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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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.

 

Mom’s Pecan Pie

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Back in September, I attempted to make a pecan pie for the American pie challenge on Great British Bake Off. After a miserable failure, I vowed to stick to my mother’s recipe for all future pecan endeavors.

After a few weeks of waiting for mom to finish traveling, I finally had a copy of her recipe arrive in my inbox. So I made myself some pastry and began my second attempt at this troublesome tart. I whisked up the filling and carefully laid in the pecan halves, one by one. Then I held my breath as I anxiously placed it in the oven, gently sliding it into the center and praying that disaster didn’t strike a second time.

Boy had I wished I had done it the right way the first time around! Beautifully dark golden brown and crisp – I’d call this pie a success as well as true American classic!

Ingredients

  • 1 batch of sweet shortcrust pastry
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup (UK people, you can order this on Amazon!)
  • 1/4 cup (57.5 grams) unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pecan halves

pecanpie_2Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 450°F (230°C). Line your pie dish (preferably one with a removable bottom, it’ll make your life easier) with the shortcrust pastry, then gently prick the base and sides with a fork. Lay a sheet of aluminum foil over your pastry, then fill with baking beans and place in the oven to bake for 5 minutes. Carefully remove your baking beans and foil, then return to the oven for another 2 minutes.

2. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and butter. Stir the mixture constantly until the sugar dissolves and the butter melts. Once everything dissolves, remove the pan from the heat.

3. Once the mixture is slightly cooled, whisk in the eggs, vanilla, and salt. Once everything is mixed together, pour into your blind-baked pie crust.

4. Gently arrange the pecan halves on the top of your mixture, arranging in concentric circles – starting from the outside and working towards the center.

5. Reduce the heat of your oven down to 325°F (160°C). Carefully place your pie in the oven and bake for 55 minutes until set.

For an added touch, try drizzling over some melted chocolate or make a praline whipped cream using 1 cup whipping cream, 2 teaspoons praline liqueur, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1/4 cup icing sugar – mix them all together and beat with an electric mixer until you have your whipped cream.

Sweet Pastry

This week on GBBO, the showstopper challenge was to make an American Pie. Surely this challenge was made for me! I’m an American, it should be my topic of expertise. I was so excited when Catherine made a chocolate peanut butter pie – the perfect combination and one of my all-time favorite pies but it didn’t go over well with the judges. I don’t know what Paul Hollywood was talking about when he said he didn’t like it! I mean, how could you NOT?! Catherine was robbed.

For my challenge I wanted to make a pecan pie, one of my mother’s classics and a surefire hit. Unfortunately for me, my mother was travelling for work so I scoured the internet to find another recipe. Turns out that was a huge mistake. First I made my pastry using a slightly different recipe than before, and it worked sooooo well. I felt like everything was going to plan. Pastry was good. Filling looked good. Pecans were arranged beautifully.  But then I stuck it in the oven and it all came crashing down from there. The pie completely bubbled up into a huge dome and had terrible cracks and flakes of filling everywhere. I can’t even describe the carnage. It was devastating – I failed at a challenge based on my own heritage.  I’m sorry, American pie, I failed you.

 

However, all is not lost! The sweet pastry was really good, so I felt I should at least post this one because it’s been the only pastry recipe I’ve been happy with so far. So for now, here’s the recipe. Pecan pie – we shall meet again.

Ingredients

  • 500 grams flour, sifted
  • 100 grams icing sugar, sifted
  • 250 grams butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 2 eggs
  • milk

Directions

1. Sift together the flour and icing sugar into a large bowl. Then, using your hands, rub the cubes of cold butter into the flour mixture, incorporating it as much as you can. It should have a slightly crumbly texture.

2. Pour out your mixture onto your work surface and bring it together into a little pile with a hole in the middle – like a volcano. Put both of your eggs into the hole and bring together the pastry mixture until it starts to form a dough.

3. As you bring everything together, add a bit of milk, about a teaspoon at a time until you have all of the dry ingredients evenly incorporated. Once it becomes a smooth dough, wrap your pastry in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

The trick is to bring everything together as quickly as possible so that your don’t heat the butter up too much or overwork the dough. When it’s chilled and ready to go, then just roll out as needed over a surface dusted with flour. And that’s it! Easy peasy.

 

Summer Fruits Tart

Another week and another episode of the Great British Bake Off. This week as a bit more entertaining as the contestants attempted to flip tarte tatins out of their pans, and put a lattice onto treacle tarts. But I was most excited about the patisserie-style fruit tarts they made for the showstopper challenge.

Every time I pass a patisserie with the windows filled with shiny fruit-covered cakes and pies, my mouth literally starts watering. This tart is super simple to make, it’s just a creme patisserie with fruit on top. The most difficult part for me was not eating all of the fruit before I could put it on top of the cream.

Unfortunately, this tart was a bit to delicate to make the hour-plus trek on the rush-hour Tube to work, so Ben and I had to undertake the incredible difficult task of enjoying this bake all by ourselves. And boy was it lovely! The cream and fruit was so refreshing!

If you’re looking to impress some friends at a get-together without much effort, this would definitely be my recommendation

Ingredients

  • 1 batch of sweet shortcrust pastry
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 100 grams sugar
  • 25 grams flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 350 ml milk
  • a mix of summer fruits, in this case, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries
  • 4 Tablespoons raspberry jam
  • approximately 1 teaspoon water

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Line your pie dish (preferably one with a removable bottom, it’ll make your life easier) with the shortcrust pastry, then gently prick the base and sides with a fork. Lay a sheet of baking paper over your pastry, then fill with baking beans and place in the oven to bake for 10-15 minutes until it just starts to turn golden. Once finished, remove and let it cool completely.

2. Next, make the creme patisserie. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until they turn light and creamy, then stir in the flour.

3. Bring the milk just to a boil. While continuously whisking the egg mixture, slowly pour in the heated milk. Mix together, then return to the pan and return to the burner on a medium-low heat until it just starts to bubble. Begin stirring and cook for 2 minutes while stirring to allow the mixture to thicken. Remove from the heat, then add in the vanilla.

4. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap, allowing the plastic to touch the top of the creme so that you don’t have a skin forming on top. Allow the creme patisserie cool completely in the fridge. Once cool, spoon the creme patisserie into your baked pastry base and smooth over evenly.

5. Arrange the fruit in any pattern you like on the top of the tart. To create the shiny glaze, place the raspberry jam into a small pan and add a few drops (about 1 teaspoon) of water. Stir continuously until the jam melts, then brush the glaze over the top of each piece of fruit. And that’s it!