Tag Archives: pie

Saturday night’s all right for baking

Saturday night I started cooking and cleaning and I couldn’t stop. Which is really weird for me because, while I love to bake, I hate to cook actual food, and I loathe the vacuum even more. If you wandered into our house unannounced you’d think that two exceptionally lazy college kids live here. Dishes in the sink. Towels on the bedroom floor. Lots of thrift store/Target stuff (this one has less to do with lazy and more to do with the fact that Oliver is a magpie who never met a Goodwill he didn’t love, and I am a Target addict.) I’ve long thought that our relationship works because we’re the same kind of messy and so no one’s ever nagging anyone else.

I digress. Saturday. Ostensibly this fit of domesticity started because my cat brutally murdered a mouse. Our kitchen floor looked like a tiny Game of Thrones set – complete with a beheading. But, whenever I find myself scrubbing the baseboards with Lysol wipes at 10 on a Saturday night, you can bet there’s something else going on.  And there is. Something else going on. I will tell you about it later though. (Hand off the panic button Grammy. No one’s pregnant and no one’s breaking up with anyone.)

All you need to know for now is that resulting energy eventually lead to one of my more random and creative pies: apple/sweet potato with extra flaky crust. This was less a fit of inspiration and more a result of really wanting to bake, but not having any other ingredients to use. I was skeptical.

Side note: It's super hard to take a picture of yourself while holding two hand fulls of fruit.

Side note: It’s super hard to take a picture of yourself while holding two hand fulls of fruit.

But it actually turned out great:

Ugh, the lighting in the kitchen is the worst. But even still you can tell that this pie is badass .

Ugh, the lighting in the kitchen is the worst. But even still you can tell that this pie is badass .

I treated the sweet potatoes just like apples. Instead of mashing them and puree-ing them, the way you would for a traditional sweet potato pie, I baked them until they were soft enough to slice and then layered them into the crust just like apples. It’s been a while since I’ve broken down a recipe for ya’ll (normally I’m just a lazy ass and link you to past crust recipes) so I decided to do that below. Crust is first, filling is second.

The crust:

Let’s be honest, we’re all in this for the crust. I’m pretty proud at how good I’ve gotten at making them extra flaky and awesome. To make this one here’s what you’ll need to make a double crust:

  • A stick of butter. 
  • A stick of vegetable shortening. I used Earth Balance. You can use Crisco if you want.
  • 2 cups of flour.
  • 1 cup of cake flour.
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • Teaspoon of salt
  • Tablespoon of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of ice cold water

To get ready to make this crust you should do a couple of prep steps. Cut up your fat into cubes and freeze it. I let mine freeze for at least 30 minutes because the colder the fat, the flakier the butter. Once your butter/shortening are cold enough you’re ready to begin:

photo (2)

Step 1: Sift your flour – both kinds – and cornstarch into a bowl. Mix in the sugar and salt.

Step 2: Mix your very, very cold vegetable oil into the flour with your hands. Knead it until it completely breaks up and is the size of tiny peas.

Step 3: Do the same thing with the butter. Butter gets colder than vegetable oil so this will take longer. My hands always get really tired. I don’t know if there’s an actual chemical reason for this or not, but I have also found that the crust is better and flakier if you follow this order, instead of mixing the vegetable oil and the butter oil in at the same time.

Step 4: Slowly knead in the water. This is something else I’ve learned. Used to just dump it all in at once. Now I mix the water in two tablespoons at a time and, again, it just comes out better. Knead the water in until you’ve used the entire half cup and the dough is clumping together in a flaky, but still held together, ball in your bowl.

Step 5: Divide the ball into two, smash each ball into a pancake about 1/4 inch thick, wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for at least an hour.

The filling

Great! Now you’re ready for the filling.  It’s actually a little bit tedious to make. Hang in there. Worth it. You will need:

  • Four medium size apples and an apple core-er. Is that a word? One of these.
  • Two medium size sweet potatoes and a peeler.
  • Whatever spices you like. I like cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice and I used a tablespoon of each.
  • A tablespoon of agave nectar (which I like to use instead of sugar. If you like sugar, use that, but I don’t know how much you should use.)
Had to sneak my awesome rolling pin in there...

Had to sneak my awesome rolling pin in there…

Step one: Deal with the sweet potatoes. This is the tedious part, unless you happen to like peeling potatoes. Peel them, wrap them in tin foil and bake them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes or so. Basically, you’re pre-baking these so that they don’t turn out raw when you put them in the pie with the apples which, obviously, have a shorter cooking time.  You’ll know they’re ready to come out when they’re easy to slice, but still firm.

Step two: Core your apples. Peel them if you want. I didn’t because after the potatoes I was burned out on peeling. Once the apples are cored slice them into thin slices and put in a bowl.

Step three: Once your sweet potatoes are slice-able, cut them into slices the same width as your apples. Mix them in the bowl with your apples along with the spices you’ve chosen and the agave nectar.

Simple, except for the stupid peeling. Once this is done, you’re ready to roll out your crust. I use this method, although last night I was actually out of wax paper so I just used the “absolutely coat the dough and the counter in a ridiculous amount of flour method.” It worked ok.

Here’s how you assemble the pie:

Step 1: Roll out the dough for the bottom crust and transfer it to the pie pan using whatever method you find works.

Step 2: Fill the bottom crust with your filling. Some people just dump their filling right in all at once. I prefer to layer. I built a bottom layer of apples, a middle layer of sweet potatoes, and a top layer of apples.

Step 3: Roll out the dough for your top crust and transfer it to the top of the pie. I like to cut any excessive dough hanging over the edges off with scissors before I start shaping the crust.

Step 4: Shape the crust. This is kind of hard to do in my opinion. I basically just crimp it using my thumb and forefinger, but some people get really creative with it so go nuts.

Step 5: Bake. I baked mine at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. I accidentally burned the edges of the crust, so maybe do a little less time. I really think bake times depend a lot on your oven, so try 40 minutes and keep an eye on it.

And that’s how you end a night of furious stress-cleaning, cooking, and baking. I used to stay up all night having fun on Saturday. Now I stay up all night and bake. Weirdly, I’m ok with that.

 

 

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Pizza, Pizza

This is my second time making this pastry — the first time I liked it so much Oliver and I devoured it before I could even snap a photo. I’m glad I took a week to think about how to make this version turn out even better because it gave me the chance to think about how to improve some of the details (hello, agave “sauce”) and get a little better at hand molding the crust. This is another one that’s quasi-improvised — the crust is from my pie cookbook, but the topping I made up because once again Ken Haedrich and I disagree on the amount of sugar you need to add to fruit to make it taste good. (Hint: none.)

This fruit pizza is SUPER easy to make and would be perfect to bring to a summer BBQ to impress your friends with almost no effort.

I wish you could smell this as well as see it right now. It seriously smells SO good. Can't wait to eat.

I started baking this after a day out with Oliver that ended in happy hour, so I got a little loopy with the pictures…enjoy!

Yeasted Crust

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet of yeast
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 5 tablespoons of cold butter
  • 1/2 cup warm water

Step 1: Mix the yeast and warm water — stir quickly with a fork — let it sit for 5 minutes

Step 2: Mix the flour, sugar and salt together in a bowl and add the butter. Mush it together until the butter is pea sized.

I know you all know how to sift flour, but I had to put this in because don't I look like Nanny from Muppet Babies?!

 

Step 3: Mix the egg yolk into the yeast water. It will look really gross. See?

All I could think here was how I used to play Truth or Dare with my middle school friends and we would mix together the nastiest possible drinks and dare each other to drink them. Yeast and egg water would have been a GREAT and disgusting dare.

Step 4: Mix the egg-yeast-water in with the flour. It is really sticky. I was not feeling it, but I’m anti-food processor for making pie crust and I wasn’t gonna give in today.

You could use this exact mix at your next Halloween haunted house right next to the peeled grapes that represent eyeballs. It feels gross, but it tastes good.

Step 5: Roll it in a ball, put it in a bowl, cover with wax paper and let it rise someplace warm for an hour.

Step 6: After an hour roll it out onto wax paper. It’s going to be sticky so I recommend being liberal with the amount of flour you cover the wax paper and your rolling pin with. Try to keep it the same thickness.  Once your crust is rolled out turn it over onto a greased cookie sheet and peel the paper off.

Step 7: Mold the edges of the crust into a free standing crust, like a pizza. I find this is easiest to accomplish by rolling it up then pinching it into the shape you want. Stick the crust in the freezer for 15 minutes. This make it a little bit sturdier before you put the fruit in it.

Step 8: Once you’re done making the filling, take the crust out of the freezer and brush it with agave (or honey if you want) syrup, then arrange the filling on top.

Speaking of the filling… I feel silly even making an ingredients list or telling you what steps to take because you literally just cut up some fruit that you like and let it juice in a bowl for a while. I decided to use peaches, strawberries and blueberries.

I was really happy with the strawberries I found -- they were actually ripe for once. CAN'T WAIT for it to really be summer berry season.

Step 9: After you’ve arranged your fruit as artfully as you can, drizzle more agave (or honey) on top and put in the oven (preheated to 400 degrees) for 15 minutes. After the first 15 minutes, turn the oven down to 375 and rotate your pizza 180 degrees to help it cook evenly. Let it cook another 10 minutes before taking it out.

Step 10: Let it cool about 20 minutes, heap some peaches and cream ice cream on top and pig out!

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Megan’s Mango-Berry-Coconut Lazy Person’s Pie

Even Nacho liked it

I’ve been procrastinating posting about this pie for a few days, but now I’m procrastinating something else (which is what happens when I start working at 7 a.m. By noon, I’m sure that I “deserve” a break) so here we go.

Saturday I was the laziest person who ever lazed about. I slept in until noon and then watched four episodes in a row of Buffy the Vampire Slayer before even getting up to brush my teeth. I really needed the sleep and rest, but by the time early evening rolled around I was feeling mighty gross so to reclaim a shred of self esteem I went for a run and then decided I needed to bake. Sometimes when I spend all day doing nothing it makes me feel better to produce something tangible so that I can say the day wasn’t a total waste.

So this pie was special for three reasons. One: it made me feel less lazy and lame. Two: I made up the recipe on my own (except the crust). Three: It turned out sooooooooooo good. Check it out:

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Long run Sunday

Nine miles. I feel so badass, but also so very, very sore. Nine miles were way harder than eight for some reason. It’s possible that today was so hard because I’m slightly under the weather but also for some reason this run was very mentally tough. This was the first time that I had to really work to believe that I could finish and the first time I’ve ever had a major naysayer inside my head.

Around mile 6 my butt muscle (sorry for the non-technical term!) started to really hurt and this little voice in my head was all “just stop and walk. Just stop and go back. You still have so far to go, you’ll never make it….” So discouraging and I couldn’t tune her out. She stayed there making fun of me the rest of the way.

In a weird (but still bad) way it was kind of motivational. If you know me, you know that there are three things I hate: people telling me what to do, quitting and failing. So there was no way I was going to let the evil voice in my head win. Still, she made things super-unpleasant and by the last mile I had to resort to bribing her (me?) with promises of Starbucks and pie if she would just let me finish.

That dumb voice pops up a lot — before staff meetings where I’m presenting, on long flights to and from the states I’m trying to help, at 3 a.m. the night before a big meeting, before every speaking engagement or panel. A lot.

I started running for a lot of reasons — the desire to be stronger, the desire to live for a long time, the need for an anxiety outlet (and strong aversion to taking my Lexapro…) — and I’m realizing that conquering that little voice of doubt in my head is just one more thing I’m earning one mile at a time.

Mango-berry-coconut pie is a great self bribe. Recipe to come soon...

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Ollie Pie

Oliver’s dad is a date farmer and so we always have dates coming out our ears. Last week, Ollie requested a date pie, but he didn’t want me to use walnuts, he didn’t want a top crust and he didn’t want me to use any other fruit. He wanted the focus to be totally on the dates. Which was great, but I didn’t have a recipe for that, which means I had to get creative and make one up out of pieces of three recipes I had.

It turned out really well for a made up pie. A bit on the sweet side — next time I won’t use any sugar at all since dates have a ton of natural sugar. One other important note: This is definitely a grown up pie. We gave some to our little 3-year-old friend Kelvin and he just stood there crying with it in his mouth, refusing to swallow.

But really, I swear this is a good pie!

So — here you go — a new specialty of mine, Ollie’s Coconut Date Pie.

This is all that's left. Yum.

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Humble Pie

I had the worst/funniest pie baking experience this week. The end result looks like this and is actually pretty tasty:

Watermelon Chiffon Pie

But most of the time, the process looked like this:

Too bad I didn't photograph the terror in my eyes at this point...

And at one point like this, but all over the kitchen floor:

A total mess. It didn’t help that I started making it at 11 p.m., that I was making a kind of pie (chiffon) that I’d never made before and that I don’t have an electric mixer which it turns out was key.

The whole disaster was actually kind of funny because I went into this endeavor totally smug. I was actually writing the blog post in my head in my best Real Simple Magazine editor’s voice about how pretty it would be, and how tasty it would be and how all of your family members at Easter would be impressed by your innovative thinking, using watermelon in a pie.

I also snubbed the pre-made graham cracker crust at the store because I’m just toooo authentic for that. Here’s proof:

Frankly, the crust is my favorite part of the whole pie and I will definitely make this crust again and highly recommend it.

Basically, I think the trauma of attempting this pie was just my bad, snobby karma. Lesson learned universe.

Anyway, the idea of a watermelon pie is kind of fun and summer-y, and maybe you’ll have a better experience than I did, so click forward for the recipe. Continue reading

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Megan’s “For the Love of God, Why Is It Still Raining” strawberry-rhubarb pie

I have reached the point in the Portland winter/spring where I really, really freaking need it to be warm and sunny.

It’s not:

Its been like this for a million, billion days. Or feels like it has.

I know, I’m a jerk for complaining about the weather conditions I knew existed when I moved here. Just like I was a jerk for complaining about the heat in Arizona in July.

In an attempt to at least feel like it’s springtime, blue sky and all, I made the most spring-y pie I could think of: Strawberry-Rhubarb.

I love baking pies — it’s almost as therapeutic as long distance running — though it’s taken me a loooong time to get good at it. There were many disasters along the way (including a 4th of July pie I baked last year into a pan that still had paper in the bottom. Even the drunk people at our house left it alone…) but I’m of the current belief that anyone can make a serviceable pie crust with the right recipe. And the filling part is easy.

See? How hard can pie crust be when these are the only ingredients?

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