Tag Archives: baking

Baking Christmas Pies

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  I don’t know about you, but 2015 flew by.  I know, i know, the old adage is that with every year time seems to move by quicker, but it is scary how that statement actually rings true.  I wish I could go back to my days when it seemed nap time would take forever to be over…but I digress, as this is not a post for reminiscence, but for looking forward to the holiday season.

I recently took a baking class at culinary school, and was not dissapointed.  My teacher, a man who could give Santa a run for his money not only in looks but in joyous personality- was also a certified master baker, and was kind enough to share some tidbits of wisdom with my class which come in handy for the holidays, including how to make pie from scratch.  It’s a lot easier than one would think- I remember before entering culinary school how I would think that it was easier just to buy store-made dough and add the filling myself- but the extra effort is well worth it.

I promise, baking your own pie from scratch will most likely impress friends and family much more than the actual effort needed to make these things. You might not even need to leave your house to obtain these ingredients. Don’t believe me? Check this out:

Pie Dough can be broken down into a simple 3-2-1:

3 lbs flour (cake flour is awesome, but AP will do as well)

2 lbs fat (butter for most standard pies, but lard or other animal fat will work for meat pies)

1 lb water by weight (don’t worry about breaking out the scale for this one: there is an old saying “a pint is a pound the world around” which chefs swear by. In other words, a pound of water is 2 cups, or a pint).

1 oz salt, as needed

This ratio will work if you scale it up or down.  Not sure how much to make? I’ve got another formula to make your life easier:

You will need about 1 oz of dough for every inch in diameter of your pie tin.

So a 9 in diameter pie tin uses about 9 oz, or a little over a half pound, of dough. (I promise, the fanciness that surrounds chefs is all formula memorization and application in the proper circumstances).

Method:

So once you have your dough ingredients, all you have to do is mix them.  For a flakier crust, cut the butter cold into manageable cubes and let mix with the flour in a stand mixer until the mixture has combined into small pebble-like portions.

Then add the water, ice cold, and mix for another 6 seconds.  Seriously, don’t over mix this, or you will have tougher dough than anticipated.

Let this dough chill in the fridge for at least an hour. 

Roll the pie dough out to a 1/4 in thickness, and drape over pie tin. Then add the filling.

My favorite pie to make for the holiday season? 

 Berry pies. Easy, simple, and delicious, using fresh or frozen berries is appropriate. Another simple ratio to remember, this time for the filling:

1.5 lbs berries, fresh or frozen

1 lb sugar 

1 oz cornstarch

Feel free to add fun flavor combos.. For instance, I love to put thinly sliced lemon with my blueberry pies, or elderflower syrup with strawberries. 

You can throw a top piece of dough on your pie to keep the berries in.There will be a lot. 

  
I like to egg wash my dough and sprinkle a little turbanado sugar on top. Bake your pie in the oven at 375 for an hour, or until golden brown. The pie will drop fruit juice, so I would cook on a tray with some parchment paper underneath. 

Take out your pie and let chill before slicing and serving. Then gobble that thing up before your family members get at it. 

  
Happy Holidays!

-L

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Recipe: Plum Coffee Cake

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It’s no secret that I’m not the best at baking, mostly because I shy away from trying it. It intimidates me. When I saw this post from StrawberryPlum, however, I had to try it. I love coffee cake, and, ironically, how well it pairs with tea. Figured I’d give it a go, I mean, it’s always a good thing to try something new.
Ingredients
For the topping:
1/4 cup ap flour [$2 for a bag]
1/4 cup brown sugar [$2 for a bag]
Cinnamon [$3]
About a cup chopped pecans [$4 for a bag]
Half a stick unsalted butter, melted [$2 for a pack]

For the cake:
1 1/2 cup ap flour
1 teaspoon baking powder [$2]
1/2 teaspoon baking soda [$3]
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cinnamon, about a tablespoon
6 tablespoons softened butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs [$1]
1 teaspoon vanilla extract [$3]
1/2 cup sour cream [$1.50 for a small container]
3 or 4 plums, cut into quarters [$3]

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350.
Spray an 8×8 baking pan with Pam or some kind if butter or grease, and set aside.
Make the topping: combine the topping ingredients except the butter in a bowl, then add the butter and mix until combined into crumbs. Set aside.

Make the cake: combine all the dry ingredients except the sugar in a bowl and whisk until combined. In an electric mixer bowl, add the butter and the sugar and beat until whipped and fluffy. Beat the eggs into the mixer, one at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream and best until well mixed.
Add the dry ingredients in the bowl, a little at a time, until incorporated.
I was worried when I read the instructions that I would not know when the batter was ready. Trust me, when you are making the batter, it will be obvious when it has come together.
Scoop the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Add the plums on top in a fun pattern if you choose and then add the topping.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool for a few minutes while you make some tea, then cut and enjoy!

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Super glad I decided to give baking a whirl.

-L

Recipe: 7 Layer Magic Bars

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I love when a new recipe just falls into my lap, especially one as delicious as this. My friend Sierra, who is a standard fixture in my home and life, made this for me the other day. It was incredible. I was fighting people for the last bite. This is a crazy simple dessert, but crazy delicious. Coconut, butterscotch, condensed milk (The Russians favorite), nuts, and a touch of chocolate combine for a variety of flavors and textures. Super sweet but addicting. I urge everyone to try it.

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Thanks, Sierra. Now I’m never gonna be the same again. She was even nice enough to send along the instructions on how to make these delicious bars her way.

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Ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter [$2]
1 1/2 cups graham-cracker crumbs [$2]
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips [$3]
1 cup butterscotch chips [$3]
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecan) [$5]
1(14 oz.)can sweetened condensed milk [$2]
1 1/3 cup flaked coconut[$3]

Directions
Preheat oven to 350.
Place butter in the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch pan, and let it melt completely. Mix in graham-cracker crumbs and press evenly and firmly to the bottom of the pan. Layer chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and nuts. Cover evenly with condensed milk and then top with flaked coconut.
Bake at 350F for 20 minutes, or until coconut appears toasted / golden brown.
Let cool, cut into bars and enjoy!

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-L