summer berry pie

summer berry pie 5

Dave enjoys and then forgets the vast majority of what I give him to eat. And how not to? I make so many different things that even I’m surprised sometimes when I scan through old unused pictures (two types of cucumber salad? orange-glazed tofu? raspberry muffins? The pictures prove I made these things, but I don’t remember any of it).

summer berry pie 3

But once in a while, I make something that stands out to Dave enough to not only remember it, but request it again and again, even years later. I hadn’t made this pie in two years, but once berries start to come into season, Dave starts asking about it.

summer berry pie 4

Often, fresh fruit pies are associated with the gel-shellacked versions you get in buffet lines. This pie replaces that gel with the barest coating of fruit jelly, which gives the fruit a beautiful shine without adding any flavorless goo. Instead, a layer of fruit puree holds the filling together while intensifying the bright berry flavor. With ripe sweet berries and a dollop of freshly whipped cream, it’s no wonder this dessert is so memorable.

summer berry pie 6

One year ago: Triple Chocolate Espresso Brownies
Two years ago: Strawberries and Cream Pie
Three years ago: Croque Madame

Printer Friendly Recipe
Summer Berry Pie (from Cooks Illustrated)

Serves 8 to 10

Currant jelly is smooth and bright red, so very attractive in this pie. However, I didn’t want to buy it because I don’t use it for anything else. I used raspberry jam, which I probably should have strained but didn’t.

Crust:
5 ounces graham crackers, broken into rough pieces (9-11 full crackers)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and warm

Filling:
2 cups (about 9 ounces) fresh raspberries
2 cups (about 11 ounces) fresh blackberries
2 cups (about 10 ounces) fresh blueberries
½ cup (3½ ounces) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
⅛ teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons red currant jelly

Whipped cream:
1 cup heavy cream (cold)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. FOR THE CRUST: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. In a food processor, process the graham crackers until evenly fine, about 30 seconds. You should have one cup of crumbs. Add the sugar; pulse to combine. Continue to pulse while adding the warm melted butter in a steady stream; pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand. Transfer to a 9-inch glass pie plate; use the bottom of a ramekin or measuring cup to press the crumbs evenly into the bottom and up the sides. Bake the crust until fragrant and beginning to brown, 15 to 18 minutes; transfer to wire rack and cool completely while making the filling.

2. FOR THE FILLING: Combine the berries in a large colander and gently rinse; spread the berries on towel-lined rimmed baking sheet and gently pat dry with additional towels.

3. In a food processor, puree 2½ cups of the mixed berries until smooth and fully pureed, about 1 minute. Strain the puree through a mesh strainer into small nonreactive saucepan, scraping and pressing on seeds to extract as much puree as possible (you should have 1¼ to 1½ cups). Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a small bowl to combine, then whisk the mixture into the puree. Bring the puree to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon; when the mixture reaches a boil and is thickened to consistency of pudding, remove from heat, stir in the lemon juice, and set aside to cool slightly.

4. While the puree is cooling, place the remaining berries in a medium bowl. Heat the jelly in a second small saucepan over low heat until fully melted; drizzle the melted jelly over the berries and gently toss them together until the berries are glazed. Pour the slightly cooled puree into the cooled pie shell and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Distribute the glazed berries evenly over the puree and gently press into the surface. Loosely cover pie with plastic wrap; refrigerate until chilled and the puree has set, about 3 hours (or up to 1 day).

5. FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM: Add the cream, sugar, and vanilla to the chilled bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at low speed until small bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to high and continue beating until the cream is smooth, thick, and nearly doubled in volume, about 20 seconds for soft peaks or about 30 seconds for stiff peaks. If necessary, finish beating by hand to adjust the consistency.

summer berry pie 7

tourtely apple tart

Sometimes I think I can multitask, but I am wrong. While Dave and I were having an interesting conversation about our almost-teenaged nephew gaining independence and confidence, I was jotting down the ingredients for the tart crust. (I don’t bring cookbooks into the kitchen; I don’t want them getting dirty.) I was also congratulating myself on how I was paying attention to the conversation and making insightful responses – although Dave might disagree – while getting a cooking task done.

Nope. I messed it up. I wrote down the version without nuts, even though I had specifically bought walnuts because I thought they’d complement the apples nicely.

So perhaps I didn’t make quite the dessert I was meant to.  In the end, I liked the filling just fine, but the crust wasn’t the right match for it.  It was too simple, too sugary, too cookie-like.  I suspect some bitter earthy walnuts was just the flavor I was craving.  And I suspect this is a lesson I’m going to have to learn over and over again before it sticks.

Jeannette chose this apple tart pie thing for Tuesdays with Dorie, and she has the recipe posted.  I tweaked a bunch of little things with the filling, but nothing crucial.

One year ago: Sweet Cream Biscuits
Two years ago: Chocolate Bread Pudding
Three years ago: Carrot Cake

ice cream tart

It was 96 degrees here on Saturday, which is hot for this time of year even by southern New Mexico standards. Ice cream tartlets on the hottest day of the year would have been perfect. Too bad I was so busy sitting outside enjoying the heat to get the tarts made.

I’m surprised by how well we weathered the heat this weekend. I guess between the breeze, the cool nights, the cheapy kiddie pool full of frigid water to put our feet in, and plenty of shade when the sun got to be too much, we can handle those hot days just fine. The ice cream tarts that got made the next – also hot – day didn’t hurt either.

Jessica chose the Coffee Ice Cream Tart for Tuesdays with Dorie this week, and she has that recipe posted. I went a different direction with a plain tart crust and strawberry daiquiri ice cream. Because there were a few comments about the tart crust being too hard to cut once it was frozen, I increased the butter in Dorie’s Sweet Tart Dough to 10 tablespoons and added an extra egg yolk. Even frozen, this tart crust was perfectly tender.

One year ago: Mocha Walnut Marbled Bundt Cake
Two years ago: Banana Cream Pie
Three years ago: Lemon Cream Tart

cranberry apple galette

I used to have a friend who always served steamed broccoli with her lasagna. “Everyone does salad with their lasagna”, she scoffed. But it seems to me that everyone does it because it works so well.

Cranberry and orange are another combination that is classic simply because it’s good. Cranberry and lime…well, I don’t know, because I wasn’t brave enough to try it. I do love tart foods, but since I knew I’d be sharing these, I took the safe and familiar route with cranberry and orange.

And it tasted just as good as I expected. I’m almost positive the cranberry-lime variation would have been wonderful too. Of course I can’t be sure, having taken the safe route.

The sisters of Celestial Confections chose this galette for Tuesdays with Dorie, and they have the recipe posted. Make minis at your own time-consuming risk, by cutting 3-inch circles from the rolled dough and stuffing them in muffin cups before filling. Don’t bother trying to fold the sides in. Bake until bubbling and browned, 18-20 minutes.  Also, I used this galette dough, because I already had some in the freezer.  I suspect its malleability helps with maneuvering the dough circles into muffin cups.

One year ago: Cran-Apple Crisps
Two years ago: Rice Pudding

coconut cream tart

Don’t you hate when the only coconut in something that’s supposedly coconut cream pie is a garnish of coconut shreds over the top? Or strawberry cake that’s actually vanilla cake topped with gluey strawberry gel? Or, worse – brownies that have just enough cocoa to look chocolate-flavored, but after one bite, you realize are just sugar-flavored. If a dessert is going to claim to have a primary flavor, that flavor had better really dominate.

I wanted to stuff as much coconut into this tart (that turned into pie when I couldn’t find my tart pan) as possible, so I was excited when I stumbled upon coconut flour in the store. What a perfect way to turn the crust into a tender coconut cookie that’s still sturdy enough to hold up an inch or so of pastry cream.

I love Tartine’s pastry cream because it uses whole eggs instead of yolks, which results in a lighter, looser, silky cream. Its only downside is that it’s quick to form lumps when it’s cooked, although a quick whisk and a pass through a fine-mess strainer smooths it out. However, my friend and I were working on this pie/tart together, and she slowly dribbled the tempered custard mix into the hot milk, carefully stirring all the while, and what do you know – no lumps. I should try being careful more often myself.

With coconut extract and unsweetened coconut flakes stirred into the pastry cream, coconut flour in the crust, plus a spinkling of sweetened toasted coconut over the top of the pie, this was coconut all the way. You could add swirls of whipped cream, but wouldn’t that dilute the coconut that you tried so hard to make shine? This pie is perfect just the way it is.

One year ago: Sun-Dried Tomato Jam
Two years ago: Sushi Bowls

Coconut Cream Tart (crust adapted from Dorie Greenspan; filling adapted from Tartine)

If you can’t find (or just don’t want to buy) coconut flour, replace the coconut flour in the crust with an additional ¼ cup all-purpose flour (to make a total of 1½ cups all-purpose flour).

Consider using half coconut milk in the filling instead of some of the whole milk! I forgot, but I think would add another delicious layer of coconut.

For the filling:
2 cups whole milk
¼ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cornstarch
4 ounces (½ cup + 1 tablespoon) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon coconut extract
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 cubes
1¼ cups (3.5 ounces) unsweetened small-flake coconut

For the crust:
1¼ cups (6 ounces) all-purpose flour
¼ cup coconut flour
½ cup (2 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons total) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

¼ cup shredded sweetened coconut, toasted, for garnish
whipped cream (optionial)

1. For the filling: Add the milk and salt to a 2-quart saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch in a medium bowl, then whisk in the eggs. When the milk boils, pour just a bit of it into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Keep whisking and very gradually add the rest of the milk to the egg mixture. Pour the mixture back into the pot and whisk constantly over medium heat until the mixture thickens and just starts to boil; it will only take a few minutes. Quickly pour the pastry cream into a fine-mesh strainer set over a medium bowl (I use the same bowl I originally mixed everything in). Use a rubber spatula to push the pastry cream through the strainer. Let the pastry cream cool for a few minutes, occasionally stirring it, and then mix in the butter, 2 cubes at a time. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream and refrigerate it until completely chilled, 3-4 hours or overnight.

2. Prepare the crust: Add the flours, sugar, and salt to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse briefly to combine. Add the butter, and pulse until the butter is cut into the dough but some pieces are still pea-sized, 2-3 seconds. Add the yolk and process continuously until the dough begins to form clumps, 30-45 seconds, stirring once or twice.

3. Spray a 9-inch tart pan (or a pie pan, but then your crust will be thicker, like mine) with nonstick spray. Lightly pat the dough onto the bottom of the pan and up the sides. Freeze the lined pan for at least an hour before baking.

4. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray one side of a 12-inch square of foil with nonstick spray; press onto the crust, oiled side down. Bake 25 minutes; remove the foil and continue to bake until the crust is golden brown, about 8 minutes more. Cool completely.

5. Assembly: Remove the chilled pastry cream from the freezer and stir in the unsweetened coconut. Spread the pastry cream into the cooled crust; smooth the top. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly over the filling and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. During this time, the coconut will soak up moisture from the filling, become softer and thickening the filling further.

6. When ready to serve, remove the plastic wrap and top with toasted coconut and whipped cream, if desired.

all-american, all-delicious apple pie

I’ve made all manner of banana cream pies for Dave, and yet he remains convinced that nothing beats Baker’s Square’s. I have my doubts, as I don’t believe he’s been to a Baker’s Square since I started baking for him. But I keep trying.

By contrast, he declared the first apple pie I made for him the best apple pie he’d ever had. Not that that keeps me from trying new recipes. Just last month (a few days before October’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipes were announced and I realized I’d be making more apple pie soon), I made a rum raisin apple pie that sounded great, but didn’t have quite the perfection of my normal recipe.

Clearly this calls for a comparison, especially because Dorie calls for tapioca as a thickener instead of apple pie’s standard flour. My original plan was to make side-by-side versions of Dorie’s recipe and my old favorite, but, like many cooking endeavors when I’m rushed, this one went awry. I underfilled both mini-pies (although at least I underfilled them equally), forgot the breadcrumbs and butter in Dorie’s, didn’t adequately stir the zest into the filling… Because the recipes are very similar, with the same ratio of apples to sugar to spices to thickener, it really ended up being a comparison of tapioca versus flour.

I couldn’t tell a difference – not in taste, not in texture, not in soupiness. Dave really enjoyed them both as well. Now I just need to keep him from trying Baker’s Square’s apple pie. One impossible pie standard to live up to is quite enough, thank you.

Emily chose this recipe for TWD, and she has it posted. My other favorite apple pie recipe is by Cooks Illustrated. It’s very similar, with an equal amount of flour substituting for the tapioca in Dorie’s, no breadcrumbs or butter, and 1 teaspoon lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice instead of the larger amount of zest that Dorie recommends.  In all photos, Dorie’s recipe is to the left (with the crimped edge, not forked).

One year ago: Allspice Crumb Muffins
Two years ago: Chocolate Cupcakes

caramel pumpkin pie

Bringing desserts to work is awesome. It gives me a chance to bake without wondering what in the world we’re going to do with all this stuff, people come by and say thanks, and I become known as “the girl who brings treats” instead of “the girl whose desk faces the men’s bathroom.”

The disadvantage is that sometimes I only eat just enough of what I bake for quality control. And by quality control, I mean, is this edible? And not, can I taste the caramel in this?

I didn’t detect the caramel in the few bites I had, and neither did the coworkers I accosted in the hallway when they were trying to enjoy their tartlets (pie-lets?) in peace. But we all agreed that it was good, and that’s all that matters.

Janell, who chose this for Tuesdays with Dorie, has the recipe posted.

One year ago: Split-Level Pudding
Two years ago: Pumpkin Muffins

fold-over pear torte

You didn’t think I’d miss a week of Tuesdays with Dorie, did you? I’ve been in the group for two and a half years, haven’t missed a week yet, and don’t plan to start now. Being late is, of course, a different story. Being late is what I do.

Although if I’d realized how involved this recipe was, I might have procrastinated enough to be even later – pie crust, peeled and chopped fruit, and a custard that involves a mixer. Having overzealously planned my weekend cooking (as always), I jumped in, rushed, without looking at the recipe, with the kitchen counters covered in dinner dishes.

My measurements were imprecise, my rolling was sloppy. While the tart baked, I shaped over-risen bagel dough, realizing too late that the tart and the bagels needed the same oven at the same time but at very different temperatures. The bagels won and the tart (torte?) was under-browned.

But good nonetheless. Pears and rummy custard and dough are such a great combination. Even if it was a lot of steps. It’s worth it to keep my unbroken record of not skipping a week (although not necessarily being on time).

Cakelaw chose this for TWD and has the recipe posted.

One year ago: Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart
Two years ago: Lenox Almond Biscotti

crunchy and custardy peach tart

It’s hot.  Usually at this time of year, I’m glaring at everyone who is eating chili and baking pumpkin treats and looking forward to fall, wondering how anyone could possibly want to move on from the sunny days of summer.  But now it’s too hot, and I just want a few days where the high temperatures are below 90 degrees.  Below 90…that’s all I ask.

On the other hand, I’m not ready to give up summer food!  I haven’t had anywhere near my fill of stone fruits, berries, and tomatoes.  I’m lucky that Rachel’s choice for Tuesdays with Dorie this week gave me a chance to use peaches.  You can’t go wrong with a good summer peach.

In this case, those summer peaches were sliced, spread over tart dough, covered in rich custard, and dotted with streusel.  All of those extra textures and flavors just enhanced the perfection of the peaches.  Unfortunately, it involved an hour and a half of oven time.  Delicious though it was, perhaps I wouldn’t need yet another cooling shower right now if we’d eaten the peaches plain…

Rachel has this recipe posted on her blog.  I think I undercooked mine.  It was still very juicy, and the streusel wasn’t browned.  On the other hand, the tart crust was getting too dark, and the custard seemed curdled.  I don’t know the answer, although perhaps one isn’t necessary, as we certainly weren’t complaining about the tart as it was.

One year ago: Lime Cream Meringue Pie
Two years ago: Chocolate Banded Ice Cream Torte

lemon curd tart

After the lemon cream tart, I was pretty sure I was done with lemon cream. With thirty tablespoons of butter in the whole tart, there is no reasonably sized serving. And then there’s my favorite lemon tart, which uses the whole lemon, peel and all. But I was making this for my mom, and I had a feeling she wouldn’t enjoy the pucker of that one quite as much as I do. There’s a third option for lemon tarts, probably the most classic version, and that is filled with lemon curd.

The ingredients in all three are the similar – there are eggs, lemons, sugar, and butter, but the ratios and the method for combining the ingredients differ. Only the tartest lemon tart includes heavy cream, but the most important difference between the recipes aside from that is the amount of butter – 21 tablespoons in the filling for the lemon cream and 8 tablespoons in the tartest make the four tablespoons here (plus what’s in the crust of course) seem downright skimpy.

The lemon cream manages to hold 21 tablespoons of butter in only 4 eggs and ½ cup of lemon juice because it’s emulsified when the butter is slowly added to the other ingredients.  The tartest tart is the simplest, in that the ingredients are just thrown together and blended, then baked, like lemon squares. For the curd, the ingredients are mixed in a double boiler. (I seem to have added all the ingredients at once instead of slowly stirring the butter in after the other ingredients heated. It apparently worked.)

This curd reminds me of why lemon cream, to me, isn’t worth it. Yes, it’s smooth and balanced and so, so good, but this lemon curd tart is so, so good too. It’s different from the cream, yes, but not worse. My favorite lemon tart is still the tartest though – I love that bitter hint from the lemon peel. This, however, is a crowd pleaser.

One year ago: Casatiello
Two years ago: Soba Salad with Feta and Peas

Printer Friendly Recipe
Lemon Curd Tart
(adapted from Joy of Baking)

Serves 6 – 8

tart crust for a 9-inch pan, completely baked and cooled (I used Dorie Greenspan’s)
3 large eggs
⅓ cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
¾ cup (5.25 ounces) granulated white sugar
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon lemon zest

1. In a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended. Cook, whisking constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes pale in color and quite thick (like a hollandaise sauce or sour cream) (160 degrees F or 71 degrees C on a thermometer). This will take about 10 minutes.

2. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted. Add the lemon zest, cover, and let cool to room temperature before filling the pastry crust. (Note: The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Covering the lemon curd with plastic wrap prevents a skin from forming on the surface.) Serve plain or with softly whipped cream and fresh berries.