Oct 25, 2012

Pie, Pie, Me Oh My...

"Nothing tastes sweet, wet, salty and dry all at once, so well it's pie. APPLE! PUMPKIN! MINCED an' WET BOTTOM!  Come to your place everyday if you've got em' PIE! Me O my I LOVE PIE!"
I love to bake! I have always loved to bake. It isn't something I learned to love out of necessity like cooking after I got married. I love everything about it... I love the smells. I love the warmth of the kitchen from the hot oven. From the crack of the egg to the first gooey, warm, sweet bite I am home...my kitchen is filled with sweet smells and sweet memories of laughter and love with friends and family.

But alas, I digress...we're talking pies not reminiscing.  And as you may well know all baking is not equal. I have been terrified of pies the whole of my baking life. Oh, this is not to say that I haven't made them. I love pie too much to abstain wholey from its delicious presence in my oven. But, each time I am left with all these questions...How to get the crust flaky, tender, and sturdy? How to create beauty and preserve flavor? How to assure the filling is as flavorful as the crust? and I could go on.

Recently, I decided it was time to face my fears...i mean I am woman, right? Here me roar...?

I of course went to Pdub because her style and flavors most resemble my own and because she often has great tutorials. After a quick "pie crust" search I found "Pam's Pie Tutorial"...I got to work right away on the beautiful pie creation you see above. 
APPLE PIE! Truly the quintessential pie flavor, right? If I can make a great apple pie I can make a great any kind of pie.  Not only did this tutorial help me slay my fears but actually made me begin to feel like a master. Yes, after only one pie creation I am feeling like a master pie baker :) The crust was flaky, tender and oh, so very delicious. Now, don't get me wrong, I've always enjoyed the flavor of pie crust but I never knew it could taste like this...buttery, warm melt in your mouth goodness. My husband and I just couldn't stop talking about the crust or the filling for days after.

If you too have pie fears that you have long wanted to conquer then here is the tutorial for you! (I don't usually promote other sites on here but this one deserves it and some:)

PAM'S PIE TUTORIAL - Although, I am including the basic recipe below. I suggest you click the hyperlink and check out the full tutorial. Which gives detailed information on what fats to use and why (I have said bye, bye to Crisco forever), rolling techniques and filling tips.

This is the recipe I used. It is PAM'S recipe and this is what she says...

This is the recipe I use.  I didn’t invent it. It can be found in many places and is as old as the hills. Keep in mind that the fat in the recipe can be any kind. Butter or a butter/lard combination can be substituted in any recipe that calls for shortening or other manufactured fat.
This is my go-to recipe for a flaky, beautiful two crust pie. Any time that I want a more sturdy crust, like when making a slab pie or a tart, I will use all butter for a total of one cup per recipe.
For a nine inch, two crust pie:
2 ½ cups all purpose or pastry flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon sugar (for a fruit pie. Omit sugar for a savory pie.)
¾ cup cold butter, cut into chunks
¼ cup cold leaf lard, cut into chunks
¼ cup cold water
Mix the 2 cups of the flour, salt and sugar together lightly in a mixing bowl or in the bowl of a food processor.  Add the butter and lard chunks and cut into the flour using a pastry cutter or by pulsing the food processor. The mixture should look like large crumbs and begin to cling together in clumps. Add the remaining ½ cup of flour and mix lightly or pulse the processor two or three times.  Do not over mix this flour. It should coat the clumps.  Sprinkle the water over the dough and with hands or a wooden spoon mix in until dough holds together.  Shape the dough into two discs. (see the full tutorial for "Rolling Techniques")

Jan 23, 2012

Coconut Cake - A Diaz Men Recipe

Sunday dinner is a special time in our home.  We always try to have a special meal and when possible a special dessert.  Yesterday i asked everyone what we should have and received a resounding..."I don't know!"  Thanks to pinterest we pulled up my dessert board and the men of the house declared Coconut Cake the winner.  I said "happy baking" because I had just finished preparing a big meal and was left with no desire to prepare a "from scratch" cake no matter how yummy it might be.  They got busy and a couple of hours later this was their creation.

Not only does it look great but it tasted delicious!   I love a cake made from scratch and this one was excellent. The cake itself is simply wonderful vanilla.  The frosting by consensus wasn't our favorite but it was good.  It wasn't the taste we weren't crazy about it was just very similar to marshmallow cream which we aren't crazy about.  When we make this again we decided it should have some type of whipped cream frosting.  All in all it was a hit and I am ecstatic because I have been searching and baking trying to find a really good vanilla cake and i finally did!
Great job my handsome bakers!

Can we say S.I.L.L.Y.?

Recipe thanks to "The Heritage Baker"

Classic Coconut Cake
Modified recipe from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott
Yield: 8 to 10 servings; enough frosting for any layer cake, 2 (9×13-inch) cakes, or 3 to 4 dozen cupcakes
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk (or unsweetened coconut milk, if desired)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • About 3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
To Make the Cake:Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 2 (9-inch) round cake pans. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together well. Set aside. In a measuring cup, stir the vanilla into the milk.
In a large bowl beat the softened butter on medium speed until creamy. Add the sugar and continue beating, scraping down the sides and bottom of bowl twice, until the mixture is light and evenly combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition, until the mixture is thick and smooth.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat on low speed until completely incorporated. Add 1/2 the milk/vanilla, beating well. Beat in another 1/3 of the flour mixture, then the remaining milk, and finally the remaining flour, beating well each time until the batter is very thick and smooth.
Quickly scrape the batter into the prepared cake pans, dividing it evenly, and place them in the oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cakes are golden brown, spring back when touched lightly in the center, and begin to pull away from the sides of the pans.
Place the pans on wire racks and cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and place back on the racks, right side up, to finish cooling completely. Once cool you have the option of splitting each layer in half to create 4 thinner layers.
To Make the Frosting:Bring about 3 inches of water to an active simmer (bubbles breaking the surface regularly) in a medium saucepan. Meanwhile, in a heat-proof bowl that fits snugly into the saucepan, combine everything except the vanilla. Beat with a mixer at low speed for 1 minute, until the mixture is pale yellow and very foamy.
Place the bowl over the simmering water and beat at high speed for 7 to 14 minutes or more, until the frosting becomes white, thick, and shiny, and triples in volume. Continue beating until the frosting forms firm peaks and loses some of its shine. Remove the bowl from the heat, add the vanilla, and continue beating for 2 minutes more.
To Frost the Cake:Place one cake layer, top-side down, on a cake stand or serving plate. Cover it generously with frosting and sprinkle with some of the coconut. Place the second layer on top of the first, top-side up. First frost the sides to help keep the cake steady, and then spread frosting generously over the top, completely covering the cake.
Place the cake stand or serving plate on a baking sheet to catch any loose coconut as you sprinkle it onto the cake. Once the top is covered, gently pat coconut handfuls of coconut onto the sides. Make sure there are no bare spots.
Transfer any unused coconut to a jar or resealable plastic bag and store it in the freezer.

Jan 18, 2012

Warm Bacon Cheese Spread

The first time I had this recipe was on a visit at Christmas time with Caprece and her still small but ever so sweet family. It was the holiday season and we were all the time whipping up yummy things to snack on while we visited with family and friends. This wonderful one landed on the New Year's Eve Menu - we love snack foods for New Year's Eve fixins. It was comfort food at its finest, warm, bread, cheesy and bacon to boot. How can you go wrong with that combination? We ate it with everything...celery, carrots, crackers, chips, and pieces of warm crusty bread until it was gone...every last warm cheesy bite. Note* This was over several days - it re-heats really well - not all at once :) Although it was yummy enough to do just that.

I made this for our Christmas book club meeting.  Here is a picture of the spread...more recipes to come!
Caprece would have been proud! :)

Warm Bacon Cheese Spread
  • 1 round loaf (1 pound) sourdough bread
  • 1 pkg. (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups (12 ounces) sour cream
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese (I use sharp but it is your preference)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 pound sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled (I am not a fan of cooking bacon - the smell lingers far too long - so I use pre-cooked bacon pieces - you can find them in the salad fixins section of the grocery store)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
Assorted Crackers, vegetables, and chips.

Cut the top fourth off the loaf of bread; carefulliy hollow out the bottom, leaving a 1-in. shell.
you can see this in my picture at the top

I cut the bread crosswise like this and then pull each piece out gently. You want to be gentle because you are going to cube the bread to be used for dipping. After I remove the pieces then I just continue to hollow out the bread until I have a 1-in. shell. Cube the removed pieces and place in a ziplock to keep fresh until later. Take the lid (the top of the bread that you sliced and cube it as well so it can be used for dipping).

In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese. Add the sour cream, cheddar cheese and Worcestershire sauce until combined; stir in bacon and onions. Spoon into bread shell. Place lid pieces back on the top of the shell. Wrap the shell in a piece of heavy-duty foil or double wrap with regular foil, Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Serve with crackers, veggies and reserved bread cubes. Yield: 4 cups.