Sunday, 17 August 2014

Sweet Finale: Blueberry Galette

Our third and final pastry of the evening (a savoury tourtiere was first, followed by this flaky butter crust peach pie) was a blueberry galette.  My first attempt as you can see, leaked blueberry juice everywhere, as I didn't reinforce the overlapping edges enough.  It was still delicious - you could really taste the lemon in the crust - and the crust was so good.

It was so good that we demolished it that evening.   The recipe makes enough for two small galettes, so the next day (not kidding) I made a fresh peach version with the rest of the dough and the our last two fresh peaches. 

Pate Sucrée 
Makes 1 large or 2 small galettes

2 cups all-purpose flour 
2/3 cup icing sugar 
1/2 cup   unsalted butter, diced 
Grated zest of one lemon
1 egg, beaten

1.Sift together flour and icing sugar
2.Work in butter; form a well in the center of the flour
3.Add lemon zest and vanilla bean scrapings to well
4.Add beaten egg to well and 1-2 tablespoons of ice water to start
5.Using your fingers, blend mixture together until a disc is formed
6. Wrap in plastic, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
7. Roll out carefully on a floured surface
8. Add filling in the centre, and fold up sides of the dough to form galette
9. Sprinkle sugar over top. 
10. Bake in 425 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for a further 20 minutes until deep golden brown. 

for one small galette

1 ½ cups blueberries or 2 peaches, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp. lemon juice
4 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch

   Gently toss ingredients together in a bowl. Fill galette.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Sweet and Savoury Pie Class: Peach Pie with Flaky Butter Pastry

Our second attempt at pastry-making of the evening was a flaky butter crust.   I learned a few tips and techniques:

- Try grating butter instead of dicing or using a pastry cutter
- Refrigerate the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt)
- Keep ice cubes in a glass of water to keep it absolutely chilled
- Stainless steel counter tops are amazing
- Rolling tips:  Roll out and back, turn, roll out and back, turn and so on to avoid your dough sticking to the surface
- When ready to move your rolled out pastry into the pan, roll the pastry up onto the rolling pin, then roll it out onto the pie plate

I wasn't pleased with this dough when it went into the fridge to rest.  I was trying to follow the instructors directions, which were different then what I would normally do when making pastry.  But what is the point of taking a class if not to learn something new?  My pastry dough was dry and crumbly when I finally got it into a sort of disc-like shape.  Not enough water, I think.  Anyways, the instructor came over and said it was over-worked and to leave it.  Oh well.  Once it had chilled in the fridge,  I was careful to not use too much flour in the process of rolling it out.  To my great surprise, this was the flakiest pastry I have ever made - you could see the layers as you cut into it - and it was delicious as well.  A winner.  I must have done something right, after all.

Pastry (Flaky) (used for Peach Pie)
Recipe from The Culinary Studio

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
1 cup cold, unsalted butter
¼ to ½ cup ice water

In a bowl, combine flour, salt and sugar.
Using a box grater, grate butter into the flour mixture
Toss together lightly, using your fingers
Add water, first ¼ cup, and then more, few tablespoons at a time, lightly kneading until the dough comes together
On a lightly floured surface, divide dough in half and shape into disks
Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour

Peach Filling
Recipe from The Culinary Studio

6 cups of sliced peaches
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
Juice and zest of one lemon
¼ tsp of cinnamon

Toss all of the ingredients together and fill a 9” unbaked pie crust. Cover with top crust. Egg wash and create steam holes.

Bake in a 425°F oven for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°F for a further 30-40 minutes until the crust is a deep golden brown. Let stand for at least 30 minutes before cutting.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Sweet and Savoury Pie Class...the savoury: Tourtière

Last week I attended a pie-making class at a local place called the Culinary Studio.

A hands-on class, we learned to make three types of pastry - one with lard, another with butter, and a pâte sucrée as the third. 

First up - a savoury meat tart, or une tourtière.

Une tourtière is a traditional French Canadian dish, usually made with minced or ground pork, veal, or beef. It is often served on Christmas Eve, which is a tradition in my own family, something I always look forward to. This recipe includes a home-made tomato chutney type sauce - try mango or peach chutney or apple sauce as an accompaniment.

I have never used lard before - but it functions virtually identically to vegetable shortening.  I have also never added this much fat in order to create anything before....and I asked, just to be sure "So, we throw in the entire package of lard, then?"....."okaaaay..." Of course, I have also never made such a large amount of pastry before, either.  The pastry recipe makes quite a bit more than you need. I may make some small adjustments when I try it at home, or set the extra aside for a quiche. 

This was absolutely delicious - don't change a thing - I will be making this for the holiday season this year, for sure.

My apologies for the quality of the photo - I was limited to my vintage blackberry as we made and then enjoyed this in class.

Savoury Meat Tart 
Recipe from The Culinary Studio

1 lb ground pork
1 medium potato, peeled
1 lg onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried sage (optional)
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 tsp all spice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup water

1. Boil potato gently, whole, until just cooked.
2. Add all other ingredients to a large frying pan. Using a spoon, or a spatula, break apart any chunks of meat. The key to a good meat tart is the stirring and chopping during cooking so that the meat and vegetables are not lumpy and as fine as possible.
3. This should simmer covered,at least 1/2 an hour but the 'breaking down' process may take 20 minutes or so.
4. Remove bay leaves and grate cooked and cooled potato into the mixture
5. Taste for seasoning
6. Fill raw pastry shell, cover with top shell. Egg wash and create steam holes.
7. Bake pies at 425°F for 20 minutes, and then reduce heat to 350°F for a further 30-40 minutes or until deep golden brown. Let cool at least 20 minutes before serving.

Flaky Lard Crust:
Recipe from The Culinary Studio
(makes enough for 2 large crusts)

4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups shortening, diced
2 eggs
4 tbsp cold water
2 tbsp vinegar

1. Blend together flour and salt. Quickly work in shortening with your hands.
2. Mix together eggs, water and vinegar. Incorporate into flour until just combined.
3. Turn out onto a floured work surface, divide in half, shape into discs, wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before using.
4. Roll out as required

Homemade Ketchup:
Recipe from The Culinary Studio

1-32oz can of tomatoes, pureed
2 medium onion, small dice
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup soft brown sugar
½ cup white wine vinegar
2 tsp dry mustard

1. Saute onion in a small amount to oil until golden brown. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes longer.
2. Add tomatoes, sugar, vinegar and mustard. Simmer until thick. Season with salt. Cool and place in glass jar. Keep refrigerated.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Birthday Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Ganache

The best part of any birthday is the cake - it just isn't a proper birthday celebration without one.  I love baking birthday cakes - and every July I try to make something new and different for my mom.  Two years ago, it was the Big Berry Birthday Cake, and last year it was this pretty pink ombre vanilla cake.  I couldn't decide what to do this year, and I was waffling back and forth for a while before deciding to go with a simple vanilla cake base, a proper chocolate ganache filling, and something pretty on top.

I have seen and heard the term ganache many times without really understanding what it is.
Ganache is a glaze, icing, sauce, or filling for pastries made from chocolate and cream. Ganache is normally made by heating cream, then pouring it over chopped chocolate of any kind.  
Thank you Wikipedia.

Perfect. I had leftover whipping cream from this pie, and I certainly never need an excuse to buy chocolate.  I read up on how to make chocolate ganache, and most sources cited the same thing - the ratio of cream to chocolate depends on what you intend to do with it - if using as a filling, use a 1:1 ratio.

I also tried a trick from The Law Student's Wife on how to bake the most moist cake ever.  Well, half of the trick.  She recommends letting the cakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and then wrapping in plastic wrap to seal in the moisture until cool.  The second step is the brush the top with a sugar-water mixture before icing...which I did not do.

I cannot even tell you how delicious this cake was - Perfection.  It deserves the title of Birthday Vanilla Cake.  I would even consider this over the chocolate version for my birthday cake.  And that is definitely the highest compliment from a life-long chocolate cake devotee.

Birthday Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Ganache
Cake recipe from Chatelaine

Vanilla Cake
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour                          
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt

2/3 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 2 9-in. round cake pans* and line bottoms with parchment.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, cream softened butter together with granulated sugar using a hand mixer. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in 1 tsp vanilla.  Add one-third of flour mixture, then add half the milk. Repeat, ending with flour mixture.
Divide evenly between the two cake pans.
Bake in centre of oven until a cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean, about 24 minutes.  Cool in pans on a rack for 10 min, then turn cakes out onto rack. Remove parchment. Cool completely, about 30 min.

Chocolate Ganache Filling
2/3 cup chopped chocolate (I used 50% dark, but any kind will do)
2/3 cup whipping cream

Chop chocolate in small pieces and put in a heat safe bowl.  Heat cream up until just before boiling, and pour over the chocolate.  Resist the urge to stir (although I did, and mine turned out fine) for a few minutes.

Let cool to room temperature.  Pour into a larger bowl (big enough to whip in) and whip until it turns into a smooth, fluffy consistency.  To be honest, I almost gave up.  I thought I had done something wrong - it didn't appear to be changing consistency after I had been whipping for a few minutes, but my persistency paid off. Spread ganache thickly on the top of the bottom layer and gently place the top layer on top.

Frost with your favourite icing and a pretty strawberry flower.

*Note:  this recipe makes 2 thin layers of cake.  I recommend using 8 inch pans for a slightly thicker layer, or doubling the recipe and using some batter as cupcakes.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Strawberry Cream Pie with Pecan Shortbread Crust

Helllllooooo Summer!

As soon as I saw this recipe, I knew it was speeding to the top of my summer baking list.  It's strawberry season in Ontario - and the pickin's are good.

I think the strawberries could easily be substituted with what ever berries or fruit you like - blueberries and peaches immediately come to mind.

Strawberry Cream Pie with Pecan Shortbread Crust
from The Law Student's Wife 

Pecan Shortbread Crust
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tablespoon icing sugar
3/4 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cups unsalted butter, melted

Fresh Strawberry Topping
1 cup mashed plus approx. 20 nice ripe strawberries (1.5 quarts)
1/2 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch

Whipped Cream Cheese Filling
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup (4oz) ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup icing sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a deep 10-inch pie dish and set aside.

2. Start with the crust. Melt the butter. Set aside.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, icing sugar, and pecans. Pour in melted butter and mix until combined. Press into the prepared dish. Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool completely to room temperature. This is important.

3. Wash and hull your strawberries.  Mash 1 cup of strawberries, leaving some small chunks.  It's OK if you overestimate the number of strawberries needed to mash - just eat them : )  Add the mashed berries to a small saucepan along with the water.  Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add at all once to the berries in the saucepan - bring to a boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens.  This is where Erin suggests to add a few drops of red food colouring.  I did not do this.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.

4. Pick out the best looking, ripe, red strawberries, approximately 20 or so.  Cut the tops off so that they stand up.

5. Whip the cream. In a different bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth, adding in the icing sugar gradually. Add vanilla. Continue to beat until completely smooth.  Fold in the whipped cream. Once your pecan crust is cool (and not before!), spread the cream mixture on top (make sure to leave room for the strawberry sauce!) and refrigerate for a half hour.

6. Place cut strawberries over the top of the cream in whatever design you want. Add as many as you can or leave spaces - entirely up to you.  Spoon your cooled strawberry sauce over top of the berries, in between the berries, so that all the cream is covered.  There will be some leftover, which is great, because it is delicious - I plan to eat mine over vanilla ice cream.

Chill pie at least 2 hours before serving.  Yum!

Monday, 23 June 2014

Chocolate Honey Squares

The after-school snack is a pivotal time of day when you are eight.  A bad day at school can be transformed by the quality of the after-school snack.  While my eight year old self rarely turned down any kind of snack (unless it was, let's say, a tuna fish sandwich), some snacks are most definitely 5 star. While homemade chocolate chip oatmeal cookies hot out of the oven reign supreme, saltine crackers topped with peanut butter and rainbow sprinkles are good in a pinch. These, however, were one of the best after-school snacks ever.  This blew my mind when I was a kid - chocolate rice krispy squares? Mom sure raised the bar for snacks that day.  I believe this recipe originally comes from a Fry's cocoa recipe booklet - a well-used, stained slip of paper - the trademarks of a great recipe.

Chocolate Honey Squares

1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa
1/3 cup honey
3 cups mini marshmallows or 30 large marshmallows
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups rice cereal

Melt butter in a large saucepan.
Blend in cocoa.
Stir in honey and marshmallows.
Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is smooth.
Remove from heat.
Stir in vanilla.
Add rice cereal, and stir until well combined.
Press lightly into a greased 8 or 9 inch square cake pan.
Cool, cut into squares.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Cheaters Black Forest Cupcakes

Ok, I totally cheated.  I needed a dessert to bring into work for a pot-luck and it was a busy week.

Here is the simplest black forest cupcake ever.  And it doesn't need to be refrigerated, as we swapped traditional whipped cream frosting for the regular kind.  Always helpful for potlucks.

Whip together cake batter.  Divide into 24 cupcake liners.  Spoon 1-2 tsp of cherry pie filling on top and pop in the oven following cake mix instructions.

While baking, chop or shave dark chocolate and prepare your favourite vanilla frosting.

Once cupcakes are cooled, frost cupcakes, scoop out a cherry from the cherry pie filling and plop on top, and sprinkle chocolate shavings on top.  Ta-da.

You need:

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix
  • 1 can cherry pie filling
  • chopped dark chocolate (plus some for eating)
  • vanilla icing (enough for 24 cupcakes)

The rest of the cherry pie filling can be used in this recipe - it's almost as good as the blueberry version.