Friday, November 30, 2012


The November 2012 issue of Cooking Light featured their Best Recipes of Our first 25 Years. The featured Recipe Makeover was for one of their very first apple pies with a walnut crust, which to save 300 calories, the Test Kitchen had removed the bottom crust making it more of a cobbler than a pie. For the current issue, they revamped the original recipe by bringing back the bottom crust (as well as a few more calories) but used improved techniques that produced flaky layers of goodness no one could resist. One of those techniques included vodka. Vodka inhibits gluten formation, the culprit for tough crusts. But don't worry, the alcohol vaporizes in the oven leaving no after-taste. Each pie yields 10 serving size wedges at 281 calories per slice. 

Walnut-Crusted Apple Pie
1 pound Pink Lady apples (about 2), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 pound Golden Delicious apples (about 2), peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
6.75 ounces all-purpose flour (1 1/2 cups)
3 tbsp packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
5 tbsp cold butter, cut in pieces
3 tbsp ice-cold vodka
cooking spray
1 tbsp 2% reduced-fat milk
1 large egg yolk
  1. Combine first 8 ingredients; toss to coat.
  2. Place nuts in a food processor; process until finely ground. Weigh or lightly spoon 6.75 ounces flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add flour, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, and 1/4 tsp salt to food processor; pulse 5 times. Add butter; pulse 6 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal. With processor on, slowly add vodka through food chute, processing just until combined (do not form a ball.) Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead 3 to 4 times. Dived dough into 2 equal portions. Gently press each portion into a 4-inch circle on plastic wrap. Cover with plastic wrap; chill 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 425º F.
  4. Unwrap and place 1 dough piece on plastic wrap. Cover with 2 sheets of overlapping plastic wrap. Roll dough, still covered, into a 10-inch circle. Place into a 9-inch pie plated coated with cooking spray. Spoon apple mixture into a pie plate. 
  5. Unwrap and place remaining portion of dough on plastic wrap. Cover with 2 sheets of overlapping plastic wrap. Roll dough, still covered, into 12-inch circle. Place over apple mixture. Press edges of dough together. Fold edges under, flute. Cut slits in top of dough to allow steam to escape. 
  6. Combine milk and egg yolk, stirring with whisk. Gently brush top of dough with milk mixture. Place pie plate on a foil-lined baking sheet; bake at 425º for 20 minutes in lower third of oven. Shield edges of pie crust with foil. Reduce oven temperature to 350º (do not remove pie from oven); bake an additional 30 minutes or until browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Today is National Bavarian Cream Pie Day! Bavarian Cream Pie is a chilled, no-bake custard dessert made from eggs, gelatin, and whipped cream. It can be flavored with vanilla, chocolate,  liqueurs, or fruit. The custard is then poured into a pie shell and chilled until set.

Bavarian cream, or Crème Bavaroise, is a cold dessert of egg custard stiffened with gelatin, mixed with whipped creams (and sometimes fruit puree or other flavors), then set in a mold, or used as a filling for cakes and pastries. It is often credited to the forefather of haute cuisine, French chef Marie Antoine Carême (1784-1833). However, in German the suffix 'crème' refers to the gelatin mold (i.e. Schokolatencreme, Weincreme, etc.) usually flavored with chocolate, lemon, kirsch, etc. Making it more than likely that French chefs working in Bavaria brought the recipe or variations of it back to France, calling it Crème Bavarois. Recipes first appeared in America in Boston Cooking School cookbooks by Mrs. D.A. Lincoln, 1884, and by Fanny Farmer, 1896, for "Quick Bavarian Cream."

Bavarian Cream Pie
1 vanilla bean
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
3 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup sugar
5 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups whipped cream
9" pie shell (see below)
Sliced strawberries
  1. Put the split vanilla bean in cream and slowly bring to a boil. Turn off heat and let sit for 1 hour. 
  2. Remove bean and scrape out seeds, add them to the cream and discard the pod. 
  3. Sprinkle the gelatin into the milk and set aside. 
  4. Whisk the sugar and egg yolks together until light and frothy.
  5. Warm the cream mixture back up and slowly whisk into eggs. Place the mixture over simmering water and stir continuously until it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and add milk and gelatin mixture. 
  6. Place bowl in ice bath and stir until at room temperature. 
  7. Fold in whipped cream and pour mixture into baked pie shell. Place in the fridge for 4 to 5 hours or until mixture is set.
  8. Top with sliced strawberries.
Single All-Butter Pie Crust
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
6 tablespoon of cold butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3 tablespoon ice-cold water, more or less
  1. In a bowl sift together the flour, sugar, and salt. Use a pastry blender or two knives to cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Dough should still have some pea-sized pieces of butter.
  2. Add ice-cold water a tablespoon at a time, using a fork to mix it in. When dough starts to hold together, shape into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 1 hour. 
  3. Remove dough from fridge and between two pieces of plastic, roll out gently and evenly in short strokes from center of dough outward to form a 10-inch wide round, about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick.  
  4. Remove top sheet of plastic, turn pie plate upside down in the center of dough circle, and flip plate over right side up. Carefully remove second sheet of plastic and tuck under excess outer edges of dough and flute.
  5. Chill pie base 30 minutes in freezer.
  6. Preheat oven to 350° F. Remove pie base and place parchment paper or sheet of foil over the pastry base, making sure to cover the edges too. Place dried beans, or pie weights over the surface of the covering. This prevents the crust from rising from air bubbles. Place in oven and bake blind for 20 minutes. 
  7. Remove from oven and dock the dough, piercing the base with a fork in several places to allow the air to flow through. This helps to prevent air bubbles. Don't overdo it. Return to oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until light golden brown.  
photo // joe pastry