Mango Charlotte Cake

Do you have a cooking or baking bucket list? On my ever-growing one is gourmet pasta, multiple types of dim sum, and French entremets. Admittedly most of the things left on my list are a tad complicated and/or time consuming, so I’ve resigned myself to the reality that I probably won’t get to them for another decade or so (i.e. when the littles are more self-sufficient, at least).

While 7-layer entremets may have to wait, I’ve been able to tackle a couple other “fancy” cakes that are a little less complicated. The latest was this mango charlotte, which featured alternating layers of sponge cake and mango mousse surrounded by ladyfingers and topped with a mango glaze. The result was a beautifully light, sophisticated cake bursting with mango flavor. I’m eager to try this again with different fruits (raspberries? blackberries?); as it is definitely a nice alternative to a typical American-style layer cake.

Most charlottes call for a classic genoise as the cake portion. I used a Japanese genoise, which is a little sweeter and more m-m-moist than its European counterpart. To be honest, sponge cakes aren’t my forte but I’ve had good success with this one. The keys, I’ve found, are to whisk the eggs for a long time on a low speed (to build structure) and to fold in the flour with a slotted spoon (it’s faster and more efficient than a spatula). I tend to err on the side of undermixing, but don’t be like me unless you want failed batches of genoise with a) rubbery bottoms (from not mixing in the fats evenly) or b) flour bits (self-explanatory).

The star of the show is the fruit, though; I think I used about 7 medium-sized whole mangoes to make this cake! So you really do need to find very ripe, flavorful mangoes for this cake. Look for ones that have a little give when you gently squeeze them; and smell strongly of mango when you give them a sniff. If anything, err on the side of over-ripe!

While the mousse and glaze should be prepared right before using, the cake and ladyfingers can be baked in advance (freeze if you’re not using the same day). If you’re pressed for time, store-bought ladyfingers will do just fine as well.

Mango Charlotte Cake

Makes one 9-inch cake

Ingredients

For the ladyfingers
Makes about 3 dozen; freeze the extras or snack on them! | Adapted from The Cake Bible

  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 10g vanilla
  • 1 T warm water
  • 150g sifted cake flour
  • 3/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • Icing sugar, for sifting

For the Japanese Genoise
Adapted from Natalie Eng

  • 173g cake flour, sifted
  • 255g eggs (approx. 5 large), at room temperature
  • 195g caster sugar
  • 23g glucose
  • 45g unsalted butter
  • 68g whole milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the Mango Mousse
Adapted from Joe Pastry

  • 567g (20 oz., about 4 medium-large) ripe fresh mangoes, cut into chunks (note: you will need additional mango (some pureed, some cut into chunks for the mirror glaze and filling; I recommend cutting up a couple extra mangoes and setting aside for that purpose)
  • 85g sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 1/2 tsp. powdered gelatin
  • 2 c heavy cream, chilled

For the Mango Mirror Glaze
Adapted from The Little Epicurean

  • 57g mango puree
  • 57g water
  • 28g sugar
  • 1 1/2 gelatin sheets (silver strength), bloomed

To assemble

  • 2 to 2 1/2 dozen ladyfingers (4-inch tall), bottoms trimmed
  • Simple syrup
  • ~1 c fresh mango chunks
  • Fresh berries for garnish (optional)
  • White chocolate curls for garnish (optional)
  • 9×3 cake ring (or springform pan)
  • 9-inch cake board
  • Acetate (can also use parchment paper or plastic wrap)

Method

Make the ladyfingers

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper (you may need 3 if your pans are small).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the yolks and 1/2 c sugar on high for 5 minutes, or until the mixture is very thick and ribbons when dropped from the beater. Lower the speed and beat in the vanilla and water. Increase the speed to high and beat for another 30 seconds, or until thick again. Sift the flour over the yolk mixture without mixing in and set aside
    In another large bowl, beat the whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar, and beat until soft peaks. Gradually beat in the remaining 1/4 c sugar, beating until very stiff peaks.
  3. Add 1/3 of the whites to the yolk mixture and use a slotted spoon or spatula to fold until all the flour is incorporated. Gently fold in the remaining whites.
  4. Transfer some of the batter to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe 4 inch lines (“fingers”), leaving about 1/4 inch between each. (They will bake into each other, forming continuous strips.) Continue piping until you have used all the batter.
  5. Sift powdered sugar completely over the fingers. Once the sugar has dissolved, sift a second coat on.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until light golden brown and springy to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Remove from the sheets while still a little warm (to prevent cracking) using a long, thin spatula or pancake turner. Cool completely on racks before using or store in an airtight container. (Note: If you aren’t using that day, I recommend freezing the fingers for longer storage as they do stale. They defrost quickly, so just pull them out about an hour before you want to assemble the cake.)

Make the Japanese Genoise Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line the bottoms of two 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pans and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, heat the eggs, sugar and glucose, whisking constantly, over a bain marie until the mixture reaches 45-50C. Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer and mix on high speed until pale and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low and keep whisking for an additional 7 minutes. This allows the air bubbles to be even and small hence making it more stable so you will not knock so much air out when you fold in the flour.
  3. In a saucepan (or in the microwave), heat the milk, butter and vanilla essence until the butter has melted and the mixture is warm. Mix about 1 cup of the egg mixture into the butter mixture and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  4. Sift the flour in three parts into the egg mixture, folding each part in with a large slotted spoon (my preferred tool) or a silicone spatula before adding more flour. You want to fold gently but also ensure the flour is completely mixed in; otherwise you will have lumps in your cake. Once the flour is well incorporated, pour the butter mixture into the egg batter and fold it in until it is well incorporated. Do not overmix, but again make sure the butter mixture is well incorporated; otherwise the bottom of your cake will be rubbery. The batter should still be fluffy and almost as if it’s heaving.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top, the cake springs back when lightly pressed, and the cake is pulling away from the sides of the pan. Rotate the pans after about 20 minutes for even baking (don’t open the oven sooner or your cakes may collapse). Transfer the finished cakes to a wire rack. Cool for about 10 minutes in the pan; then turn the cakes out and finish cooling them completely on the rack.

Prepare the cake pan

  • Line your cake ring with acetate and place a cake board on the bottom. Trim the tops and bottoms of the cakes. Place one cake round in the center of the cake ring and brush liberally with simple syrup. Place the ladyfingers around the edge, fitting them in tightly to ensure there are no gaps (you may have to trim the edge of the last one to fit neatly). Set aside while you prepare the mousse.

Make the Mango Mousse

  1. Whip the cream to soft peaks and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
  2. Combine the mango chunks, sugar, and lemon juice in a food processor and process until smooth. Strain the mixture through a sieve into a medium bowl. You should have ~2 cups of puree.
  3. Heat about one third of the mixture in a small saucepan or in the microwave until warm but not boiling. Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the surface and stir to combine completely. Stir the warmed mixture back into the rest of the puree. Cool the mixture back to room temperature, stirring occasionally. When the mango is cooled, whip the cream to stiff peaks. Gently but thoroughly fold the mango mixture into the cream. Use immediately.

Continue assembling the cake

  • Evenly spread about a cup of mousse over the first cake layer, making sure to go right to the edges. Sprinkle the mango chunks evenly over the mousse. Spread on another ~1/2 cup of mousse (or enough to cover the mango chunks). Place the second cake layer on top and press down to ensure it’s level. Brush liberally with simple syrup. Evenly spread on another cup of mousse, leaving about an inch from the top for the mirror glaze and garnish. Refrigerate until mousse is set, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Make the Mango Mirror Glaze

  • Heat the water, sugar, and puree in a small saucepan until warm but not boiling. Remove from heat and immediately stir in the bloomed gelatin. Transfer mixture to a glass measuring cup (preferably with a spout for easy pouring) and cool until just slightly warm, stirring occasionally. Use immediately.

Glaze and finish cake

  1. Remove the chilled cake from the fridge. Pour the glaze evenly over the top of the cake. Return the cake to the fridge to set completely (about 1/2 an hour).
  2. Remove the cake ring and acetate. Garnish top with fresh berries and white chocolate curls, if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cake

peanut butter chocolate cake
I love making birthday cakes. While I don’t have a problem with having a little dessert every day, I do think there’s unique joy in having something made just for you on your special day — hopefully with your tastes and preferences in mind.

This cake was for my father-in-law’s birthday. He’s one of the most non-picky eaters I know; but while he eats everything, he especially likes chocolate and nuts. This was for a small family celebration, so the cake is quite small: two 6-inch layers. If you want to make it into a double layer 8-inch cake, refer to the original chocolate cake recipe and make 1.5-2x the frosting (this recipe makes a generous amount; I gave this cake a fairly thick layer and still had enough leftover to frost 20 mini cupcakes).

Some notes on the frosting: I’ve had mixed experiences with Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC); although I’ve made it sort of successfully in the past, to be honest I didn’t really like the flavor of it before — it just tasted like sweet butter. (Which I guess it is.) This time was different, for a couple of big reasons:

  • I borrowed my sister-in-law’s stand mixer. It still took awhile to make the frosting, but my hand didn’t feel dead at the end. My previous attempts at SMBC were with a hand mixer; it’s possible that way, but the stand mixer really does make the process way easier and more enjoyable, IMO.
  • Peanut butter and cream cheese. They go so well together, and in this case they combine to make the fluffiest, silkiest, and most tasty peanut butter icing I’ve ever had. I’m generally not a huge icing person, but I could have eaten it straight with a spoon. The brown sugar added a little something something too; a nice depth of flavor that reminded me of honey roasted peanuts. Yum.

I’ve read a lot of SMBC tutorials and recipes (see here, here, and here just for starters), and they vary pretty widely on the ratio of egg whites to sugar to butter. I aimed somewhere in the middle, and chose to be conservative in the sugar amount since I prefer my icings not too sweet. There also seem to be varying opinions on how much cream cheese works in this type of icing, and I know some people have trouble with cream cheese SMBC breaking because of the water content of the cream cheese. I went for a half-butter, half-cream cheese ratio, and kept a couple extra tablespoons of butter on the side in case I needed it to help emulsify the mixture. In the end, I did end up using the extra butter. I also refrigerated the icing for about 10 minutes during that scary curdling stage, then just kept whipping at a low speed and it eventually came together. My advice is to just be patient and not panic; read a few tutorials on how to fix broken buttercream ahead of time so you know what to do if and when your icing reaches that stage. This is honestly one of the tasiest frostings I’ve ever made so I do hope you give it a try!

To add a little texture, I made some peanut brittle for garnish. This was my first time making peanut brittle, which was exciting because I got to use my brand-spanking-new candy thermometer! Last year I attempted making soft caramel candies a couple of times and failed; later I realized it was because my thermometer was a good 15 degrees off…basically the difference between delicious and burnt. The lesson here is: check your thermometer’s calibration by putting it in a pot of water and bringing it to a boil. It should register 212F / 100C when the water boils. Hopefully that’ll save you a few burned batches of sugar!

peanut butter chocolate cake from above

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake with Maple Peanut Brittle

Makes one 2-layer, 6-inch cake

Ingredients

For the Midnight Chocolate Cake

A half batch of this recipe, baked in two 6-inch pans, with the following changes:

  • Use half all purpose, half cake flour
  • Use black cocoa for the cocoa powder
  • Start checking for doneness around 25 minutes

For the Maple Peanut Brittle

Recipe adapted from Layered: Baking, Building, and Styling Spectacular Cakes

  • 55g / 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 110g brown sugar / 1/2 c (I used light)
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • 1/4 c light corn syrup
  • Heaped 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 150g / 1 c roasted, unsalted peanuts

For the Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • 135g egg whites, room temperature
  • 220g light brown sugar
  • 150-180g butter, cut into cubes, at cool room temperature
  • 150g cream cheese, cut into cubes, cool room temperature
  • 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • Smooth creamy peanut butter, such as Skippy or Jif, to taste (I used three large spoonfuls)
  • Pinch of salt, to taste

To finish

  • Chopped roasted, unsalted peanuts
  • Various chocolate candies (I used bite sized Snickers and some white chocolate covered almonds)

Method

Make the Maple Peanut Brittle:

  1. Line a sheet pan with parchment or a Silpat and set aside.
  2. Combine the baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Have your peanuts measured and ready to go as well.
  3. Combine the butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally with a silicone spatula, until the mixture reaches 298F / 149C on a candy thermometer. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the baking soda and salt. Fold in the peanuts and pour the mixture evenly onto the prepared baking sheet (work quickly as it does harden rather fast).
  4. Let the brittle cool completely (about an hour) before breaking in pieces to use for decoration. Store leftovers, layered between pieces of parchment paper, in an airtight container.
  5. Note: To easily clean your sugar work pans, fill with water, cover, and bring to a boil for several minutes. It’ll melt the sugar right off.

Make the Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

  1. Place egg whites and brown sugar in a heatproof bowl (such as the bowl of your stand mixer) and whisk to combine. Set bowl over a pot of just simmering water to create a double boiler and whisk until mixture reaches 140-160F. Don’t allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water.
  2. Transfer the bowl to a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk the egg white-sugar mixture on low for a couple of minutes and gradually increase the speed to medium high. Continue whisking until the meringue reaches glossy stiff peaks and both the meringue and the bowl are at room temperature (about 10 minutes).
  3. Switch out the whisk for the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, add the butter one cube at a time. Wait until the butter is completely incorporated before adding the next cube. When the butter is incorporated, repeat with the cream cheese.
  4. Continue mixing on low until the mixture is smooth, then add the vanilla, a pinch of salt, and peanut butter a spoonful at a time (to taste). Taste and add a touch more salt if the mixture tastes too sweet. Mix on medium speed for a couple minutes, or until the buttercream is smooth, silky, and fluffy.

Assemble the cake:

  1. Level your cakes if desired. (Note that this chocolate cake is very tender and moist, so I highly recommend working with them chilled.) Set your first cake round on a cake board and spread a generous amount buttercream evenly over the top, followed by a sprinkling of chopped peanuts. Set the second cake round on top and spread a thin coat of buttercream over the top and sides to trap all the crumbs. Refrigerate until buttercream is firm, about 20 minutes.
  2. Add a thicker layer of buttercream over the top and sides, using an offset spatula and icing scraper for evenness.
  3. To get the “rustic” look, use an offset spatula or back of a spoon to create random swoops.
  4. Top with chopped peanuts and peanut brittle if desired. If you’re not serving the cake right away, store in the refrigerator but bring to room temperature before serving. Just before serving, garnish with peanut brittle and candies. (Don’t put the brittle on too soon or it may soften and weep.)

Matcha Black Sesame Mousse Cake

matcha black sesame mousse cake

This matcha black sesame mousse cake is what I’d call a happy accident. Originally I’d planned to make a black sesame cake with matcha mousse, but the black sesame cake just was not cooperating. (Still in search of a good black sesame sponge cake; I’m all ears if you have one!) After two failed attempts and a dangerously low number of eggs left, I decided to abandon ship and go back to my tried and true sponge cake, this time with a matcha twist.

So then it was on to find a black sesame mousse recipe. My criteria were that it had to use black sesame powder (because that’s all I had) and be pregnant-lady friendly (i.e. no raw eggs); this recipe fit the bill. It worked out beautifully — a nice, pillowy, not-too-sweet mousse with a present sesame flavor.

To add some sweetness and texture, the cake is finished with matcha white chocolate ganache, matcha meringues, and black sesame brittle.

I know there are a lot of steps, but really — it looks more complicated than it actually is. Most steps are easy and don’t take long to complete. The assembly is done Momofuku Milk Bar style, which makes getting the nice crisp layers…wait for it…a piece of cake. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist.) Cake disasters aside, I honestly enjoyed both making and eating this cake. The matcha + black sesame combo is a classic flavor combo for good reason; and this iteration of it is light and elegant.

A few notes:

  • Originally I thought I’d whip up some of the matcha white chocolate ganache for decorations, so I made the ganache using a 1:1 ratio of chocolate to cream. In the end I didn’t need the whipped ganache; had I known this I’d have gone with a 2:1 ratio of chocolate to cream for a thicker glaze. Either will work; it just depends on the thickness/look you prefer.
  • Some of the elements (cake, meringues, brittle) can be made in advance. I wouldn’t do the meringues and brittle more than a day in advance, though, as they will lose some crispness — especially if the weather is humid.

mousse cake top

Matcha Black Sesame Mousse Cake

Makes one 6-inch cake

Ingredients

For the Matcha Sponge

  • One recipe of this sponge cake; replace 5g of cake flour with 2 tsp matcha powder
  • Simple Syrup

For the Black Sesame Mousse

Recipe from Grace’s Kitchen (make right before you’re ready to fill the cake)

  • 150 g whole milk
  • 2 Tbsp cream cheese
  • 70 g sugar
  • 4 tbsp black sesame powder
  • 10 g gelatin powder
  • 50 gm water
  • 300 gm heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks (keep refrigerated)

For the Matcha Meringues
(Adapted from Meringue Girls)
Note: This makes a big batch of meringues, way more than you will need just for decorations. You could easily quarter or halve the recipe; I just made a lot because I was giving some away.

  • 300g caster sugar
  • 150g egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp matcha powder

For the Black Sesame Brittle
(Recipe from The Little Epicurean)

  • 25 grams glucose, or light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp water
  • 65 grams unsalted butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • 80 grams granulated sugar
  • 50 grams toasted black sesame seeds

For the Matcha White Chocolate Ganache

  • 60 g matcha white chocolate, chopped (or plain white chocolate, plus 1/2 tsp matcha powder)
  • 30-60 g heavy cream (use up to 60 g if you want a thinner glaze)

For assembly

Method

Make the Black Sesame Mousse:

  1. Mix gelatin powder and water in a small bowl. Set aside to bloom for about 10 minutes.
  2. Heat milk and cream cheese over medium heat in a small saucepan, whisking to combine smoothly. Add sugar and black sesame powder and mix well with a whisk to make sure the mixture is lump free.
  3. Heat the gelatin mixture for about 10 seconds in the microwave, or until the gelatin is dissolved.
  4. Remove the milk mixture from the heat and immediately stir in the gelatin. Allow to cool briefly. Fold in the whipped cream in three additions. Use immediately.

Make the Matcha Meringues:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400F. Prepare two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Line a small baking tray with baking parchment, pour in the caster sugar and heat it in the oven for 7 minutes (or until the edges crystallize). Heating the sugar helps to create a glossy, stable mixture. Pour the egg whites into a mixer and whisk them slowly, allowing small stabilizing bubbles to form, then increase the speed to high until the egg whites form stiff peaks.
  2. Take the sugar out of the oven, and turn oven down to 210F (leave the door open to help speed this up). With your mixer on full speed, very slowly spoon the hot sugar into the beaten egg whites, making sure the mixture comes back up to stiff peaks after each addition of sugar (don’t add any crystallized bits). Once you have added all the sugar, continue to whisk on full speed until you have a smooth, stiff and glossy mixture. You should continue to whisk for at least 5 minutes once sugar has incorporated. Feel a bit of the mixture between your fingers; if you can still feel the gritty sugar, keep whisking at full speed until it has dissolved and the mixture is smooth, stiff and glossy. Sift in the matcha powder and whisk just until combined.
  3. Spoon the meringue into a piping bag with the tip cut off. Pipe out your kisses onto your prepared sheets by keeping the bag tight, straight and directly above your baking tray. For decorative purposes, I like to make meringues of different sizes; just keep in mind they’ll finish at different times; so you may want to pipe smaller meringues on one tray and bigger ones on the other.
  4. Bake for about 35-45 minutes or until the meringue bases come cleanly off the parchment paper. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Make the Black Sesame Brittle

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line baking sheet with a Silpat. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine glucose, water, butter and salt. Set over medium heat and cook until butter has melted. Stir as needed to ensure even heating.
  3. Once mixture is liquid, add sugar and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in sesame seeds. Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes until sugar is boiling and has turned amber brown. Let cool to room temperature to allow brittle to set and harden. Once cool, use your hands to break up the brittle. Store in an airtight container.

Make the Matcha White Chocolate Ganache

  1. Place the chopped matcha white chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
  2. Warm the cream in the microwave until steaming. (Note: if you’re using matcha powder, sift this into the cream before heating and make sure to whisk so no lumps remain.) Pour evenly over the chocolate. Allow to stand for a minute before stirring to combine. Allow to sit at room temperature until it drizzles off a spoon slowly (you can also stick it in the refrigerator to speed the process up).

Assemble the Matcha Black Sesame Mousse Cake

  1. Use the pastry ring to cut out 2 six-inch cake rounds. (The rest of the cake is extra; use it to make a trifle or just snack on it.) Wash and dry the pastry ring and line it with acetate. Place on top of a 6-inch cake board on a quarter sheet pan.
  2. Brush the first cake round with simple syrup and fit it into the bottom of the pastry ring. Pour in half the black sesame mousse. Freeze for 10-15 minutes or until the mousse is set.
  3. Put the second round of cake on top of the mousse and brush it with simple syrup. Nestle a second round of acetate between the pastry ring and first acetate round.
  4. Pour the remaining black sesame mousse over the second cake round. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours to set.
  5. Freeze your cake for at least 20 minutes before applying the matcha white chocolate ganache (this will keep the ganache from melting the mousse). Set the cake on an upturned bowl on a plate or baking sheet (to catch any drips). Remove the pastry ring and acetate. Using a spoon, drizzle the ganache along the edges to create a drip effect, then spread a layer over the top. At this point, you can affix the cake to an eight-inch cake round for easier moving. Refrigerate immediately to set.
  6. Right before serving, decorate with matcha meringues and black sesame brittle. I also used some crushed up meringues and black sesame seeds. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

mousse cake angled

Salted Caramel Pear Pie

With another Pi Day on the horizon, it was time to scratch my pie-baking itch. I really wanted to make a fruit pie; and while spring may technically be on the horizon, here in sometimes-it-snows-in-May Toronto we’ve been on a decidedly wintry kick. Ergo, no good looking rhubarb / berries in sight. I did, however, spot some delicious looking pears at the market; and since I haven’t gotten to bake with pears as much as I’d like this pear pie was born.

I adapted this recipe from Yossy Arefi’s Sweeter off the Vine: Fruit Desserts for Every Season. Yossy’s recipe uses a homemade creme fraiche salted caramel sauce, which sounds amazing; but I just used some leftover salted caramel sauce from a previous baking project. I decided to add some of the tang back in by using sour cream in my pie crust. A bit of dairy is a lovely addition to a pie crust — it adds depth of flavor and tenderness. You can also use buttermilk or yogurt if you don’t have sour cream.

Speaking of pie crusts, here I detail pretty much how I make all my pie crusts nowadays. The method may seem a bit involved, but it really doesn’t take much more time than a “normal” pie crust and you end up with a lovely, flaky crust that’s a dream to roll out. I credit The Bojon Gourmet for these crust “tricks;” she has an awesome, detailed tutorial that I highly recommend! I typically replace about 1/3 of the flour in my pie crusts with whole grain flour for flavor (health benefits are just a plus!); you could substitute rye or whole wheat for the spelt or use a combination; or just go all AP if you want.

I added one step to the filling, which is to macerate the fruit with the sugar and lemon juice and reduce the resulting liquid down to a syrup. (I frequently do this with other fruit pies to concentrate the flavors and avoid a soggy bottom crust.) My pears didn’t give off a ton of liquid so you can probably skip this step if you’re pressed for time or don’t want to bother.

My friends and I really enjoyed this pie. It’s lightly sweetened and warmly spiced, and the pears keep their texture nicely — they soften, but still retain some body (I personally don’t like an overly goopy filling so this is right up my alley). This is definitely a winning alternative to a typical apple pie and I can see this making an appearance at a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner in the future!

Salted Caramel Pear Pie with a Spelt Sour Cream Crust

Makes one 9-inch Pie | Adapted from Sweeter Off the Vine

For the Spelt Sour Cream Crust:

  • 240 g all purpose flour
  • 100 g whole spelt flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 255g very cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 c sour cream, very cold
  • 1/4 c ice water, plus more if needed

For the Salted Caramel Pear Pie Filling:

  • 2 1/2 pounds ripe but firm pears, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (I used a mix of d’Anjou and Bosc)
  • 50 g / 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 32 g / 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • 1/2 cup salted caramel sauce, plus extra for drizzling (I like this recipe)

To Finish:

  • 1 large egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp water or milk
  • 1 Tbsp turbinado sugar

Method:

  1. Make the pie crust: Combine the flours and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and toss to coat. Working quickly, press the butter into flat sheets, occasionally tossing with the flour to make sure each piece is coated. The butter pieces should range in size from a dime to a quarter.
  2. Add the sour cream and 1/4 c ice water and use your hand or a wooden spoon to gently combine. If the dough seems dry, sprinkle more ice water on 1 tsp at a time until the dough just comes together. Your dough is ready if you can pick up a handful and it stays together. At this point the dough will still look quite rough and shaggy.
  3. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface (I like to use a Silpat), divide into`12 roughly equal portions, and fraisage each piece across your surface using the heel of your hand or a bench scraper. The idea is to create streaks of butter within your dough. Pile the fraisaged pieces and pat into a rough rectangle. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for about 15 minutes, or until cool but still pliable.
  4. Using a lightly floured rolling pin and flour on your surface as needed, roll the dough into a rough rectangle about 1/4″ thick. Fold into thirds like a letter, brushing off excess flour before folding. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat the rolling and folding. (Refrigerate 10 minutes between turns if the dough feels warm or sticky at all.) At this point the dough should be quite smooth and easy to roll. Then loosely roll the dough up like a jelly roll, starting from a short end. Cut into two equal pieces, wrap each portion in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or overnight).
  5. Prepare the filling: Combine pears, sugar, and lemon juice in a large bowl and stir to combine. Cover and allow to macerate at room temperature for at least half an hour (or up to several hours).
  6. Grease a 9-inch pie plate. On a lightly floured surface (again, I like a Silpat for this), roll out one portion of your dough into a rough circle about 12 inches in diameter, about 1/8 – 1/4″ thick, working from the center out and rotating a quarter turn with each roll. Flip the dough occasionally and lightly flour to ensure it doesn’t stick. Transfer the dough to your prepared pie plate (if you’ve rolled on a Silpat, this is as easy as flipping the whole thing over your pie plate, peeling off the Silpat, and easing the dough in), trim the overhang to about 1 inch, and refrigerate until needed.
  7. Roll your other piece of dough as the first. If you’re doing a lattice top, use a ruler and pastry cutter to cut your strips. Refrigerate until needed.
  8. Put a colander over a saucepan and dump the macerated pears in. Boil the remaining juices until syrupy, pour into a small bowl, and set aside to cool. Combine the flour and spices and toss with the pear slices.
  9. Neatly arrange about half the pear slices into your bottom pie crust, trying not to leave any gaps. Drizzle with 1/4 c salted caramel sauce. Add the remaining pears and drizzle with the reduced juices and the remaining 1/4 c salted caramel sauce. Top with the other half of the crust as desired, and crimp the edges to seal. Freeze for about 15 minutes, or until pastry is firm.
  10. Preheat oven to 425F with a rack and baking sheet in the bottom third of the oven. Prepare the egg wash. When the pie is ready to be baked, lightly egg wash the entire surface, being careful not to drag any of the filling onto the top (it will burn). Sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  11. Transfer the pie onto the preheated baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 45-60 minutes, or until the crust is well-browned and the filling is bubbling. Rotate the pan halfway through. If the pie is browning too quickly, lower the heat to 375F after half an hour and/or tent with foil to prevent burning. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

Meyer Lemon and Raspberry Scones

lemon raspberry scones

Scones are one of those coffeeshop items that I love to order but often find disappointing. Either they’re too cakey or over-the-top heavy. My ideal scone is crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, slightly sweet but able to withhold a generous amount of jam/curd/clotted cream. After yet another recent disappointing scone purchase, I decided it was time to scour the interwebs and find a go-to scone recipe for myself.

It’s not too often I succeed on the very first try, but, boy, were these good scones. I based them off the very well-reviewed Royal Wedding Scones on Food52. Lemon and raspberry is a favorite combination in this household, but you could easily change up the fruit and spices based on season and preference.

Scones are definitely best the day you make them (preferably while still a little warm from the oven), but you can freeze these unbaked and bake straight from frozen (you may need to add a few minutes of baking time). I’ve also had success freezing baked scones and reheating them in a 350F oven for 12-15 minutes or so.

Meyer Lemon and Raspberry Scones

Adapted from Food 52 | Makes 8

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups / 313g AP flour (I’ve successfully replaced about 1/3 of this with spelt flour)
  • 1/4 cup / 50g granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons / 86g chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 3/4 cup frozen raspberries
  • Zest of 1 meyer lemon
  • 1/2 cup cold heavy cream, plus more for brushing on tops of scones
  • 1/2 cup cold buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Coarse sugar, for sprinkling

Method:

  1. Line a 6-inch round cake pan with plastic wrap. Set aside.
  2. Put sugar and lemon zest in the bottom of a large bowl. Rub the zest into the sugar to release the oils.
  3. Add the remaining dry ingredients to the sugar-zest mixture and whisk to combine.
  4. Add the cold butter to the dry ingredients and cut it in using a pastry cutter or your fingers. You should have varying sizes of butter pieces, ranging from pea to nickel shaped.
  5. Gently fold in the frozen raspberries.
  6. Combine the wet ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, gently folding in with a fork. Do not overmix.
  7. When a shaggy dough begins to form, dump the contents onto a lightly floured surface. Gently fold the dough onto itself just enough so it becomes a cohesive mass. Transfer to the prepared cake pan, cover, and freeze for about 30 minutes or until slightly hardened.
  8. While scones are chilling, preheat oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. When scones are chilled, invert round onto a lightly floured surface and cut like a pie into eight wedges. Transfer to prepared sheet pan. Lightly brush the tops with cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Scones are done when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Sugared Cranberries

red velvet cake

I really enjoy making birthday cakes for my friends. Partially this is because yes, I do like making cakes but when it’s for someone you know you have a chance to think about what that person likes and dream up something special just for them.

This cake was made for a good friend who I’d been told was especially fond of red velvet cake. Truth be told I didn’t have a red velvet cake recipe I liked (most are too oily or taste like a weak chocolate cake…but red), but after scouring the interwebs for a bit I came upon this recipe. The author addressed all my red velvet concerns so I gave it a go.

After trying the cake, the birthday girl told me, “Wow, I actually really like this red velvet cake!” This surprised me because, well, I figured she always liked red velvet cake since it was her favorite. It turns out she thought red velvet cake was interesting because so many western people were fascinated with the flavor, and when she moved to Canada it was something she looked forward to trying. But she didn’t actually really like red velvet in particular. Except for this one!

Anyways, I loved this cake too and I’m not a huge red velvet person either; I thought the texture was perfect and it baked up beautifully. I dressed this simply with my go-to cream cheese frosting and some sugared cranberries, which has been my garnish of choice this season — they’re quick and easy, and they taste good too!

Finally, I got the news yesterday that my instagram account was included in Saveur’s list of 20 Favorite Food Instagrams of 2016! It was quite a surprise and I’m honestly shocked to see my name next to some insta-stars. I’ll admit, I was a bit of a latecomer to the insta-game (Snapchat in 2020, anyone?) but it’s become my favorite form of social media and the source of a lot of my kitchen inspiration. I’m happy to share a little of what I do there, the successes and the failures — and am grateful for the many talented people I’ve met along the way!

Now for some cake!

sugared cranberries

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Sugared Cranberries

Makes 1 3-layer, 6 inch cake | Serves 8-12
Cake recipe adapted from Cake Paper Party

Ingredients:

  • 85 g butter, room temperature
  • 58 g vegetable oil (I used grapeseed)
  • 200 g granulated sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk (or 1.5 eggs — crack the second one, weigh it, and add half), room temperature
  • 85 g AP flour
  • 70 g cake flour
  • 1 T natural cocoa (not dutch process)
  • 3/4 t baking soda
  • 1/2 c buttermilk, room temperature
  • 60 g sour cream, room temperature
  • 1/2 T white vinegar
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 T red food coloring (preferably gel) or red velvet essence (I used essence)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour 3 6-inch pans.
  2. Beat butter, oil and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated.
  3. Combine buttermilk, sour cream, vinegar and vanilla and whisk to blend.
    Sift together flours, baking soda, salt and cocoa. Add dry mixture to butter mixture and stir on low until just combined. Add half of buttermilk mixture and stir until it is just incorporated. Add remaining liquids and stir to combine.
  4. Gently stir in red food coloring and mix for about 30 seconds, scraping down once.
  5. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans and bake for about 20-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed. Cool for at least 15 minutes in the pans before turning out onto a wire rack. Cool completely before frosting. (I recommend freezing the cakes, wrapped in plastic, until firm before assembly as this cake is quite tender.)

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 225 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 270 g powdered sugar, sifted
  • 300 g cream cheese, COLD and cubed

Method:

  1. Beat butter until pale, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add powdered sugar and continue beating until frosting is very pale and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add cream cheese and beat until just smooth. Beat on low for a minute or two to get rid of any air bubbles. Best used immediately.

Sugared Cranberries

Ingredients:

  • A couple large handfuls fresh cranberries
  • 1 egg white, beaten (I use pasteurized)
  • 1/2 c sugar, preferably caster (you can grind granulated sugar in a food processor, or just use granulated — caster will give you a more “snowy” effect)

Method:

  1. Spread out a piece of parchment paper big enough to hold all the cranberries in a single layer.
  2. Coat the cranberries with the egg white set them on the paper to soak up some of the excess liquid (if they’re too wet, the sugar will clump).
  3. Toss the cranberries in the sugar and set them back on the parchment to dry completely before using and / or eating!

To Assemble:

  1. Level your cakes (this is easiest to do when they’re completely cool; I like to stick them in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes right before assembly). Choose a layer for the bottom and put bottom-side down on a cake board.
  2. Spread about a 1/2 cup of icing evenly over the first layer. Repeat with the next two layers. Add a thin layer of icing over the entire cake. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes to set the crumb coat.
  3. When the cake is chilled, add a second, thicker layer of icing over the entire cake. You can keep the sides smooth, or use an offset spatula / butter knife to create the swirl effect. Hole the spatula at a 45-degree angle to the cake while spinning your turntable, slowly, all the while slowly dragging your spatula to the top. Repeat on the top, starting from the outside and drawing your spatula in to the center.
  4. Decorate with sugared cranberries and a few sprigs of rosemary, if desired. Keep the cake refrigerated; bring to room temperature about an hour before serving.

red velvet cake 2

DIY Christmas Tree Forest: Treats for Toys

full christmas tree forest

As cliche as it sounds, I love Christmas. I have many fond memories of driving around looking at lights (with McDonald’s hot chocolate and apple pies, which were the real highlight), dousing sugar cookies with red and green sprinkles, and playing for candlelight services. Nowadays, Christmastime is even more special for me because it means traveling back to Seattle to see family, friends, and all my old haunts. I don’t know how long this tradition will last, but I definitely will enjoy it while I can.

full christmas tree forest 2

When Gastropost asked me to help create something with Rice Krispies for the Treats for Toys campaign, I jumped at the opportunity because playing with food for a good cause is totally something I can get behind. My treat was inspired by a couple of things: first, those little miniature Christmas scenes that stores set up during the holidays; and second, one of my favorite childhood Christmas activities: picking out a Christmas tree. This year is the first I can remember NOT having a tree — between having a destructive busy toddler and traveling it doesn’t make sense (sniff sniff) — so in lieu of that I made an edible forest. And of course I had to add my favorite mountain pillows, Bambi, one of Marcus’ cars, and a little snow to jazz it up a little. Honestly, it was so fun. AND easy. The hardest part was trying to find decent light during naptime to photograph it!

car with tree

This little forest scene would make a great centerpiece for a holiday party, or a fun craft project for the family. (My husband and I did it as a little date night activity; I probably had more fun than he did but he’s a good sport, lol.) Of course, you don’t need to make a forest scene. Individual trees would make great gifts or stocking stuffers — just be sure to make them soon before gifting (like the day of or night before) and keep them in an airtight container/wrapping so they don’t dry out. You should get about 18 small trees from one recipe (about 1/3 c mixture for each tree).

bambi with tree

Want to join in the fun? Create a toy-inspired Rice Krispies treat, upload it to the Treats for Toys site or social media (using the #treatsfortoys hashtag), and Kellogg’s will donate $20 to the Salvation Army to buy real toys for children in need.

christmas trees

DIY Christmas Tree Forest

Recipe adapted from Kelloggs Canada / Treats for Toys | Makes about 18 small trees

Ingredients:

For the trees:

  • 56 g / 1/4 c unsalted butter
  • 250 g marshmallows (I used mini)
  • 168 g / 6 c Rice Krispies (or other rice puff cereal)
  • Green food coloring (I used gel, a couple drops each of Wilton Moss Green and Americolor Leaf Green)
  • Sprinkles / mini M&M’s / small candies for decorating
  • Small chocolates (such as Snickers’ bites or Rolos) for the trunks

For the rest of the scene:

  • 56 g / 1/4 c unsalted butter
  • 250 g marshmallows (I used mini)
  • 168 g / 6 c Rice Krispies (or other rice puff cereal)
  • Graham crackers
  • Icing sugar
  • Toy car
  • Baker’s twine

Method:

  1. First, make the trees. Melt the butter over low heat in a large pot (big enough to hold the Rice Krispies). When the butter is melted, add the marshmallows, stirring frequently to avoid sticking. When the marshmallows are almost melted, stir the food coloring a drop at a time until you reach your desired shade of green (go a little bolder than you want as the color will be slightly muted by the cereal). When the marshmallows are melted and the color is evenly dispersed, turn off the heat, add the cereal, and stir to coat evenly. Allow to cool for a minute or so (it’s hot!), then, using well-greased hands, take a small handful at a time and form into pyramids or cones, whatever your preference. Pack firmly but not so hard as to crush the cereal. Place on a piece of parchment paper to set. If you’re making a forest, try to vary the shapes / sizes a little for a more realistic effect; and if you want a tree for the top of the car, make sure to form a tree that will fit properly (for my car this was quite small). The mixture is most pliable within the first 5-8 minutes after mixing, so try to work quickly (or have a couple people help).
  2. When the trees are still a little pliable but not so hot as to melt your sprinkles, decorate. Press the candies / sprinkles into the sides of the trees. (I just pushed them in and they stuck fine, though if your sprinkles are flat you may need to use some royal icing to glue them on.) Press a chocolate into the bottom for the trunk. (You can also glue with icing / cut a toothpick in half, poke one end into your chocolate, and poke the other end into the tree for more security.)
  3. Once your trees are decorated, make your snow scene. Make another batch of Rice Krispies as above, but omit the food coloring. Press into a greased quarter-sheet pan. To make a road, break your graham crackers along the perforations and line them up through the center of the pan. Press the trees into the Rice Krispies along either side of the road, staggering the sizes. Tie the small tree to the top of the car using baker’s twine. When the Rice Krispies are totally cool, dust some icing sugar over the top for a snow-like effect. Enjoy!

deer1

Fall Cliche Cake for a Virtual Pumpkin Party!

fall cliche cake

About this cake.

We were faced with a fridge full of stuff people enamored with fall buy: canned pumpkin, apple cider, cream cheese. Meanwhile, I was in a baking mood but couldn’t decide what to make: apple cider donuts? Pumpkin bundt cake? Cream cheese danishes? Well, yes to all, but my waistline doth protest.

So one evening, in a rare burst of spontaneous baking, I set out to make a cake using only what we had in our fridge. Normally my layer cake baking is a 2+ day affair, mainly because I have an active toddler who only naps once a day. But fueled by coffee and inspiration from a little too much Great British Baking Show, I was determined to churn something out.

The result? I present to you the Fall Cliche Cake: pumpkin spice cake layers glued together with maple cream cheese frosting, drizzled with mulled apple cider caramel sauce. This is the cake version of what you order when you can’t decide between a Pumpkin Spice Latte and a Caramel Apple Cider and you hope your significant other orders one so you can actually have a bit of both. This is what you want to eat while admiring the fall foliage and wearing your boots and chunky sweater. All in all, this took me about 4 hours start to finish (not including the scrub-down of the kitchen, sadly), and I couldn’t be more pleased with the result. In fact, this cliche may become our new tradition.

inside3

This cake was also created with a party in mind — a Virtual Pumpkin Party hosted by bloggers Sara at Cake Over Steak and Aimee at Twigg Studios. It’s an honor to be able to participate in this take-over-the-internet-with-all-things-pumpkin recipe extravaganza with so many talented bloggers. I just wish the party were in person so I could try all the amazing dishes. Please check out the entire recipe list at the bottom of this post!

A few recipe notes:

  1. If you don’t have mulled cider sitting around in the fridge, you can make this with regular apple cider. Or, steep your cider with a cinnamon stick, a few cloves, a couple star anise, a few cardamom pods, and a chunk of nutmeg for as long as you can, then proceed with the recipe. Alternatively, you could add a pinch of cinnamon to the caramel when you add the vanilla.
  2. Use COLD cream cheese for the frosting. I know, I thought the same thing…room temperature everything! But the cold cream cheese actually doesn’t take that much longer to incorporate, plus it helps the frosting keep its body a bit better instead of becoming a soft, unworkable mess.
  3. Layer cakes are much easier to assemble when the cake is completely cooled, preferably chilled. Normally I make the layers a day ahead and chill them overnight, but in this case I just stuck them, uncovered, in the freezer for about 10 minutes after they’d come to room temperature. Worked great.
  4. There is enough frosting here to scantily ice a 3-layer, six inch cake. If you want to go fully frosted, double the recipe.

Fall Cliche Cake

Makes one 6-inch, 3-layer cake | Cake adapted from Sweetapolita / Frosting adapted from Call Me Cupcake

Ingredients

For the pumpkin spice cake:

  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) grapeseed oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) pumpkin puree (I used canned)
  • 2 cups (260 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the maple cream cheese icing:

  • 150 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 c (180g) powdered sugar
  • 200 g cream cheese, COLD and cubed
  • 1-2 Tbsp maple syrup

For the apple cider caramel sauce:

  • 2 cups apple cider (preferably mulled)
  • 1 cup (200 g) light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Tbsp corn syrup
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 generous pinch sea salt

To finish:

  • Chopped pecans
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Fresh thyme branches

Method

For the Pumpkin Spice Cake Layers:

  1. Spray three 6-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper rounds. Spray and flour the pans.
  2. In the large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the oil and vanilla and beat on medium until combined, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the pumpkin and mix until combined, about another 30 seconds.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and salt, and with the mixer on the lowest speed, gradually add to pumpkin/egg mixture.
  5. Evenly distribute batter into the prepared pans (weigh them if possible with digital kitchen scale for about 370 g per pan), smooth with a small offset palette knife and place in the center of the middle rack of the oven, about 2 inches apart. Bake until a knife or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.
  6. Let pans cool on a wire rack 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack and cool them completely.

For the Maple Cream Cheese Icing:

  1. Beat butter until pale, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add powdered sugar and continue beating until frosting is very pale and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add cream cheese and beat until just smooth. Beat in maple syrup a tablespoon at a time, tasting after the first to check the flavor. Add the second if necessary. Use immediately.

For the Apple Cider Caramel Sauce:

  1. Add the apple cider to a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat and bring to boil. Allow the apple cider to cook down to about 1/3 cup.
  2. Add the brown sugar and corn syrup and stir just until the sugar is dissolved. Heat without stirring until the mixture reaches 240F on a candy thermometer.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in butter, heavy cream, and vanilla. Return to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the caramel thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon.
  4. Remove from heat and add a pinch of sea salt; stir to combine. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before transferring to a heat-safe jar.
  5. Store at room temperature for 3 days or in the fridge for several weeks.

To assemble:

  1. Level your cakes (this is easiest to do when they’re completely cool; I like to stick them in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes right before assembly). Choose a layer for the bottom and put bottom-side down on a cake board.
  2. Spread about a 1/2 cup of icing evenly over the layer, followed by a generous drizzle of caramel sauce. Repeat with the next two layers, ending with just a layer of frosting on the top. Add a thin layer of icing over the entire cake. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes to set.
  3. When the cake is chilled and the caramel is your desired drizzle consistency (test a drip on the side to see), drizzle the caramel on the sides and spread a layer on top. I like to use a squirt bottle for the side drips, but you can use a spoon or just pour over the top and nudge it to the edges with a palette knife if you’re brave.
  4. Decorate with chopped pecans, pepitas, and thyme branches, if desired.

Virtual Pumpkin Party!

Cake Over Steak • Quick Pumpkin and Kale Risotto + Arancini

Twigg Studios • Sausage Stuffing Baked in a Pumpkin

Donuts, Dresses and Dirt • Pumpkin Spice Latte Popsicles

Cloudy Kitchen • Pumpkin Cake with Vanilla German Buttercream

Vegetarian Ventures • Smoky Pumpkin & Black Sesame Hummus

Eat Boutique • Pumpkin Scallion Dumplings

A Little Saffron • Pumpkin Stuffed Shells

Two Red Bowls • Pumpkin & Maple Caramel Baked French Toast

Wallflower Kitchen • Mini Pumpkin & Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

Wit & Vinegar • Pumpkin Butterscotch Banana Split

Style Sweet CA • Pumpkin Creme Brulee Cake

Nommable • Pumpkin Biscuits with Mushroom Thyme Gravy

With Food + Love • Cinnamon Raisin Pumpkin Seed Bread

Hortus • Creamy Roasted Squash Soup + Pumpkin Risotto

Sevengrams • Vegan Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

Jojotastic • 1 Pumpkin, 2 Ways: Pumpkin Trail Mix & Dog Treats

Grain Changer • Pumpkin Spice Baked Oatmeal

Girl Versus Dough • Pumpkin Cranberry Flax Crisps

Earthy Feast • Pumpkin Grits + Pumpkin Home Fries + a Fried Egg

Harvest and Honey • Truffled Pumpkin Papardelle Alfredo with Frizzled Sage

Tasty Seasons • Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake

Broma Bakery • Pumpkin Butter Pop Tarts

Tending the Table • Roasted Pumpkin and Barley Salad

The Sugar Hit • Super Soft Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Delicious Not Gorgeous • Waffles with Spiced Pumpkin Butter and Brown Sugar Walnut Crumble

Taste Love and Nourish • Pumpkin Bread Pudding

The Green Life • Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Skillet Cookie (Vegan)

Foolproof Living • Pumpkin Creme Fraiche Pasta with Sage

The Monday Box • Pumpkin Mini Bundt Cakes

Design Crush • Pumpkin Bourbon Hot Toddy

The Road to Honey • Pumpkin Pie & Chocolate Layer Cake

My Name is Yeh • Roasted Pumpkin with Yogurt and Hazelnut Dukkah

Give Recipe • Orange Chocolate Pumpkin Bread

Heartbeet Kitchen • Magic Vegan Pumpkin Pie Fudge

Beard and Bonnet • Marbled Pumpkin Muffins

Eat Within Your Means • Vegan Pumpkin Blender Muffins

Snixy Kitchen • Pumpkin Tapioca Pudding with Candied Pumpkin Seeds

Ruby Josephine • Moroccan Sweet Pumpkin + Beef Tagine

Lab Noon • Pasta Bake with Roasted Pumpkin and Saffron Sauce, Pistachio and Goat Cheese

An Edible Mosaic • Pumpkin Spice Chia Seed Pudding

Hey Modest Marce • Mascarpone Pumpkin Pie

Inspired By the Seasons • Pumpkin Applesauce Smoothie

CaliGirl Cooking • Pumpkin Praline Cinnamon Rolls with Spiked Cream Cheese Glaze

Sally’s Baking Addiction • Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bundt Cake

Well and Full • Spicy Chipotle Pumpkin Hummus

Appeasing a Food Geek • Cheese Fondue Stuffed Roasted Pumpkin

SweetPhi • Pumpkin Chili Biscuit Bake

Warm Vanilla Sugar • Buttermilk Pumpkin Doughnuts

Mademoiselle Poirot • Cinnamon-Pumpkin Mousse on Honey Panna Cotta topped with Hazelnut Brittle

Heart of a Baker • Pumpkin Sticky Buns with Vanilla Bean Frosting

Flourishing Foodie • Massaman Curry with Pumpkin and Chickpeas

Ginger & Toasted Sesame • Pumpkin Jeon

Lindsay Jang • Best Ever DIY Pumpkin Spiced Latte

Fix Feast Flair • Hokkaido Pumpkin + Sage Mac and Gouda

Will Frolic for Food • Pumpkin Kale Patties with Coconut Cilantro Rice

A Couple Cooks • Pumpkin Pecan Baked Steel Cut Oats

Vermilion Red • Pumpkin Pie Souffle

  1. Britnell • Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Displaced Housewife • Brown Butter Pumpkin Donuts

Sweet Gula • Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

La Pêche Fraîche • Pumpkin and Condensed Milk Cakes

Kitchen Konfidence • Pumpkin Ricotta Gnocchi with Rosemary Brown Butter Sauce

Loves Food, Loves to Eat • Savory Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Kale & Caramel • Goat Cheese & Sage-Stuffed Pumpkin Challah

Okie Dokie Artichokie • Pumpkin Chorizo Chili with Sweet Potatoes + Pinto Beans

Salted Plains • Easy Pumpkin Bread

Liliahna • Chicken Legs with Pumpkin and Tortellini

TermiNatetor Kitchen • Whole Wheat, Pumpkin & Brown Sugar Brioche

Vermilion Roots • Sweet Rice Dumplings with Pumpkin

Celebrate Creativity • Pumpkin Mini Cheesecake Tarts

Serendipity Bakes • Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake

So Much Yum • Vegan Maple-Glazed Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts

The Brick Kitchen • Pumpkin, Pecan & White Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches

Lisli • Pumpkin Pie Cake

Cookie Dough and Oven Mitt • Pumpkin Pie Dip

Fig+Bleu • Pumpkin Granola

The Speckled Palate • Pumpkin Caramel Cream Cheese Swirl Blondies

Cook Til Delicious • Fall Cliche Cake (Pumpkin Spice Cake / Maple Cream Cheese Frosting / Apple Cider Caramel Sauce)

Floating Kitchen • Chicken and Pumpkin Chili

The Wood and Spoon • Pumpkin Pecan Cake with Burnt Sugar Frosting

Fork Vs Spoon • Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

Lemon & Vanilla • Pumpkin and Coconut Caramel Flan

Dunk & Crumble • Pumpkin Chocolate Icebox Cake

Chicano Eats • Pumpkin Butter Pan de Muerto

On the Plate • Pumpkin Pancakes, Salted Caramel & Pecans

Rough Measures • Cosy Pumpkin Spice Latte (Caffeine and Dairy Free)

Brewing Happiness • Pumpkin Ginger Breakfast Cookies

A Butterful Mind • Pumpkin Cheesecake with Vanilla Whipped Cream

The Little Loaf • Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Fork to Belly • Pumpkin Gnocchi

The Little Epicurean • Chocolate Hazelnut Pumpkin Pie

Bourbon and Honey • Spicy Roasted Pumpkin with Honey and Feta

What to Cook Today • Spicy Pumpkin Noodle Soup

Food by Mars • Pumpkin Pie (Grain-Free, Diary-Free)

The Bojon Gourmet • Pumpkin Butterscotch Pudding

Oh Honey Bakes • Pumpkin Cake with Gingersnap Toffee

Long Distance Baking • Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake

The Jam Lab • Pumpkin Madeleines Dipped in White Chocolate

The Lemon Apron • Pumpkin Gingerbread Loaf with an Olive Oil Glaze

Sun Diego Eats • Thai Pumpkin & Sticky Rice Cakes

A Cozy Kitchen • Pumpkin Chai Scones with Black Tea Glaze

A Cookie Named Desire • Pumpkin Shrubs

Eating Clean Recipes • Vegan Pumpkin Chia Pudding

Kingfield Kitchen • Vegan Fresh Pumpkin Soup

Drink and Cocktail Recipes • Pumpkin Dirty Chai

The Pig & Quill • Pumpkin Sage Cannelloni (Dairy-Free)

My Lavender Blues • Pumpkin, Banana & Olive Oil Bundt Cake

Betty Liu • Pumpkin + Pear Butter Baked Melty Cheese

Happy Hearted Kitchen • Cinnamon Roasted Pumpkin with Tahini Yogurt + Hazelnut Dukkah

InHappenstance • Pumpkin Scones with Maple Butter

Live Eat Learn • Pumpkin Gingerbread Hot Cocoa

Apple Pie with a Cinnamon Roll Crust

apple pie cinnamon roll crust

Every fall for the past four years, my husband and I have gone apple picking. And each year the first culinary priority is a proper apple pie.

With apologies to salted caramel and brown butter, I like my apple pie plain and simple. Sounds straighforward enough, but it’s taken me a few tries to get this apple pie right to where I like it. I like lots of apples — lightly and classically spiced, tender but not mushy, sliced and not chunky, and not too sweet.

Normally with fruit pies I spring for a fun lattice top; but this time around, inspired by a photo I saw from dessert artist Linda Lomelino, I decided to gild the lily with a cinnamon roll crust. I used my favorite partially whole grain, all butter crust, but this technique should work with your crust of choice.

A few notes:

  1. Although I’ve written out this recipe as if I were doing this in one day, my current pie procedure is a 2-day process. This is mostly because the scheduling is easier for me (having an active kiddy-kins makes it hard to do all at once), but I actually think my crusts have turned out better with the extra chilling and relaxing. Here’s my process: the night before baking, I roll out my crusts. I line the pie plate with the bottom one. I roll out the top one onto a piece of parchment and transfer that parchment to a sheet pan. I also peel and slice the apples and start the maceration process. Then I wrap everything in plastic and chill in the fridge overnight.
  2. The cinnamon roll crust is quite easy to put together, but it can get soft with the extra handling and rolling. Just stick it in the fridge if it starts feeling soft at any point.
  3. My pie plate is on the deep side so this is the right amount of apples for me. If you have extra, just cook them on the stovetop and add to your oatmeal; or sprinkle some granola on top for a tasty snack! Or make a baby pie using your dough scraps!

Apple Pie with a Cinnamon Roll Crust

Makes one 9-inch pie

Crust Ingredients:

  • One recipe of your favorite 9-inch double pie crust, divided in 2 (this is mine)
  • 1.5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 50g / 1/4 c granulated sugar mixed with 1 tsp cinnamon

Filling Ingredients:

  • 3.5 lbs apples (about 6-8 medium-sized), peeled and thinly sliced (I like a combination of tart and sweet apples such as Gala, Northern Spy, Mutsu, and Cortland)
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 50g / 1/4 c dark brown sugar
  • 50g / 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • A couple handfuls of coarse sugar
  • 2 Tbsp tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • A few gratings of fresh nutmeg
  • 1/4 t allspice
  • 1/2 t coarse kosher salt
  • A few dashes of Angostura bitters, optional

To finish:

  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp cream or milk and a pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp coarse or pearl sugar

Method:

  1. Combine the sliced apples with the lemon juice, dark brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Allow to macerate for at least one hour at room temperature (or up to overnight in the fridge).
  2. Roll out the bottom half of your pie crust and transfer to a greased pie plate. Trim the edges, leaving a 1/2 to 1 inch border all around. Cover with plastic wrap and chill while preparing the rest of your pie.
  3. Drain the macerated apples into a colander set over a small saucepan to catch the juices. Bring the juices to a boil over medium heat and cook until reduced by half, stirring occasionally. It should be thick and syrupy. Set aside to cool.
  4. Roll out your top crust into a 12 inch round. Brush the melted butter evenly over the whole surface and sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture on top. Gently but tightly roll up the pastry into a log. (If the pastry is soft at this point, transfer to the fridge for a few minutes to firm up before proceeding.) Using a serrated knife, trim off the ends and cut the pastry into 1/2″ slices. On a piece of lightly floured parchment paper or Silpat, arrange the remaining slices into a tight circle. The slices should be touching but not overlapping. Gently roll out into a 10-inch circle (or large enough to fit your pie plate — it should be about 1/8-1/4″ thick). Transfer the parchment with your crust to a sheet pan and refrigerate while you prepare the rest of the pie.
  5. Combine the spices, salt, lemon zest, and tapioca flour in a large bowl. Add the drained apples and stir to coat evenly. Add bitters if using, and stir again to combine.
  6. Remove the pie plate from the fridge. Scatter a handful of coarse sugar over the bottom of the crust. Arrange the apple slices inside, trying to pack them in as tightly as possible and mounding slightly in the center. (I find if you take the time to layer the apples neatly and carefully with no big gaps, you won’t have the problem of a big gap between the filling and the top crust. It’s worth the extra few minutes.) Drizzle the reduced juices and scatter another handful of coarse sugar over the apples.
  7. Invert the cinnamon roll crust over the top and gently peel off the parchment / Silpat. Trim the top crust and crimp the edges with a fork to seal. It’s ok if there is a little separation of the rolls — they will serve as your steam vents. Chill the entire pie until the pastry is firm, at least 20 minutes.
  8. While the pie is chilling, preheat the oven to 425F with racks in the middle and bottom and a baking sheet on the bottom rack. Prepare the egg wash by whisking the egg and cream/milk together.
  9. When you are ready to bake, gently brush the egg wash all over the surface of the pie, followed with a generous handful of coarse or pearl sugar. Transfer to the bottom rack of the oven, on the preheated baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn down the oven to 375F, rotate and move the pie on its baking sheet to the middle rack, and bake another 30-45 minutes or until the crust is a deep golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Allow to cool on a wire rack for at least 3 hours before slicing.

I couldn’t resist making a lil’ baby pie with the scraps…
applemini-1

Late summer galette

galette-bakedAnd just like that, it’s mid-August.

This summer — this whole year, really — has been a bit of a blur. Is it new parenthood? I don’t know. I do know that all of a sudden I’m looking up ideas for first birthday cakes and wondering how we made it here so fast.

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. I still have about a month before that first birthday, so it’s time to take advantage of this late summer fruit. Pies are usually my go-to for using up ripe and unphotogenic fruit, but I thought I’d go for quick(er) and rustic and opt for a galette this time around. After making this I wondered why I don’t galette more often. They’re easy and unfussy, and also the perfect size for our Sunday night family dinners. While I’m certainly not giving up pies, I do think galettes have earned their spot in the dessert rotation.

galette-unbakedMy favorite pie crust recipe these days is half all-purpose flour, one quarter spelt, and one quarter rye. The whole grains really pair well with fruit and lend a depth of flavor. I’ve also started adding a couple of turns to my pie dough right after mixing (like making puff pastry) — it makes the final rolling out a lot easier and adds some nice flaky layers. The crust recipe below will make enough for one double crusted pie, or two medium-sized galettes. It keeps in the fridge for a few days, or in the freezer for a few months (well-wrapped).

This recipe is very forgiving. Use more or less sugar depending on the sweetness of the fruit, or change the fruit altogether. I think a nectarine + blackberry combo would be amazing, as would peaches + plums.

Late Summer Galette

Serves 6-8 | Adapted from Apartment 2B Baking Co.

Galette Crust Ingredients (Makes enough for two galettes):

  • 1 1/3 c / 170g all purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 c / 170g rye or spelt flour, or mix of the two
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons / 255g very cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c ice water

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours and salt. Add the butter and quickly rub it into the flour with your fingers until some pieces are the size of peas, some lima beans. Flatten the pieces of butter by squeezing them between your fingers. If the butter gets too soft / melty at any point, stick the mixture into the fridge for a few minutes before proceeding.
  2. Add the cider vinegar to the ice water and gradually add to the butter-flour mixture, a couple tablespoons at a time. Mix until the water is evenly distributed and the dough holds together when you squeeze it. You may not need all the water; you may need a tablespoon or two more.
  3. Dump the entire mass onto a work surface and divide into 8 equal parts. Using the heel of your hand, drag each part across the work surface. Essentially you are creating sheets of butter in your dough. Once you have flattened all eight parts, stack them together and pat into a rough square. (If your dough feels sticky at this point, transfer to the fridge and chill about 10 minutes before proceeding.) Lightly flour your surface and roll into a rectangle about 8″ x 11″. The dough may be a bit crumbly, but that’s fine. Gently fold the dough into thirds, like a letter. Then turn the dough so the seam is at the top and parallel to your body. Repeat this process 1-3 more times. Divide in half, then wrap each half in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight, before using. (You can also freeze the dough at this point and defrost in the fridge the night before you want to use it.)

Galette Filling Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • Zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • Pinch of saffron (optional)
  • 1 c peaches, pitted and sliced (about 2 medium, or half a pound)
  • 1/2 c raspberries
  • 1/2 c strawberries, diced
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 c peach or berry jam
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

Assemble the galette:

  1. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one half of your dough into a rough 12-13 inch circle about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet and refrigerate while you prepare your filling.
  2. Zest half a lemon into a medium bowl. Add the granulated sugar and saffron, if using, and rub the lemon and saffron into the sugar with your fingers until you can smell the lemon. Add the salt and cornstarch and mix to combine. Add the fruit to the bowl and toss gently to combine.
  3. Remove crust from the fridge. Spread the jam in the center, leaving about a 2-inch border around the edges. Top with the fruit, leaving any excess juice behind. Fold the edges of the pastry over the filling, pressing gently to seal. Chill until pastry is firm, at least twenty minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400C.
  4. When ready to bake, brush crust gently with the beaten egg and sprinkle a generous handful of turbinado sugar over the top. Bake until pastry is golden brown, about 30-40 minutes, rotating pan once for even baking. Allow to cool before serving.

galette-slice