Pies and Pastries

A Lil’ Oven Baking

Well, I promised an announcement on Monday, and I’m here to deliver.  Care to see what I’ve got baking in the oven?

Cinnamon Bun 4

 

Yes, the Humble home is gaining another mouth to feed.  Shawn and I are expecting our first child in May 2014!  We are over the moon, couldn’t be more excited.  We had started trying to get pregnant at the start of the year, and then with all of my health complications, we had to put the whole baby train on hold.  But, in June, my doctor gave us the go-ahead to start trying again, and now here we are!  

I know the picture above is a literal cinnamon bun baking in the oven, but I thought what better way to announce a pregnancy on a cooking blog?  Besides, this cinnamon bun is scrumptious (adapted from The Farm Girl recipe) and you will want to bake it for yourself, with or without baby.

Cinnamon Bun 3

 

For those of you who are curious (because a lot of people are), I’ve been feeling pretty good.  Some nausea, some morning sickness, but very little.  I’ve had some pretty crazy reactions to food though.  Early on, I grabbed a handful of kettle corn for a snack (normally a favorite), and nearly spit it right back out.  It tasted like pennies.  SO disappointing.  Since then, my normally over-active sweet tooth has been seriously depleted, and all I want is cheese, pickles, and all things salty.  I had about 3 weeks where all I wanted to eat was Shawn’s spaghetti (he makes the BEST spaghetti sauce; I will post a recipe sometime for you!) cold, with cornichons.  Weird combo, I know, but it tasted amazing.  I always thought the pregnancy cravings thing wasn’t totally real, but you really do get turned off of foods and combinations you normally love and develop obsessions with other foods.  Very bizarre.

So, that’s my news.  We’re chugging along just fine with our little HB (baby’s in utero nickname: stands for “healthy baby”), and now that we’ve passed the first real milestones, we’re giddy to start sharing the news with all of our family and friends (and you of course!).  I’ll post updates as they happen, and definitely once our little bundle is here, but this will remain a food blog.  I may delve into kid and baby friendly recipes as time goes on (especially if there seems to be a lot of interest), but I’m still here, posting recipes with tons of chocolate, butter and cheese for us all to drool over.  I’m also happy to answer any questions you may have about our lil’ announcement (leave them in the comments).

Thank you for sharing in this exciting news with us.  Now, let’s eat some cinnamon buns!  THG

Cinnamon Bun 1

 

Giant Cinnamon Bun
Yields 1
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Dough
  1. 3/4 cup warm buttermilk
  2. 6 Tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
  3. 3 large eggs
  4. 4 1/4 cups (21 ¼ ounces) flour
  5. 1/4 cup sugar
  6. 2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
  7. 1 1/4 tsp. salt
Filling
  1. 8 Tbsp. melted butter
  2. 1 cup brown sugar
  3. 2 tsp. cinnamon
  4. Zest of 1 large orange
Glaze
  1. 1 cup powdered sugar
  2. 1 tsp. orange zest
  3. 1 Tbsp. orange juice
  4. 1 Tbsp. milk
For the dough
  1. Whisk the warmed buttermilk and butter together in a large measuring cup. Combine 4 cups of flour, sugar, yeast and salt together in a standing mixer fitted with dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and eggs. Mix until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes. Increase to medium speed and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If after 5 minutes of kneading, the dough is still overly sticky, add a tablespoon at a time until the dough clears the sides of the bowl but has a slight tacky feel when pressed between your fingertips.
  2. Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover the top tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled, around 2 hours.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and orange zest in a small bowl until well mixed and set aside. Grease 1 9-inch baking pan and set aside.
  4. When the dough has risen, gently punch down and roll into a roughly 24X6-inch rectangle. Brush the melted butter evenly over the entire surface. Top with the cinnamon sugar mixture, evenly pressing the sugar mixture gently into the butter. Starting with a shorter side, roll the dough tightly into classic cinnamon roll form, pinching the edge to seal. Gently take the rolled dough and coil it around in one of the prepared baking pans. The layers will want to fall apart a bit, but they will come back together during the baking process. Lightly cover the cinnamon roll with greased plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  6. Bake the roll for 45-50 minutes, until lightly golden on top and cooked through. While the roll is baking, whisk together the glaze ingredients until smooth. Remove the cinnamon roll from the oven and using a spatula, nudge it out of the pan onto a cooling rack set over waxed or parchment paper. Drizzle the glaze over the cinnamon roll. Slice the cinnamon roll into pie-shaped wedges and serve warm.
Adapted from The Farm Girl
Adapted from The Farm Girl
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/

Red Currant & Goat Cheese Tart

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So, I’ve been sitting on this post for awhile. Quite awhile. Case in point? This dessert was made for Christmas Eve dinner. So…yeah. I’ve been lazy getting around to it.
But, I figured, it’s almost Valentine’s Day. And this dessert is decadent, and involves chocolate, and red fruit. And, it’s pretty. Really, really pretty. And if you were going to eat a pretty dessert any day, it should be Valentine’s, right?

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I’m going to be alone this Valentine’s Day. Shawn is going away for a work conference, so it’s just me, the dogs, and some terrible/awesome rom-com I’ll find on basic cable. I’ve never been very into Valentine’s Day; it’s a great day for eating chocolate and smelling pretty flowers, but otherwise, I can take it or leave it. So, I’m not destroyed over spending it on my own. Shawn has a standing tradition to give me a bag of Skittles each year on Valentine’s, so as long as I get those tasty little fruit candies, I’m a happy girl. But I’ll miss my guy, just cuz
:-)

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The sweetness of the chocolate versus the tang of the goat cheese and tartness of the currants is such a great combination. It’s complex and unexpected. Plus, as I mentioned before, pretty. This is a dessert to make to impress your Valentine.

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I love the currants in the goat cheese filling. Fancy, like little rubies.

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Beautiful. And delicious, let’s not forget that.
What are you doing for your Valentine this year? THG

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Red Currant & Goat Cheese Tart
Tart Crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed
1/8 to 1/4 cup ice water
Chocolate Filling:
6 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
Goat Cheese Filling:
8 oz. goat cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
Juice and zest of 1/2 an orange
2 eggs, at room temperature and beaten
1/3 cup half and half
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 cups fresh red currants, stems attached

Preheat oven to 350.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Add cubed butter. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, cut butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add in ice water, 1 tsp. at a time, until dough just comes together. Dump dough onto a well-floured surface. Roll out into a 1/4″ thick rectangle. Press dough into a 4.25″ x 13.75″ tart pan. Fork the bottom of the dough. Line pan with parchment paper and fill with beans or pie weights. Bake in oven until just beginning to turn golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
While crust is baking, heat 1/4 cup heavy cream to simmering. Pour over chopped chocolate and mix until chocolate completely melts.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together goat cheese and sugar until fluffy and well combined. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, orange juice and zest. Add egg mixture to goat cheese mixture. Whisk half and half and heavy cream into cheese mixture until well combined.
Spread chocolate in a thin, even level at the bottom of the tart shell. Pour in goat cheese mixture on top. Tap tart pan to remove any air bubbles. Carefully add red currants to the top of the goat cheese mixture, making sure not to let them sink to the bottom of the tart. Bake in the center of oven until goat cheese sets, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut Cream Pie

I have been sorely neglecting this poor little blog o’ mine.  Between work and home buying and Downton Abbey-ing, I just haven’t been putting in the time.  I’ve been a deadbeat blogger.  And I’ve missed it!  I haven’t been experimenting with recipes, taking photos, researching food styles like before.  Baking has slowed down, and Monday night dinners have mainly been staple recipes I can throw together in 30 minutes.  My mind has been preoccupied.

But, luckily, things are going to be slowing down soon.  The Club goes on recess during the month of July, so my late hours and super busy schedule will slow down for a bit.  And, I will have some other news to announce hopefully next week that will definitely bring about some schedule changes

Smile

Coconut Cream Pie Ingredients

But, in the meantime, we have some Father’s Day coconut cream pie to whet our appetites.

My dad loves coconut cream pie and I love my dad, so I put aside my distaste of all things pie and coconut in the name of my papa’s happiness.

Coconut Cream Pie

Well, it wasn’t a totally dirty job.  I actually love making pies, especially cream pies.  Any recipe that has at least 3,000 steps involved has my interest.

I used a basic custard recipe I’ve developed and added coconut cream in place of half of the regular cream.  Then I folded in angel flake coconut and topped it with toasted coconut.  Angel flake is by far the best to use for baking; it’s shaved tissue paper thin, great smooth texture and toasts up in no time.  I usually toast my coconut in the oven, but seeing as how it was about 500ºF here this weekend, the stovetop seemed like a far less torturous way to finish off this recipe.

This pie is sweet, rich, velvety, crunchy, everything a coconut cream pie should be.  Adding the coconut cream to the custard really elevates the flavor, much more than just folding in some flake coconut to a basic custard.

Happy Father’s Day Papa!  THG

Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut Cream Pie

Pie crust:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. sea salt

1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cubed

1/2 cup ice water

Filling:

7 egg yolks

1 cup sugar

2 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided

1 10 oz. can coconut cream

1/4 cup cornstarch

2 cups angel flake coconut, divided

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt.  Add in cold butter.  Using a pastry cutter, mix in butter until its broken down into pea-sized bits.  Add in ice water, 1 Tbsp. at a time, until the dough comes together.  Shape into a disk and dump onto a well-floured countertop.  Roll out into a large circle and place into a 9” pie plate.  Crimp the edges and puncture the bottom.  Place aluminum foil and dry beans or pie weights in center of pie crust.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove aluminum foil and weights and return to oven for another 10 minutes until crust is golden brown.  Let cool.

In a small frying pan, toast 1 cup flake coconut over medium-high heat until golden brown.  Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until thick and ribboned.  In a small saucepan, heat 1 1/2 cups heavy cream until just simmering.  While whisking the egg mixture, add 1/4 cup of the hot cream to temper eggs.  Add hot egg mixture to remaining cream in saucepan, whisking the whole time.  Add coconut cream and whisk until combined.  Add cornstarch to mixture and whisk until combined.  Continue to cook custard over medium high heat until mixture thickens considerably.  Set aside to cool.

Whisk remaining 1 cup of heavy cream in a stand mixer to stiff peaks.  Strain cooled custard through a fine mesh sieve onto whipped cream.  Add remaining 1 cup flake coconut and fold all together until smooth.  Pour into cooled pie crust, smoothing the top.  Top with toasted coconut.  Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.  Serve chilled.

Makes 1 9” pie

“Coffee and Doughnuts”

"Coffee and Doughnuts"

This week has been overwhelming.  I’m pretty glad it’s over.

Beignets

Sometimes life becomes too much, you know?  Stress and heartbreak and worry and guilt all pile on at the exact same time, and it’s hard to see your way out of it.  Sometimes you need a push, sometimes you need something new to look forward to.  Sometimes you just need time.

Cafe au Lait Mousse

We lost our family dog, Delaney, this weekend.  It was sudden, and shocking, and incredibly heartbreaking.  Trying to navigate this has been really difficult and the only way to get through it is with routine.  Food, photos, blog.  Rinse and repeat.

Cafe au Lait Mousse and Beignets

For Mother’s Day, my brother Ryan decided to make gumbo for our mom.  Mom loves New Orleans and all things Cajun/Creole, so gumbo it was.  I was in charge of dessert.

and

"Coffee and Doughnuts"

Coffee and doughnuts.  Or, more specifically, café au lait mousse and homemade beignets.  A little twist on a Southern classic.

The mousse is made with instant espresso (available at most grocery stores) and white chocolate.  I added a little cinnamon and nutmeg to help mimic the chicory flavor that is usually found in New Orleans coffee.  Light, frothy and rich, with a nutmeg whipped cream on top.  Delightful.

The beignet recipe came from the New Orleans cookbook Cooking Up a Storm.  Most beignets are made from a sturdier dough that is rolled out and cut into squares before frying.  This recipe is a bit more rustic; a thinner batter that is spooned into the oil like a fritter.  The result is smaller, lighter, oddly shaped little doughnuts.  Still delicious.

Cafe au Lait Mousse and Beignets

It’s amazing how much a sweet treat can improve a crappy situation.  Tons and tons and tons of sweet treats. 

What is your favorite comfort food in times of distress?  THG

Coffee and Doughnuts

Café au Lait Mousse

1 cup heavy cream

3 Tbsp. instant espresso

1 Tbsp. hot water

12 oz. white chocolate

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 large pinch nutmeg

1 large pinch ground cinnamon

5 eggs, separated

1/4 cup sugar, divided

Whip heavy cream to stiff peaks.  Set aside.

In a small bowl whisk together espresso powder and hot water until a thick syrup forms.  Set aside.

In a double boiler, melt white chocolate and butter over medium high heat.  Once melted, whisk in espresso mixture, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Set aside.

In the double boiler over medium heat, whisk together egg yolks and 1/8 cup sugar.  Continue to whisk over heat until yolks reach 140ºF.  Transfer to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whisk egg whites on high speed until cooled down and thickened considerably.  Set aside.

In the double boiler again, whisk together egg whites and remaining sugar until whites reach 140ºF.  Transfer to stand mixer and whisk to stiff peaks.

Fold egg whites into yolks.  Fold white chocolate mixture into egg mixture.  Finally, fold whipped heavy cream into egg mixture.  Spoon into coffee cups and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours.  Serve chilled with spiced whipped cream.

Makes 8 coffee cups

Beignets (from Cooking Up a Storm)

1 cup water

1 cup milk

1 large egg

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. sugar

pinch of nutmeg

Canola oil

Powdered sugar

In a large mixing bowl, whisk water, milk and egg together.  Add the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and nutmeg.  Whisk well to combine until smooth and free of lumps. 

In a medium saucepan, heat approximately 3” of canola oil over medium high heat to 350ºF.  Drop spoonfuls of batter into canola oil.  Fry until golden brown all around, turning once, about 3-4 minutes.  Drain on a paper towel lined cookie rack.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm.

Makes approximately 2 dozen

Cranberry-Pear Galette

Cranberry-Pear Galette

I have a confession.  Those closest to me already know this shocking and disturbing secret, and it has caused much pain and agony among my family and loved ones.  It’s something I am not proud of, but regardless, it is the honest truth.  Are you ready?  This might change your entire opinion of me all together.

I hate pie.

Whew, it feels good to get that off my chest.  Yes, I hate pie.  And I don’t mean I dislike pie, or I prefer other desserts and pastries to pie.  I mean I.  HATE.  PIE.  I hate everything about it: the flavors, the cooked fruit, the textures.  If I were kidnapped by terrorists and my life depended on eating a slice of apple pie, I would have to wish everyone a fond farewell.  Because there is NO WAY I am eating that slice of live-saving mortality pie.

That being said, I love to make pies.  I love rolling out the crust, I love peeling and cutting the fruit, I love playing with the edging and the top: lattice, open-faced, fully covered with some sort of cutesy cutout.  Making pie is a whole afternoon of fun for me.  Eating pie, ugh.

Cranberry-Pear Galette Ingredients

When creating this blog, I knew I wanted to try different pie recipes, despite my total distaste for eating them.  Which can be hard sometimes: how can I recommend a recipe for something that I would never eat myself?  I decided that a big part of this blog for me is making foods that I know my family loves, and my family loves pie.  So that’s where we are.  Makin’ pies, not eating them.

Smile

This weekend, I made a galette for my parents and Shawn.  Galettes (pronounced guh-lets) are a rustic, flat French pastry.  The proper pronunciation was a bit of a debate that morning; I finally had to go to the Webster Dictionary.  Using a basic pie crust, roll it out into a circle about 1/2” thick, fill the center with the filling of your choice (usually a fruit or veggies for a savory pastry), and then fold the ends over about two inches in to the center.

Galette Before Baking

After seeing several recipes for galettes, I decided to try my hand at it.  I wanted to do something seasonal, something not too sweet, so that I could work as a breakfast pastry as well as a dessert.  So I decided to do a cranberry sauce with pear slices on top.

Cranberry Sauce Ingredients

The cranberry sauce was very flavorful: orange, cinnamon and ginger, with red wine to add richness and body.  It’s fairly tart on its own, but baking down in the oven with the pears does sweeten it up.  The finished product is a not too sweet, not too tart.

Bartlett Pears

I used Bartlett pears.  They’re fairly firm, so they hold their shape nicely while baking.  I sliced them thin and laid them in concentric circles over the cranberry sauce.  I sprinkled a little ginger sugar over them before folding the ends of the pastry dough in; just a 1:3 ratio of ground ginger and sugar.  A few tabs of butter on top of the pears finish off the tart for baking.

Cranberry-Pear Galette

So, when starting this blog, one of the things I wanted to make sure to do was to record my mistakes as well as my successes.  So, I have to tell you about the brain-dead mistake I made with this galette.  After rolling out the dough, I spread the cranberry sauce and began laying out the pears.  I sprinkled on the sugar, laid out the butter and folded in the sides.  It was beautiful.  Then I realized: I did it all on the counter, not on the baking sheet.  I had no way of transporting it into the oven.  Crap.  Have you ever tried to move  a raw dough pastry with a heavy fruit filling?  It doesn’t work so good.  I eventually got it onto the baking sheet and into the oven.  The pears wound up a little askew, and the sides stretched so that there was a little leaking of the cranberry sauce out the side while it baked, but mostly it held its shape.  But, definitely lesson learned: ROLL OUT THE DOUGH ONTO THE BAKING SHEET BEFORE SPENDING 10 MINUTES DOING PRETTY PEAR CIRCLES.  But, that’s why I have this blog.  I want to document the learning process as much as the finished product.  I am untrained, still learning a lot of things, so I feel like to present myself as getting it perfect every time wouldn’t really be truthful.  I make mistakes, I mess up measurements, I burn the sugar, I forget to roll out the dough onto a baking sheet.  But, with every recipe, with every cake, every soup, every bread, I am learning.  And hopefully, you will join me on that learning process.  Just remember to learn from my mistakes when you try your hand at these recipes.  Roll out the dough on the baking sheet.  You’ll save yourself a lot of forehead smacking and four-letter words.  THG

Slice of Cranberry-Pear Galette

Cranberry-Pear Galette

Pastry dough:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed and very cold

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. salt

1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

Cranberry sauce:

2 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, washed and sorted

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated

zest and juice of 1 orange

1/4 cup red wine (port would also work)

1/4 cup orange liqueur

1 3-4 inch cinnamon stick

2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp. water

Galette filling:

3-4 medium Bartlett pears, peeled and sliced 1/8” thickness

1/4 cup ginger sugar

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

 

For pastry dough:

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt.  Add cold butter.  Working quickly, combine flour and butter and break up into pea-sized pieces.  Add ice water 1 Tbsp. at a time until dough begins to form; do not overwater.  Dump dough onto a floured surface.  Knead 4-5 times and flatten into a disk.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine cranberries, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and orange zest.  Mix until sugar has melted.  Add orange juice, red wine and liqueur; mix.  Add cinnamon stick.  Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer.  Stirring occasionally, simmer over low heat until cranberries are broken down and tender.  In a small bowl, combine flour and water into a slurry.  Add to cranberry mixture and mix well until sauce thickens.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Remove chilled dough from refrigerator and dump onto lightly floured surface.  Keep a glass of ice water handy for dipping fingers in.  Working quickly, roll out the dough to 1/2” thickness.  Place onto an ungreased baking sheet.  In the middle of the dough, spread the cranberry sauce, leaving a 2” border from edge of dough.  Lay pear slices on top of cranberry sauce in concentric circles until covering whole sauce surface.  Sprinkle with ginger sugar and butter pieces.  Fold edges of dough over to cover filling 1 1/2-2 inches.  Bake with rack in the middle of the oven for 25-30 minutes, until crust is golden brown and filling bubbling.  Slice and serve warm with extra cranberry sauce on top.

Serves 8-10 slices