Saturday, July 27, 2013

blueberry pie

For the Daring Baker's July challenge, Lisa asked all of us to search through the Daring Kitchen archives and pick any one we'd like!

I've been a member of Daring Bakers since March 2011, and since then, I've made : Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cakes, Maple Mousse served in an edible container, Marquise on meringue, Baklava, Fraisier, Candies, Povitica, Sans Rival, Quick Bread, Dutch Crunch Bread, Armenian Nazook, Challah (Pulla), Battenburg Cake, Crackers, Filled Pâte à Choux Swans, Empanada Gallega, Pannettone, Gevulde Speculaas, Muffins with Hidden Veggies and Swedish Princesstarta.

I skipped the Fresh, Fluffy, French Croissants challenge, because I'm not patient enough and I don't like croissants. I didn't make the scones (biscuits), because I ran out of time that month, but I've made them before and make scones frequently, so I don't feel too bad about missing this one. The Mille-Feuille/Napoleon challenge is one I feel bad about missing and that I will make up one of these days. Although I had made piped shortbread, I skipped the Christmas cookies challenge because they just didn't turn out as I had hoped and I didn't want to take pictures of an ugly cookie. I skipped the Crisp Crackers and Flatbreads because it was too similar to the other Crackers challenge, and although I have made Savarin once before the actual challenge, I didn't get around to it that month. The last challenge that I skipped was Life of Pie, and this is the one I chose to do this month in a "celebration" of past Daring Baker challenges. 

I think pie is my husband's most favorite dessert, and yet, it's a real challenge for me. I did make a tart last month when the Life of Pie challenge was actually on, but the top crust gave me issues, I got frustrated and chucked it in the garbage. So although we ate the tart, I didn't post it. So I took this month's challenge as an opportunity to face my fears and make pie.
As blueberries are in season, I picked that fruit as the filling of my pie. My last attempt at berry pie left me with a lake of berry juices at the bottom of the pie plate, so I went on a search for a different recipe. I picked a recipe where the filling is cooked before being placed in the pie crust, hoping it would result in a firmer filling.

I made a basic all butter pie dough recipe from Baked, but it seemed quite sticky when I got it out of the food processor, so I'm pretty sure I screwed up there somewhere. I put it in the fridge to firm up some, and had no trouble whatsoever rolling it out, so that also tells me I did something wrong. Isn't pie dough supposed to be fragile and delicate? Mine looked more like cookie dough...

The filling came together nicely, but I added a bit too much nutmeg to the mixture, and I forgot to add butter to it. Oops.

I was about to attempt a lattice top when my husband whispered "baby-steps" in my ear, so I went with a standard pie crust for the top. A quick brush with egg wash and a sprinkling of raw sugar before going into the oven.

I was pretty happy with the golden pastry once out of the oven. We waited until the next day to dig into it, and when we did... the filling oozed all over the place. But I have to admit that I loved the texture of the filling. It was a great blueberry sauce!

And it was too nutmeg-y. And the crust was tough (although, I really liked it, but I don't like flaky pastries, so my opinion doesn't count apparently). But still. I made pie, and my husband had seconds. So I win anyways. Now I can go back to not making pies.

Classic Pie Dough
Recipe source Baked Elements, page 161

Yield: 2 9-inch single crust pies or 1 double-crust pie

3 cups all-purpose flour, chilled
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together. In a measuring cup, stir 3/4 cup of water with several ice cubes until it is very cold, discarding any remaining ice.

Toss the butter in the flour mixture to coat. Put the mixture in a food processor and pulse in short bursts until the butter pieces are the size of hazelnuts.

Pulsing in 4-second bursts, slowly drizzle the water into the food processor through the feed tube. As soon as the dough comes together in a ball, stop adding water.

Remove the dough from the food processor and divide it in half. Flatten each piece into a disk and wrap each disk first in parchment paper and then in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough until firm, about 1 hour.

Blueberry Pie Filling
Adapted from Nick Malgieri via That Skinny Chick can Bake

2 pints blueberries (4+ cups), rinsed
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
A few gratings of fresh nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter

Combine 2 cups of the blueberries with the sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, till sugar is melted, about 5 minutes. Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and whisk the blueberry and sugar mixture into it. Return mixture to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, over low heat, until it boils, thickens and becomes clear. Pour into a large bowl and mix in the lemon zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter. Mix in the rest of the blueberries. Cool.

Egg wash: 1 egg well beaten with a pinch of salt
Sugar to sprinkle over top before baking

Preheat to 400º. Roll out the bottom crust and place in bottom of pie plate. Trim the edges, then add the blueberry filling. Roll out top crust and place over fruit filling. Seal and crimp the edges as desired. Sprinkle the top of the pie with sugar.

Place the pie on a parchment lined baking sheet (to catch drips) and put on a lower shelf of your oven. Immediately reduce the temperature to 375º. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the crust golden and the filling is bubbling. Cool the pie on a rack.

For more information about the Daring Bakers challenges, click on through to the Daring Kitchen.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

oopsy daisy cake

We were celebrating my sister in law's birthday today, so I thought I would make the Baked Sunday Mornings recipe for this week, the Oopsy Daisy Cake, a milk chocolate cake with a peanut butter filling and an old-fashioned vanilla frosting. And since my SIL didn't request anything specific on her cake (no dora, no strawberry shortcake or hotwheels!), I was inspired by the title of the recipe and decorated it with daisies.

The original cake makes two 8-inch layers, but because I needed to feed 13 people, I knew it had to be bigger. I though of making one and a half time the recipe, but there are a lot of 1/3 cup measures in the original recipe, and i was too lazy to do the math, so I just doubled everything and baked it in three 9-inch pans.

Looking back on it, maybe the cake didn't need to be 9 inches across and 6 inches high. Just a tiny bit over the top. But I always want to make sure I have enough cake. I probably should have saved a layer for another time.

The cake itself is pretty standard, butter and sugars getting creamed together, then dry ingredients and a mixture of melted milk chocolate, cocoa powder, coffee and milk get added in. Maybe I made a mistake while doubling the recipe, or maybe I over-baked the layers, but I thought the cake was just blah. A little dry, a little bland, unremarkable. On the upside, the layers came out nice and straight.

The peanut butter filling was easy to whip up and tasted great with the chocolate cake and the best vanilla frosting ever! Love, LOVE the boiled milk frosting, and it came together so nicely for me this time around! I didn't add peanut butter to the vanilla frosting because I was sure I'd have some leftover since I had double the recipe, but somehow, I manage to put pretty much all the frosting on the cake.

I did have issues with the decorating... I actually did put everything on the cake as I had planned, but that lasted about 10 minutes, before the bow and the flowers fell off. So I quickly had to come up with a plan B, and put the bow and the flowers on top of the cake, where gravity was less of an issue, and made additional flowers for the side of the cake. Still came out pretty cute, I think.

For the recipe, and to see how the other Sunday morning Bakers fared with this recipe, click on through to the Baked Sunday Mornings website!

Monday, July 1, 2013

strawberry swirled muffins

It's strawberry season again! The kids and I went strawberry picking with their cousins and my sister-in-law last week. I got amazing pics of the kids from the outing plus, the best strawberries, sweet biscuits to make shortcakes and pie!

I had planned on making balsamic basil strawberry jelly, but didn't get have all the supplies on hand. Then I realized that we had a huge basket of strawberries to eat before leaving for the weekend, so I used up some of them in these muffins.

Chopped strawberries get folded in the muffin batter, then a dollop of strawberry jam gets swirled in. Just before they go into the oven, the top of the muffins get sprinkled with a mixture of butter, flour, powdered sugar and cinnamon.

Strawberry Swirled Muffins
Recipe adapted from A Cache of Recipes by Laura Cole via The Galley Gourmet

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
8 Tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sour cream
1 extra large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup small diced fresh strawberries
2 Tablespoons strawberry jam, divided
3/4 cup streusel topping (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the butter, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla. Gently mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until the mixture comes together. Fold in the strawberries. Evenly fill the muffin tins. Swirl 1/2 teaspoon of strawberry jam into each muffin. Top each muffin with 1 tablespoon of the streusel topping. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow the muffins to cool in the tin for 5 minutes. Remove the muffins and cool completely.

Streusel Topping
makes 1.5 cups, enough for 2 batches of muffins

3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed

Combine all the ingredients using a pastry cutter. Store any remaining streusel in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer for another use.

These muffins were also fun to make for little hands as there was a bunch of steps they participate in: putting the liners in the cupcake mold, mixing the dry ingredients, cracking the egg in a bowl, whisking the wet ingredients, swirling the jam in the batter, sprinkling on the streusel... a perfect recipe for kids wanting to learn how to bake!