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Peaches ‘n Creme

Peaches 'n creme pie

Peaches ‘n creme pie

Believe it or not, I do bake things other than pies (more diverse posts coming this fall…). But for now, I’d like to continue to share some pie love with you.

I recently bought some beautiful, local, last call for summer peaches and couldn’t wait to head to the kitchen with them. I’m a big fan of a traditional peach pie, but I wanted to try something a little different this time. These chilly mornings are making me crave creamy, comforting sweets (see Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie) and I had the idea to make some kind of peaches ‘n creme dessert. Mission accomplished. This creamy, fruity pie is the perfect combination for a late summer / early fall dessert.

Even though there are three layers to this pie, all are very simple, quick to prepare and well worth the effort. This pie is a looker too. The layers make each slice look fancy and indulgent. Enjoy!

Peaches ‘n Creme Pie
Yield – one, 9-inch pie

Ingredients
One single crust pie shell, rolled into a 9-inch pie plate and par-baked (with weights) at 400 degrees for 20 minutes (recipe here)
Crumble topping (recipe follows)
Cheesecake layer (recipe follows)
Peach filling (recipe follows)

Crumble topping
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed light brown sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened

Cheesecake layer
8 ounces cold cream cheese (not low fat)
1/3 cup of sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Peach filling
5 medium ripe peaches, pit removed and sliced into half inch slices (removing the peach skin is optional, I did)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean (optional), opened and scraped (bean discarded or saved for other use)

To make the layers
To make the crumble topping, mix together the flour and sugar in a medium bowl. Cut the soft butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Use your hands to make sure all ingredients are well combined. Set aside.

To make the cheesecake layer, beat the sugar and cream cheese in a mixer on medium speed until it’s smooth and creamy, 2-3 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla and salt  and continue to beat until all ingredients are incorporated and the mixture begins to thicken, 3-5 minutes. Set aside.

To make the peach filling, place peach slices in a large bowl. Sprinkle sugar, cornstarch and vanilla bean seeds over the peaches and stir until combined.

To assemble the pie
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the cream cheese filling evenly over the bottom of the par-baked, cooled, pie crust. Carefully spread the peach filling over the cheesecake layer, making sure to create an even layer that is slightly mounded in the middle. Break up the crumble topping with your fingers and sprinkle the pieces over the fruit. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 65-70 minutes, or until the crumble topping is golden brown.  Serve this pie at room temperature and store it in the refrigerator.

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Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie

Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie

Welcome fall! That’s right, it’s September already. I’m embarrassed to see how much time has passed since my last post. For those of you wondering, yes, I’m still here! I promise to jump back on the blogosphere with renewed time and energy for the remainder of 2013.

I love pie any time of year. This summer I enjoyed a particularly ripe strawberry pie, which isn’t an easy find. Now I’m excited for cold season pies – cue Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie!

Also known as “desperation pie” and the official state pie of Indiana, a Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie is comprised of a simple and silky custard and single crust pastry. It dates back to the early 1800s as a go to farmers’ dessert once the apple bins were empty. Farmers would depend on their fresh milk and cream to make this simple sweet pastry. It’s still popular in Amish communities throughout the country and in plenty of bakeries and eateries across Indiana.

Despite its name, this custard pie isn’t overtly sweet. But it is American comfort food at its best and one of the easiest recipes I have ever made. For a fun twist, set your whisk aside and try the finger stirring method.

I used half and half in the recipe below, but you can use an equal part mixture of cream and milk if that’s what you have on hand. Use the highest quality dairy products for the best result.

A traditional sugar cream pie has no particular finish. I used a light sprinkling of powdered sugar. You could also sprinkle some raw sugar on top of the custard and brulee it for a nice crunch. My husband says that this pie is best with fresh strawberries. You be the judge.


Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie
Yields one 9-inch pie or tart

Ingredients
1 ½ cups half n’ half
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
One single crust pie recipe (half of the double crust recipe here)

Roll out the pie crust and fit it into a 9-inch pie pan or tart shell. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line your pie crust with foil and pie weights, rice or beans. Blind bake the crust for 15 minutes, remove the foil and weights and set aside to cool. Keep your oven temperature at 350 degrees.

To make the custard, combine the flour, sugars, nutmeg and vanilla bean seeds in a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Add the half and half, cream, milk and vanilla extract and whisk just until combined (30 seconds). Do not over whisk the custard or the heavy cream will be begin to whip.

Pour the custard into your pre-baked pie crust and bake for approximately 60-70 minutes. The custard should still jiggle in the center and the top should just begin to get a light golden color. Cool completely and then refrigerate. Serve at room temperature with a light dusting of powdered sugar.

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Summer peach pie

Peach pie

July is the perfect time for summer peaches. I found some fantastic Jersey peaches near Ocean City, NJ, for $1 a pound (not something you can find on the island of Manhattan) and since you need several pounds of peaches for this pie, it was a great find.

The subtle sweet flavor of summer peaches are a great canvas for a pie. I like to keep my peach pie relatively straight forward, as peach juice can easily be overpowered by stronger flavors (save your cinnamon for fall!).

I recently made this pie with an almond crumb topping. I would also be great as a traditional double crust pie. Enjoy!

Summer Peach Pie
Yields one 9-inch pie

Ingredients
One double crust dough recipe, or single crust (if using optional crumb topping recipe below), recipe here
3 pounds ripe local peaches (approximately 10), halved, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 tablespoons light-brown sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

To pre-bake the pie crust
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Roll out ½ of a double crust pie dough recipe and pre-bake with pie weights for 20 minutes, as directed here. Set aside to cool. Keep oven preheated to 425 while you assemble the pie.

To assemble the pie
Combine the sugar, flour and nutmeg in a small bowl. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the sliced peaches and gently toss until combine and peaches are coated. Pour the peaches into the prepared pie shell, mounding slightly in the center. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the peaches (recipe below) or roll out the second half of the pie dough, lay over the peaches, vent, brush with egg wash (one egg, beaten with a pinch of salt) and sprinkle with sugar.

Place the pie on foil lined baking sheet and place on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Cover the crust of the pie with foil to prevent it from burning while cooking.

Bake the pie at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, then turn the heat down to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 40- 50 minutes or until the pie is golden brown all over and the filling is bubbling over.

Cool the pie completely at room temperature and store, uncovered (to keep the topping crisp!) at room temperature. Enjoy within 48 hours, or refrigerate for a longer shelf life. Serve it with your favorite ice cream, or this recipe for Sour ice cream.

Crumb topping (optional)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut in pieces
1/2 cup slivered almonds (or other chopped nut of choice)

Combine the flour with the sugar and salt.  Add the cold butter and mix with your fingertips, gently crushing the bits of butter until they are broken into smaller pebbles and the mixture resembles a streusel. Gently toss in the nuts. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Peach pie with sour ice cream

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Sweet cherry pie

Cherry pie

I love summer pies. From early summer berries to juicy stone fruit, there are so many options. I was contemplating what to make for a Fourth of July barbeque and realized I had never made a cherry pie. It sounded like a fun and festive challenge.

What I love about cherry pie is that the cherries hold their shape nicely throughout the cooking process. This pie won’t look like a mushy mess when you cut into it. The cherries cook through and release their juices without falling apart, making it a very attractive slice. Since cherries are a relatively juicy fruit, this double bake method works well for the crust.

A cherry pitter is a great tool to have, but it won’t save you the mess of cherry juice.  Pitting them by hand works just fine, especially if you’re lucky enough to have a volunteer who will split the task with you (thanks Tom!).

This is a great base recipe for you to play around with. Consider adding in another flavor you love, such as ginger, kirsh, almond extract, lemon zest, etc.  I went with a stars theme for the Fourth of July, but you can do a full top crust, lattice crust, or use any cookie cutter to cut out shapes and decorate the pie anyway you like.

Bon appétit!

Sweet Cherry Pie
Yields one 9-inch pie

Pie Ingredients
1 double crust pie dough separated into two disks, recipe here
5 cups fresh sweet cherries, pitted (about 2 ½ – 3 pounds unpitted)
4 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg, beaten with a dash of salt
Sugar in the raw (or regular refined sugar), for sprinkling

To pre-bake the crust
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Roll out one disk of pie dough (1/2 the recipe) and pre-bake with pie weights, as directed here. Set aside to cool. Turn the oven down to 400 degrees.

To make the pie
Stir together the cherries, cornstarch, sugar, salt and lemon juice gently in a large bowl, set aside.

Once the pie crust is out of the oven, remove the pie weights and spoon in the cherry filling. Dot the top of the filling with small pieces of cold butter. Roll out the remaining disk of dough (or cut into shapes and lattice crust) and place over the filling, crimping the edges as desired. Make sure to vent the top crust with a couple of slits or openings. Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar.

I would recommend covering the crust of the pie with foil, like this, to prevent it from burning while cooking. You can choose to add the foil now, or keep an eye on the color of the crust and add the foil once its reach a desired golden brown color. I prefer the latter.

Bake the pie at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 25 – 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden and you can see the filling bubble up. Remove the pie and cool completely on a rack.

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Blackberry pie

I can’t quite explain my recent interest in fruit pies, other than the fact that I can’t WAIT for summer and I’m in culinary school, which means I spend all of my time thinking about food.  Plus, I was beginning to feel like me and my kitchen aide mixer were in need of some serious bonding. Oh, and I had an extra round of dough leftover from last week’s pie fun, which left me with a serious urge to experiment further with crumb toppings.

While I would be perfectly happy eating a rhubarb pie each week for the rest of my life, I thought a new recipe might be appreciated among this audience. Also, I couldn’t justify another $20 spent on rhubarb (really?! $10 a pound NYC?).

I entered Trader Joe’s with an open mind and empty basket and left with loads of fresh blackberries, a couple of oranges, some really nice walnuts and a six pack of Simpler Times.

When I arrived home, I realized that I have never made a blackberry pie before. After gathering dozens of recipes and my online research, I dove right in.

I can now tell you from experience that blackberries are not to be overlooked when it comes to fruit pies. If you don’t believe me, take Mario Batali’s word for it.  They have a nice tart flavor that really balances out their naturally sweet juices.

Enjoy!

Blackberry pie
Yields one 9-inch pie

Pie Ingredients
1/2 recipe (one dough round) of pie dough, recipe here
6 cups fresh blackberries
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon orange zest

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Roll out pie dough and pre-bake with pie weights, as directed here. Set aside to cool. Turn oven up to 450 degrees.


Crumble Topping Ingredients
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
8 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut in pieces
¾ cup chopped walnuts (optional, any desired nut will work)

Combine the flour with the brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and ginger.  Add the cold butter and mix with your fingertips, gently crushly the bits of butter until they are broken into smaller pebbles and the mixture resembles a streusel. Gently toss in the walnuts. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To Assemble the Pie
Toss the blackberries with the lemon juice in a large bowl. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch and orange zest. Sprinkle over the blackberries and toss until combined.

Pour the blackberry mixture into the prepared, slightly pre-baked pie crust, mounding blackberries slightly in the center of the pie. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the blackberries, slight pressing it in to secure it.

Place the pie on foil lined baking sheet and place on a rack in the lower third of the oven. I would recommend covering the crust of the pie with foil, like this, to prevent it from burning while cooking. You can choose to add the foil now, or keep an eye on the color of the crust and add the foil once its reach a desired golden brown color.

Bake the pie at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 45- 50 minutes or until the pie is golden brown all over and the filling is bubbling over.

Cool the pie completely at room temperature and store, uncovered (to keep the topping crisp!) at room temperature. Enjoy within 48 hours, or refrigerate for a longer shelf life.

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Rhubarb pie with ginger crumble

Rhubarb – a sure sign that spring has sprung.  My mother-in-law, Virginia, first introduced me to Rhubarb Pie when I was a teenager. These days, I become a grocery store stalker as soon as April hits, waiting for the first sign of this long, pink vegetable. It’s an especially daunting task in NYC, where demand is high and supply always seems to be low.

It took me only three trips to find my first batch of spring rhubarb this year. Unfortunately, both A&P and Whole Foods disappointed, but Garden of Eden (a small market on 23rd street) had a fresh, untouched pile of beautiful, young rhubarb. I felt like the first person to cross the finish line as the cashier fumbled to find a code for this strange vegetable and then quizzed me about what it was and why I was buying it. Lucky for her, I was more than happy to share.

People tend to pair rhubarb with strawberries or other berries (Blubarb anyone? Yum!). Those of you who like a sweeter pie will especially love the flavor that natural berry juice can bring to this tart plant. Give this prize-winning Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie a try.

Personally, I love the flavor of a pure Rhubarb Pie. It’s easy to overpower the rhubarb with other berries or excessive sugar in hybrid pies. You’ll find that this recipe calls for just enough sugar to sweeten the rhubarb without eliminating its naturally tart flavor.

I love this streusel topping. It’s a nice cross between a pie and crumble – the best of both worlds. If you prefer a double crust pie, forgo the crumble recipe and use the full dough recipe below.

Pair this pie with unsweetened, freshly whipped cream or your favorite ice cream.  I love it with Ginger Ice Cream.

Happy spring everyone!


Twice-Baked Fluffy Pie Crust

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yields one double layer pie crust

Ingredients
1 cup very cold water
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces

Instructions
Fill a cup with water and a few ice cubes. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt until combined. Sprinkle the small pieces of chilled butter over the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender (or two forks), work the butter into the flour mixture until all of the butter pieces are the size of small peas and the mixture is combined and crumbly. It’s ok if the mixture is slightly uneven.

Drizzle 1/2 cup cold water over the flour mixture. Using a rubber spatula, gather the dough together. Add more water, one tablespoon at a time, if needed, to bring the dough together. Gather the mixture together with your hands into one neat mound.

Divide the dough into two even mounds and form each mound into disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours (or up to one week).

If you use the crumb topping, you will only need one disk of dough. Feel free to use the other disk for another pie, tart, or to make hand pies like these. The dough can stay in the refrigerator for a week or in the freezer for a month. Just make sure it’s tightly wrapped.

When you’re ready to make this pie, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place one dough disk on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 12 inch circle, about 3/8-inch thick. Transfer to a 9-inch pie place. Line dough with foil and weigh it down with pie weights, dry rice or dry beans. Bake until crust is light golden brown, approximately 20 minutes.

When you remove the crust from the oven, increase the oven’s temperature to 450 degrees (unless you are making a double crust pie, in which case you should turn the oven down to 375 degrees). While crust is baking, prepare the pie filling.


Ginger Rhubarb Pie
Yields enough filling for one, 9-inch pie

Ingredients
1 3/4 pounds (about 10 stalks) of rhubarb, ends trimmed, cut crosswise into ½ inch pieces, like these
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon powdered ginger (optional)
Pinch of salt

Instructions
Place chopped rhubarb in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Sprinkle the dry ingredients evenly over the rhubarb and gently stir to evenly coat the rhubarb. Set bowl aside while you make the crumble.


Ginger Crumble
Topping

Yields enough topping for one, 9-inch pie 

Ingredients
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
8 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut in pieces

Instructions
Combine the flour with the brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and ginger.  Add the cold butter and mix with your fingertips, gently crushly the bits of butter until they are broken into smaller pebbles and the mixture resembles a streusel. Set aside.

To Assemble the Pie
Gently stir the rhubarb filling to refresh it. Pour the filling into the pie shell and even it out with your fingers, slightly mounding it in the center. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the rhubarb, slight pressing it in to secure it.

Place the pie on foil lined baking sheet and place on a rack in the lower third of the oven. I would recommend covering the crust of the pie with foil, like this, to prevent it from burning while cooking. Feel free to add the foil now, or keep an eye on the color of the crust and add the foil once its reach a desired golden brown color.

Bake the pie at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 50- 60 minutes or until the pie is golden brown all over and the filling is bubbling over.

Cool the pie completely at room temperature and store, uncovered (to keep the topping crisp!) at room temperature. Enjoy within 48 hours, or refrigerate for a longer shelf life.

*NOTE – If you opt for a double layer pie, pre-bake the shell as instructed above, then turn the oven down to 375 degrees. The pie can be baked at 375 degrees for the duration, approximately 60-75 minutes.

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Bourbon peach hand pies with a cinnamon drizzle

You know I love pie, especially fruit pies and the juicy peaches at my local farmer’s market have been calling my name…

I wanted to kick things up a bit and make hand pies in place of a standard peach pie (although I nearly abandoned this plan after finding a terrific recipe for a ginger peach pie with a crumb topping…but that’s another blog post for another time).

I’ve never made hand pies before, but thought it might be similar to making calzones, which I do pretty regularly.  Yes, it’s true that the folding, crimping and slicing are the same, but pie dough is much more finicky than pizza dough.

I decided to use a recipe from Smitten Kitchen, one of my favorite blogs.  It was exactly was I was looking for – fresh peaches and bourbon – simple, straight-forward and delicious.

Jim Beam Kentucky Bourbon

As you’ll read in these very detailed instructions, there is significant chill time required after each step, which is the key to success for this recipe.  The chill time is what gives this dough its flaky, fluffy consistency that works perfectly with fruit pie filling.  It’s sturdy without being tough.

These pies would be great with a scoop of your favorite ice cream or fresh whipped cream. I mixed 1 cup powdered sugar with 2 tablespoons of milk and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon to make a cinnamon drizzle.  I though the sweet sugar topping balanced the pie well and the touch of cinnamon complemented the peach filling just perfectly.

If you love a strong bourbon flavor, substitute your favorite bourbon in place of the milk in the drizzle.  I prefer Jim Beam Kentucky Bourbon, which has a nice smoky flavor.

Bourbon peach hand pies with cinnamon drizzle

Happy peaching!

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