Yield: one 9-inch pie Recipe: 132/200 “Back to Baking”, pp. 90
What a weird time to be alive. In any case, baking keeps me sane and always makes me happy, so better keep calm and keep baking. As is known fact by now, I am not by any stretch of the imagination an expert at making pies. Regardless, at some point I would have to make this recipe anyways, so I finally decided to jump in and try to make this cooked fruit pie recipe. I don’t think I’ve ever made a pie where the fruit is cooked prior to baking, so I did not really know what to expect. I tried to use up what I had in my fridge and freezer, so I used a mixture of peaches, raspberries and blackberries.
I’m not sure if I did it right, but I was imagining that the fruits would still maintain some of their shape and structure while cooking. Perhaps it is because I used frozen fruits, but the mixture was very liquid and everything kind of meshed together. It is also likely that I stirred the simmering fruits a bit too much, thus destroying them in the process. Nonetheless, I let the whole thing thicken as much as I thought reasonable, then put it in the pie shell and baked as instructed. I have to admit that, at first, I was not a fan of the pie. I found the texture to be strange and the flavour confusing. However, I think this might only have been due to the fact that I didn’t know what to expect, because all the following slices I had I found to be actually delicious and very pleasant to eat! Just warmed a little bit with some tea, it is truly a treat and a good way to get something sweet with a little buttery taste from the crust.
While the pie dough is chilling, prepare the fruit. In a saucepot, bring the fruit up to a simmer. In a bowl, stir the sugar and cornstarch together, and gently stir this with the fruits.
Add the remaining ingredients to the simmering fruits and continue cooking until the mixture has thickened, stirring gently so as not to break down the fruit too much. Scrape the fruit into a bowl and cool the filling to room temperature.
Note: the filling can be made ahead of time and chilled until ready to assemble.
Pull the pastry from the fridge 30 minutes before rolling. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place a 9-inch pie plate onto a parchment-lined baking tray and dust the pie plate with flour.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the first pastry disc to just under ¼ inch thick and line the prepared pie plate. Sprinkle the oats on the bottom of the pastry shell. Gently spoon the filling into the shell.
Roll out the remaining pastry disc and cut out a small hole in the centre of the pastry so that the steam can escape as it bakes. Place the rolled pastry overtop the fruit and press the edges together. Trim away any excess dough, and pinch the edges together to create a pattern.
Alternatively, you can make a lattice pattern with the top dough if you prefer.
Whisk the egg and water together, and brush the surface of the pastry with this mixture. Sprinkle the pie with turbinado sugar.
On the prepared baking tray, bake the pie for 12 minutes at 400°F, then reduce the heat to 375°F and bake for about 40 more minutes, until the crust is a rich golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Cool the pie for at least 2 hours before slicing.
Yield: about 4 to 5 dozen cookies Recipe: 131/200 “Back to Baking”, pp. 32
It’s been a little while since I baked something from the cookbook. Something new, anyway. I am always looking for a little cookie or something to nibble on in the evenings, so I decided to make these blueberry oat cookies. I always tend to cut sliced cookies thicker than the recommended ¼-inch, I think because otherwise I feel like they are too thin and don’t really count as a snack. To be honest, I was not a fan of these cookies. Although the texture is nice, I found the flavour to be severely lacking and they were not nearly sweet enough. I am not a huge fan of dried fruits, and even though these blueberries were rehydrated, I don’t think that they brought a lot of flavour to the cookie. A bit disappointing when they are blueberry oat slices. I will of course finish eating them, but would not make them again.
1 cup dried blueberries
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup icing sugar, sifted
½ cup sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
⅔ cup regular rolled oats
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Pour 2 cups of boiling water over the dried blueberries and let them soak for 15 minutes. Drain the blueberries and spread them out on a paper towel to dry.
Beat together the butter, icing sugar and sugar until fluffy.
Add in the egg and vanilla extract. Mix well to combine.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder and salt. Stir this into the butter mixture until incorporated.
Stir in the rehydrated dried blueberries. Shape the dough into 3 logs of about 1 ½ inches in diameter, wrap each in plastic wrap, roll them to round out their shape and chill until firm, about 2 hours.
Preheat the over to 350°F and line two baking trays with parchment paper. Slice the chilled dough into ¼-inch slices and arrange them on the prepared baking trays, leaving about one inch between them. You may need to bake several batches. Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes, until they turn a light golden brown colour on the bottom.
Yield: about 16 bars Recipe: 130/200 “Back to Baking”, pp. 72
This recipe was fun and simple to make. Pulse all the ingredients except the raspberry jam together, press half of it in the pan and layer the raspberry jam and the rest of the crumble mixture on top. It smelled nice and fruity while baking. Although I was very careful to gently press the crumble top layer, it ended up a bit too compact for my liking. I think it would have been better if the top layer was more loose and more crumbly (these are crumble bars, after all). Adding in some oats to the leftover crumble mixture before sprinkling in atop the raspberry jam would also add a nice texture.
Unfortunately, I was not really a fan of these bars. Although the texture added by the cornmeal is nice, I found the bars too dense, both in texture and flavour, and could only eat a few bites at a time. There is also something unusual about the taste and I found them too sweet, probably due to the raspberry jam. Perhaps this might be different based on the brand of raspberry jam used, but for me to find a dessert too sweet it must really be in excess. If I were to remake these I would probably try to just puree some fresh raspberries and use that as a middle layer instead.
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornmeal
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom or ground allspice
1 cup cool unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1 cup raspberry jam
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper so the paper hangs over the sides a little.
In a food processor, pulse together briefly the flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and cardamom or allspice to blend. Add the butter and pulse until crumbly. Alternatively, if you do not have a food processor, whisk together the dry ingredients in a bowl, then cut in the cool butter pieces using your fingers until the mixture is crumbly.
Put 3 cups of this crumble texture into the prepared pan and firmly press down so that the mixture is even around the pan.
Stir the raspberry jam to soften it and spread it evenly over the pressed crumble.
Sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture on top and press down gently.
Bake the bars for about 30-35 minutes, until they just begin to brown around the edges. Cool the bars to room temperature, then chill them for at least 2 hours before slicing into 16 or 18 bars, depending on how big you want them.
Yield: 8 individual pavlovas Recipe: 129/200 “Back to Baking”, pp. 301
It is clear to me now that I really am not good at making meringue desserts. I have tried twice now to make Pavlovas, and they always crack. Very finicky desserts, these. I don’t know what I am doing wrong but I can never get them right. I followed tricks on the internet to try to prevent it from cracking, the main one being to let them cool down in the oven after baking by shutting off the temperature and cracking the door open. However, by doing this I think the Pavlovas continued to bake and they were sadly overbaked and quite dry. I also put one blueberry too many on the baked and cooled Pavlova, and it simply collapsed under the weight. Sadly I was not a fan of this recipe, not only because of my technical failures, but the taste was also quite strange to me. I did not enjoy the mixture of balsamic vinegar and chocolate, although it did smell good as it was baking. Disappointing effort on my part, but it was still nice to try! Let me know if you have any tips and secrets for a fool-proof Pavlova that doesn’t crack!
Update – I have been munching on the unassembled Pavlova shell over the past couple of days and I actually quite like it. Perhaps without the cultured crème fraîche I can appreciate more the flavour of the chocolate pavlova itself. Not all is lost.
Preheat oven to 275°F. Cut two sheets of parchment paper to fit 2 baking trays, and trace 4 circles about 4 inches across on each paper. Place them on the trays, marker side down.
Whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until they are foamy, then slowly add the sugar and continue whipping at high speed until the whites hold a stiff peak when the beaters are lifted. The egg whites should be thick and glossy.
Stir the cocoa powder and cornstarch over the whites and fold in gently.
Quickly fold in the balsamic vinegar and vanilla extract.
Dollop a generous cupful of meringue onto each circle drawn onto the parchment paper. Gently press an indent into the centre of each, but don’t flatten or spread the meringue too much.
Bake the Pavlovas for 75 to 90 minutes, until they are dry on the outside. Let them cool to room temperature, then store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
Serve the Pavlovas with a dollop of crème fraîche on top of each, and sprinkle with fresh berries. The Pavlovas will keep, unassembled, in an airtight container for up to a day.
Yield: about 1 cup Recipe: 128/200 “Back to Baking”, pp. 320
I had never before done crème fraîche and although I was nervous to make it as I am with all fermented foods, it was pretty straight forward to make. Mine cultured for 36 hours as it is pretty humid here, and the cream thickened quite a lot. Since I was making this to accompany a dessert, I naturally assumed that this cream would be a bit sweet, forgetting of course that it is fermented with buttermilk so it does taste a bit sour. I realize now after trying a few different things that I really do not like anything sour in my desserts, especially not sour cream. However, if you do, this crème fraîche will be perfect for you and you can add little dollops on a variety of desserts. To each our own!
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon buttermilk
Stir the whipping cream and buttermilk together, and pour the mixture into a plastic or glass container. Place this container into a bowl and fill the bowl with hot tap water, just to the level of the cream. Place this in a warm, draft-free place to culture for 24 to 48 hours. Time will depend on humidity.
Check the fragrance of the cream for a fresh citrus or sour aroma, and chill the crème fraîche without stirring until set, about 3 hours.
To use, spoon off the crème fraîche and dispose of the liquid whey at the bottom. The crème fraîche will keep in the fridge until the best-before date of the cream.