that they don’t start to brown. Toss the apple slices with 2 Tablespoons of the flour and 1/2 cup of the brown sugar in a large bowl. Melt 1/4 cup (57.5 grams) butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add apple mixture, and sauté 15 minutes or until apples are tender and liquid is thickened. Remove from heat; cool completely (about 30 minutes).

2. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Melt the remaining 3/4 cup (172.5 grams) butter. In a large bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups flour and next 2 ingredients in a large bowl. Add eggs, bourbon, the melted butter, and remaining 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, stirring until the batter is blended. Stir in your toasted pecans.

3. Fit your pastry into a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, gently pressing piecrust all the way up the sides of skillet. Spoon two-thirds of apple mixture over bottom of piecrust, spreading and gently pressing apple slices into an even layer using the back of a spoon. Spoon batter over apple mixture then top with remaining apple mixture.

4.  Place pie on lower oven rack, and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Remove from the oven and allow the pie to cool completely.

5. To make the caramel sauce, cook the cider in a 3-qt. saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, 10 minutes or until reduced to 1/4 cup. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly and allow to boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool completely.

6. Once the sauce is cooled, it should be a lot thicker. Drizzle the top of the pie with about 1/3 of the sauce, then serve the pie with the rest so people can add as much as they’d like.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

ChocolatePBPie_LR

It’s been a couple of weeks since Ben and I moved into our new home, and yet I still feel like I’m surrounded by boxes. Making a new space feel like your space takes time, and a lot of late nights. But things are coming along.

The biggest challenge of our new flat is having a smaller kitchen. Not so much in size, but in countertop and storage space, so we’ve had to get a bit creative in our kitchen storage, and make sure to keep everything super organised.

So my first bake in our new home is an old favorite for a site called Tracey’s Culinary Adventures. I first started making it when I moved to the UK, before I could find Reese’s cups anywhere. As I’m sure you all know, I’m pretty much obsessed with chocolate and peanut butter.

This pie is so easy, and requires minimal baking. The hardest part is waiting for the pie to chill before you can eat it!

CPBPie_LR

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 1 3/4 cups chocolate cookie crumbs ( I used Oreos and removed the filling)
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar 
  • pinch salt
For the filling:
  • 6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream
To decorate:
  • 1 oz semisweet or dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter

Directions

1. First make your pie crust: Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) . Stir together the cookie crumbs, brown sugar, and salt. Pour over the melted butter and use a fork to blend into a wet mixture. Press this mixture into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch deep dish pie plate. Place the pan into the fridge for 15 minutes to set, then put into the oven to bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove and let cool completely.

2. Next, make the filling: In the bowl of your mixer, beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar, and salt. Before you add in the salt, taste your peanut butter. If your peanut butter is pretty salty to begin with, you won’t want to add any more to the filling, because it’ll make it wayyyy to salty. I find that the Tesco own label peanut butter has enough salt already and usually leave it out. Skippy peanut butter seems to work the best! Once the mixture has been beaten well, add in the peanut butter and vanilla and beat for a couple of minutes until it’s all blended together well.

3. Put the whisk attachment onto your mixer, then in a clean bowl, whisk the heavy cream until it is light and fluffy. Take about 1/3 of the whipped cream and add it to your cream cheese mixture by hand to help lighten it. Then use a spatula to gently fold in the rest of the whipped cream until all of stripes are gone and it’s evenly blended.

4.  Pour the filling into your cooled pie crust, then place in the freezer to chill for 4 hours. If you want to freeze it longer, make sure you cover it with plastic wrap.

CPBPie2_LR

5. To decorate, melt the chocolate and peanut butter separately (You can melt the peanut butter on low heat on the stove top), then put each into a ziploc bag. Snip the corner of the bag, then quickly zig-zag across the top of your pie. Don’t worry about being precise, the faster you do it, the better it works!

Key Lime Meringue Pie

KeyLimeMeringePie_LR

Ben is a huge fan of lemon meringue pie, my dad is a huge fan of key lime pie. So I was keen to try this recipe, a hybrid of both citrus-y pies with a pillowy mountain of meringue on top.

It was pretty simple, but I think next time I’d put a bit less meringue on top than the recipe calls for. While it looks dramatic, I don’t care as much for softer marshmallow-like meringue. I really love the cracking and crunching as you bit through it – so I would probably go a bit more traditional next time.

We’ve also selected my staff portrait from the photoshoot the other week. Without further ado, I present to you, the Pajama Baker!

Ashley_Funny8

 

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (or if you’re in the UK, you can use plain digestive biscuits)
  • 6 Tablespoons (86 grams) melted unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the filling:
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 2 (14-oz.) cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup lime juice (I think I used about 6 limes for this rather than buying lime juice)
  • 2 Tablespoons lime zest
For the meringue:
  • 3 Tablespoons cold water
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2/3 cup boiling water
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions

1. First make your pie crust: Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) . Stir together ingredients; firmly press mixture on bottom and up sides of a lightly greased 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie plate. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack, and cool completely. (Be sure to leave your oven on, because you’ll need it at the same temperature at the next step.)

2. Next, make the filling: Whisk together egg yolks, condensed milk, lime juice, and lime zest in the bowl of your mixer. Pour the mixture into your cooled crust. Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 25 minutes or until set. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour).

3. Finally, make the meringue: Whisk the cold water into your cornstarch in a medium-sized saucepan to make a sort of paste, then whisk in the boiling water. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, 1 minute or until a thick gel forms. Remove from heat; cool completely (about 30 minutes).

4.  In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar at medium-high speed with your mixer, using whisk attachment, until foamy. Gradually add in your sugar and continue to whisk the egg whites until they start to look glossy and stiff peaks form. Beat in vanilla and salt. Slowly beat in the cooled cornstarch mixture by pouring down the side of the bowl so that your eggs don’t lose their volume. Beat for 3 minutes to ensure that everything is incorporated.

5. Spread the meringue over the cooled pie, and bake at 375° (190°C) for 15 minutes or until the meringue turns golden brown. Transfer to wire rack, and cool completely before serving. If you’d like, you can cover and chill the pie for a few hours before serving.

Cherry Pie

CherryPie_2

So I guess I better put it out there: after all my hoping and all signs pointing in my direction, I won’t be on the Great British Bake Off this year. And now that that’s out of the way, it’s time to continue in my pajama-clad adventures!

This week I decided to make a cherry pie with a latticed top. I originally found the recipe in a cookbook my friend Leslie gave me for Christmas, but it called for cherry brandy. Having none on hand I instead substituted a bit of Coke, which I think tasted pretty awesome. I also love the addition of the allspice to the pastry – it makes for an extra tasty flaky pie crust.

I’ll admit, the lattice is a little tricky to do – the key is to make sure your dough is good and chilled so that it doesn’t want to fall apart when you go to create the top. Best served warm with a scoop of ice cream on top, this pie is sure to cheer you up when you slice into it and see that there’s not a soggy bottom in sight!

Ingredients

For the pastry:

  • 2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 2 eggs, beaten, plus 1 extra beaten
For the filling:
  • 6 cups fresh cherries, pitted (about a pound of cherries)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 teaspoons Coca-cola
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted

CherryPie_1

Directions

1. First make your pastry; sift together the flour, baking powder, and allspice into a large bowl. Then stir in the salt and sugar and mix well. Rub in the butter until the mixture looks like fine bread crumbs. Make a well in the center, power in the eggs and mix into the dough until it comes together. If you need to, add a tiny bit of ice cold water to help. Once it comes together, divide your dough into two halves, wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.

2. While your dough is chilling, make your cherry filling. Put half of the cherries into a saucepan over medium heat. Add in all of the sugar, then bring to a simmer. Once simmering, stir in the almond extract, Coke, and allspice.

3. In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and water until it makes a paste. Stir the paste into your saucepan with the cherries and boil until the mixture thickens. Stir in the remaining cherries and remove from the heat.

4. Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C). Roll out your dough balls on a lightly floured surface until they’re large enough to cover your pie plate. Use one of them to line the pie plate.

4. Pour your cherry filling over the lined pie plate, then dot with the melted butter. Cut the remaining dough into strips that are about 1/2-inch wide, then lay them over the top of the pie filling, creating a lattice. Trim and seal the edges with a bit of water and crimp around the outside edge. Brush the top of the pastry with the last beaten egg – this will help give it a golden shine on the top.

5. Cover the pie with aluminum foil, then bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, then bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the top is golden. Allow the pie to cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting into it.