Week 21: a lemon meringue pie worth photographing

No kidding, right? That is one pretty pie – and thank goodness, after the sad disaster of the rum cream pie. I deserved a pie that was as rewarding to look at as it was to eat. There was some serious height on this pie, and I am happy to report that the lemon filling was puckery and smooth. I had not ever made a lemon meringue pie with the usual cornstarch-based filling. In the end I’m not sure that I was all that into the texture of the filling. It’s a little too much like jello’s homemade cousin for me. Next time (and trust me, there will be a next time for this one) I am going to stick to my favourite lemon cream recipe and spread the meringue all over that instead. I think that would make this pie perfect.

Here’s the recipe I made this time though, which I recommend if you like a traditional style filling. Thank you Martha. You have redeemed yourself and I think I forgive you for the sad bad pie that happened to me the last time I trusted you. We can be friends again. Continue reading

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Week 17: I made mincemeat. Just mincemeat. Crust comes later.

Normally, at this time of year I’d be making my traditional marzipan fruit cake. It’s a Nigella recipe, from How to Be a Domestic Goddess, and I lurve it for all of its squidgy booziness. It’s reminiscent of this cake which also looks delightfully tempting (and so pretty with those toasty almonds on top). But since this year is the year of pie, I had to look for another equally festive and fruity baking option. I admit that I considered making pie and fruit cake, but that madness did not last long. Good thing too, because there has not been so much running these days. Unless you count running from store to store with my Xmas list.

Have you made mincemeat? Do you even like mincemeat? I think it’s one of those polarizing foods. It’s hard to grow up with a British parent and not be on the pro-mincemeat team. This is the first time I’ve made it, and I think I chose well in the recipe department. I also made my own candied peel which is something I usually do at this time of year. It’s not hard, and it is infinitely better than the waxy stuff you often find in the store. I always use Martha’s recipe for my peel, so I guess it’s no surprise that I also turned to her for a mincemeat recipe. This one has no suet (veggie version or otherwise) which means it’s good for anyone who finds the idea of suet a little yucky. Making mincemeat will fill your home with the cozy scent of spices and fruit and booze, a.k.a. Christmas. I’m planning on turning the filling into tarts this weekend. Here’s the recipe… Continue reading

Week 13: tiny pear and vanilla pies

These past few weeks I find myself feeling nostalgic. Nostalgic for my childhood home. Nostalgic for the day last week when the leaves on the tree outside my house were the perfect glowy shade of orange against the sky. Nostalgic for my honeymoon in Paris (partially thanks to this blog, which always makes me feel dreamy for Paris, though it doesn’t take much). So where is this feeling coming from? Is it that it’s autumn? Is it the fact I’m pretty sure I’m getting more crinkly wrinkles around my eyes when I smile? Beats me. I can tell you that pie – making it and eating it – always feeds my nostalgia, so I guess I might have to get used to the feeling.

Last week I made portable pies again, this time delightful little pear pies with lots of vanilla. Vanilla is a flavour perfect for a nostalgic mood – sweet and aromatic and comfortable. I wasn’t so sure about them at first, the puffed up texture of their tops and the fact that the crusts didn’t brown up as well as I like, but it only took a bite to find they had a beautiful creaminess and a rich vanilla taste that made me feel wrapped up and ready for November’s chill. Continue reading

Week 8: rustic apple crumb crostata (near)perfection


Funny that given I’m a perfectionist, the more I bake, the more I tend to fall in love with rustic baked goods. This is why pie suits me well I think. A gorgeous pie might have edges that are a little uneven here and there, and juices that bubbled up out of the crust unexpectedly while baking, and a little sag someplace or other and still, someone will look at it and say, “That’s one beautiful pie.”  Rustic perfection. That’s what I’m after every time I bake a pie.

The apple crumb crostata I made this week might have ended up near perfect, but along the way, I had my doubts. The dough was a little tricky to manage, very sugary and so quite granular and hard to manipulate without cracking. I had more crumb mix than I needed so some was fed to the compost troll and I had to add a bit of cornstarch to the apples to thicken the buttery liquid as it cooked. As the crostata baked, it spread quite a bit, leading me at one point to say upon opening the oven, “Man, you aren’t much to look at, are you?”

I am sorry apple crumb crostata. You proved me wrong. You proved that I shouldn’t be so quick to judge because you are in fact quite lovely to look at, in that rustic way I hope for whenever I send a pie into the oven. Not only that, you are exactly what I felt like making with my first basket of Ontario apples of the year. Can we be friends after all?

Before:

After:

I might be tempted to make this with the hazelnut crumb topping from my pear pie, just because I don’t think you can beat it, but this was pretty delish, as is. Thanks Martha. Continue reading

week 6: super simple copycat blueberry cheesecake pie

Hello there blog.

Yes I know. You are still here.

I am still here too. Making pie.

(Even though yesterday my fella said that we are going to have to find people to give the pies away to because otherwise he is going to get chubby. Shouldn’t be a problem, I’m thinking. I will still make pies. Not giving up. But I will not be eating them alone. My jeans will not allow it).

I have been so busy getting my brain around a new job, a job that involves reading stories to a whole lot of tiny and medium-sized people. My new job is wonderful. So I think the pies for the next little bit will be very, very simple pies.

Enter this pie, which is really more like a cheesecake pretending to be a pie (and who wouldn’t go for that?) I found the recipe here, and I stuck to it because clearly it was already perfect.

Here is another picture of my pie:

I didn’t enjoy it as much as my classic blueberry from a few weeks back, mostly because I’m not as into a cookie crust. I’m into how easy they are, but the taste just doesn’t compare to the flaky and a-little-bit-salty loveliness of conventional crusts. Still, if you are looking to eat a pie that is secretly pretending be a cheesecake, look no further. This one is pretty, tangy, not too sweet, and as easy as can be.

I am going to keep this short, because I had to get up at 5 in the morning in order to have time to post this week. It’s so dark out and the only one in my house who knows I am here is my Siamese cat, ever-faithful.

Here’s some pie music, also great for 5am:

Blue ribbon for best cheesecake performance in a pie role

Week 5: pear pie with a whole heap o’ hazelnut crumble topping

I wasn’t even aware that people were in the habit of making pies with pears. Fancy French pear tarts, yes. I made plenty of those through my years in the Belgian bakery. Pear pies, though, this I had never experienced. So I went looking for some help and I found it here:

Ken Haedrich has more than a dozen recipes for pies with pears in them. Pear and fig pie. Pear and apple pie. Pear and cranberry. But I went pure this week. Just pear. Pear with hazelnut crumble topping. This combo said September to me. I also tried Ken’s basic flaky crust recipe, which I didn’t find to be as flaky or as tender or as easy to handle as Good Egg’s. I guess sometimes you get lucky and you come across something pretty much perfect the first time. I couldn’t wait for the pears to ripen, so I just went ahead with them, crunchy as they were. I treated it as an experiment. Would this pie still taste pear-ish, even with unripe fruit? Answer: yes. Next time I’d try to be patient and wait for juicier pears, since I think it would improve both the flavour and texture of the filling, but in a pinch, it works. And the crumble topping? I think I might just need to bake off a batch of it on a sheet tray and eat it by the handful. The hazelnuts add a whole extra layer of richness. You may find yourself stealing bits off the top of the pie as it cools. Maybe.

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Week 4, part two: cutie patootie peach hand pies

I made two different types of pie this week. Yes I am a little wacko. I figure next week at this time when I’ll be back at school there will be no chance of spending so much time in the kitchen so I might as well seize the moment and bake to my heart’s content. Also, I was a little worried about how tasty (or not) my gluten-free dairy-free baby pies were going to be, so I decided to make some peach hand pies for the birthday picnic too. Backup pies, you could say.

Who doesn’t love the idea of portable pie? I’d say that hand pies definitely fall into the category of ideal picnic food. These ones were made in record time because I’d thought that the picnic was a late afternoon picnic and it turned out to be a noon picnic which meant I churned these puppies out at high speed. I didn’t get to do all of the chilling recommended, which always makes me stress a little. They sure looked adorable all nestled together in their foil container when they were cool, and they garnered a chorus of “ooh”s when they arrived at the picnic. One of the party-goers said she imagined how heavenly they’d be with a bowl full of soft-serve to dip them in, and just a few minutes later, an ice cream truck pulled up at the park. So we almost got to experience that. Next time maybe.

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