Sally’s Baking Addiction: July, 2019 Challenge: No-Bake Cheesecake Jars👩🏻‍🍳

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Boy, did I get lucky this month! 😲 Sally set a really easy and fast challenge for July, which I appreciated! I had a lot going on for the month of July, so a quick, No-bake Cheesecake dessert was perfect timing😊

Three layers, all simple and tasty. First was the two ingredient graham cracker crust.

1 cup (about 8 graham crackers) were crushed in a food processor until crumbs formed, then 2 tablespoons of melted butter were drizzled in until a sandy mix formed.

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Sally used mason jars, but I chose to use some mini dessert cups. These were filled with the crust and set aside until the filling was ready.

 

The filling is just as simple. 1 cup of cold, heavy cream was whipped into stiff peaks and set aside.

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Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, 8 oz. of cream cheese, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 2 Tablespoons of Greek Yogurt (Sally used sour cream), 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, lemon zest and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla were mixed until smooth.

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Then the whipped cream was gently folded into the cream cheese mixture.

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This was spooned over the crust filled cups.

I put these into the fridge to set while I made the toppings. I couldn’t decide between chocolate, strawberry or blueberry-so I made all three 😂

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All three of these sauce recipes are from Sally’s site and are super easy to make as well. And, bonus! They are all great over yogurt or ice cream 😋

All that was left was to add the toppings

Chocolate 🍫

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Strawberry 🍓

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Blueberry and lemon 🍋

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These were delicious!

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Next time I will add more of the crust!

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I have a very busy August as well, so I hope I can keep up with Sally❤️

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Sally’s Baking Addiction: June, 2019 Challenge: Angel Food Cake😇

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Yum, Angel food cake 🍰! This is one of my favorites😋

I admit that I have made many angel food cakes in the past. In fact, this time last year, I was working on a gluten free version for a yoga retreat that I was catering. Still, I was excited to bake this one for the June challenge

If you haven’t tried this yet, I definitely encourage you to give Sally’s version a go!. She has a helpful video as well. There are only 6 ingredients needed for this creation.

All the leavening for this cake will come from the whipped egg whites, so you need to start by separating 12 eggs

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It’s very important that no yolk get into the whites, or they will not whip up properly

Set the egg whites aside to come to room temperature, as cold egg whites will not achieve the proper volume for this cake.

 

This cake is exceptionally light, so regular granulated sugar is too heavy for the batter. I used to just buy super fine sugar at the grocery store, but couldn’t find any😳 Sally has that covered however, as she recommends grinding granulated sugar in a food processor. So, I placed 1 and 3/4 cups of granulated sugar in my processor and let it run until the sugar was a fine consistency.

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Check out the sugar “smoke” coming out of the machine 😂

1 cup of the (now) fine sugar was removed and set aside, while 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons of cake flour and 1/4 teaspoon of salt was added to the remaining sugar, and pulsed to combine

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This is now the dry ingredients that will be added to the whipped egg whites

Now it’s time to beat the egg whites. But, before I added the whites to the mixing bowl, I used a trick that we were taught in culinary school. Egg whites are extremely sensitive to fat, meaning if ANY fat is present in the mixing bowl, they will not whip up.

This is why there can be no yolk in the whites to begin with, and why I always use an acid in my mixing bowl.

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take a cut lemon and rub it all over the interior of the mixing bowl. Do not juice the lemon and don’t worry about any pulp that is left in the bowl

 

The lemon does not flavor the whites, but the acid will help the whites to climb the bowl as the air is incorporated. Cream of Tartar is added to stabilize the whites as well.

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start the whites and cream of tartar on slow, until bubbles begin to form

Once the whites begin to take on some volume, add the reserved cup of sugar, slowly!

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Do not over whip! The whites need to be at soft peaks, not stiff! This is not a merengue.

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Continue until the whites form a gentle peak, in the above picture you can see how the whites hold shape but the tip curls over.

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Now that the whites are whipped, the vanilla is added and quickly mixed in. Next the dry ingredients need to be added, in three additions, and folded (carefully) after each addition.

Remember, you don’t want to knock all the air out of the whites!

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1/3 of the dry mix is sifted over the whites, and folded in

After all the dry ingredients are incorporated, it is time to add the batter to the UNGREASED tube pan. If you grease the sides, the batter will not rise up!!!😲

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Into a 325F oven for about 45 minutes and bake until a toothpick comes out clean

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Immediately invert the hot cake and allow it to cool for about 3 hours, this will prevent the light cake from collapsing on itself

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Run a knife around the outside of the pan and the inner tube to release the cake. I also run the knife across the bottom of the pan

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The cake is great as is! However, I like to add a lemon glaze and some fresh berries 😉

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Then we chow down!

 

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Another awesome Sally challenge😇

Next month will be Sally’s 30th Challenge!! I am excited to say that I have participated in all of them so far 🌟 Looking forward to the next one!

 

Sally’s Baking Addiction: May, 2019 Challenge: How To Make Perfect Scones👩🏻‍🍳

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When I saw that Sally had set scone baking as the May challenge, I was both excited and disappointed at the the same time. Excited because I love scones! And so does my family, which means I have baked a lot of scones over the years. I don’t find them to be that difficult, mainly due to all the practice I have had 😂

So I was not expecting this to be much of a challenge. But then I took a closer look at Sally’s recipe. Her method of cutting in the butter (a crucial component to scone baking) was one that I have seen before, but have never tried. More on that later!

The first task was to choose which flavor to make my scones. Sally has quite a large variety from which to select! She has savory recipes as well as the more common, sweet options. We were having house guests this month, so I selected the tried and true, blueberry, which would please all of us for breakfast during their stay.

The first step was to combine the dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar.

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Then I chose to mix the wet ingredients and keep it in the fridge, while I cut in the butter. Keeping everything as cold as possible, for as long as possible is crucial to getting fluffy and light scones. Not an easy job in a hot Tucson kitchen 😆

I mixed the heavy cream, vanilla and egg in a 2 cup measure with a spout. I added another ingredient, not specified by Sally’s recipe: Lemon zest 🍋 I love lemon and blueberries together, so you will see the zest in the picture.

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This was whisked up, and placed in the refrigerator for later.

Now comes the new part, for me anyway. Normally, I will cube the cold butter into smallish pieces and use a pastry cutter to work the small cubes into smaller, pea sized pieces. And, that has always worked well! But Sally, and others that I have seen, will use frozen butter and a box grater. IMG_5800

I admit that this has always struck me as messy and time consuming. And, if you are making more than just 8 scones, it is a lot of butter to deal with! In this recipe, there is only 1/2 cup, or 1 stick. So I decided to give it a go.

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This was added to the dry ingredients and cut into the mix, which did not take long given how small the butter pieces were from the grating process.

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The cold, wet mixture was then added..

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as were the blueberries.

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The batter was stirred until the components came together in a loose ball. This was turned out onto a heavily floured counter, and molded into an 8″ circle. As I mentioned before, this was cut into 8 triangles.

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I put these on a tray and left them overnight in the fridge, as I wanted to bake them off, fresh in the morning, for our guests.

The next morning, the scones were brushed with cream and dusted with course sugar. They were baked at 400F for some amount of time (I forgot to set the timer 😉)

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Until golden brown 😋

 

Then it was time to chow down!

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So, was it really necessary to grate the butter?

These scones were delicious! No doubt about it! But they were just as tasty as recipes where I just cut up the butter into very small cubes. I would say, if there is a small amount of butter needed, then grating would be fine. But for those recipes where you are making more than just 8 or 12 scones, and you like to cube the butter, then go right ahead. That will be my plan moving forward.

Do try Sally’s scone recipes! I love her flavor combos ❤️

 

Sally’s Baking Addiction: March, 2019 Challenge: Lemon Bars With Shortbread Crust 🍋

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When I saw that Sally wanted us to make lemon bars, I was not too excited 😏

I love lemon 🍋, but am not a huge fan of shortbread. Just too buttery for me, but it turned out that the crust was not too thick and did provide a nice relief to all that sharp lemon flavor.

Sally has converted me once again! Everytime I think that I won’t like something, I am wrong😂 Now I am a believer!!

There are only 7 ingredients in her recipe, so the quality of each is important🌟

The first step is to bake the shortbread crust. I put the 1 cup of butter into a glass measuring cup, with a pour spout, and melted it in the microwave, just until it was melted (I didn’t want this to boil). While the butter cooled a bit, I whisked up the granulated sugar, vanilla and salt

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The melted butter was added

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Finally the flour was incorporated and stirred into a shiny dough ball, the dough is thick at this point.

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This was pressed into a 9 X 13, parchment lined glass pan

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and baked at 325F for 20 minutes.

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While the crust was in the oven, the filling was prepared. It is also quite easy to assemble!

More sugar and flour were sifted together. I made one small change to Sally’s recipe here and added the zest of the lemons 🍋, I just couldn’t help myself😉

It also turned out that all my eggs were double yolks 😂

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Another important tip Sally gave us was to use freshly squeezed lemon juice. I have to agree with her! I always squeeze it fresh.

 

After the juice was added, the lemon filling was poured over the warm crust and back in the oven for another 20 minutes, until the center jiggled slightly

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Once the bars were done, they sat at room temperature for 2 hours, then in the refridgerator for overnight. Sally recommends they be refriderated for at least two hours but overnight fit my life better 😊

Then it was time to cut! I pulled them out of the pan using the parchment paper and dusted the bars with powdered sugar

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Then cut into squares, a knife run under hot water helped make this a cleaner job!

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I was happy with the look of these 😊

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And the taste! 😋✨

If you are a lemon fan, these are for you!

Sally’s Baking Addiction: July, 2018 Challenge: Hand Pies 🍏🍒🥧

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Technically, the challenge was for apple hand pies. But, I was really impressed by the gorgeous cherries in the store that day, so I decided to make both varieties 😊

I mentioned before, in the cherry pie challenge from last year, that I am not much of a pie baker. It’s not really so much that I am intimidated by making pie crust, I am just more of a crumble fan. But that cherry pie last year was so good, thanks to Sally’s recipe and, this is the point of a challenge is it not? To try new things🥧!

I started out by making a double batch of her homemade pie crust. This is a really simple recipe that includes both shortening and butter. I have also made her all butter crust in the past, and that is delicious too. I opted for this version due to the hot weather we are having in Seattle. The all butter recipe would have been more temperamental than I would have liked that day!

Like most pie crust recipes, you start by cutting in the cold fat until it is the size of peas. My “peas” are always huge! More like lima beans. Then cold water is drizzled in until the mix starts to clump.

When the mix is ready (not too dry or wet) it is formed into a disk, wrapped with plastic and chilled. I like to do this the night before.

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The next day I went climbing outside, then came home and made the fillings. First the apple: Pretty much a classic apple pie filling. A couple apples, sugar, butter and spices all cooked down and cooled.

Then the cherry filling. Sally has many to choose from and I went with her simple cherry pastry pie filling. The only change I made was to use half bing and half rainier cherries. I like the balance of sweet and tart that these two varieties contribute to the pie.

Cherries were combined with sugar and lemon. This cooked down and was thickened with a cornstarch and water mixture.

Once the fillings were completely cooled, it was time to roll out the chilled pie dough. I used a 3.5 inch cutter and some smaller shapes to make some decorative cut outs.

I had to be careful to chill in between each step to keep the dough cold. This took some time! Finally, it was time to fill the hand pies.🍏

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The tops went on, and pressed to seal to the bottom pastry. The top was brushed with egg wash and the vents were cut. Finally the decorative cut outs applied, and sprinkled with coarse sugar.

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Then the cherry hand pies were assembled.🍒

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I tried to make the decorations different to distinguish the apple from the cherry.

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All the hand pies went into a 375F oven for about 30 minutes. While they were baking I prepared Sally’s Homemade Salted Carmel Sauce for the apple pies, and a simple Vanilla glaze for the cherry ones.

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By the way, that caramel sauce is amazing on ice cream 🍨!

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The verdict: Both the apple and cherry hand pies were quite tasty!😋 My husband and I were partial to the cherry one, just a bit more! In fact, I may have to make a full cherry pie when we get back from traveling later this month 🍒😊🥧

Give this a try! the recipe is easy to scale up or down, and many of the components are freezable and easy to make ahead. Enjoy!!

Is store bought puff pastry really good enough?

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How many times have you heard a chef on TV say that store bought puff pastry is just as good as making it yourself? Probably many times! I know I have and I have never seen a recipe that says “first make puff pastry”. No one makes puff pastry aside from a few bakeries out there. Most businesses determined, long ago, that it is not cost effective to pay someone to spend the entire day making just laminated dough. They tend to have it shipped frozen and roll out the thawed dough to make their pastries.

Hey, I get it! I made full puff pastry in culinary school and it was a serious chore! But have you heard of “rough puff” dough? If you are a fan of The Great British Baking Show, then there is a good chance that you are aware of this baking shortcut.

I got to thinking, is store bought really just as good? I decided to make two identical tarts, one with store bought puff pastry and one with rough puff and compare the end products.

Puff pastry is all about building layers and keeping everything cold. I am currently in my kitchen in Tucson and the temperature the day I made this was 86°F, so not ideal conditions! But I went for it anyway, and here is what I found out.

Let’s start with the rough puff which is only four ingredients: flour, salt, butter and milk (or water). Since one huge advantage store bought dough has over making your own is time, I needed to record how long the rough puff takes to prepare.

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I gathered my hardware

I set my phone timer and hit start.

 

I combined 1 cup of flour, 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt, whisked it together. Next was the addition of 5 oz. of COLD. European butter. Why specifically European? It is comes from grass fed cows and gives the pastry a quality our domestic butter just can’t match. But if you don’t have access to that, just make sure your butter is cold!!

 

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Look how yellow that butter is! 

The butter is cut into the flour and salt mixture until small bits of butter are visible.

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Lastly add the 1/4 cup COLD milk or water and combine until a shaggy dough forms.

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This is where the folding come into play. Pat the dough, on a well floured board, into a rectangle, about 8 X 10 and then fold into thirds. This is your first fold.

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Rotate 90 degrees, and repeat by rolling into the 8 X 10 rectangle and fold the dough into thirds and onto itself again. That is fold number two. The goal is to do this a total of 6 folds.

IMG_3921After my third fold is where the temperature in my kitchen caught up to me! The butter was getting soft, so after the third fold I had to put the dough into the refrigerator for 15 minutes to cool down. I finished the next three folds (for a total of 6) as quickly as I could and then the dough needs to be refrigerated for an hour before proceeding.

 

So, how long did it take to get to this point? When I got the pastry into the fridge for the 1 hour rest I hit stop on my clock.

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Since I had to stop and chill the dough and then let it sit for more than the recommended hour to firm up, my time was longer than it should have been. If I had done this in my Seattle kitchen, I think it would have only been about 30 minutes.

 

By comparison, if I was using store bought I would have saved this 50 minutes.

It was now time to make the tarts. First I pulled out the chilled rough puff pastry, rolled it into a 10 X14 rectangle, pricked the pastry with a fork. I returned this to the fridge while I prepared the store bought dough.

 

The store bought puff pastry was thawed, in the fridge overnight so all that was needed was to unfold it, roll it into a 10 x 14 rectangle and dock the dough. Since the store bought was already in a 9 X 9 inch sheet, the rolling out process was also faster.

So far they look fairly equal, except for their color.

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The dough on the left is the store bought and the right is the rough puff

There is a big difference in color thanks to the rich butter. There was also extra dough from the rough puff but nothing left over from the thinner store bought sheet. I used the extra dough to decorate the rough puff so I wouldn’t get them confused in the oven!

With Thanksgiving around the corner I decided to make pear, apple and cranberry tarts. Once the filling was in place they both went into the 400°F oven for 30 minutes.

They both looked great!

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Rough puff tart

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Store bought tart

Visually, there doesn’t appear to be too much of a difference! Choosing the lowest points of each crust to measure the depth of the crust showed that they were practically the same. A slight edge could go to the rough puff.

 

Slicing it open and looking at the layers did show a difference.

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store bought, end on view=dense, no air pockets

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Store bought bottom edge=small air pockets with a few layers

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rough puff, end on view=large air pockets, very flaky

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rough puff, bottom edge=air pockets all along the bottom edge

Now it was time for the taste test! My hubby was the judge, he was given a slice of each but it was a blind test. He did not like the buttery flavor of the rough puff! He said it was too buttery for his taste. It was also the flakiest of the two tarts, but the store bought was tasty too!

 

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The verdict? I felt that the rough puff was worth the extra time and effort. I would like to take one more crack at it with a cooler kitchen! I did like the flakiness and the extra butter flavor did not bother me!! Although if you are tight for time, then the store bought is just as good as making your own.

Rough Puff Pastry

A quick puff pastry recipe that is buttery and flaky and easy to make.

Credit: E2 Bakes Brooklyn

Ingredients

-1 cup flour

-1/4 Teaspoon kosher salt

-5 OZ. good quality European Butter, cold

-1/4 cup milk or water, cold

 

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms
  2. Flour a smooth surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough into an 8×10″ rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8×10″ rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours. 

Apple, Pear and Cranberry tart

  • Servings: 1 10 X 14 tart
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

A simple and elegant fruit tart. Perfect for a buffet table and can be served at room temperature.

Credit: invisible-no-more.com

Ingredients

-2/3 cup dried cranberries

-1/4 cup Calvados or Brandy

-1-2 apple, peeled cored and sliced thin

-1-2 pears, peeled cored and sliced thin

-2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

-2 Tablespoons butter

-1-2 Tablespoons maple syrup

-egg wash as needed

 

Directions

  1. Place dried cranberries into a shallow bowl and add the Calvados, or Brandy or Water to rehydrate. Allow a minimum of 15 minutes.
  2. Peel, core and thinly slice the apples and pears. Arrange in a pattern over the pastry dough. Add the cranberries and sprinkle with the sugar.
  3. Dot the tart with the butter and brush the crust with the egg wash. Bake at 400F for about 30 minutes, until puffed and golden.
  4. Brush the warm tart with the maple syrup. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Sally’s Baking Addiction, July Challenge: Cherry Pie, from scratch

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I have never made a cherry pie before, in fact, I have made very few pies in total. When I was in culinary school we made hundreds around the holidays. So, apple and pumpkin were the extent of my pie repertoire. I love fruit desserts and make many crisps, tarts and galettes, just not pies. The reason is that my family just doesn’t like pie. I think it has to do with the crust component which usually are soggy or too buttery for our liking. So when Sally’s Baking Addiction had a cherry pie as the July challenge I was not sure I would make one. Not because I was worried about the difficulty of making one but I did not have anyone to eat it! But I really wanted to take the challenge seriously and stretch myself as a baker so I forged ahead, and am so glad I did.

As usual, Sally provided wonderful directions as well as tasty recipes for both the crust and the filling. I began by making her pie crust recipe which is much like others I have seen and used as she mixes shortening and butter for the fats and stresses the importance of keeping all the components very cold for a flaky crust.

The flour and salt are combined, then the cold butter and shortening are cut in with a pastry cutter until the fats are the size of small marbles or peas.

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The cold water is added, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together into a ball.

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The dough is separated into two portions, discs are formed and wrapped in plastic. The dough is placed in the refrigerator for, at least, two hours.

While the dough rested the filling was prepared. No cans of pre made cherry pie filling allowed. I used my cherry pitter to remove the pits from 12 oz. of Bing and 12 oz. of Rainier Cherries.

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This yielded approximately 4 1/2 cups of halved, pitted cherries. I followed Sally’s recipe with the exception of using vanilla sugar instead of regular, granulated and I added the zest of the lemon used for juicing, just couldn’t help myself! The addition of the almond extract was really delicious! The cherries, flavorings, corn starch and sugar rested in the refrigerator while the oven preheated and I rolled out the pie dough.

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I made sure to roll the bottom crust thin since we don’t really like a thick crust and then filled the shell with the cherry mixture. Sally’s directions specified that the extra liquid from the cherries should not be added to the pie to prevent a soggy crust, but don’t throw the liquid away! It is delicious as a topping for ice cream or as a simple syrup for drinks!

The second disc of dough was rolled out and cut into strips which were woven together to form the lattice crust. The pie went into a 400°F for 20 minutes, then the temperature was reduced to 375°F and baked for an additional 30 minutes.

It came out smelling wonderful and looked pretty good too.

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Sally recommended waiting 3 hours before cutting, to let the pie set up.

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My husband and I were pleasantly surprised at how much we liked it! The fruit to crust ratio was perfect for us! I think I will try other fruit pies in the future and will be sure to keep Sally’s crust recipe on hand for next time! Another great result from Sally’s Baking Addiction!

Oh, and it was yummy with ice cream!

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