My freezer becomes a bit neglected in the summer. Actually, I cram a whole lot of stuff into it, but apart from ice cream, not a whole lot of stuff manages to find its way back out…intentionally, that is. The other day, after a couple of quarts of frozen chicken stock decided to fling themselves from the freezer when I opened the door (ouch–my foot!), I decided to do a little root-around in there, and I came across my neglected pie dough “collection.” I am often making mini pies and tarts, and stashing what remains from a whole batch of dough in the icebox. If you’re reading this blog, why do I bet that you do, too?!?
I thought that a smart way to use up some of these frozen bits and pieces would be to combine them with something fresh and in season. Sour cherry time is here, although it’ll be over before I can blink, so I knew I had to get myself to the Greenmarket ASAP. I broke out my cherry pitter, and made up a recipe of Nick Malgieri’s “Once-A-Year Cherry Pie” filling. Rather than using his crust, I eeny, meeny, miny, moe’d my dough collection and used some hazelnut linzer scraps that I brought home from work ages ago. You could use a regular sweet dough or a flaky one…heck, probably even a chocolate dough, if you like that combo. Go see what you have hiding in the freezer!
Sour Cherry Pie Filling – makes enough for a 9-inch pie
from a recipe by Nick Malgieri
3 pints fresh sour cherries, stemmed, rinsed and picked over
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
-To make the filling, pit the cherries over a bowl. Use a cherry pitter, or slash the side of each one with a stainless steel paring knife and squeeze gently to extract the pits. Put the cherries in a bowl as they are pitted.
-When all the cherries have been pitted drain the juices from the bowl into a non-reactive saucepan and add 1 cup of the cherries and the sugar. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is melted and the mixture is very liquid–about 5 minutes.
-Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and whisk the cherry and sugar mixture into it. Return to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, over low heat, until it comes to a boil thickens and becomes clear. If it does not become clear, continue to cook over low heat an additional few minutes until it does.
-Pour into a large bowl and stir in the remaining filling ingredients, except the cherries then add the remaining cherries.
-Now you are ready to use it as a filling for your favorite pie dough! Bake until the filling bubbles and the dough is golden, at whatever temperature you normally use for your particular dough.
I’ve been itching to make a tart with the gorgeous summer fruits that are popping up at the Greenmarket. Thanks to TWD and Denise of Chez Us, I got the push I needed this week…albeit in a slightly different direction. Rather than a pastry dough, the tart shell here is made from brioche. It’s pressed into a ring and topped with jam, fruit and nuts. Juice from the jam and fruit seeps into the brioche while it bakes. The end result is a really classy tart that temporarily turned my teensy-weensy Manhattan kitchen into a European bakery! By the way, this particular brioche recipe is the easiest I’ve ever made. The butter is melted, and all the ingredients are basically chucked into a bowl at once and mixed. (I’m thinking cinnamon rolls may need to start making more frequent appearances at my breakfast table!)
Although Dorie intends this tart to be a breakfast or tea-time treat, due to my work schedule this week, we enjoyed ours for dessert. As you can see from the picture, I made a couple of indiviual tarts so I wouldn’t have soggy leftovers. One night I used some little purple plums, hardly bigger than golf balls. They softened up quickly in the oven, which is good because the brioche browned awfully fast! The next night, I pressed out a couple more shells and used sweet cherries instead. With a little vanilla whipped cream, both were good, but I think I liked the cherry tarts better…next time, I should give it a go with apricots and a bit of my homemade jam!
June’s Daring Bakers’ challenge is Bakewell Tart, brought to us by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. This traditional English tart consists of a sweet shortcrust pastry, which is spread with jam or curd and topped with almond frangipane.
The day before this challenge was announced, I had gotten strawberries and rhubarb as part of my weekly Greenmarket haul. I made them into a compote with my morning granola in mind, but after reading the challenge, I knew it would be perfect for the jam component of the tart. This was pretty easily assembled, and tasted great (especially with whipped cream)! Next time, I’ll use a tart ring with higher sides, so I can fit in more frangipane– I love that stuff!
The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800’s in England.
I probably would not have considered making an apple dessert when I have two big quarts of greenmarket strawberries in the kitchen, but then Jessica of My Baking Heart selected Dorie’s Parisian Apple Tartlets for TWD. I’m actually glad she did, because I am in love with these little tartlets!
They are so simple (and pretty, too, I think)…a round of buttery puff pastry, topped with half an apple, then dotted with butter and brown sugar…c’est tout. Using good-quality store-bought puff makes this one of the quickest and easiest desserts to put together. In the oven, the apple turns soft, the pastry turns crisp, and the whole thing gets sweetly caramelized. The best part, though, has to be the center of the puff pastry– the part the apple had been sitting upon. It absorbs the brown sugar and the juices from the apple, and is indescribably yummy.
Have I told you how happy I am that it’s May? One of the best months of the year in New York, if you ask me. I won’t even let all the rain rain we’ve recently had dampen my enthusiasm for a great month. I’m at the Union Square Greenmarket every Wednesday, stuffing asparagus, ramps and sunchokes into my little tote. I’m walking around without a jacket. I’m looking for new flip-flops. And, I’m enjoying another ray of springy sunshine right now– the Tartest Lemon Tart, chosen by Barb of Babette Feasts for TWD this week.
At first glance this recipe may throw you for a loop– it uses the whole lemon. That’s right kids, take everything but the seeds and chuck straight into a blender (try and use an organic lemon if you can)…with sugar, of course. If you’re worried about overwhelming puckeriness, you can follow a suggestion Dorie made here, and blanch the chopped up lemon in boiling water before proceeding with the recipe. I did this, and you never know, maybe my lemon was not so tart to begin with, but the blanching seemed to do the trick of removing any bitterness.
Dorie says in her recipe intro that the lemon filling becomes almost jelly-like in the oven, and I have to say that it kind of reminds me of a soft gumdrop. In combination with the cookie-like Sweet Tart Dough, it’s just stellar. And it’s also quite pretty, in a rustic sort of way. I didn’t feel the need to do much to it…a little powdered sugar on top and some whipped cream on the side. When they come into season, a tumble of fresh berries will be wonderful.
As a complete aside, I saw Chef Cheryl Smith while walking down Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn the other day…does anyone remember her from the show Melting Pot from Food Network’s earlier days? I’m totally checking our her restaurant when I get a chance.
TWD started April with a Banana Cream Pie, moved on to two intense chocolate desserts and, thanks to Kim of Scrumptious Photography, we ended April with a Chocolate Cream Tart. It’s as if we’ve come full circle, really. Okay, maybe that’s pushing it, but sometimes I think it’s funny how the choices each month shake out.
Chocolate pastry cream with whipped cream on top, all in a chocolate crust– oh my word! I went halvsies with this week’s recipe, and had plenty for six individual-sized tarts. These little guys are super-chocolaty and super-good! R and I ate them in contented silence…then neither of us could move to do the dishes afterward! Some thought that all that chocolate was a bit too much, and opted for a plain tart crust instead. Personally, I wouldn’t change a thing. I was quite happy to try out Dorie’s chocolate shortbread crust recipe, and liked it a lot. I did find, though, that when making the dough, it was a little dry. I had to add a couple teaspoons of milk to get it to come together, but then it was pretty easy to work with.
I’ve had such a busy week, running all over the city after work and on my days off to get errands done for a trip to the UK. I’ll actually be there by the time you read this (so I might not be able to do much commenting on cream pies, unfortunately). I’m Godmother to a friend’s baby boy. His name is Ian, he lives in London and I had lots of bits and pieces to pick up for the Baptism ceremony, which will be at the end of the week. Not to mention that Friday was my birthday, and on Saturday my husband and I went to see a live broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion, which is currently taping in New York. I’ve listened to the show since I was a kid, so it was fun to see goofy Garrison Keillor do his thing live. And Wynton Marsalis was a guest, so that was a pretty good present, I think.
Of course I still made the time to put together this Banana Cream Pie, Amy’s choice for TWD this week. I’ve said many times before that I don’t like raw bananas, but I like to keep an open mind about trying new things. I’ve never made or even had banana cream pie before, so why not give it a go? I had some homemade pie dough in the freezer anyway (it had been there forever, and I was actually itching to use it up), so the hardest part was already taken care of.
Hey, guess what– I thought this was good (and my husband loved it)! I do have a fondness for cream pies…they are tasty and squidgy, especially fresh, homemade ones. I’m not a banana convert, or anything, so I probably won’t make this one again…raw bananas still are a bit slimy in my book. I did really like the way Dorie uses brown sugar in the custard recipe and sour cream in the whipped cream topping. Yum on both counts there! My personal twist was using a little vanilla bean to flavor both.
Guess what — this is my 50th Tuesdays with Dorie post!! Seems quite appropriate that my TWD golden anniversary be celebrated with a golden dessert, chosen by none other than Dorie Greenspan herself. Dorie has picked a French Pear Tart for the group to bake this week.
This tart is a classic French dessert. It has three main components: pears, almond cream (frangipane) and a sweet tart dough (pâte sablée). Dorie says that it is most acceptable to make this tart using canned pears, but here I used fresh ones, poached in a sugar syrup until deliciously soft and sweet. Regular pie dough is flaky, but sablée is like a sweet crisp, butter cookie. (Incidentally, we make a type of sweet tart dough at the bakery where I work. It is affectionately referred to as “STD”…we are a classy bunch.) When the almond cream bakes, it puffs up around the pear, becoming almost cake-like.
If you make this and poach your pears, too, please don’t throw out the poaching liquid! I’ve learned from working in restaurants that there are a million uses for poaching liquid. It can be made into a granita or turned into sorbet base. It can be reduced to a thicker syrup, and used in cocktails, over ice cream or to decorate a plate (like I did here). Or it can simply be used to poach more pears. You can also add things to the liquid to give additional flavor, like wine, vanilla bean or whole spices.
I made individual tarts, which I assembled and baked off as needed, since I figured a big one would go soggy before we could get through it. Rather than fanning out cut slices of pear, I just used one of its “cheeks” in each tartlette. Doesn’t it look a little like a fried egg when viewed from above? I served the baked tartlettes with a vanilla goat’s milk ice cream from Laloo’s.
For the recipe for this delicious tart, look on Dorie’s blog or in her book, Baking: From My Home to Yours (she also has a version of it here on Epicurious). Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll.
So, fifty recipes from BFMHTY…what are my favorites so far? Honestly, they’ve almost all been winners, but I regularly daydream about Bill’s Big Carrot Cake and Almost-Fudge Gâteau. What do I hope someone will pick soon? Every month I keep my fingers crossed that Oatmeal Breakfast Bread, Coconut Tea Cake or any of the Bundts will be on our list.
Pumpkin or pecan? Pecan or pumpkin? What to do? Which to eat? If you’re as bad at making these major life decisions as I am, then maybe Dorie’s Thanksgiving Twofer pie (chosen for us by the lovely Vibi of La casserole carrée) is for you. It starts with a pumpkin pie custard, and then gets topped with a pecan pie goo– no need to choose!
Okay, so it is not the most beautiful pie I have ever made (even though I tried to gussy it up with a little powdered sugar for its photo session). No matter– it’s what’s inside that counts, right? And what’s inside is really tasty. To tell the truth, it was not exactly what I was expecting. I thought the two layers would stay separate and distinct. The nuts themselves remained suspended on top, but the pecan goo intermingled with the pumpkin custard…it was really quite delicious, though. I spiked mine with bourbon instead of rum (cause that’s what I like with pecan pie), and piled the whipped cream high!
I made half a recipe and used my new cute little red dish. Tracy from Cake Batter and Crumbs sent it to me, and I just love it!! My only beef with Dorie’s recipe is that it took much longer to bake than she indicated, even with the small size. I kept upping the oven timer…five more minutes, five more minutes. I feel like I did it a zillion times, but I probably tacked on an extra 15 to 20 minutes in all. I was a little worried it was overkill and that I’d wind up with a curdled mess, but I can give thanks that my Thanksgiving pie came out just right.
I wish all of my American friends a safe and happy Thanksgiving! Even though everything feels a bit more challenging this year than last, everyday (and with every news broadcast) I’m reminded of just how much I have to be thankful for. For the pie recipe, look in Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. You can also find it in Vibi’s post. Check out the TWD Blogroll to find plenty of other baking tips for this pie!
This week, it’s more summer fruit action for TWD, as Michelle from Michelle in Colorado Springs has selected Dorie’s recipe for Summer Fruit Galette. I’m wondering if there are any Southern Hemisphere dwellers coming up in the rotation? Anyone to pick a heavy, wintertime bread pudding, or perhaps a little pumpkin somethin’ somethin’? Just kidding…actually, I have something up my sleeve, and it’s one of my absolute favorites. It’s no secret either, because I used it last week— rhubarb.
I so associate rhubarb with spring back in the States, but I mentioned last week that I see it at the farmers’ markets year-round here. Maybe it’s the mild climate or something, I dunno. And I’m talking about thin, red as anything, beautiful stalks, with healthy green leaves (although they’re not healthy to eat–call Mr. Yuck!) still attached. It’s really a veggie, by the way, so perhaps I should call this a “summer vegetable galette”?
A galette is a free-form tart. Less muss and fuss than one baked in a ring, it’s easy to make, and even easier when you have enough of Dorie’s pie dough (left over from my mini Double-Crusted Blueberry Pie) stashed in the freezer to do it. I made two individual-sized galettes. After cutting out the rolled dough into two circles, I smeared the centers with a little strawberry rhubarb jam and sprinkled on some almond cookie crumbs. Then I just piled on a heap of cut rhubarb. Because I really liked the bite of ginger in last week’s cobbler, I chopped up a couple of small hunks of baby stem ginger in syrup that I had in the fridge, and dotted it among the rhubarb pieces…it’s pretty potent stuff, so a little goes along way. I folded the edges of the dough up to form pleats, and the galettes looked oddly similar to a stop sign when viewed from above. I wouldn’t exactly say that rhubarb abounds in natural sweetness, so when I sprinkled the dough with raw sugar before putting the galettes in the oven, I also sprinkled some on the rhubarb.
A few minutes before the galette finishes baking, a “custard” of melted butter, egg, sugar and vanilla gets poured on top. I had initially thought about leaving it out, because the combination of ingredients sounded a little weird to me, frankly. Other TWDers said it really added something, though, so I went ahead with it. And I must say, while it had a strange color (some may say “snot-like”), it was quite tasty and it gave a nice sweetness that seeped all around the rhubarb to fill in the gaps.
To serve, I followed Dorie’s suggestion to simply dust some powdered sugar on top and call it day. We really enjoyed this. It’s a great simple dessert, and I’ll definitely have to try it with some stonefruit in another six months! And I have to say (even though I should not praise that which contains shortening), Dorie’s pie dough is super freakin’ flaky.
P.S.: So sorry, but I may not be able to make the TWD rounds myself for the next couple weeks. I’ll be on vacation when you read this–twelve days in America’s paradise, and without our laptop. Aloha!