Special Occasion Cupcakes | Simple & Sweet

You guys! I had my first paying baking gig since moving to Pittsburgh! My friend and local business owner approached me about doing cupcakes for her friend’s wedding shower. Now if you would have asked me to decorate a cake or even cupcakes before working full time in a bakery, I would have probably taken a day or two to think it over (and teach myself technique) before agreeing. Well that was not the case this time. I think I agreed before she finished asking the question.

I still get pretty nervous about using fondant and different decorating tips, but the queezy feeling in my stomach is no more. This happens when you show up to work with a terrible hangover only to find out that the resident decorator is a no call no show and you have to get your shit together and decorate 3 three THREE wedding cakes. Yeah that happened a couple of weeks ago. I now feel pretty invincible.  Thankfully, Dora did not want me to go all Cake Boss at this point and time. For the sake of simplicity, she ordered a vanilla cupcake with a vanilla butter cream icing. You know, simple really is the best. Simple can also be beautiful!

I adapted this recipe from my go-to girl (Martha). Sorry for the lack of photos. I was crunched for time, but- simple is key here.

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Simple Lavender & Vanilla Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

1 stick butter, softened

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tbs baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbs finely chopped lavender (fresh or dried)

For the icing:

2 sticks butter, softened

1 Crisco baking stick

1 tbs vanilla

1 cup milk

12-16 cups powdered sugar

  1. In a large bowl, beat together butter, lavender, and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time.
  2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder. Slowly add this mixture to the sugar and eggs.
  3. Add the buttermilk and vanilla. Beat until combined.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill cupcake papers halfway and bake for 15-20 minutes. This recipe should yield about 2 dozen cupcakes, more or less.

Butter cream icing is just as easy. If you are like me and do not own a mixer of any sort, I find that a rubber spatula and occasionally a wooden spoon will do the trick.

  1. Cream together your butter, shortening, and vanilla.
  2. Alternate between adding cups of powdered sugar and tablespoons of milk. The final product should be stiff enough to hold its own on top of a cake or cupcake.

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I think they turned out beautifully! Dora and her family and friends also loved them, and that’s all that really matters. The door has since been opened for freelance cake and pastry work. I will also really emphasize…I LOVE BAKING PIE! I can always be contacted via my blog if you have any questions.

Papa Don’t Peach (Pie)

Let’s rewind the clock and really even flip the calendar back a month to June. I don’t normally like to go back in time, but pie is involved so I’ll make an exception.

The Monday beginning Fathers Day week I found myself lying in bed not being able to sleep and thinking about food, per usual. I swear, all of my best ideas come to me via delirium. This one also came courtesy of Madonna, an earlier trip to my butcher crush’s establishment, and the onslaught of summer. PEACHES AND BACON – I had the perfect pie any pops would like on their day.

When I shared this bright piedea with friends, theladies were like “that’s a strange combination” and the dudes were like “fuck yeah, bacon”. From their responses I knew I was on the right track. I used the same all butter pie crust recipe I’ve grown accustomed to, with the addition of 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Crust is always my favorite part of the pie so I love making minor adjustments to the recipe in order to bring out the flavor in the filling. As for the peaches, cream, and bacon, I took the local route. I love any excuse to visit my local butcher (I have the biggest crush on that man) and farmers markets are a no brainer.

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Papa Don’t Peach Pie

For the Filling:

8-10 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced

1 tbs fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp vanilla + 1/2 tsp maple syrup

1 cup sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

2 tbs + 2 tsp corn starch

1 1/2 tbs tapioca 

pinch kosher salt

  1. Peel and slice peaches and place into a large mixing bowl. make sure your peaches are ripe, otherwise this is a pretty arduous task….it really is the pits. (Ha!) Try brown bagging your fruit for a day or 2 beforehand. Toss in and coat the peaches with the fresh lemon juice, vanilla, and maple syrup.Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  2. In a separate smaller bowl, combine all of your (other) dry ingredients. Lightly toss the mixture in with the peaches with a rubber spatula.  This is why I love making fruit pies, so simple! Processed with VSCOcam with e8 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  3. Lightly fry up a few slices of bacon in a skillet. Then dice those babies up. We will dot the filling with bacon instead of butter!Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  4. When assembling your pie, a double crust is the way to go. I would recommend either a tight lattice crust or small vent slits. Peaches are more on sensitive side. You don’t want to end up scorching your fruit or hurting anyone’s feelings. I have a love for latticing things, so duh, I went with a fat, tight, and diagonal weave. Before adding the filling, I like to dust the bottom half of the pie shell with a mixture of equal parts sugar and flour. This helps to thicken up any juices during the baking process. Yum! Finally after spooning your peaches into the shell, dot with the little cubes of bacon before starting to weave the top crust layer. Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  5. Pop your assembled pie into the freezer for about 30 minutes. This help the crust to maintain its shape during the baking process. No one likes a droopy crust! After freezing, brush the top layer of crust with a mixture of equal parts heavy cream and whole milk. Another trick for the books, this gives you a soft yet flaky and goldenly delicious pie crust. I used local dairy products, too! Happy cows=happy pies, right? Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  6. Bake this baby for 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees, rotating every 20 minutes. Let cool for an hour before delving in. I served the pie with homemade coldbrew coffee, but I can only imagine the amazingness of a la mode! Next time, next time.Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

 

If and when I finally make that pie shoppe dream come true, this will definitely be on the menu come fathers day. It may have to become a summer staple, because who doesn’t like peach pie? (Answer: weirdos/people who are not my friends)

 

***Because bacon is involved, this also makes a great breakfast choice!***Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

Sweet Potato Babycakes

The idea for this blog post found its beginnings in a personal journal entry. I was complaining via pen and paper about my lack of a Memorial Day weekend due to a 70 hour work week. The weekends are usually the time when I bake on my own, photograph, edit said photos, and then draft blog posts. I feel like I have not had a weekend since the middle of May. Anyway, somewhere in a rant on Instagram, Friday Night Lights (my newest Netflix obsession), and work, my mind saw a sudden burst of color. You know how shades can provoke certain emotions? Well, I feel like my brain did the opposite of that. By the end of my entry all I could think about were hues of purples and orange. I wanted to manifest these colors into something delicious. From that, my recipe for sweet potato babycakes (with a black raspberry & cinnamon glaze) was born! Image

Some of you may be questioning my choice of sweet potatoes now that summer is well upon us. What else is naturally orange and possesses an abundance of flavor and depth? Don’t say carrots unless you want to be wrong! Adding cinnamon the the fruit glaze really tied all the flavors together with a result that was slightly sweet and slightly savory. I have also had a hankering to use edible flowers as a garnish/decoration. After discovering and following an Australian cake decorator, Unbirthday Bakery, via Instagram, I purchased a package of pansies from a local grocery store. I figured this to be the better route than urban foraging. I really cannot wait to work with edible flowers again! They give you a warm fuzzy feeling, or me at least. ImageImageImageImage

My friend Lauren let me shoot and bake in her adorable, very well lit kitchen. Her original vintage gas stove is the stuff my dreams are made of, though, I guess in that dream I’d never be able to cook a Thanksgiving turkey. Her kitchen was the perfect setting to create and then later enjoy.

Sweet Potato Babycakes w/ a Black Raspberry & Cinnamon Glaze

For the cake:

3 medium sweet potatoes

2 cups flour

2 large eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup brown sugar

For the glaze:

4 cups powdered sugar

2-3 tbs black raspberry preserves

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup water, added 1 tbs at a time

edible flowers for decorating

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  1. Wash, peel, and prick your sweet potatoes with a fork. Roast for about 45 minutes or until done at 400 degrees. Once cooled, mash sweet potatoes with a fork until smooth. It is okay if there are some chunky pieces, it will give your cake some texture! ImageImageImage
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together salt, spices, flour, baking soda, and baking powder. In a separate large bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla and then eggs, one at a time. ImageImageImageImage
  3. Mix the mashed sweet potatoes in with your butter, eggs, and vanilla. Once fully incorporated, stir in the flour and spices. Your batter should be thicker, more like the consistency of a banana bread. ImageImageImageImage
  4. Grease and flour 4 smaller baking cups, I used ramekins. If you want to make a full sized cake or bunt, be my guest! A 9 inch pan should do the trick. Pour your batter into whichever type of preferred baking dish, just note that the size may adjust the baking time. For ramekins, the total baking time was about 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees. use a toothpick or a fork to test your cake at the 30 minute mark. ImageImageImageImageImage
  5. Now for the glaze! Whisk together vanilla, a few tablespoons of your water, and the preserves. Slowly add in powdered sugar cup by cup, alternating between tablespoons of water. The thing with glaze is that you don’t want it too runny. The ideal consistency is a almost like Elmer’s glue. ImageImage
  6. If you have a pastry bag on hand, you may want to use it for your glaze. It certainly makes decorating a whole lot easier and definitely less messy. Squeeze the glaze onto the tops of your cakes in a zigzag circular motion, then apply flowers before the glaze has a chance to set. ImageImageImageImage

 

I am more than elated with the way these turned out. Like I said earlier, I cannot wait to decorate more with edible flowers. This recipe also proves that sweet potato is flavor that can and should be used year round! It is always nice when a vision becomes a reality, in this case the purple and orange color combination.ImageImageImageImage

 

I hope you all had a lovely weekend and a pleasant Monday! Talk to ya later, babycakes!

Banana Chocolate Experiment Pie

Even though I spend 40+ hours a week at a bakery, I can’t help but not want to be in the kitchen on my days off. Mondays more than Sundays are reserved for conjuring up something sweet or savory and definitely baked. We celebrated my good friend Lauren’s birthday over the weekend. Upon her request, I made her my famous buttermilk pie.

Even though I halved my pie crust recipe, I had quite a bit left over after lining one pie plate. As it sat in the refrigerator for a few days, I kept going back and forth in my head as to what I should use it for. Mini quiches, cream pies, hand pies, lemon bars, and galettes were all viable options until I realized I was missing one key ingredient for each.  Image

One of the main reasons why I love baking so much is that it forces you to get creative. Well, I guess I should edit that statement by saying that baking forces you to get creative if you are too lazy to go to the store and are just making something up on the whim that is what you have in your refrigerator. This recipe falls somewhere in the void between a lemon bar and a chess pie. Both are similar in that they are simple, only calling for a fair amount of ingredients- sugar, flour, eggs. I have a million and one bananas in my freezer and wanted to throw them into the mix. You can also never go wrong with adding chocolate, or so I hoped.

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Banana Chocolate Experiment Pie

1 unbaked pie shell

4 eggs

1 cup white sugar

1/4 cup flour

2 tbs cocoa powder

6 frozen bananas

1 tsp vanilla

  1. If opt to make a crust from scratch, go ahead and roll it out and trim it for your pie plate. I was working with leftover dough scraps, so my crimping is a little less than pleasing. I used a butter knife to lightly press the dough onto the edge of the plate.ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage
  2. Other nice options for crusts would be a simple shortbread (butter, sugar, and flour) or even a graham cracker crust.
  3. Slice 2 of your frozen bananas and layer them on the bottom of your crust. Once baked, these make a nice layer on top of the crust. ImageImageImage
  4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and cocoa. Image
  5. In a smaller bowl, beat eggs, vanilla, and the remainder of your frozen bananas together. Combine with flour mixture until smooth. ImageImageImageImageImageImage
  6. Bake for about 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees. I drizzled the top with melted chocolate and sea salt to give it a little something extra. Extra is always good if it’s chocolate! ImageImageImageImage

 

After taste testing a warm slice, I let the pie chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before having an official slice. This was so refreshing, not to mention simple. Lauren deemed a pie tie between buttermilk and this chocolaty banana-y concoction.

 

Pie is always a good choice!

Simply Sunday Scones

A few weeks ago, we hosted a murder house marathon brunch. I only say marathon because the day seemingly went on for forever, and the finish line was eating. I had the (dis)pleasure of not being involved in any of the preparations. That’s probably why we didn’t end up eating until dinnertime. Okay okay, that sounds kind of bitchy. I thought it would be harder for my control freak self to sit back and watch semi-strangers take over my kitchen, but the hangover I was nursing thought otherwise.

Scones were an “appetizer” the morning of marathon brunch. While they were tasty, they were the basic bitches of breakfast scones. Maybe I spend too much time on Pinterest/double tapping #foodporn on Insta, but fruit can’t not come to mind when I think of scones. I want something a little more hearty than cinnamon and raisins. After stalking my #womancrusheveryday’s website, I came across a simple recipe for a scone bursting with berries.

This is a great recipe because it is easily adaptable. I made an almost dairy free (if I would’a subbed margarine for butter) blueberry almond version. To say they were a hit would be an understatement. All the basic scones better bow down, because this recipe might just be the queen B of breakfast.ImageImage

Blueberry Almond Scones

2 1/2 cups flour + more for dusting (I used half all-purpose & half whole wheat)

1/4 cup sugar + 1 tbs for dusting

1 tbs baking powder

3/4 tsp course ground or kosher salt

1/4 cup roughly chopped raw almonds, toasted for about 15 minutes

3/4/cup (1 1/2 sticks) very cold butter or margarine, cut into cubes

1 egg yolk

1 tsp almond extract

3/4 cup sweetened almond milk

1 cup fresh blueberries

  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and almonds. Using your hands, a pastry blender, or even a food processor if fancy, work the butter into the dry mixture until it begins to form pea sized pieces. ImageImageImageImageImage
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together your egg yolk and almond extract. Slowly add in the almond milk, combining as you pour. Add the wet mixture to the dry. Your dough should be fairly sticky once fully combined. ImageImage
  3. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and flatten out with your hands. Sprinkle fresh blueberries, fold dough over, and pat down again. Repeat this process until all blueberries have been used up, about 3 times. ImageImageImage
  4. Form your dough into a circle and lightly flatten with the heels of your hand. Use a pastry cutter or a sharp knife to cut your dough into triangles. Transfer triangles to a greased and floured baking dish. I used a round 9 inch cake pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes until golden brown, rotating the pan halfway through. Let cool for about 10 minutes and serve. ImageImageImageImageImageImage

If I did not have to be at work before sunrise almost every day, these could easily become a daily breakfast staple. I would have saved some for the morning after, but they were just too good to not be completely devoured. I can’t wait to make different versions of non-basic scones using this recipe. A vanilla and orange blossom combination is dancing around my brain this very moment!

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Happy Baking!

(The ‘C’ is Silent) Challah Bread!

I love to bake fresh bread and usually opt for the single rise, no-knead, bake in a cast iron skillet versions. Everything else seems to take forever when you do not own a bread machine. As winter storm Ivan rolled on through Pittsburgh yesterday, I found myself bored after brunch. I had the entire day to dedicate to creating something delicious. Why not bake a loaf(ves) of bread?

For this baking adventure, I found inspiration after a quick flip through the Smitten Kitchen cookbook at Williams-Sonoma coupled with too much time spent in Squirrel Hill. I had been wanting to bake Challah after learning how to properly pronounce the name (last week). The ‘c’ is silent, in case you did not know! Upon researching various recipes and braiding methods, I discovered that this bread has a historical/biblical significance besides being a traditional Jewish bread. Traditionally, a double loaf is baked out of one batch of dough. Each loaf has 6 strands, totaling 12 & representing the 12 tribes of Israel. Thanks, Wikipedia!

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Reverting back to the Smitten Kitchen cookbook, my attention was grabbed by a beautiful loaf of fig, olive oil, and sea salt challah. I decided to move up 5 steps on the bread baking pyramid and attempt something of this delicious magnitude. Adapted from here.

Rosemary, Apple, Walnut Challah with Goat Cheese (+1 Regular Challah)

3 3/4 tsp dry active yeast

1 tbs + 1/2 cup sugar

1 3/4 cup lukewarm water

1/2 cup olive oil

5 large eggs

1 tbs salt

8-8 1/2 cups flour

filling: 4 oz goat cheese, 1 cup roughly chopped walnuts, juice of 1/4 lemon, 2 small granny smith apples (peeled, cored, cubed), 2 tsp rosemary, pinch of kosher salt, 1/2 tsp sugar

  1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tbs sugar in lukewarm water. Set aside for about 5 minutes until foamy.
  2. Whisk in olive oil, then, one at a time, beat in 4 eggs. Beat in the remaining sugar and salt. ImageImageImage
  3. Gradually add in flour, cup by cup. If using a mixer, the dough hook attachment will save you quite the arm workout. Sadly enough, my hand mixer croaked in the midst, even with the dough hook attachment.
  4. This is my favorite part! KNEAD dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Return to your rinsed and greased mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm place to rise for one hour.  ****************************The rest of this recipe involves a lot of waiting around*****************************2 episodes of Mad Men to be exact****************************** ImageImageImageImage
  5. By this point, your dough should have doubled in size. Using a pastry cutter, divide the dough in 2. Double loaves! For regular challah: punch down the dough, set in another greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, set aside for 30 more minutes of rising. For stuffed challah: flatten into an oblong shape with your hands, cover half with filling, fold over, and repeat a few times. Form into a ball shape and set aide for 30 more minutes of rising.
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  6. Divide each ball further into 4 parts. Roll each part into a rope.
  7. BRAIDING. Lay your 4 ropes perpendicular to each other, forming a #hashtag. Weave them so that one rope is over and the other is under (see photos below). The rest of the weaving is not too tricky, though I honestly had no idea what I was doing. As long as you keep with the under and over weaving pattern and tuck the awkward ends underneath the loaf it should come out fine. ImageImageImageImageImageImage
  8. In a small cup, beat your last remaining egg. Brush each loaf generously with egg wash and allow to rise for 30 more minutes.
  9. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Before baking your bread, brush generously one last time with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt and rosemary. Bake for 40 minutes, rotating pans at the halfway mark. Your loves should be a nice golden brown color and your kitchen should smell amazing. ImageImageImageImage

I brought the stuffed loaf over to my friends Lauren & Chase’s house for our family dinner. I thought there was going to be a lot leftover, but the three of us easily consumed half of this loaf. I love the way you can just pull this bread apart. It is lightly sweetened and makes a great breakfast companion, too!

I think I can say I am no longer intimidated by bread making. I actually find the entire process to be more therapeutic than brain frazzling. The process is long and drawn out, rather lazy and perfect for a lazy, snowed in weekend. ImageImage

For the Love of Lattice

It is no secret that I absolutely love to bake. Let it also be known that pies are my favorite thing to make. For such a proficient pie slinger, it pains me to admit that I had not made a lattice crusted pie until recently- in the last year to be exact! Since making my relationship with baking official, I’ve recently put a lot of thought into why this was so. I love to braid hair, and this is basically the same thing if not a million times easier.

These days I get urges to lattice. I want to do it to everything! Fortunately enough, the opportunity presents itself on the regular.

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Over the weekend, we celebrated the birthday of one of my good friends. To no one’s surprise, a whole bunch of baking was involved, including a birthday pie!

The pie crust i decided to go with is probably obvious after reading this posting’s title and further along ramblings. I used the same dough recipe from Hoosier Mama, blogged here. I changed things up by using lavender infused salt rather than the regular kosher.

Blackberries have been cheap at my local supermarket, so of course this was my go-to filling. Cherries or blueberries would work just as well. The following recipe is as easy as pie!

Blackberry Pie

4 cups fresh blackberries 

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3 tbs corn starch

1 tsp tapioca starch

pinch lavender infused (or regular ol’) kosher salt

2 tbs butter cut into tiny pieces

1 tsp flour + 1 tsp sugar for crust dusting

1 egg + 1 tbs water for crust washing

coarse grain sugar for sprinkling (pre-bake) OR powdered sugar for dusting (post-bake)

  1. In a large bowl, combine blackberries, lemon juice, and vanilla.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.
  3. Using a rubber spatula, gently mix the dry ingredients into the larger bowl with the berries.
  4. Dust a prepared pie shell with crust dust, then add the pie filling. The flour and sugar combo actually helps to thicken out all the berry juice upon cooling!
  5. Using a pastry cutter, pizza cutter, knife, or anything sharp, cut out dough strips for your lattice. Thick or thin. Thick and thin. Over-under. Under-over. There is no real right way to weave your lattice crust. Be creative! I have a problem with cutting straight lines, so I went with bigger and fewer strips.
  6. Once finished with your weave, roll and crimp your edges and brush with pie wash.
  7. Sprinkle or dust with your chosen sugar before or after baking. Or not at all! This last step is for aesthetic purposes only.

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I urge you to go ahead and try latticing something! Then go braid your hair!

Happy baking.

52 Weeks of Baking: Buttermilk Buttermilk

Never had I ever eaten a slice of buttermilk pie until last summer when a coworker brought some to the office. As a huge fan of anything buttermilk, I devoured my slice and went back for seconds. Buttermilk pie is a dessert indigenous to The South and Texas. How was I just tasting it at the ripe age of 24?

My dad loves pumpkin pie. I would always bake him pies straight from the can come Thanksgiving time. I would occasionally have a slice of pecan or coconut cream pie from Bill Miller’s if my grandpa had a craving. I was never really a fan of apple pie. GASP! How un- American of me, right? Needless to say, I grew up very sheltered from the amazing types of pie out there in the world. Buttermilk was one of these!

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Upon opening my Hoosier Mama cookbook for the first time, I landed on page 174, pretty much the centerfold, a recipe for buttermilk pie. The rest is history! I have since adapted Paula Haney’s recipe a litter here and a little there to satiate my cravings. My two favorite versions include the addition of cocoa powder, extra lemon, and frozen berries. You wanna know what makes this pie the best things ever? This.

Ingredients

1 cup granulated sugar

6 tbs butter

the zest of an entire lemon

2 large eggs, separated

3 tbs all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tbs fresh lemon juice

1 cup buttermilk

***for chocolate buttermilk pie: 3 tbs cocoa powder

***for berry buttermilk pie: 1 1/2 cups frozen berries, preferably black, blue, or raspberries

The Process 

1. In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and lemon zest.ImageImage

2. Whisk together the egg yolks and add to the sugar and butter.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together four, nutmeg, salt, and *cocoa powder. Slowly add the dry mixture to the butter, combining thoroughly.

4. Slowly pour in the lemon juice, followed by the buttermilk. Mix together on low. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl, being sure to incorporate everything.

5. In another separate bowl, beat the egg white until soft peaks form. Fold 1/2 of the egg whites into the batter using your rubber spatula. Once fully combined, fold in the remaining egg whites. *If making a berry buttermilk pie, stir in the berries at this time.Image

6. Gently pour the batter into a blind baked pie shell. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Image

Let your pie cool for about 30 minutes to an hour after baking. For a little extra sweetness, I dusted the tops with powdered sugar! ImageImageImage

Buttermilk pie, and especially these variations, has wiggled its way to my top favorite desserts, coming in second to pecan pie! I can’t wait til the holidays so I can make/maybe sell some of these bad boys. Until then, they will suffice for Sunday Breaking Bad watch parties.

XOXOXO

Wednesday Wishlist 9.11

Before I delve into another blog post about all the things I currently want but do not have, let me start out by mentioning how thankful I am for the things I have already been blessed with. I am not just saying this because this day, September 11th, has a history, but because I really do appreciate you all- my friends, my family, my loyal readers, and even the passersby. Y’all keep me going!

There is only one thing I am currently lusting over at the moment. So I will keep this post short and simple and to the point.

A butcher’s block! I love working with various types of dough on a wooden surface. My wooden IKEA table however does not work the same as my wooden cutting board. My cutting board is actually too small for many of the baking journeys I embark on. Boo hoo. At the moment, I have my eye on a block by Michigan Maple. 24 by 18 inches is big enough, right?

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I really do hope you all have a great Wednesday. I love and appreciate you all!

XOXOXO

The Best Pie Dough for the Best Pie Crust

Until recently I used to pretend like I was Martha Stewart when working away in the kitchen. These days, I find myself relating more and more to Paula Haney. While she may not be the queen of arts & crafts, the woman sure as hell knows how to make a pie! I bought Haney’s cookbook as an early birthday gift to myself and have since gone pie crazy. Off the deep end into a wonderful land of butter, butter, and more butter, plus some flour. And don’t you dare let your brain start along the path of Paula Deen.

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I love this cookbook because it tells Haney’s story. Almost every recipe is accompanied by an anecdote about either her family way way back or something that happened in the shop. It’s very personal, and that Midwestern hospitality (it’s a real thing, y’all) is evident in her writing. The recipes are also very easy to follow, which is good for professional and novice bakers alike. She begins her recipes for pie dough with a warning: making good pie dough is hard. I made a perfectly poached egg on the first try. I was up for the challenge.

The Hoosier Mama’s All-Butter Pie Dough

To start things off on a good note, I absolutely loved making this dough. Honestly, I love making all kinds of dough, and the process for this crust was actually fairly similar to the one I used for my empanadas. (Would ya look at how much my blog has improved!!!) The key here is keeping things “chill”. My kitchen does not come equipped with a food processor, but fortunately for me, I have what they call pie maker hands! This means that my hands are cold. Actually, honestly, my hands are not cold during the summer months (June-September for Texas) so this is a half truth. Anyway. I had to mix the dough by hand for this recipe because I lack a food processor. I am totally alright with this though. My grandma and her mother and even her grandmother did not use a food processor, and pie has a long long history. What the hell, a dough blender and 10 fingers work just the same!

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Before I begin relaying the recipe to you, please note that a good pie crust takes time. The dough must rest in order to be its best! The same goes for me!

Ingredients

1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, divided

1 tbs red wine vinegar

1/2 cup very cold water

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

2 1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tbs granulated sugar

The Process

1. After cutting into cubes, freeze 5 tbs of your butter for any amount of time between 20 minutes and overnight. I went with an hour. Chill the remaining 1 1/8 sticks until ready to use.

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2. Stir the red wine vinegar and water together and set aside as well.

3. In a large bowl, combine your dry ingredients.

4. After your declared amount of freeze time, add the CHILLED butter to the dry mixture first. Work the butter into the flour with either your hands or a dough blender (or both!) until it resembles a coarse meal. Image

5. Next, add the frozen butter. Cut into the dough until the frozen pieces are pea sized. These pieces will eventually turn into butter pockets, making the crust ever so flaky, delicious, and, well, buttery!

6. Add 6 tbs of the chilled vinegar water to the dough and mix together with your hands. If the dough holds together in your hand after squeezing a small amount, you are good to go. If not, add more vinegar water to the mixture, little by little.

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7. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough together until smooth. Divide the dough into two equal parts and roll each into a ball. You can then lightly flatten them and wrap in plastic wrap. From here they must rest in the refrigerator, preferable overnight.

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8. After an extended period of time in the refrigerator, your dough will be ready to work with. Dust your work surface and a rolling pin liberally with flour.

9. Place your chilled dough onto your surface and partially flatten with the heel of your hand. To get the dough even flatter, beat with a rolling pin. This was a fun process! Image

10. Now you can begin rolling out your dough. Dust your pin and even part the dough with flour and make long strokes out from the center making sure the dough does not stick to the surface along the way. The final product should be about 1/8 inch thick. Image

11. Cut a 14 inch wide circle out of the dough. I guestimated with a dinner plate! Image

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12. Softly settle the dough circle into a greased and floured 9 inch pie plate. You may have to tap the plate ever so gently on the table until it settles. Then, lightly press the dough into the corners of the pie plate.

13. If you are continuing on to make a single crust pie, begin the crimp process by folding the dough edges under. Work the edges in opposite directions, squeezing little points on the outer top of the pie plate. This did take a while to get the hang of. My later pies looked much better, and they all tasted equally amazing! ImageImageImageImageImage

As you can see, I have definitely gotten better with practice!

Since purchasing this book, I have made 6 pies. Some were recipes straight from the Hoosier Mama, while others mere varieties. Each one has tasted delicious. I documented the process for a buttermilk pie (along with chocolate and berry variations) that will knock your socks off. Expect many recipes in the coming days, weeks, and months!

With a different work schedule and school back in session, life is a bit more hectic. But, I can always make time for pie! And so begins a new love affair!

XOXOXO