sweets

Creme Brûlée with Rhubarb Coulis

Hello! Let me start of this post by wishing all the moms a very happy belated Mother’s Day, I hope your days were full of flowers and good food! It was a gloomy day here, I’m talking chilly and on/off rainy all afternoon, so it was a perfect day to stay in and take on some big cooking endeavors. My mom does so much for me and my family that the least I could do was make a fancy dinner, right? That’s how I best express my love, in slow-cooked french stew and desserts. Our menu was Beef Bourguignon, a recipe that can be found here, and these gorgeous creme brûlées. For those of you know have been keeping tabs (I know everyone is SO interested), I finally got some butane for my kitchen torch and this was the first recipe on my list.


Now I have ALSO been awaiting the arrival of rhubarb at the local farm for ages, and yesterday morning I showed up prepared to fight off anyone who tried to take more than me. As luck would have it, there was a table FULL of it and I confidently grabbed two large bunches, some for this recipe, and some for a pie later this week- I am on rhubarb lockdown here you guys!! So anyway, when brainstorming how to somehow use rhubarb and also make creme brûlée, I came across a recipe that used raspberry coulis on the bottom and custard on top, and I knew immediately that this was it. Substitute the raspberry for rhubarb, and the tartness is a perfect compliment to the richly sweet custard.

In all seriousness, I was crazy proud of how these came out, and they’re surprisingly easy to do. It’s mostly assembling the parts, and the hardest part will be using the kitchen torch. I found that some came out better than others, but it’s a learning process and you’ll soon be able to tell what amounts of sugar feel right and the height of the flames, etc. But I believe in you and this is going to go great! Let’s get to it!

*Recipe adapted from this recipe from Food Network*

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes- 1 hour
Total Time: ~1 hour 30 minutes

Rhubarb Coulis Ingredients

Approximately 4 cups (about 6 stalks) rhubarb, chopped
½ cup water
2/3 cup sugar

 

Rhubarb Coulis Steps

1. In a heavy-bottom saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Add in the rhubarb and turn the heat down to medium-high.

2. Cook until the rhubarb softens and the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.

3. Transfer to a glass bowl and allow to cool completely. While this is cooling, let’s make the custard!

 
Vanilla Bean Custard Ingredients

4 cups heavy cream
2 cups half-and-half
½ tsp kosher salt
1 tbs vanilla bean paste (or 2 vanilla beans, scraped + the pods, or 1 tbs vanilla extract)
16 egg yolks (I know, I’m sorry- make sure to save the egg whites for THESE!)
1 cup granulated sugar

Vanilla Bean Custard Steps

1. In a large saucepan, add the cream, half and half, salt, and vanilla (plus the pods if you’re using whole vanilla beans). Bring this mixture to a boil over medium heat, then remove and cover while you prepare the eggs.

2. In a large glass bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar until the mixture is pale yellow in color.

3. Slowly drizzle the hot cream into the egg mixture, whisking the whole time to make sure the eggs don’t cook! Strain the mixture through a sieve into another glass bowl.

 

Creme Brûlée Assembly

1.  Begin by preheating your oven to 300ºF, and make sure you position the rack in the center position. Place your ramekins in a large tray or roasting pan with sides.

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2. Start by filling each ramekin with 2 tablespoons of the rhubarb coulis (or enough to evenly cover the bottom). Carefully ladle the custard on top, filling almost to the top.

3. Next, create a bain-marie by filling the roasting pan around the ramekins with boiling water, but be careful not to get the custards wet! The water should reach about two-thirds of the way up on each.

4. Bake the custards for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until the custard is set but still slightly jiggly. When finished, remove from the roasting pan and allow to cool completely, at least 3 hours.

5. When the time comes to brûlée them, evenly coat the top of each custard with a scant tablespoon of white sugar- you don’t want too much sugar on top because it will burn more easily, but you do want enough to make that classic crunchy top.

6. Using a kitchen torch, brûlée the sugared top of each custard until it turns an even golden brown. Allow to cool for a minute so that the sugar can harden completely before eating. When the time comes, prepare your spoons and crack those perfect shells.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxD

 

sweets

Lemon Meringue Pie (with a broiled top because my dumb torch didn’t have butane)

Welcome friends! Once again I find myself writing posts a whole week late because my concept of time management is just ridiculous. The weekends come and go in such a flash that I never seem to get anything done. (Also, time really flies when you accidentally sleep until 11:30 on Saturdays.)

ANYWAYS, today’s recipe is the classic Lemon Meringue Pie, something that I was hesitant to make after a disastrous attempt several years ago made me too afraid to try again. But after buying a fancy new blowtorch I was excited to see how it carefully toasted the peaks to perfection. Well. Of course things didn’t go to plan. BECAUSE after finishing the whole pie and taking out my torch to begin, I discovered to my dismay that it didn’t come with the butane I needed to get going. As you can see based on the title of this recipe, I’m DEFINITELY not still bitter about it and have clearly moved on. In hindsight, it probably should’ve been obvious that it wasn’t in there, and this could all have been prevented by be opening the packaging more than 30 seconds before I was planning to use it, but I’m not perfect so I made do!

Look at those clean cut lines!!!

In the end, I used the tried and true oven broiler to get the meringue top brown and toasty and, while this isn’t my preferred method (it starts to make the lemon filling too liquid if it heats up too much), it’s how I always remember my grandma making it, so that’s got to count for something! But I digress, let’s get baking!

(recipe adapted from The Fearless Baker + my grandma’s recipe cards!)


Pie Crust Ingredients

1¼ cups All-Purpose Flour
¼ tsp kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, very cold and cubed
3+ tablespoons ice water
1 egg white, beaten

Pie Ingredient Steps

1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Mix together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with your hands or a pastry blender until it’s evenly distributed and roughly the size of peas.

2. In the center of the flour mixture, add the 3 tablespoons of ice water to start and begin kneading with your hands until it comes together as a dough, sparsely adding water if necessary. You know it’s done when it can be gathered into a ball but still feels slightly dry- never wet or sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

3. When ready to blind bake, roll out the crust on a well floured surface until it’s a few inches wider than your desired pie plate on all sides, making sure to check that it isn’t sticking anywhere. Carefully transfer to your pie plate; I like to fold mine in half and then in half again, then unfold in the plate, but some people like to roll the dough around the rolling pin and transfer that way.

Okay but this is the neatest pie crust I have EVER made

4. Trim and crimp the edges as desired (I like a fluted crust myself), and prick holes in the bottom of the crust with a fork. Place a square of parchment paper larger than your crust in the middle and fill with pie weights, dried beans, or rice and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the crust is just golden.

It’s high time I buy myself some pie weights I think, I waste a LOT of rice doing this

5. Remove the parchment paper and weights and brush the whole crust with one beaten egg white, then return to the oven. Bake for another 12-15 minutes- watch your edges and cover if they begin to brown too fast! Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before filling.

Lemon Curd Filling Ingredients

12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) salted butter
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1¼ cups lemon juice (fresh squeezed, about 5 to 6 lemons)
10 egg yolks (save 6 of the whites for the meringue!!)

Lemon Curd Filling Steps

1. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and sugar, eliminating all lumps. Add this mixture to the melted butter, along with the lemon juice and the egg yolks, mixing until everything is combined.

2. Turn the heat to medium-low and mix constantly, this time with a silicone spatula so that nothing on the bottom of the pan starts to burn. The mixture will begin to thicken in 5-10 minutes, and is finished when it looks like it’s just about to start bubbling.

3. Strain this mixture through a sieve to get rid of any accidental cooked egg, and cool in the fridge with plastic wrap pressed directly to the surface to prevent a skin forming. While this chills, make the meringue.

That YELLOW! So fresh! So summery!

 


Meringue Ingredients

6 egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup white sugar

Meringue + Pie Assembly Steps

1. Before you start, make sure the bowl of your mixer and it’s whisk attachment are grease-free. Whip the whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks begin to form.

2. Gradually add in the sugar, allowing it to dissolve and be incorporated, then beat the mixture on high until medium-stiff peaks form.

3. Fill your cooled pie crust with the chilled lemon curd spread evenly. Generously dollop the meringue on top and spread to the edges. I like mine piled high up and swirled so that when it toasts, the peaks and swirls are highlighted golden brown.

Obviously with a torch you’ll get a more controlled, even color, but all things considered I’d say this looks pretty delicious!

4. Once you’re satisfied with the look, you can use a kitchen torch to toast the meringue, or you can place the pie on a high rack in your oven and broil on low for 2-3 minutes- do NOT take your eyes off it, it can go from barely toasted to burnt in two seconds in the oven!

Now go bask in the glow of the compliments from your friends and family because this pie deserves them! xoxoxoxox

ALSO while we’re here, it is my dearest mom’s birthday today, so while we won’t be having this pie to celebrate, this post is dedicated to you. YAY!

Some pretty epic meringue height here!
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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

 

sweets

Cinnamon Birthday Cake (with Marzipan Succulents!)

Hello! It’s been a bit since I last posted, I’ve been all over the place but I’m back now, never fear. Today’s recipe is brought to you once again by my love of cinnamon, in case you haven’t sensed the theme here. I turned 23 on Monday, and because I know who I am, I’ve gotten into the habit of making my own birthday cake. It works because I can experiment and pick my favorite flavors, but no one complains because it’s a cake for me anyway! (As if anyone could complain about eating cake though.)

So to start, I use a classic birthday cake recipe from a Williams-Sonoma Cake cookbook that I’ve had for years now, and it’s simplicity is its greatest asset. But because I can never leave anything alone, I added a few tweaks here and there in the form of some cinnamon, almond extract, and a vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract, and boy it went well. As my mo remarked, the cake smelled like snickerdoodles as it was baking, and was moist and amazing when iced and sliced. To complete the cinnamon masterpiece I covered this cake in a cinnamon-y buttercream and free-handed a few marzipan succulents for decoration. I, of course, know that they could be cleaner if I used cookie cutters or stencils, but I simply didn’t have any so I made do!

This whole recipe is great because without my flavor additions, they serve as basic templates for cake and buttercream that can be changed as you see fit. I’m including stars next to the ingredients that I added so that the following recipe can be two in one! Let’s get baking!!

Makes: 1 2-layer 9″ round cake or 1 9×13″ sheet cake
Prep Time: 1 hour+ (depending on how into decorating you get!)
Bake Time: 20-25 minutes
Total Time: 1.5-2 hours

Cinnamon Cake Ingredients
adapted from Williams-Sonoma’s Cake

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon*
½ cup whole milk
½ vanilla bean (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
½ tsp almond extract*
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature and lightly beaten

Cake Steps

1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour your desired cake pans, or grease and line your pans with parchment paper (which is my preferred method, to keep the consistency correct and to prevent sticking mishaps).

2. In a large bowl, sift together your flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

3. If you’re using a vanilla bean, add the milk, almond extract, and scraped vanilla bean seeds + pod to a saucepan and heat over low heat (do not boil the milk!), until the vanilla has infused with the milk. Remove and discard the pod. If you’re using vanilla extract instead, add both extracts to your milk at room temperature.

4. In the bowl of your stand mixer (or large bowl + hand mixer), cream your butter on medium speed for 1 minute. Add in the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture is pale yellow and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

5. Drizzle your eggs into the bowl of the mixer on low speed, a little at a time, allowing each addition to incorporate before adding more.

6. Next you’re going to be adding your flour mixture and your milk mixtures alternatively, starting and ending with the flour. Add your flour in 3 batches, your milk in 2. Mix until just combined.

7. Pour the batter into your pans and spread evenly. Before baking, tap your pans on the counter to release any trapped air bubbles. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

8. Allow the cakes to cool almost entirely in their pans, trying to move cakes around when they’re still warm makes them way more likely to crack or break! While they’re cooling, you can make your frosting.

Cinnamon Buttercream
adapted from Domino Confectioners Sugar
*you may have to do this in 2 batches if you have a smaller mixer like me! If so, just divide these amounts in half*

7 cups (2 boxes) confectioners sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, at room temperature
¼-1/3 cup whole milk
½ vanilla bean, scraped, or 2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract*
½ tsp ground cinnamon*

Buttercream Steps

1. Cream together your butter and sugar. Slowly add in the milk, little by little until your frosting has reached the desired spreadable consistency.

2. Add the extracts (or extract and vanilla bean seeds), and cinnamon, and mix to combine.

3. Once your cakes have cooled, generously frost the top of your first cake and stack the second cake on top, so that both domed tops are in the center and the top and bottom of your cake is flat.

4. “Crumb coat” the cake with a thin layer all over and chill for 15 minutes. Finish with a second, thicker coating of frosting. Dip your spatula in warm water and run it along the sides and the top to smooth.


Decorations

Almond paste (marzipan)
Food Coloring
Cocoa powder
Chocolate Shavings

or any sprinkles/ extra frosting you want!

Steps

1. To color your marzipan, break off a large chunk and make a well in the center, adding in a few drops of the color you want. Knead it around in your hands until the color is evenly distributed. Warning, you WILL dye your hands this way, I looked like Elphaba from Wicked for quite a while.

2. To make a succulent, I cut out star shapes in gradually smaller sizes, starting with the largest and then 3-4 more, getting smaller each time. I layered them on top of each other one at a time and pressed the center in until the pieces were stuck together.

3. Brush the edges with a little cocoa powder and arrange them on the top of the cake. Cover the area with chocolate shavings if you feel like it, I thought the cake needed to look a little more like a garden you know?

Then, take at least 600 pictures to brag to your friends about your masterpiece, and enjoy!!!

xoxoxoxoxoD

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Almond Paste-Cinnamon Rolls with Vanilla Custard (Butterkaka!)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Bread mystifies me. Something always goes wrong, whether it’s the rising or the rolling or the texture, it has taken me years to perfect. Today however, my friends, I have done it. It all started when I came across this recipe from the blog Call Me Cupcake, where cinnamon rolls got the ultimate upgrade with almond paste and ALSO vanilla pastry cream. As if cinnamon rolls weren’t incredible enough, they have now become the most decadent treat that goes beyond your morning pastry and coffee.

This is the perfect baking project for a Saturday morning, because keep in mind that it takes a super long time from start to finish. But I always love taking on big projects on an otherwise slow day; I get to make a cup of tea, set up some Netflix, and get into the baking zone! I realize that at this point it’s Tuesday which may feel like a bit of a bummer, but now you have something to look forward to for the weekend to come! This recipe works in steps, with rising time in between them, so it gives you some free time for making the filling and the pastry cream, plus some time to put your feet up and enjoy a cup of coffee and an episode of The Office. I don’t know about you but this sounds like my dream Saturday morning.

So, wherever you are on this Tuesday, hang in there a little longer and dream of these fancy rolls to come. Love, D.

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Makes: 10-12 rolls
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Time: 2.5 hrs
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: ~3.5 hours

Dough Ingredients

1 package (¼ oz.) dry yeast
1 cup whole milk
5 tbs salted butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Scant ½ tsp ground cardamom
2¾ to 3 cups all purpose flour

Dough Steps

1. Add the yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer (or large glass bowl). Heat the milk in a small saucepan to approximately 98ºF (be careful not to overheat because it will kill the yeast!), and add to the stand mixer and mix to combine.

2. Add butter, sugar, cardamom, and the first 2¾ cups of flour, and mix with the dough hook attachment or with your hands. At this point you can add the rest of the flour if your dough is too sticky, I myself used the full three cups but it may vary! Knead this dough with your mixer for about 15 minutes (20 by hand), until it has become soft and elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a dish towel. Let rise in a warm place, like under kitchen lights or in an off oven, for between 60 and 90 minutes, until the dough has doubled in size. Meanwhile, you can make the custard and almond fillings.

Custard Ingredients

1/3 cup + 1½ tbs heavy cream
3 tbs milk
½ vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
1 large egg yolk
1½ tbs granulated sugar
1 tbs cornstarch

Custard Steps

1. Add the milk and the cream to a heavy-bottomed saucepan on medium heat. Scrape the seeds out of the half of the vanilla bean and add the seeds plus the scraped bean into the milk mixture. Whisk constantly until the mixture is steaming and hot, but not boiling.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, sugar, and cornstarch until the mixture is light yellow. Add a little of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture first, whisking constantly to temper without cooking the eggs. You can then add the rest of the milk mixture, whisking until fully combined. Remove and discard the vanilla bean at this point.

3. Return this mixture to the saucepan and turn the stove on to low heat. Stir this mixture constantly until it becomes thick, but do not let it boil!

4. Pour this mixture into a small bowl and press plastic wrap to the surface as it cools, to prevent a skin forming. Set aside. I know this looks like a small amount of custard, but I promise it will be enough, only a little goes into each bun anyway!

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Almond- Cinnamon Filling

1/3 cup almond paste
4 tbs softened butter
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tbs water (if needed)
1 tbs brown sugar
Pinch of kosher salt

Filling Steps

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the almond paste, softened butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, and salt. Mix to combine. If the mixture looks dry or difficult to spread, add water here until it can be spread over rolled out dough. Set aside.

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Additional Assembly Ingredients

1 egg, beaten
Demerara or Pearl sugar, for sprinkling

Assembly Steps

1. Roll your dough out into a 10 in. x 20 in. rectangle. Spread an even, thin layer of your almond filling over the whole thing. Roll the dough tightly from one long side to the other, so that you end up with a roughly 20 inch long roll.

2. Cut this roll into 10-12 slices, and place in your desired baking dish, lined with parchment paper or generously greased with butter. Today, I used a large cast iron skillet lined with parchment paper. At this point, cover the baking dish with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise for another 45 minutes or so, until the buns have grown in size.

3. Preheat the oven to 390ºF (I realize this is a random temperature, but the recipe was adapted from celsius so this was the best match!).

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4. Poke a hole in the center of each bun using your finger or the end of a wooden spoon, and pipe a blob of custard into each one.

5. Brush the top of each roll with the beaten egg, being careful to avoid the custard, and sprinkle each with some sugar.

6. Bake the rolls on the bottom rack of the oven for 30 minutes. Be sure to check often because they brown quickly, and if they look like they’re browning too much before the cooking is done, cover the tops with aluminum foil to keep from burning.

7. Remove from the oven and let cool fully before reheating to eat. Best with a fresh cup of coffee!

xoxoxoxoxD

 

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Almond Sheet Cake with Your New Favorite Frosting

If you remember from my last post, my dearest friends came to visit from Ireland this week, after 2 and a half years of keeping in contact and it was so lovely. In case you were wondering, I made THE Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese with Pappardelle (recipe here), when they came over and it was a big hit- I find that no one is ever disappointed to have pasta for dinner, you know? The main purpose of their trip, however, was to celebrate Marese’s 60th birthday, so naturally I HAD to make a birthday cake!

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This cake comes from my favorite place in the world, Food52.com, from the ever talented Posie Harwood, whose recipes are legend on the website. I try to mess around with every recipe that doesn’t come from me and add a spin to it, but this cake is so beautiful that I practically followed the recipe as is word-for-word (you can find the original recipe here). This cake has an usual twist in the frosting, but since I tried it I may never look back. It begins with the boiling of milk, salt, and flour together until thick. Yup, you read that right, FLOUR in your frosting. It might sound odd, but the cooking takes away the raw flour taste, and when it’s added to the whipped butter and sugar, it produces a light fluffy frosting with just a hint of almond that might not even make it onto the cake if you “taste test” too many times. I only iced the top of this cake so that it could keep its homemade look, but I can also envision covering this cake in decorations and piping, it’s so versatile!

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The aftermath after round 1 of cake eating!

Enjoy a slice of this cake with a cup of tea or coffee, or maybe just eat all the frosting out of the bowl, I’m not judging! Let’s bake!!

Makes: 1 9×13″ sheet cake
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 25-30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes (depending on how much you decorate)

Cake Ingredients

2¼ cups All Purpose Flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 eggs
½ tsp almond extract
½ vanilla extract
¾ cup milk
1/3 almond extract

Steps

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line your baking dish with parchment paper (or grease thoroughly and flour).

2. Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside for now.

3. In the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large bowl with a hand mixer), cream together your butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy- and actually wait until it looks pale and whipped, it’s not enough to just wait until they’re incorporated. It should be about 5 minutes.

4. Add in your eggs, one at a time, beating until each egg incorporated before proceeding. Add the almond extract and mix to combine.

5. Measure your milk and add vanilla to it. Next, you will be adding your flour mixture and your milk mixture to the butter mixture, alternating between the two and beginning with the flour. In other words, add your flour mixture in 3 parts, and your milk in 2 parts. Take it slow, you don’t want to be wearing more flour than is in the bowl, and make sure each addition is well mixed before continuing.

6. Once your flour and milk has been added, mix in the almond flour, which adds a nice texture to the cake I thought, plus kept it super moist.

7. Pour your batter into your prepared pan, and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is beautifully golden and a cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool fully in the pan before frosting.

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Ready for frosting!

Frosting Ingredients

1 cup milk
3 tbs all purpose flour
½ tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar
½ tsp almond extract
½ tsp vanilla extract

Steps

1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the flour, milk, and salt until smooth. Bring the mixture up to medium heat, whisking constantly until it gets thick and bubbles as if it’s just about to boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for around 10 minutes so that it won’t melt the butter in the frosting.

2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together butter, sugar, almond and vanilla extracts until very light and fluffy, about 6-7 minutes. Scoop the milk mixture into the butter mixture, 1 spoonful at a time, until the frosting is whipped and pillowy. Spread generously on your cake and feel free to eat the leftovers with a spoon.

Enjoy!! xoxoxox

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sweets

Triple Berry (Accidental Cherry) Pie

Does anyone else remember that CW show Pushing Daisies? No? Just me? For those of you that don’t think about it every day as I do, it was the BEST show about a pie maker who could also wake dead people and help solve mysteries, plus it had Lee Pace and Kristen Chenoweth need I say more?? It sounds insane to type but I promise it’s so good, and so beautifully filmed and ALSO free to everyone on the CW website so 10/10 would recommend watching. Tragically, it was cancelled after two seasons, but that won’t stop me from repeatedly watching those two seasons and dreaming of passionfruit upside down pie or pear pie with gruyere baked into the crust- a strange combo but I am INTERESTED.

This is also my segue into today’s recipe for this beautiful pie- I got my baking start in pie actually, my first real responsibility for family holidays was to bake the apple pies, and as the years went by, I got the hang of it more and more and they’ve become my favorite thing to make. Today’s pie was supposed to be triple berry (blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry), but here’s the thing. I have been searching like a crazy person for sour cherries for as long as I can remember, and have never been successful. Given that I live in New York, it’s not surprising, but it’s a real bummer every year when I see cherry pie recipes and my only option is that gloopy cherry pie filling from a can. Granted, sometimes that hits the spot, but other times when I’m not trying to put chemicals in by body I would love to make one from scratch. But, I digress. Last week I was at the ~fancy~ supermarket to buy polenta for my last post (read here), and I stumbled across JARS of pitted sour cherries in juice and I almost cried. It’s not as good as the fresh ones, but you can believe that I bought some and ate most of the cherries straight from said jar with a spoon. In an effort to control myself and to stop doing that, I made my berry filling and added in the rest of the pitted cherries to the mix, and I was definitely not mad about it (if you don’t have access to sour cherries you can just leave them out, or replace them with sweet cherries since they’re more common).

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I use a pie crust recipe from the queen herself, Ina Garten a.k.a. the Barefoot Contessa, which uses a very important mix of butter AND shortening. The mix is also made in a food processor, which cuts down on how much your hands come in contact with it, which in turn keeps the butter and shortening cold before it bakes. This means that when it hits the heat of the oven, it creates steam that gives you an extra crispy (and never soggy) crust. The result is golden and buttery (from the butter, obv), but also perfectly crisp and flaky (thanks to the shortening), and I will never use another pie crust recipe. The fruit filling thickens while baking and becomes almost jammy in texture and I can’t stop thinking about it honestly. I know it’s probably irrational to bake a berry pie in the winter, but I’m dreaming of warmer weather and this is my way of coping OKAY.

Let’s bake!!

Makes: 1 double crust pie
Prep Time: about 1 hour
Bake Time: 60-70 minutes
Total: 2.5 hours

Crust Ingredients

12 tbs (1.5 sticks) very cold unsalted butter
1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening (like Crisco)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbs sugar
½ cup ice water

Steps

1. Before beginning, dice your butter and shortening on a cutting board, and put back in the fridge until its needed, to make sure that it stays cold.

2. In the bowl of the food processor, add the flour, salt, and sugar, and pulse several times to combine. If you don’t have a food processor available to you, you can mix in a regular bowl and use a pastry blender or your hands, but the result may not be as flaky- it’ll still taste great though!!

3. Add in the butter and shortening and pulse the processor 10-12 times until the mixture is well combined.

4. Next, turn the processor on high and stream in the ice water gradually, continuing to mix until a single ball of dough is formed. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and flatten into a disk shape. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes to an hour.

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Filling Ingredients

6-7 cups mixed berries (and cherries!!) of your choice, I used raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries
2 tsp lemon juice, for brightness
½ cup granulated sugar (test your berries for sweetness levels and adjust accordingly, some batches are sweeter than others!)
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp cinnamon (it works really well with blueberries!)
1 egg, beaten with 1 tbs water (for egg wash)
demerara sugar (for sprinkling)

Steps

1. Preheat your oven to 425ºF. Before making your filling, remove pie crust from the fridge and cut in half. Roll half the dough into a circle wide enough to fit your pie tin with excess over the sides for folding, making sure that it’s an even thickness. If you’re worried about the bottom being too soggy, sprinkle some crust dust* before adding in the filling.

2. Toss your berries with the lemon juice, sugar, flour, vanilla, and cinnamon until well-incorporated. Add on top of the bottom crust quickly so that it doesn’t sit and get too wet.

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3. Roll out your top crust next, and here you can use your creative license a little. I went with a lattice top since I haven’t done one of those in a while, but you could also go with a regular full top crust, or play around with cookie cutters and shapes, it’s up to you! For my lattice, I rolled my crust into a rectangle about ¼ inch thick, and cut wide strips using a ruffled pastry wheel cutter.

4. To make a lattice, start by laying out all your vertical strips- for some reason I had 5 vertical strips and 3 horizontal, don’t ask me why I didn’t just do 4 and 4 because I’m still mad about it. Anywho, starting from the top, lay your horizontal strips in the following way: over the first vertical strip, under the second vertical strip, back over the third, and continue until it’s fully across. For the second strip, start with the reverse so that it goes under the first vertical strip, then over the second, and so on, until it’s fully across. Continue with the rest of your strips, making sure that each consecutive horizontal strip starts the opposite way the one before it did. I find myself out loud saying “Over, under” and “under, over” when I do this just to help myself keep track. Trim the edges and fold the excess over, crimping with your fingers or a fork to seal the filling inside.

5. Brush your crust with the egg wash and sprinkle generously with the demerara sugar. Place your pie on a cookie sheet (to catch any bubbling filling), and bake at 425º for the first 20 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure the top isn’t browning too fast. After 20 minutes, turn your oven down to 350ºF and bake for another 40-50 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the top is golden brown. I like to turn it down to 350º because it stops the crust from burning while allowing the filling to fully cook, but if you’re still worried about browning, check every now and then, and be prepared to cover the edges of your pie with tin foil or silicone pie crust protectors.

6. Once you’ve achieved peak golden crust, remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. I like to let it cool fully before reheating to eat, just to give the filling a chance to thicken and keep it together, but if you simply can’t wait, I get that too. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or some homemade whipped cream and watch some Pushing Daisies!!!

*crust dust: equal parts all purpose flour and granulated sugar, mixed together and sprinkled on the bottom pie crust before filling is added, to absorb extra juices.

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Happy Friday and enjoy! xoxoxo