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Happy Pi(e) Day

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Happy Pi(e) Day

In case you haven't noticed from my past blog entries, I'm a "YUGE" pie fan. I may be known for my cakes, but I have an equally outsized yen for pies. And there's no better excuse to indulge in my craving than some random date whose numerical representation happens to coincide with a mathematical constant that is a homonym for "pie."

For this Pi Day, I'm sharing my favorite pie crust recipe from my cookbook, Pie Love. It is a vanilla pie crust that uses real vanilla beans. To get the seeds out of the vanilla bean, flatten the bean with the side of a paring knife. Slice it open lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with the back of the knife. You can then reserve the pod to flavor milk, sugar, or - my favorite - brandy. 

Vanilla Bean Pie Crust

From Pie Love (2013)

1/2 vanilla bean
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp superfine granulated sugar
3/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) very cold, unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
5-6 tbsp ice water
1 egg (for egg wash)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean and combine with the flours, sugar, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor.
  3. Mix dry ingredients for 30 seconds.
  4. Stop the processor and add the butter all at once.
  5. Pulse in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs; pulse in the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together and rides on top of the S blade.
  6. Turn the dough out onto lightly floured parchment; remove one third of it and wrap it in plastic film to keep it from drying out. If you're not making a double-crust pie, hold it in the fridge or freezer for another use.
  7. Form the remaining dough into a disk, place a second piece of parchment on top, and roll it into a large round approximately 12 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick.
  8. Gently fit the dough into a 9- to 10-inch pie pen, fold the excess to form the edge, and crimp. Chill the crust for 15 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, if you are making a double-crust pie, roll out the reserved dough between two sheets of parchment to a round approximately 10 inches across. Set it aside, keeping it between the parchment sheets to prevent it from drying out.
  9. Brush the bottom crust edges with egg wash.
  10. Dock the crust and weight it with a circle of parchment paper cut to size and a disposable pie pan resting gently above the crust to prevent it from puffing up while toasting. If your pie filling will be baked, blind bake the crust for 10 minutes. If you'll be using the crust for a custard pie where baking isn't required, blind bake for 12 to 15 minutes, checking often after 10 minutes.
  11. Set the blind-baked crust aside to cool while you prepare the filling of your choice. Top the pie as desired and bake as directed in your recipe.
     

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Featured Baker Series: Becky from PA

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Featured Baker Series: Becky from PA

One of my personal missions in life is to get people back into the kitchen.  Baking from scratch is so important to me that I made "Cakes from Scratch" the tagline for CakeLove when I started the company over a decade ago.  To me, the kitchen embodies family, home, love... all of those things are reflected in what we feed ourselves, our parents, our children, our loved ones.

To celebrate the home kitchen, I'm kicking off a series of profiles called #bakefromscratch, to highlight individuals that are doing amazing things in their home kitchen.  The first profile in this series is my friend Becky, who lives in PA.  Becky and my wife used to work together, and I got to taste some of her incredible creations at company events.  She has been baking from scratch since she was about 10 years old and now bakes frequently with the help of her boys, who are 5 and 3 years old.  Her pies are to die for.

WB: How did you get into baking?

Becky: When I was little, my mom baked Toll House chocolate chip cookies and I helped her.  She also made these incredible lemon bars from a Southern Living recipe, which I still use to this day.  

Tell me about your biggest baking disaster.

I had a cookbook that featured a beautiful, domed chocolate cake. I tried making it but it burned, sank, never rose, and got stuck to the pan.  It was a total disaster and I think I even cried given the amount of time I wasted on it.  That was before I discovered your cookbooks -- haven't burnt a cake since!

Ha! That's very kind; thank you.  What about baking tips?  Any particularly useful tip that you'd like to share with home bakers?

It's actually from you: you say in one of your cookbooks that, if you don't have a sifter, you can sift dry ingredients using a whisk.  I do that all the time now, because I don't have a sifter and don't really care to get one.

Is there a recipe you want to share with the CakeLove community?

I love the cinnamon butter crust recipe in Pie Love; it's my go-to pie crust recipe now. I like combining it with berry filling recipe, which I like because it works and doesn't require any funky ingredients.  The end result is a pie that tastes great and is not too sweet.

Send me a photo! I love your lattice work... it's WAY better than mine.  

Cinnamon Butter Pie Crust

from Pie Love

10 oz (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour

3 tbsp superfine granulated sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp sea salt

10 tbsp (1 1/4 stick) unsalted butter, very cold and cut into small pieces

5-6 tbsp ice water

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease a 9- to 10-inch pie pan with butter and lightly sprinkle with sugar.
  2. Add the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt to the work bowl of a food processor and mix for at least 30 seconds.
  3. Stop the processor and add the butter all at once.
  4. Pulse in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs; pulse in the water, 1 tbsp at a time, until the dough forms into a ball and rides on top of the S blade.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured piece of parchment.  Set aside one third of the dough. If you're not making a double-crust pie, wrap it in plastic film and freeze or refrigerate it for another use.
  6. Form the remaining dough into a disk, place a second piece of parchment on top, and roll it into a large round about 12 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick. 
  7. Gently lift the rolled dough into the pie pan, fold the excess underneath, crimp the edge, and chill the crust for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, if you are making a double-crust pie, roll out the reserved dough between two sheets of parchment to a round approximately 10 inches across.  Set it aside, keeping it between the parchment sheets to prevent it from drying out.
  8. Dock the bottom crust and cover it with a circle of parchment paper cut to size and a disposable pie pan resting gently above the crust to prevent it from puffing up while toasting.  If your pie filling will be baked, blind bake the crust for 5 to 7 minutes.  If you'll be using the crust for a custard pie where baking isn't required, blind bake it for 12 to 15 minutes - checking often after 10 minutes.
  9. Set the blind-baked crust aside to cool while you prepare the filling of your choice.  Top it as desired and bake it as directed in your recipe.

 

Check out the expert lattice top on this pie!

Check out the expert lattice top on this pie!

If you or someone you know is a home baker, please tell us more using the form to the right.  If we like what we hear, we'll contact you for the next #bakefromscratch profile.

Name *
Name
Name of person who should be highlighted in this series
Please tell us one or two sentences about the person who you think should be featured in #bakefromscratch series

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Celebrating White Chocolate with Waffles

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Celebrating White Chocolate with Waffles

My wife is a happy woman this morning because it's National White Chocolate Day.  To celebrate, I'm pulling a recipe from CakeLove in the Morning for White Chocolate Waffles.  it's important to warm all of the ingredients so the white chocolate won't stiffen and clump up.  If you're like me and prefer real chocolate, bittersweet chocolate pieces work just as well.  

White Chocolate Waffles

from CakeLove in the Morning

4 eggs

6 tbsp superfine sugar

1 1/4 cups half-and-half

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 to 4 oz white chocolate, melted in a double broiler or metal bowl placed over a saucepan of steaming water

7 oz. (roughly 1 1/2 cups) unbleached cake flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1. Start the waffle iron and preheat the oven to 200 degrees F to keep the finished waffles warm.

2. Run warm water over the eggs for 20 seconds, then separate them.  In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks, then sprinkle in 4 tablespoons of the sugar with the mixer on high speed.  Carefully move the meringue to a separate bowl and set aside.

3. Using the same bowl and whisk, mix the yolks and the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar on high speed for 30 seconds.  Reduce the speed to medium and add the half-and-half and vanilla.

4. Scrape the melted white chocolate into the mixer and whip to incorporate.

5. Meanwhile, in another bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt to combine. Fold the flour mixture into the yolk base, then gently fold in the meringue.

6. Spray the waffle iron with plenty of nonstick spray.  Ladle 1/4 cup batter onto each square of the iron.

7. Cook following the waffle iron's directions. Serve immediately or hold on a heat-resistant plate in the warmed oven.  

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Making breakfast with mindy

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Making breakfast with mindy

I had so much fun making a breakfast lasagna on the Today Show this morning.  Not only did I get to show off one of my favorite brunch creations of all time, but I got to do it MINDY KALING!!  She may not be a pro in the kitchen, but it was great having her (and Dylan Dreyer) by my side.

This breakfast lasagna recipe is a slight variation of the one that I have in my brunch cookbook, CakeLove in the Morning.  It makes a very impressive presentation and can feed up to 12 people (or six if all of your guests eat like me).  Feel free to experiment with different types of meats, veggies, and cheeses, although I'd recommend sticking to the recipe as is the first time you make it.  It's a winner.

In case you didn't catch me making a breakfast lasagna with Mindy on the Today Show this morning, you can find it here.  

Breakfast Lasagna

adapted from CakeLove in the Morning

Yield: serves 8-12

 

2 oz. unsalted butter

1/4 tsp salt                       

2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour            

3 cups whole milk, warmed (for thicker sauce, use 2.5 cups)

3 tbsp olive oil                    

2 lbs mushrooms (crimini, button, shitake) or zucchini (if zucchini, discard the seeded core)

1 yellow onion                    

1 lb. applewood smoked bacon            

1/4 tsp sea salt                    

9 eggs 

3 tbsp butter or olive oil 

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated

2 cups gouda  cheese, freshly grated

9 pieces of lasagna noodles (no boil type)      

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

Pinch of paprika

1. Prepare the béchamel sauce: melt the butter in a medium sauce pan. Stir in the salt and flour and cook until it reaches a light blonde color. 

2. Slowly whisk in the milk and continue stirring until it lightly simmers. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat, cover with a lid and set aside.

3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat the bottom of a 9” x 13” casserole dish with butter, then sprinkle lightly with salt and black pepper. (check dish size)

4. In a deep skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Thinly slice the onion and ’shrooms and sauté together until they’re cooked down to about half the volume, approximately 5 minutes. Alternatively if you’re using zucchini, cut sides off to leave a 1” core intact and discard the core. Dice the zucchini into ¼ pieces and sauté with the onions. 

5. Cook the bacon in the microwave until crispy. Set aside to cool and crumble. 

6. Crack 6 of the eggs into a bowl and whisk to scramble. Melt the butter in a large non-stick pan and add the eggs. Cook, scrambled, only about half-way -- leave them loose. 

7. Using a ladle, spread a thin coating of the béchamel sauce on the bottom of the prepared pan and cover with three lasagna noodles. 

8. Spread more sauce on top of the noodles, then layer half the mushrooms and onions, followed by one half of the gouda.  

9. Add another layer of 3 lasagna noodles, then spread with the partially cooked scrambled eggs, bacon, one half of the cheddar cheese, and more of the sauce. 

10. Add the final layer of 3 lasagna noodles. Cover with the remaining sauce, mushrooms and onions and the remaining cheeses. Sprinkle salt, pepper and paprika to taste across the top. 

11. Create three tablespoon-sized wells in the top layer, then crack and drop an egg into each one. 

12. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the sides bubble and the top is lightly browned. Loosely cover with aluminum foil if the top is cooking too fast. 

13. Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes before slicing into squares to serve.

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