Monthly Archives: November 2010

Blue Ribbon Apple Pie

Alyssa gets credit for this awesome pie.  Here's why I like it so much, besides of course, the taste.

Blue Ribbon Apple Pie Slice
This was sliced once it was fully cooled.  Maybe even the next day.  I can't remember.  But look at how cleanly the crust and apples cut.  They stand on their own.  Apples are not falling all over the place and making an awful mess in your pie plate. 

The crust is my mom's (Grandma Shirley's) No Fail Pie Crust.  The remaining recipe is from The Perfect Recipe by Pam Anderson. 

The secret is using a mix of apples – about 3 parts apples that hold their shape, and 1 part apples that soften. 

Blue Ribbon Apple Pie
Compliments of JennaDish

from The Perfect Recipe by Pamela Anderson (Executive Editor of Cook's Illustrated)

Pie Filling

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 1/2 pounds apples that hold their shape, peeled, quartered, cored, sliced to 1/4" thick
  (Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Jonagold, Rome Beauty or Braeburn)
1/2 pound McIntosh or other apples that soften/thicken pie, peeled, quartered, cored, sliced 1/4" thick
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons cognac, brandy or applejack (you can't taste it in the pie)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg white
1 tablespoon sugar

If making fresh pie dough, make that first and refrigerate.

Heat butter in a large 12 " skillet over medium-high heat.  Add apples slices, sugar and cinnamon, and when they start to sizzle and steam, reduce heat to low.  Cover pan and simmer until apples soften and release heir juices, about 8 minutes.  Uncover, increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, until softer apples start to fall apart and juices thicken to thin syrup consistency, about 5 minutes longer.  Transfer apples to a jelly roll pan; refrigerate or set in a cool place until apples cool to room temperature  Stire in cognac and vanilla extract.

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and preheat oven to 400o F.  Remove larger dough disk from refrigerator.  (Let stand to soften slightly if refrigerated for longer than 30 minutes.)  Roll disk out on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick.  Transfer and fit dough into a 9-inch ovenproof glass pie pan, leaving any overhanging dough in place.  Turn cooled apples into pie shell.

Roll smaller dough disk out on a lightly floured surface into a 10-inch circle.  Lay it over fruit. Trim top and bottom edges to 1/2 inch beyond pan lip.  Tuck this rim of dough underneath itself so that folded edge is flush with pan lip.  Flute dough or press with fork tines to seal.  Cut 4 vents at right angles on top of dough to allow steam to escape.  Brush pie top with egg white and sprinkle with sugar.  Freeze pie for 15 minutes.

Place pie on a baking sheet and bake until top crust is golden, about 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350o F and continue baking until curst is golden brown and juices bubble, 30 to 35 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack; cool slightly.  Serve warm.

No Fail Pie Crust

This is from my mother's recipe collection in her own writing.  She always has had very nice penmanship.






No Fail Pie Crust
Compliments of JennaDish

Makes 3 – 9" single crusts

3 cups unbleached white all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups Crisco shortening
1 large egg
5 Tablespoons ice water
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar

Sift flour and salt, cut in shortening until mixture is in coarse crumbs.  Beat egg with cold water and vinegar.  Pour into flour mexutre.  Stir with a fork until mixture sticks together.  Divide evenly into thirds (use a scale if you have one).  Roll between wax paper and chill about 30 minutes in order to roll it out with minimal sticking. 

Light and Flakey.  Very Nice.


Pecan Pie

  Pecan Pie
This pecan pie was so awesome, I could hardly stop eating it.  Another King Arthur's Flour website recipe that turned out great.  Alyssa and I both worked on this one.

The only thing I would change next time is that I'd roughly chop all the pecans on the top layer and only use 5 or 6 whole pecans in the very middle for presentation sake.  Cutting a piece cleanly through a whole pecan is next to impossible, so you tend to cut at the convenience of the pecan, not the actual size you want.

I think I used Martha Stewart's pate brisee (pie dough) recipe for this, but if not, then I used my mom's No Fail Pie Crust.  Either recipe would work and they are here and here.

The pie crust is prebaked alone (called blind baked), so when you put the filling in and put it back in the oven to bake, cover the edge with a pie crust protector or make your own out of foil.  Cut a square a little larger than the pie size, fold the foil in half, cut a large hole out of the center and place the foil over the crust.  Remove the foil and if it needs to brown more, leave the foil off during the last 5-10 minutes.  Here's a pic…

P.S.  Sometimes we bakers don't have exactly everything in the recipe and we substitute.  In this case, I only had light corn syrup but no dark corn syrup.  Note to self and anyone else:  If you use even a very small amount (1/8 cup) of unsulfured molasses in the pie as a substitute, you will smell it and taste it.  Very strong.  I didn't care for it but it didn't ruin the pie.  It's just something I won't do again.

2011 Update:
Chopping the pecans and only putting the whole pecans in the middle didn't help that much.  So if you like the look of the whole pecans better than this rustic look …

Rustic Pecan Pie

go for it …

Pecan Pie Slice


Pecan Pie
Compliments of JennaDish

From King Arthur’s Flour Recipes

1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pecan halves

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie pan that's at least 2 inches deep. This will make serving the pie easier after it's baked.

Roll out the pastry for the pie to a 13-inch circle. Transfer it to the prepared pan, and trim the edges so they overlap the edge by an inch all the way around. Tuck the edges up and under, and flute them. Put the lined pie pan in the refrigerator to chill for 10 minutes.

Line the crust with foil or parchment paper, and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Blind bake the crust for 10 minutes. Remove it from the oven, and gently remove foil or parchment with the weights or beans. Set the crust aside to cool while you prepare the filling.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

1. Place the chopped pecans on a baking sheet. Sprinkle them very lightly with salt. When the oven temperature has fallen to 325°F, place the nuts in the oven to toast for 10 to 15 minutes, just until you can smell them. Remove them from the oven and set them aside to cool. Increase the oven temperature to 375°F.

2. Prepare the filling: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, corn syrups, sugar, butter and vanilla. Stir in the chopped pecans, and pour the mixture into the baked pie shell. Arrange the whole pecans on top.

3. Bake the pie for 45 minutes, or until it's puffed and the center seems fairly set. Remove the pie from the oven, and allow it to cool on a rack. As it cools, the center will sink; that's OK.

4. Cool completely before slicing; store in the refrigerator. Warm individual slices if you like before serving.


Pumpkin Pie

This pumpkin pie recipe from King Arthur's Flour website turned out perfectly.  I wanted to use my new Vietnamese Cinnamon but forgot.  Oh well.  This tasted better the next day and even better the third day, if it lasts that long.

  Pumpkin Pie

I made the leaves sort of free form.  I had a set of small round cutters which I rarely use so I took the smallest one and bent it into a quick oval.  Then I cut veins in each with the back of a paring knife. 

There is a tad bit of fresh ground pepper in this which I think brings out the flavor of the other spices.  You can't actually taste pepper in the pie, of course.

Oh yeah.  This is another "make the filling the night before" recipe. 

Pumpkin Pie
Compliments of JennaDish

Make the filling and refrigerate overnight before pouring in the pieshell and baking.  This will allow the spices to blend and improve the flavor.

Adapted from King Arthur’s Flour website


1/2 cup granulated sugar (I used raw sugar but can use regular)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (regular or Vietnamese)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (optional)
3 large eggs, beaten
2 cups (or one 15-ounce can) pumpkin
1 1/4 cups light cream or evaporated milk (I used 2% lowfat evap milk)
Pate Brisee for 1 single crust (1/2 the below recipe) or frozen 9” regular pie crust


1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugars, flour, salt, and spices.

2. In a large measuring cup, beat together the eggs, pumpkin, and cream or evaporated milk. Whisk into the dry ingredients. For best flavor, cover and refrigerate the filling overnight before baking.

3. Lightly grease a 9" pie pan that's at least 1 1/2" deep. Roll the pie dough out to a 13" circle, and transfer to the pan. Crimp the edges above the rim; this will give you a little extra headroom to hold the filling when it expands in the oven. Refrigerate the crust while the oven preheats to 400°F.

4. When the oven is hot, place the pie pan on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Pour the filling into the unbaked pie shell.

5. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the filling is set 2" in from the edge. The center should still be wobbly. Remove the pie from the oven and cool on a rack; the center will finish cooking through as the pie sits.


Pate Brisee

from Martha Stewart

Makes 1 double-crust or 2 single-crust 9- to 10-inch pies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water


1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.

2. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

3. Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.



This recipe makes enough filling to generously fill a 9" pan that's at least 1 1/2" deep. If your pan isn't quite that big, you can bake any leftover filling in custard cups; it will take 25 to 30 minutes to cook.

Pumpkin pie filling is basically a custard; the eggs in the filling will continue cooking as the heat from the edge of the pie moves toward the center, which is why it's important to remove the pie from the oven before the center is completely set. Leaving it in the oven too long will cause the eggs to overcook, tightening the proteins and causing the pie to crack in the center.

Mixing the filling a day in advance (refrigerate until using) will improve the flavor of this pie by giving the spices' flavors a chance to blend.

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies Stack

  New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies 1

NYT Chocolate Chip Cookies
These are the famous Chocolate Chip Cookies from the recipe ran in the New York Times a couple of years ago.  It's a recipe adapted from Jacques Torres – who owns a chain of fancy shmancy chocolate stores.  Here's one of his stores we visited this past summer while visiting Dylan in Brooklyn.

Oh, by the way, they are yummy. 

  Jacques Torres Chocolate Brooklyn

Didn't use their chocolate in my recipe.  I used Ghirardelli.


Dough is supposed to be refrigerated 24 hours minimum and up to 72 hours.


A batch fits nicely in two 2-pint freezer containers. 

I'm not thrilled about the coarse salt looking scruffy on the top, but that's what it calls for.

Make these cookies.  They are just about perfect. 

Chocolate Chip Cookies


adapted from Jacques Torres

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao (I used Ghirardelli)
Sea salt (I used Fleur de Sel)

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet (or whatever size you want, dear), making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.


Artisan Bread in Five – Rosemary Bread

Made the regular Master Recipe but added 1 Tblsp fresh rosemary to the whole mix.  For some reason the dough was especially cooperative this time.  Could it have been the rosemary?  Or did I mix it longer?  Or was it the distilled water?  Or was God tired of laughing at me and took a break one day?

You know the saying:  Man plans,God laughs

Look at how the bread baked, pushing out the deep slits in the dough.  Fun City. 

And how bout those turkey potholders?  My mother-in-law sent them just today.  Wasn't that thoughtful!  She also sent glittery silk fall leaves to lay around the table and cute fall kitchen towels.

Turkey Salt n Pepper Shakers

Speaking of cute… Love my little Mr. and Mrs. Turkey.  And speaking of Thanksgiving salt n pepper shakers, you should watch Pieces of April with Katie Holmes.  I watch it every year.  Oh, and Planes,Trains and Automobiles – a hilarious trying-to-get-home for Thanksgiving story.

Rosemary Bread

The texture was perfectly easy to form into a smooth boule.  I was amazed.  It was wettish like it should be yet not sticky.  How can that be?  Oh well.


A Child's View
Anyone notice that I like to take pictures of bread on the cooling rack at this angle?  I set the camera on the table and stoop down and shoot.  The shot is better in low light if the camera is very still.  I like this angle because of the bread crumbs but also, doesn't it look like a child's eye view? 

I'm still on my quest, with each loaf of bread, to figure out what the secret is to the dough not sticking to the peel.  I had read that some people try things like dry grits.  Yuk.  Who wants grits on the bottom of their bread?  So I considered using oatmeal but that just seemed silly cause they're way too big.   Or are they?

I wound up mixing whole wheat flour, cornmeal and a teeny bit of oats to the peel and guess what?  It didn't stick! 

The other thing that worked out well was I used a little spray bottle with warm water to spritz the dough balls before sliding them into the oven.  I spritzed, sprinkled dried rosemary on the outside and a little dried thyme, and made three deep slits in each.

And here's more fall cuteness…

SCPA had Homecoming at Music Hall this year.  Now that's high falootin'!


Root Beer Float Cake (or Cupcakes)

  Root Beer Chocolate Cupcakes

These are awesome cupcakes but don't expect them to taste like Root Beer.  The soda pop, along with dark cocoa, helps to deepen the chocolate flavor, but mostly it makes the cake moist.

Adding stout to chocolate cake has also become popular.  Same premise, and just about the same taste.

Also well-known to enhance the flavor of chocolate in baking is a little espresso powder, about 1 teaspoon to a cake or a batch of cupcakes.


Root Beer Cupcake


Root Beer Float Cake

From Baked: New Frontiers in Baking Cookbook

2 cups root beer (regular, not diet)
1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs

Preheat even to 325 degrees F.  Spray the inside of a 10-inch Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray, or butter generously and dust with flour.  Or for cupcakes, spray, butter or line tin with cupcake papers.

In a small saucepan, heat the root beer, cocoa powder and butter over medium heat until butter is melted.  Add sugars and whisk until dissolved.  Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

In a small bowl whisk the eggs until just beaten.  Then whisk into the cocoa mixture until combined. Gently fold the flour mixture into the cocoa mixture.  The batter will be slightly lumpy.  You can give it a quick whisk if you like, but don’t over beat the batter or it could cause the cake to be tough.  Don’t worry, the batter is very loose.

Pour the batter into prepared pan and cook for 35-45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking until a sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely then loosen edges with a butter knife and turn out onto a cake plate.

Chocolate Root Beer Frosting

2 ounces 60% cocoa, melted
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt (you may want to use less… maybe just 1/2 teaspoon)
1/4 cup root beer
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2  cups powdered sugar

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using an electric hand mixer, beat softened butter and cocoa powder. Once combined add the melted chocolate, salt, powdered sugar and root beer.  Beat together until smooth.  Spread on top of cooled cake.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.


Artisan Bread in Five – Jill’s First Loaf

Jill's First Loaf Crumb

Good Job Jill!

You needed to document a process and create a school presentation.

You baked a loaf of bread, sliced it, and took it to your class for kids to taste while you presented how you did it.


You took the dough out of the fridge that we mixed a couple days before.  (You can keep the dough up to two weeks).  It actually tastes a bit better each day.

You put cornmeal on the paddle, shaped the dough quickly into a ball without kneading, let it rest 40 minutes, sprinkled flour on the top, slashed it so the crust could expand without splitting…

then scooted it onto a preheated baking stone in a preheated oven.

Poured 1 -2 cups hot water in a heavy metal tray below the bread to create steam to make a nice crustand baked for about 30 minutes.

Lifted it off the stone with an extra wide spatula and cooled it on a rack.

Ah look.  It has a tail.

And of course, you took lots of pictures.  Wasn't that fun?  I hope you got an A!

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day – Pumpernickel!

When I bought my sourdough starter from King Arthur's Flour (for a separate recipe), it was $6.95 plus about $6 shipping.  My "shopping cart" said I could add another $10 or so for the same shipping cost.  So of course, I looked for other items.

One item was Vietnamese Cinnamon.  Said it's a bold cinnamon taste.  They were right.

The other item I chose was an 8 oz plastic bag of some Pumpernickel Plus Bread Base.  Described as featuring the flavor of pumpernickel flour, rye sourdough and caraway.  It looks like a bag of someone's ashes.  Seriously.

The very brief instructions say to add 1/4 to 1 cup to your basic bread recipe.  So I replaced a cup out of the 6 1/2 cups of flour in the Artisan Bread Master Recipe.

Mmm.  Looks chocolatey. 

Then I looked in the Artisan Bread cookbook under their own Pumpernickel recipe which was VERY different.  Included chocolate and honey and said they didn't use pumpernickel flour because it's so unpredictable in the amount of moisture it absorbs.  Great! 

But it all turned out fine. 


You have to put cornmeal on the pizza paddle to slide the dough onto the baking stone in the oven.  This is where I open the oven and get hit in the face with a huge heat wave which steams up my glasses and blinds me.  Then I give the paddle a jerk to remove the dough and it gets stuck, making my boule more like a blob. 

That's also when I use all my curse words in one sentence.  Each time, I try to do the cornmeal thing slightly different in order to learn what works. 

This time, as the photo shows above, I decided to put the cornmeal heavily near the edge of the paddle so the dough wouldn't have to scoot as far.  This worked well because while my glasses were steamed up and I was blinded, I gave it a big shove and it landed too far to the back of the stone nearly smacking up against the back wall of the oven.  I was so p.o.'ed at that stupid dough, because I knew it was just being difficult so it could laugh at me. 


Because I was baking this thing while I was also being a short-order cook, making omelets for two and spaghetti for one, I forgotted to slash the dough to prevent it from breaking the crust.

I thought about it 10 minutes into baking, so I turned the oven light on and peeked in to find a pitiful looking cow patty type blob that looked dried out and miserable. 

I opened the oven, holding a big ol chef's knife in my hand, waited for my steamed glasses to clear up (2 seconds) and slashed away.  My did it look like a disaster.

But it all worked out.  Tasted like pumpernickel.  Great crust and crumb.  A little softer interior than the regular.  But tasty.

RECIPE:  Go to, go to the bottom and get the Master Recipe, then swap out 1 cup of the King Arthur's Pumpernickel Base (which looks like Uncle Joe's ashes on the mantel) for 1 cup of regular flour.

Simple as that.

Or go to and look for their own particular Pumpernickel recipe which is very different from what I did so I can't attest to it.

Sourdough Bread – The Saga, Part II

Extra Tangy Sourdough Bread

Extra Tangy Sourdough Bread

Recipe from King Arthur's Flour

Takes 2 days – needs to be done on weekend if you work for a living

Unlikely to do this very often

Taste was good – even Alyssa agreed it was more "sourdough" tasting

But I didn't see as much of a difference between this and the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day method


The recipe called for enough to make 2 loaves which we don't need all in one day.

I had read about parbaking so I tried it.

Baked and Parbaked Extra Tangy Sourdough
You bake the bread until it's just starting to brown.  This sets the center.  Then you remove it and let it cool.  You can then freeze it and later thaw it and finish baking.  Fun, huh?

Mine is still in the freezer at the moment so will have to update once I remember it's in there and think about it enough ahead of time to thaw it and bake it.  Maybe January.



Wow, this photo is crap.  However, it still shows pretty accurately the crust and crumb.  The crust was crazy wonderful.  Chewy, firm.  Alyssa convinced me to keep it in the oven an extra 5 minutes more than I normally would and she was right.

The crumb was doughy at first because you really need to let it cool more.  But once it cooled it was very good.  Not the big holes that you like to see, but it was still good.  The little crack in the middle shows that I used the stretch from the middle and wrap behind method.  May need to try another forming method.

Download Extra Tangy Sourdough Bread Recipe