sweets

Blueberry Slab Pie

Welcome back my friends, I hope you haven’t all melted into puddles on the floor in this heat, I know I was certainly close. Leaving the house when it’s 100 degrees outside can be daunting, but if I was going to do it for anything, it would be for margarita ingredients you know? Yes, I realize that this recipe is about blueberry pie, but this is crucial. Last week, I somehow managed to injure my hand while juicing limes, which seems like an achievement even for me, so guess whose electric citrus juicer arrived on Saturday?? Naturally I had to test it out, and used this recipe, which is quite possibly the easiest and most foolproof of margarita recipes. It’s worth noting that my mom thinks this is a little too strong so we add some simple syrup to sweeten hers up, but I’ll leave that decision up to you.

But anyway, let’s talk about slab pies. For those who have no clue what that is, a slab pie is a pie baked in a large sheet pan (with raised sides, of course), resulting in a giant rectangular pie with all the buttery crust and jammy filling of a regular pie, but with THREE TIMES THE SERVINGS. If a regular 9″ pie can serve 8 people on average, a slab pie can serve up to 24 people depending on how big you slice it. If that isn’t your dream come true, then I don’t know what is! And, while we’re on the subject, this would be the perfect dessert for a July 4th BBQ- cut it into large squares, break out the vanilla ice cream, and  BOOM, you’re the star of the party.

This recipe uses my favorite pie crust recipe from Queen Ina Garten, and is filled with a blueberry filling so summery and perfect that it will bring tears to your eyes. While I am awaiting an August trip to Maine for my favorite blueberries, the ones at home worked out just splendidly. One word of caution that I have is in the transfer of pie crust from your rolling mat to your sheet pan. You’re maneuvering a large piece of dough, so I found it helpful to make sure it’s properly floured and folded in half twice to transfer, eliminating the risk of ripping the dough in too many places. Remember to breathe, stay calm, and know that rips, tears, and imperfections are ALSO beautiful! Let’s get baking!!

Serves: 16-24 people
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour
Total Time: ~2 hours

Pie Crust Ingredients (1 full recipe for top crust, 1 full recipe for bottom crust)
adapted from Ina Garten’s Perfect Pie Crust 

12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced into cubes
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbs white sugar
1/3 cup cold shortening
½ cup ice water

Pie Crust Steps

1. In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, salt, and sugar, then pulse 3-4 times to mix. Add in the cubed butter and shortening and pulse an additional 10 times or so, or until the butter is the size of peas and is evenly incorporated.

2. With the food processor on low, slowly add  in the ½ cup ice water and process until the dough comes together in a ball. Turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and flatten into a disk. Wrap tightly and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Repeat for the top crust.

 

Blueberry Filling Ingredients

5 pints blueberries
1¼ cups white sugar
½ cup flour
Kosher salt
Zest of one lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon


Blueberry Filling Steps

1. Easy-peasy, toss all the above ingredients together in a large bowl, set aside while you roll out the pie crusts.

 

Slab Pie Assembly Extra Ingredients

1 egg
1 tbs water
Demerara Sugar


Slab Pie Assembly Steps

1. Preheat your oven to 400ºF. On a large silpat mat or floured surface, roll out your first batch of pie crust into a large rectangle- make sure you have an extra inch on all sides compared to the size of your sheet pan, so that it can cover the sides. For reference, mine was roughly 10″ by 16″.

2. To transfer the bottom crust to the baking sheet, carefully fold the crust in half vertically, then again horizontally, and place in one corner of the tray. Unfold veeeeeeery carefully, and gently pull into place as needed so that the bottom and sides are covered. Pour in the filling.

3. Repeat the rolling and folding process for the top crust and place into position. Fold the bottom crust over the top crust and crimp all the edges using a fork or your hands. Cut several slits in the top of the pie to release the steam, and brush the entire top with egg wash (1 egg + 1 tbs water). Sprinkle generously with demerara sugar.

4. Bake at 400ºF for the first 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350ºF and bake for an additional 40 minutes, checking every 15-20 minutes or so to make sure the edges aren’t browning too much. If you find that the crust is getting too dark for comfort, cover the dark areas with tinfoil to prevent burning.

5. Cool completely to allow the filling to set, but it can be warmed again for serving! Serve with a scoop of ice cream and enjoy!

xoxoxoxoD

sweets

New York Cheesecake with Roasted Blueberry Sauce

Hello! I’m here to talk about cheesecake. Before this weekend, I’ll be honest, I had never made a cheesecake in my life. For some reason, I had it in my head that it would be so difficult and it kept me away for years. But then, after quite some begging from my sweet sister Clare (who’s favorite dessert is a good cheesecake), I obliged for her birthday weekend. I followed a recipe from my newly purchased “Vanilla Bean Baking Book” by Sarah Kieffer, and WOW how cute. There’s an entire page in the back for music to listen to while baking!! Anyway, I used her “Classic Cheesecake” recipe as my guide and got going. To my surprise, it was SO simple and SO rewarding. It bakes up smooth and creamy, with a crisp and buttery graham cracker crust, and it’s perfectly offset by the tart, citrusy blueberry sauce that I added. All in all, a perfect combination for a summery dessert, and I am quite pleased with myself.

I think we’re just about in summer now, and the idea of going to the farm and getting fresh corn and watermelon and greens is almost too much to bear. I feel some corn chowder in my future and I’ve never been more excited. But I’ve also hit a kind of inspirational roadblock, so if there’s anything that any of you feel like seeing, by all means, let me know!

But for now, I’ll keep it short and sweet, and let’s get to the baking!

Makes: 1 9″ cheesecake, serves 10-12
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour- 1 hour 15 minutes
Inactive Time: 5 hours (for chilling)
Total Time: 6.5 hours

Cheesecake Ingredients:
adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book

For the crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (or 14 whole graham crackers, pulsed in the food processor)
¼ cup granulated sugar
5 tbs unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake:
2 lbs cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 cups sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
2 tbs unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 egg yolk, at room temperature


Cheesecake Steps:

1. Preheat your oven to 325ºF. If you’re using whole graham crackers, pulse the pieces in the food processor until they resemble fine crumbs. Add to a medium mixing bowl. If starting with pre-made crumbs, start now!

2. Whisk together the crumbs and the granulated sugar until combined. Drizzle in the melted butter and mix until all the crumbs are coated and pack together if you squeezed them. Pour into a 9″ springform pan and pack down the crust firmly using the bottom of a measuring cup or other flat utensil. I spread most of the crust on the bottom and some up the side of the pan, but if you like a thicker crust, feel free to put less on the sides. Bake the crust for 10 minutes until slightly crisped and golden.

3. Once the crust has cooled, wrap the sides of the pan with aluminum foil (shiny side facing out) to keep the sides of the cake from browning during baking.

4. Meanwhile, whip the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl 2 or 3 times during the process to make sure that everything is completely smooth.

5. Add the sugar and beat on medium speed, scraping the bowl down 2-3 times as well. Then, add in the sour cream, vanilla, and salt, and beat until incorporated. Drizzle in the melted butter on low speed.

6. With the mixer running on medium, add the eggs and the egg yolk one at a time, mixing until combined after each addition. At this point, scrape down the bowl again to make sure that the bottom and sides are all evenly mixed.

7. Pour the filling over your cooled crust and smooth out the top if necessary. Tap the pan on the counter until all the air bubbles rise to the surface- it will take a few tries, there are a lot of bubbles!

8. To bake, place the tin foil wrapped pan in a large roasting tray. Create a water bath by pouring boiling water into the roasting tray so that it reaches about halfway up the springform pan. This will keep the cake moist and prevent any cracks during baking. *Tip- it’s easiest to place the roasting tray on the rack of the oven with the springform pan already in it, and pour the water in then, so that you’re not juggling a tray of boiling water and cheesecake batter into a hot oven!

9. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour without opening the door. After 1 hour is up, check the cake. If the outer 3 inches or so are set and the middle is still slightly jiggly, then you’re finished. If this is not the case, bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. At this point, turn the oven off and open the door just slightly, and allow the cake to cool here for 30 minutes.

10. Remove from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack. Run a thin knife around the outside of the cake to loosen it from the pan before cooling, then allow to cool completely. Once the cake is cooled, cover the top with a piece of parchment paper and chill in the fridge for 5-6 hours or overnight.

11. To remove, run your knife around the edges once more, then carefully remove the outside ring of the springform pan. Slice the cakes into desired sizes and top with a generous portion of the roasted blueberries (recipe immediately below). Yay!


Roasted Blueberry Sauce Ingredients:

2 cups blueberries
3 tbs granulated sugar
Zest of ½ lemon


Roasted Blueberry Sauce Steps:

1. Preheat your oven to 425ºF. Place the blueberries in a shallow roasting dish and sprinkle the sugar and lemon zest over the top. Mix to combine.

2. Roast the blueberries for 15 minutes until they are just beginning to burst. Stir the berries around 2-3 times during the roasting to make sure everything is cooking evenly.

3. Allow to cool slightly before serving. This would also be delicious on top of ice cream, pound cake, cocktails, you name it!

xoxoxoxoxoD

 

 

sweets

Fresh Fruit Tart

So ever since we’ve had a minimum of one nice day a week, I have convinced myself that the warm weather is here to stay, and with that comes an overpowering desire to bake with summer fruits, you know? I’ve been waiting for the rhubarb to arrive at the farm since practically last spring, but thanks to the stubborn cold weather, it won’t be for sale for around another month. A MONTH. I am devastated, as you can imagine, so to try and fill the void left in its wake, I made this tried-and-true fruit tart last weekend and I am happy to say that there was not a crumb left after dessert.

It begins with a buttery tart shell with just a hint of sweetness, topped with vanilla pastry cream that is literally so good that I ate the leftovers out of the bowl with a spoon, and an artfully disheveled pile of fresh fruit on top. The best part about this is that you can really use whatever fruits you feel like based on what’s in season- blueberries and blackberries alone would make a gorgeous and dramatic looking tart, pitted cherries or mango or some stewed rhubarb- it’s totally up to you what fruits should be featured. For this one, I settled on what I could find at the store because it’s technically not berry season, so I was going to take what I could get, but I would love to hear your flavor ideas as well!

I’m posting this on a Saturday because this week just got away from me, but hopefully this will give you an excuse to try your hand at this tart right away. As for me, I will be looking for any excuse to use a blowtorch so I think I’m seeing a meringue pie in my future. Happy Saturday!

Tart Shell Ingredients
from 
The Fearless Baker, by Erin McDowell

2 cups All Purpose Flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
10 tablespoons salted butter, very cold and cut into cubes
¼ cup ice water

Pastry Cream Ingredients
from 
The Fearless Baker, by Erin McDowell

3 cups whole milk
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup granulated sugar (divided into ¼ cup for milk mixture and ½ cup for egg yolk mixture)
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract), or ½ vanilla bean (seeds and pod)
5 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/3 cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

Plus assorted fruit and berries, to top

Steps

1. Using a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is coarse and the butter is in small, pea-sized pieces. If you don’t have a food processor, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt, and then cut in the butter with a pastry blender or mix with your hands until the butter is incorporated in the same way.

2. Move the mixer from the food processor to a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the ice water into the middle and knead with your hands until the dough comes together and looks smooth. At this point, it should not be overly sticky or too wet. Wrap this dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

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All ready to roll!

While the dough is chilling, start your pastry cream here.

3. Combine milk, salt, and ¼ cup of the sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the vanilla (extract or paste), or add the seeds and the pod of the vanilla bean to the mixture. Heat to a simmer over medium heat- do not let it boil!

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Confession: I forgot to capture the pastry cream I was making this time, but this is what the beginnings will look like!

4. Meanwhile, in a glass bowl, whisk together the remaining ½ cup of sugar and the cornstarch so that they are evenly mixed without lumps. Whisk the egg yolks into this bowl until all is incorporated.

5. When the milk is simmering, remove the vanilla bean there is one and turn the heat to medium-low. Slowly, and whisking constantly to prevent scrambled eggs, add a little of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture to temper. Then, pour the bowl of egg mixture back into the pot with the rest of the milk and return the pot to the stove, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula until the mixture is thick and just about to bubble, about 5 minutes.

6. Remove from the heat, and stir in the butter until incorporated. Chill in the fridge until cold and set, pressing plastic wrap directly to the surface to prevent a skin forming.

Back to the tart dough!

7. Let your dough rest at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes so that it rolls out easily. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. On a lightly floured surface, roll your dough into one large circle, about 2 inches wider than your desired pan on all sides. Make sure to check periodically to make sure that the dough isn’t sticking to your work surface, and re-flour as necessary.

8. Very carefully roll the finished dough over the rolling pin, and then drape into your tart pan, pressing it into place and allowing the extra dough to hang over the side. If you’re using a metal fluted pan (like I am), you can roll your rolling pin over the top of the pan, and the excess dough will be cut off, leaving you with a perfectly neat tart.

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Look at those perfect edges!

9. To blind bake this crust (bake without a filling in it), cut a square of parchment paper slightly larger than the pan size and place it in the pan on top of the crust. Fill this with dried beans, rice, or pie weights and bake like this for 12 to 15 minutes, until the crust starts to turn golden.

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Ready for blind baking!

10. Remove the parchment paper and weights from the shell and return the tart to the oven, baking for another 10 minutes until it’s evenly golden brown. Remove from the oven and immediately brush with 1 egg white- the heat of the shell will cook the egg white and seal the tart to prevent a dreaded soggy crust. Let it cool completely before removing from the pan.

11. When the shell has completely cooled, fill with the chilled pastry cream, and top with your desired choice of berries and other fruits. Now, eat the whole thing in one sitting and never look back.

xoxoxoxoxoxD