sweets

Bourbon-Vanilla Bean Challah Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise

Wow this is a mouthful. Both phonetically and literally, huh? This week’s recipe is brought to you accidentally by Ina Garten again. I promise this isn’t a Barefoot Contessa-only blog all of a sudden, I’ve just been in such a mood and this bread pudding looked like exactly what I needed and I couldn’t get the thought out of my head once it was in there. Classic D.

This is the simplest of bread pudding recipes, altered slightly from Ina’s brioche to use challah from a local bakery, and because I like to give myself more work whenever possible, a side of Creme Anglaise to go with it. That sounds much fancier than it actually is, to be honest it’s really just vanilla custard, but for some reason it takes this dish to the absolute next level. I really don’t think you can ever have too much vanilla, and it makes me sad when people say it’s a boring flavor. Vanilla is my favorite, there, I said it!! Vanilla ice cream? I’ll take that any day. Vanilla tootsie rolls were clearly the best ones, vanilla cake is classic for a REASON people! Anyway, now that we’re all hungry, let’s get down to business. This recipe is really easy, although waiting an hour and a half to eat it will be the most difficult thing you do all day. While you’re waiting, might I suggest doing a face mask or some other form of self-care, watch an episode of your favorite show, and then make some Creme Anglaise (but not too early, otherwise you’ll want to drink all of it before the pudding is done).

Another fun thing to do while you wait is think of some things to be happy about, and speaking of which, here are your first five. I apologize in advance, I am my fullest form in the Christmas season and it begins NOW:
ONE. The first Christmas song of the season.
TWO. Drinking iced coffee long after it gets too cold to be acceptable.
THREE. Peppermint hot chocolate.
FOURStaying in for a movie night.
FIVE. Half-priced Halloween candy on November 1st

Serves: 8 to 10 people
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Bread Pudding Ingredients
adapted from Cooking Like A Pro

1 Challah loaf plus another half loaf
3 whole eggs
8 egg yolks
4 cups half-and-half
1 cup whole milk
1¼ cups white sugar
2 tsp bourbon
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp vanilla bean paste/ seeds from 1 vanilla bean
Confectioners’ sugar; for serving
Crème Anglaise; for serving (recipe below)

Steps

ONE. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Cut the half loaf of challah into roughly five slices ¾” thick and lay them on a sheet pan. Trim the crust off the full loaf and dice into roughly 1-inch cubes. Spread the cubes on a second sheet pan and toast both pans in the oven for 5 minutes.

TWO. To make the custard, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, milk, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean paste/ seeds in a large bowl. Set aside.

THREE. Line a 10 x 12 inch baking dish with the toasted slices of challah, trimming as necessary so that they fit neatly and cover the bottom of the dish entirely. Evenly distribute the cubed bread pieces on top. Pour the custard over the whole thing and gently press down so that the mixture is absorbed. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.

FOUR. Place the baking dish in a roasting pan large enough that the dish fits flat, and add an inch of boiling water to the roasting pan (avoid getting water in the pudding). Cover the whole thing with tin foil, poking a few holes here and there to allow steam to escape. Bake, covered, for 45 minutes. Remove the tin foil and bake for an additional 45 minutes, until the custard is set.

FIVE. Serve warm, with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar and a generous drizzle of Crème Anglaise.


Crème Anglaise Ingredients

1 cup milk
¾ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp bourbon (optional)
2 tsp vanilla bean paste/ seeds from 1 vanilla bean
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup white sugar

Crème Anglaise Steps

ONE. Add the milk, cream, bourbon, and vanilla bean to a saucepan and heat on medium until small bubbles appear around the edges and steam begins to rise. Separately, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and combined.

TWO. While whisking continuously, slowly drizzle the hot milk mixture into the eggs, a little at a time so as not to scramble the eggs, until all is incorporated. Then, transfer this mixture back to the saucepan.

FOUR. Cook this mixture on low heat. whisking constantly, until it becomes slightly thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Strain the thickened mixture through a sieve and then allow to cool before serving.

YAY!! xoxoxoxo

sweets

Tart Cherry Clafoutis

Alright folks, I’m here to talk to you about clafoutis. If you’re not familiar with what that is, it’s a type of baked French dessert with a thin, eggy batter that bakes into a custard-y cake studded with the fruit of your choice. This was my first attempt at clafoutis and let me tell you, I am a changed woman. The recipe I followed, which you can find here, used pitted sweet cherries, but because I had 2 jars of tart cherries I decided to try those out instead and let me tell you I was not disappointed. A generous sprinkling of sugar caramelizes into a crisp, top layer, while the vanilla-almond scented batter is perfectly offset by the slight sourness of the cherries.


It reminds me slightly of a more substantial Dutch Baby, and I am not joking when I say this was the easiest baking project I have ever undertaken. You have 50 minutes total? You can make this, and 45 of those minutes are spent baking anyway. It’s crucial that the batter is completely mixed without lumps, so the entire thing should be blended before baking, preferably with an immersion blender, but it can also be done in a regular blender as well, never fear!

I know this picture doesn’t do it justice, but i needed everyone to see how thin it baked up and the LAYER of custard it produces.

I think I’m finally off my rhubarb kick, so thank you all for sticking with me! I also realized that it’s been ages since I’ve posted a savory recipe and for that I apologize, I find myself cooking the same meals lately (I’ve been in a bit of a dinner rut), and branching out more into baked goods. The good news is that with the warm months comes fresh produce, so some new dishes will be coming soon, never fear! But until then, I really suggest that you bake this dish up at your earliest convenience, most fruits can be substituted for the tart cherries, and it becomes the easiest (but also still impressive) dessert.
Let’s get baking!

Makes: 10-12 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Bake Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 50-60 minutes

Ingredients
Adapted from “David Lebovit’s Cherry Clafoutis” on Food52
2¼ cups (1¼ lbs) pitted cherries, I used tart, but sweet will also do! (Can also be done with berries, pears, peaches, etc.)
3 eggs, room temperature
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract
½ cup + 3 tbsp white sugar, divided- ½ cup is in the batter, remaining tablespoons go on top for baking
1 1/3 cups milk
Softened salted butter, for greasing the dish

Steps

1. Preheat your oven to 375ºF and generously grease a 2 quart baking dish (mine was roughly 9″x13″). When I say generously I really do mean it, I thought I had done enough and there was still some sticking in the corners.

2. If your cherries are fresh, wash and pit them, or if they are jarred in juice, drain. Spread the pitted cherries on the bottom of the dish evenly, but don’t obsess over it because they will shift when the batter is poured in.

As a side-note, look at this fun summer tablecloth!!!!

3. In a large mixing bowl, add eggs, flour, vanilla and almond extracts, white sugar, and milk. Using the aforementioned immersion blender (or regular blender), blend this batter thoroughly until smooth, so that all the ingredients are fully incorporated.

4. Pour the batter over the cherries and sprinkle the top with the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar.

5. Bake for 45 minutes until the top is brown and crisp, and a knife comes out ~mostly~ clean.

This can be served warm, room temperature, or cold, with ice cream, whipped cream, but it’s also perfect on its own!
xoxoxoxoD

 

 

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

sweets

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

 

sweets

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 cup almond flour

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

 

 

 

sweets

Dark Chocolate Layer Cake with Blood Orange Buttercream

Hello everyone, Happy Friday! Congratulations on powering through another work week, I’m so proud of you! I don’t know what it was about this week that made it feel so long, even with the holiday Monday, what is that about? But now that we’re approaching the sweet, sweet weekend, why not reward yourself with a slice of this incredible double layer cake, with just the right balance of richness from the dark chocolate and brightness from the blood orange. It might seem like a weird combination, chocolate and citrus, but I PROMISE I’m not leading you astray here.

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Cakes have always been a weak spot for me, I can never seem to get the shape of them right, and stacking is always a huge challenge. I grew up making sheet cakes for birthdays, and only after I really started baking seriously did I dive into layer cakes, and I realized that I didn’t really like them. It always seemed like so much effort for a piece of cake. BUT, then I started to do some research, and I learned a few things. Number one, don’t level or cut your cakes until they’re completely cooled, and chilling them makes it easier. Number two, different cake batters yield different crumb texture, and different crumbs cut better than others. I had always thought that my go-to sheet cake recipe would work for layered cakes, but with a much looser crumb structure, I found that it would just fall apart when I tried to cut it, resulting in crumbly, uneven cake layers.

This recipe produces a much tighter cake batter (does that make sense? Can a cake batter be tight? I don’t know let’s just move on), and the combination of dark chocolate cocoa powder with some instant coffee granules (a secret ingredient used to make chocolate baked goods really pop) creates probably your new favorite cake ever. And, while I discovered that blood oranges don’t taste much different from regular oranges, I have been searching for them forEVER, and the beautiful natural pink color that they give the frosting just can’t be beaten.

Anywho, let’s bake!

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Makes: 1 double-layer cake
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Bake Time: 50-55 minutes
Total Time: ~2 hours

Dark Chocolate Cake Ingredients:

2¾ cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2½ cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs, at room temperature

Steps:

1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF and line two 9 inch circular cake tins with parchment paper (or generously butter and flour them.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, making sure everything is evenly incorporated.

3. In a heat safe bowl, mix 2 cups of boiling water with the cocoa powder and espresso powder, whisking until completely smooth. Let cool.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or another large bowl with a hand mixer), cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract and mix. Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

5. This next step will be done in parts, with the flour mixture being added in 3 parts, and the warm cocoa mixture being added in two. Start with the flour, add a third of the mixture slowly to avoid the flour flying out of the bowl. Mix until the batter is just incorporated, don’t over-mix!

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6. Bake the cakes (I bake them on a cookie sheet in case of spills), for 50-55 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through to ensure even cooking. Test with a wire cake tester or toothpick before removing.

7. Transfer the pans to a wire rack, loosen the edges with a spatula and let the cakes cool completely in the pans.

8. To level your cakes, use a thin serrated knife (like a bread knife) to cut evenly around the top of the cake to trim off the top dome and give your cakes an even surface for stacking. If it’s helpful, mark the line with toothpicks to keep your knife level. Remember, you can always trim a little more if you need to, but you can’t put it back if you’ve cut too much! Now on to the frosting…

Blood Orange Buttercream Ingredients:
adapted from The Vanilla Bean Blog, recipe here.

3 sticks salted butter, at room temperature
zest of one blood orange
¼ cup blood orange juice
2 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt
4 cups powdered sugar
A few tbs milk, if needed

Steps:

1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream the butter until it becomes creamy. Slowly add in powdered sugar, cup by cup, beating until fully combined.

2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the zest and juice of the blood orange, vanilla, and salt. Mix until combined, then increase the speed of the mixer to medium and beat for about 5 minutes until fluffy. If the frosting is too thick, add a tablespoon of milk or so until you get the right consistency.

3. To ice the cake, place the first cake on your cake stand and add a dollop of frosting to the top, spreading evenly. Place the second cake on top and “crumb coat” your cake lightly, then chill for 30 minutes to an hour. This keeps all the dark crumbs in the first layer of frosting and not on the outside to ruin the presentation of your cake.

4. Use the remaining frosting to generously ice the cake, and top with any decoration that your heart desires- I went with blood orange slices, but you could use sprinkles, rosemary sprigs for color, the possibilities are endless!!

Yay now cut yourself a generous slice and put your feet up because you DESERVE IT! All the love xoxoxoD