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Archive for the ‘Pies Tarts Cobblers & Crisps’ Category

[You can find the recipe for Slab Pie Pâte Brisée right here.  You can find the recipe for Slab Pie on Martha’s website right here. And finally, here’s why I do not include the recipes in my posts.]

Great recipe! Pretty quick and easy and the results, while simple, are quite impressive.

You start with a special recipe for Slab Pie Pâte Brisée which is very similar to Pâte brisée, I think it just makes a bigger batch. In fact, it’s almost more than one food processor can handle. (This is the food processor I use.)

Once the food processor has done its work, the dough is worked into two rectangles, one slightly larger than the other. These are wrapped and chilled.

The recipe is for one large 18″ x 13″ pie but I opted to make two smaller pies (about 12″ x 7″) using two different fruits. So once I had my two rectangles, I halved each of them so I’d have a bottom crust and top crust for two separate pies.

These are rolled out and placed in dry pans. (My favorite rolling pin.)

Fruit is prepared with a basic sugar mixture and poured into the pie shell. I opted to make one strawberry and one peach pie. The MSBH recipe’s first recommendation is for sour cherries, which would be awesome, but after two years of looking for them everywhere – even frozen – I had to give up and go with a different fruit choice. But I honestly think any type of pie fruit would be great in this recipe.

The top piece of dough is rolled out and placed on top of the fruit, the edges folded and crimped.

The top is brushed with a cream wash and pricked with little holes. Sanding sugar is optional but I highly recommend it. It is one of those little touches that goes a long way.

Then into the oven to bake. I had some juice leak out but otherwise they baked up beautifully. (Stack-able cooling racks.)

The best part about these pies is how easy they are to slice and serve. They would be perfect for a summer potluck or cookout.

I somehow had the idea to stack two different pieces, creating this pretty layer pie! You could get really creative with this and make some truly impressive dessert plates.

As for flavor and texture, it was delicious and perfect. The MSBH’s pie crust recipes are great and seem to be pretty foolproof. There’s nothing new or exciting going on here: it’s a basic fruit pie. But sometimes a basic fruit pie is just the thing, you know?

Have you made the Slab Pie from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook? If so, let me know what you thought in the comments!

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[I could not find this recipe on Martha’s website, but you can find many recipes for fruit curd, tart dough, and meringue if you simply search there.  Here’s why I don’t include the recipes in my posts.]

These are quite good, almost entirely due to the fruit curd, which is absolutely delicious.

The MSBH’s recipe for tart dough provides the pastry for the individual shells. These are shaped into tartlet pans, pricked, and chilled before blind baking.

Once baked, the shells slip out of the pans quite easily. I stacked them and stored them in an airtight container overnight, allowing me to split the time the recipe takes over two days.

The MSBH contains four different recipes for fruit curd (lemon, lime, grapefruit, and passion fruit). I opted to make two of the flavors: lemon and grapefruit.

The eggs, sugar, fruit juice, and zest are cooked about 10 minutes until thick and bubbly, then removed from the heat.  Butter and salt are stirred in.

The curd is then strained.

The grapefruit version has some extra grapefruit zest mixed in at the end. Even though I made it with red grapefruit juice, the curd still cooks up quite yellow. It was indistinguishable from the lemon curd except for the pieces of grapefruit zest mixed in.

Once strained it is refrigerated to set.  It’s a very easy process and resulted in smooth, pretty, unbelievably delicious fruit curd. I wanted to just eat it all up with a spoon! (Both flavors were amazing; if I had to pick a favorite I would say the grapefruit was a little bit better.)

Once the curd had set, I filled the tart shells. The recipe says to use a pastry bag to pipe the filling into the shells, but I simply used a spoon.

Then I made the meringue topping by cooking egg whites, sugar and salt in my heatproof mixer bowl and then whipping the cooked mixture on high speed.

The meringue is then transferred to a pastry bag so that it can be piped onto the tartlets.

Much as with icing and cake decoration, my meringue-making skills and application method leave a lot to be desired. It’s simply an area of baking I don’t have a lot of experience in.

The meringue is the browned with either a pastry torch or the oven broiler. I opted to use my toaster oven’s broiler and it worked quite well.

If I were catering an event for Specialized Cycles, this “design” would have almost seemed like it was done on purpose.

Okay, so as I mentioned above, the fruit curd here is amazing. The tart shells are okay (I would have preferred a sweeter crust like a cookie crust of some kind.  The meringue is okay as well (I would have preferred a light whipped cream) but the fruit curd – the fruit curd is out of this world.

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[I could not find this exact recipe on Martha’s website, but you can find a very, very similar one right here – please let me know if you make it and what you think! Here’s why I don’t include the recipes in my posts.]

Key Lime Pie is a perfect summer dessert so I was looking forward to making this tart version.

The crust is made with the dough from the MSBH’s recipe for Graham Crackers. This dough is shaped into a tart pan and blind-baked. The recipe calls for a 9-inch flan ring but I don’t have one of those, so I just used a tart pan. I should also point out that the recipe calls for you to roll out the graham cracker dough like a pie crust and form in the pan but I think anyone who has made the MSBH’s recipe for graham cracker dough can agree, that’s just impossible. It’s not that kind of dough.

The filling is incredibly easy – a combination of egg yolks, key lime juice, zest, sweetened condensed milk, and salt.

The filling goes into the baked tart shell and is smoothed/evened out. Then into the oven to bake just a little longer to set.

Because the tart had already browned significantly on the first bake, I used silicone rims to keep the crust from getting any darker. I really like these, they do exactly what they claim to do and can be arranged to fit any size circular pie or tart.

While the tart was cooling, I prepared the candied key lime slices for the garnish. I used my mandoline to create thin, uniform slices.

These then cook in a simmering pot of sugar water for about 45 minutes and then dry on a rack.

And then it is just a matter of arranging the slices on the tart. I copied the photo from the MSBH, simply lining up the slices around the perimeter of the tart.

The candied key lime slices taste god-awful, by the way. Lovely for a garnish, disgusting for a food.

So the verdict on this is: Eh, it’s okay. The quality of my key limes left something to be desired, so that had a lot to do with my lackluster results, but even so this isn’t anything spectacular. A simpler crust made with graham cracker crumbs and butter would be much better than this one made with the dough. And using regular limes (which the recipe says you can do) would have produced a subtler, more enjoyable flavor too I think.

The recipe instructs you to make some whipped cream as a garnish and it’s a good idea. You need something sweet to counter the tartness of the filling (mine actually tasted just plain bitter).

Some notes:

  • If you use the recipe for Graham Crackers from the MSBH for the crust, only use as little of it as you possibly need to make a thin crust. It just isn’t an easy dough to work with and, because I used too much, my crust was thick and tough – not good at all.
  • The candied key lime slices really do amp up the eye-appeal of the tart but if you don’t need to impress anyone, don’t bother. You certainly aren’t going to want to eat them.
  • The whipped cream is a must. The tart itself is not very sweet and I have always found that key limes impart a definite bitter aftertaste to things. That may just be me or the poor quality of key limes available in Wyoming, but I’d feel remiss not mentioning it.

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[I could not find this recipe on Martha’s site to link to. Here’s why I don’t include the recipes in my posts.]

If you have some pâte brisée on hand, this recipe goes by pretty quickly. You will have to pit and destem the cherries, but you could use frozen cherries in a pinch (although when it comes to cherries for pie, I really do think fresh is best. They keep their shape better instead of turning all to mush).

I have been looking for sour cherries for the past three years to no avail. I look for them everywhere – not just in Laramie. Wherever I go, there are no fresh (or frozen) sour cherries to be had. So I finally decided to use sweet cherries and cut the amount of sugar in the recipe down from 1.5 cups to 1/4 cup. The cherries and sugar are mixed together along with some cornstarch and balsamic vinegar and poured into a ceramic baking dish.

Some pâte brisée (pie crust dough) is rolled out and strips are cut for the lattice and weaved on top of the cherries.

Once the top is done the edges are trimmed and tucked inside the edge of the dish. The whole thing goes into the freezer for about 30 minutes to chill.

After chilling thoroughly, the top is brushed with an egg-cream wash and sprinkled with sanding sugar.

It bakes up for about an hour and that’s all there is to it!

The flavor is wonderful. I imagine it would have a lot more depth with the sour cherries, but even with the sweet cherries it was pretty darn tasty. I love the balsamic vinegar flavor and of course, with the MSBH’s pâte brisée you cannot go wrong. It is always so buttery and flaky.  I also appreciate how simple and pretty it is in a plain white baking dish. A lovely, quick (if you have the pie crust on-hand), and delicious dessert perfect for summer cook-outs.

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[You can find the recipe for the Cornmeal Pâte Brisée used in this recipe right here.}

Here’s another great summer recipe and not too fussy.  You start with half a recipe for Cornmeal Pâte Brisée rolled out to a big circle.

The recipe says to chill it until you’re ready to form the actual galette but let me tell you something – that did not work for me.  First of all, I don’t have all kinds of room in my refrigerator to be chilling all kinds of big dough rounds.  Second of all, you need the dough to be pliable so you can curve and fold it around the filling.  It breaks when it is cold.  I had to let it warm up first otherwise it would have spelled disaster for this very free-form pastry.

Some apricots and blackberries are mixed with sugar and other typical pie filling ingredients and then poured onto the center of the dough.  I’m loving the deep purple and orange combination – so pretty!

The sides are carefully folded up and overlapped here and there.  I love the rustic, handmade look of galettes.

The galette relaxes a great deal while baking so I wouldn’t be too worried if your sides come up pretty far.  The crust is brushed with egg and sprinkled with sanding sugar before going into the oven.

Parchment paper and a rimmed baking sheet are musts for me – spillage occurred!  Nothing too devastating, though.

Unfortunately, I did not get a good picture of the entire galette and for that I am sorry – it was so cool looking.  It tasted great too; I love the flavor of baked apricots, they’re so intense.  And I cannot say enough good things about the Cornmeal Pâte Brisée.  It is a very easy, very accomodating pie dough and the golden cornmeal is brilliant with this dessert.

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Happy Easter!  I made this Easter Pie several weeks ago and it was wonderful.  If you’re looking for something unique for tonight’s dinner (or ideas for what to put on the menu for next year’s Easter dinner), give this one a go.  I was impressed.  You can find the entire recipe on Martha Stewart’s website – right here.

A pie dough is made with addition of black pepper and Parmesan cheese.  After chilling, it’s rolled out into two flat squares.

One of the portions of dough is formed into a square pan that’s been lined with parchment paper.  The other portion is cut into strips for a lattice top.

The dough is then chilled.  The crust is blind-baked and because the walls of the pie are so tall, I had to use ceramic bowls that I strategically arranged within the pan to keep the sides from folding over.  I kept the bowls in there while the crust chilled and put them in again when I noticed the sides falling during the blind bake.  They worked pretty well!

The filling is made with a mixture of cheeses, cooked spinach, prosciutto ham, and some other things for flavor and binding.

The filling is put into the baked crust and then remaining dough is formed into a lattice topping.

The edges of the lattice top are trimmed and tucked under and the whole thing is brushed with an egg wash before going in the oven.

The pie bakes for about 45 minutes; I received an urgent phone call about 10 minutes after putting my pie in the oven.   A situation with a friend required me to stop baking it, as I had to leave the house right away and no one was home to watch it for me.  I put it in the fridge and baked it when I returned home several hours later.  I hoped for the best, and for the most part it seemed fine but the top looks a bit weird.  I also wish I had lined the edges with foil so they wouldn’t be so dark.

It smells really delicious right from the oven.  It’s tempting to dig right in but I think it tasted better the cooler it became and was at its best when just slightly warmer than room temperature.

I used one of these cheesecake pans with the removable bottoms and it made depanning this hefty pie very easy.  The parchment helped too.  This is a very tall, very weighty pie so you want to take care with this step.

As for how it tasted – it’s very, very creamy on account of all the ricotta cheese.  The spinach is quite subtle and the prosciutto adds a lot of salty, savory flavor.  I only used half the amount of prosciutto suggested and I imagine it would be better with the full amount.  You need it to counter the creamy blandness of the ricotta.  The nutmeg gives it a distinctive European touch – it reminded me of eating quiche.

It’s very easy to slice and portion once it’s cooled.  It’s a very filling meal in and of itself.  You could easily feed a dozen hungry people with one pie.

Overall, I loved the crust most of all – you can really taste the Parmesan and pepper in every flaky, buttery bite.  I wasn’t so much sold on the filling, but like I said above, had I used the full amount of prosciutto I think the filling would have been much, much more flavorful.  Otherwise, I was totally happy with it and everyone who tasted it agreed it was very cool-looking and totally satisfying.

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GREAT RECIPE!  Really, truly, honestly, very delicious and an absolute cinch to make if you have puff pastry on hand.

The recipe calls for onions and “new” potatoes, which are nowhere to be found here in Laramie in September.  I opted for fingerlings and they were just fine.

The onions and potatoes are left round and sliced into discs.

Miniature (5 inch) pie tins are generously buttered.  These tartes are made “Tatin” style, so there is no pie crust between the filling and the pie tin while these bake, making the butter essential.  The butter also contibutes to the flavor of the onions and potatoes while they bake.

Puff pastry is rolled out thin and then cut into circles.  My puff pastry always shrinks while baking, even if it goes into a very hot oven while completely frozen, so I cut my circles a little larger than the pie tins.

These “circles” are then pricked all over with a fork and placed flat on a baking sheet and transferred to the freezer to firm up.  I love, love, love working with the MSBH’s puff pastry.  It is so cooperative and easy to work with – very forgiving stuff!

My puff pastry also shrinks while freezing, so I just have to trim up a little bit when I bring them out of the freezer to finish the actual tartes.  I pretty much trimmed them flush with the outer lip of the pie tin and they shrunk to just within the size of the inner lip.

The individual tartes are formed by placing some sliced onions in the bottom of the buttered tins.  The onions will ultimately be the top of the tartes.

Then the potatoes go on top of the onions.  Using larger “new” potatoes would have allowed me to circle and overlap the potatoes around the pie tin in a “fan” as the MSBH instructs.  Because I was using the much, much smaller fingerlings, I just heaped them in there.

A healthy dose of salt and pepper…

And then the frozen disc of puff pastry tops it all off.  It literally takes less than a minute to assemble each tarte.  And once assembled, there’s nothing left to do except bake.

(Those two misshapen blobs at the end of the baking sheet are some "cheese pockets" I made with the left-over puff pastry. I just rolled out a couple small discs, put a few tablespoons of cheese I had on-hand in the middle and folded them and pinched the seams.)

They bake up so nice!  This is such an impressive recipe, especially considering how quick and easy they are.  You can see how my puff pastry shrunk to within the inner lip of the tins while baking.  The MSBH has you putting a small disc of the pastry inside the lip of the tin to begin with, but that would have left me with a teeny-tiny crust for my baked tartes.  I don’t know how to get my puff pastry not to shrink, so I adapt my execution accordingly.

Don’t let that picture above fool you – these tartes need to be inverted immediately after leaving the oven.  I just set them on the cooling rack for a quick photo.  Then it was on to the plates with them while they were still piping hot.

Some of the onions stuck to the bottom of my tins, so definitely err on the side of using too much butter on the tins, especially if you are using standard metal tins that are not non-stick.

During the final minutes of baking, I made the suggested balsamic syrup using a wee-bit of balsamic vinegar and an even wee-ier bit of sugar.

This is allowed to reduce on the stovetop and then bits of cold butter are whisked in.

This syrup is drizzled over the tartes and they are ready to serve!  Pretty little things, these, if almost entirely beige.

They are delicious!  The onions caramelize while the tartes bake and the potatoes become tender and buttery.  As with all the other recipes made with the MSBH’s puff pastry, the crust is light and buttery, crisp on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.

They are a perfect size and a very filling main course (especially for vegetarians!) – like a fancy open-face roasted veggie sandwich.  They also have a genuine elegance about them, on account of the puff pastry and balsamic reduction.

I am already thinking about all the other vegetables that could be used as a variation on the onions and potatoes – leeks, sweet potatoes, tomatoes (seeds and juices removed first), zucchini, mushrooms, – the possibilities are endless.  Whatever time of year, you could make these tartes with what is in season.

And, you could even pre-cut the puff pastry circles and store them together in the freezer (use a piece of parchment paper or wax paper to separate each circle) and just take out however many you need, whenever you want to quickly throw this dish together.  Seriously, this recipe is a keeper – a very good thing.

Another win for the MSBH!

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