Sourdough Waffles

It started snowing here this morning, which is rare for November in Seattle. The girls stared longingly outside, wishing for a snow day. I mean, why wouldn’t they, with a whopping 1/16th of an inch accumulated, and nothing sticking on either the sidewalks or streets?

You can see the huge snowfall, if you look past our yet unadorned Christmas tree.

Mara said to me, “Yes, mom, I know, I know. When you were a kid you walked to school backwards in the freezing snow, screaming all the way to school because it was so cold!”  Could it be that I have become that parent, the one who says, “When I was your age…”, but it’s true! I remember many a cold, snowy St. Louis winter’s day, walking backwards to school, because if you walked head-on into the biting wind, it would freeze little icicles in your nostrils and sting your nose and cheeks. After the girls left for school, I looked outside and felt the calm and quiet that always accompanies the first snow. I said to Matthew, “It really does kind of feel like a snow day, doesn’t it?”

So cozy in our kitchen this morning. I’m glad I don’t have to go to school.

Well, nothing takes the sting out of having to go to school when it’s snowing outside like a sourdough waffle breakfast. Actually, I make these all the time now, which is why I have to write about them. The girls like them in the morning before school. Mara just grabs one and eats it plain, as if it were a cookie or a donut. Millie prefers to have hers with homemade yogurt and maple syrup.

And here is Millie, perched precariously while preparing her morning waffle.

I have another favorite waffle recipe that I have been making for a couple of years, but could it be that this one is becoming the new favorite? Mara says she likes the flavor better (Hello, sourdough!), and Millie says they keep much better than the others (another nod to sourdough!)… we keep the extras in the fridge and pop them in the toaster for an easy before school breakfast. And even Matthew grabbed one today as he walked by the kitchen table; I love to see the look of surprise and delight on his face when something tastes better than he thinks it is going to.

Sourdough starter is the magic ingredient.

Sourdough Waffles

(Adapted from Emilie Raffa’s recipe, makes about a dozen 4″ waffles)

  • 1 1/2 cups (~190 grams) all-purpose flour*
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup (~240 grams) sourdough discard
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 Tbsp melted unsalted butter
  1. Melt butter and set aside to cool.
  2. Turn your waffle iron on to preheat.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, then whisk in the sourdough discard until incorporated. Then whisk in the milk and butter.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk until everything is well mixed. Do not over mix.
  6. Ladle 1/2 cup of batter into each 4″ square of your waffle iron. Bake until the steam subsides.
  7. Serve hot with all of your favorite toppings. Leftovers keep nicely in the fridge for at least a week… they’ve never lasted longer than that at our house.

Note: *If you are not using a kitchen scale, stir your flour to aerate and fluff it up before lightly sprinkling your flour by the spoonful into measuring cup, and use the straight edge of a knife to level the flour. By this method, your flour should weigh approximately 120 grams per cup. Also, you can replace 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour with any whole grain flour for added flavor.

And just for the fun of it…

From our recent annual trip to Trinity Tree Farm.


Posted in Comfort Food, Fun in the kitchen!, Sourdough | Leave a comment

Cornelia’s Pumpkin Pie

Growing up, pumpkin pie was a big deal around our house. It was kind of legendary… well, to us anyway. Every Thanksgiving my mom would make 5 or 6 pumpkin pies, along with all the other traditional fare, and we would have a huge gathering with all the cousins. The recipe my mom used came from my paternal great grandmother Cornelia, whom I never met. I have an old recipe card with her recipe, type-written by my mom.

What I love about this recipe card is seeing all the additions and modifications; clearly my mom suffered over getting things just right in the same way that I do. And the secret ingredient for this pie? Bourbon. You can see written in on the card at the bottom in my mom’s handwriting, “1 tsp grated orange rind instead of bourbon“, and then it is crossed out. I’m laughing to myself about this. Sorry, but orange zest just won’t do it. On the backside of this recipe card my mom typed out her own version.

So on this one, she basically doubled the recipe, increased the sugar, halved some of the stronger spices, tripled the pumpkin, decreased the bourbon… well, she changed a bunch of things. And here’s another funny bit. At the bottom of the recipe card, next to the bourbon, she wrote, “or 1 jigger sherry brandy“, and then that got erased. Not just crossed out, but erased! But you can still see it if you look closely. I’m guessing my mom really wanted to replace the bourbon with other things, but in the end, the bourbon won out. And what is a jigger, you may ask?

Here is a jigger! Maybe Cornelia had one of these?

A jigger is a measurement equaling approximately 2 tablespoons, so if you don’t have one of these cool jigger-measuring-thingies, you can just use a tablespoon. But when I found one of these at the thrift store, you know I had to get it.

To be honest, trying to make a really good pumpkin pie with a really good crust is what started my obsession with pie crust, oh so many years ago. Every time November rolled around, I found myself still not being able to make a decent crust. Now here is the kicker: sometimes I could make a decent crust, but then when I would use it for a pumpkin pie, suddenly that pretty decent crust became either tough and disappointing, or flabby on the bottom. And then the dreaded cracked pumpkin pie would happen too.

Smack dab in the middle.

So here I am finally writing about this pumpkin pie, because I think I’ve finally got it figured out! What’s the trick? Well, first of all, I don’t use the directions on the back of the Libby’s can of pumpkin; that renders a soggy bottom of a pie crust. Not that there is anything wrong with that. That is what I grew up with, and that’s how I always thought it was supposed to be! But for a well baked pie crust, I “blind-bake” the crust. Like, blind-bake the heck out of it. Way more than I ever thought was possible or necessary.

Ready to go into the oven to “blind-bake”.

Secondly, I don’t stick a knife into the pie to see if it’s done. Instead I check by nudging the pie plate while it’s still in the oven: if the pie filling ripples like miniature waves, it’s not done yet. Once the pie filling jiggles (like jello) in the center, but doesn’t ripple, it’s time to take it out of the oven. The custard will continue to set after removing it from the oven.

Right out of the oven. It will settle down in a few minutes.

In the end, I decided I like Cornelia’s original recipe. It is creamy, dark and spicy, not too sweet, and not too squash-y either, if you know what I mean. And I choose to blind-bake a homemade crust. Worth it.

Cornelia’s Pumpkin Pie

  • 1 disc pie dough (made from scratch – try this one or this one)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups Libby’s pumpkin (or fresh roasted pumpkin, well drained)
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 1 jigger (scant 2 tablespoons) good quality bourbon
  • 1 egg or egg white for egg wash
  1. Roll out your pie dough, put it in a pie pan, crimp as desired, and freeze it in its pan for 30 minutes. (You can do this up to a day or two ahead of time if you like. Once the crust is frozen, wrap it well and leave it in your freezer until you are ready to bake it.)
  2. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 400° and make sure to have one oven rack in the lower third of your oven and one oven rack in the center.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until well beaten. Whisk in the sugar/flour/spice mixture. Next whisk in the pumpkin, half and half, and bourbon. Set aside on your counter (it is ok, and even preferable, for your filling to come to room temperature).
  5. Once your prepared crust has been in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, and your oven is preheated, place your crust on a cookie sheet, line pie crust with parchment paper* or aluminum foil, then fill to the top of the crust with dried beans or pie weights.
  6. Place crust and cookie sheet on bottom rack of oven, and bake for 45 minutes, rotating the crust halfway through the baking time.
  7. When 45 minutes is up, remove crust from oven and carefully remove the dried beans and parchment and save beans indefinitely for blind-baking your crusts. Beat the egg (or egg white) with a pinch of salt and brush the inside of the hot crust with it. Put back in the oven and bake for one more minute. Remove crust from oven and set aside. Turn oven down to 375°.
  8. If necessary, move whisk slowly through your pie filling, without creating bubbles, in case any of the spices have settled. Pour into hot crust. You may want to put a foil ring around the edge of your crust to prevent it from burning.
  9. Place your pie only (no cookie sheet please!) on the center rack of your oven, and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the filling is set. I start checking at 35 minutes**. I nudge the pie pan, and if the center of the filling ripples like teeny waves, looking liquidy just under the surface, the pie is not done. Continue to check every 3 minutes or so. When the center of the pie jiggles or trembles (like jello), but no longer has the teeny liquidy ripples, your pie is done.
  10. Remove and let cool on cooling rack for at least 2 hours.
  11. Optional! If you want to decorate your pie with crust cutouts, roll out your dough scraps extra thin and cut out any festive fall shapes you like. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with egg wash (or egg white). Bake in a 400° oven for ten minutes. Remove and let cool. Once your pie is baked and has cooled completely, decorate with your crust cutouts.


* When using parchment paper for blind-baking, I find it helpful to crumple it up first, which makes it more pliable for lining the crust.

** I start checking my pie at 35 minutes, because I am pretty sure it won’t be ready by then. I like to see the ripple when I nudge the pie pan, that tells me the pie is not done. That way, when the ripple is no longer there, but the filling still has a slight jiggle, I can tell the difference. I hope that makes sense!



Posted in Comfort Food, Desserts, Fun in the kitchen! | 5 Comments

Flaky All Butter Pie Crust, Made By Hand

This pastry blender is the only tool you’ll need. Or you could use your fingers!

Okay, so, there are a million pie crust recipes out there, and a million different techniques. And a million different opinions. Most pie crust recipes pretty much have the same ingredients and same amounts, with very little variation. Flour, salt, butter, and ice water. My challenge was to be able to make an all-butter pie crust by hand, that was just as flaky and tender as the one that I make with my stand mixer. First of all, the one I make with my stand mixer is a bit messy to make, and secondly, what if I’m traveling, or at a friend’s house, and I want to whip up a really good pie crust? Am I destined to be dependent upon a machine?

Ice water… so very simple.

I truly believe that I had to go through all of the experimentation (and frustration) to finally get to the point where I could do this. I had to know what the dough looks like when the butter is cut in just enough for me. I had to know what the dough feels like when it’s hydrated to my liking.

This dough is hydrated enough.

Honestly, I believe that it is all the tips out there that kind of screwed me up (nobody’s fault but my own). Like, “Don’t cut the butter pieces too small!”, or, “Don’t touch the butter with your hands!”, or, “Make sure everything is ICE COLD!”, or, “Don’t overwork the dough!”. I took all of these things very seriously, and perhaps to the extreme, trying to do everything just right. I was traumatized in my own kitchen.

Cold out of the fridge is cold enough.

What if everything doesn’t have to be ice cold? (It certainly doesn’t with my favorite pie crust recipe.) What if it’s okay to touch the butter with your hands, even if your hands have not just been dunked into ice water (brrrrrr)? What if it’s okay to cut your butter into much smaller pieces? I mean, is it really desirable to be able to see big chunks of butter when you roll out your dough? In my experience, it is not. And what if you do a little bit of extra smooshing to get the dough to cooperate?

Teeny tiny bits of butter, almost marbled. This is it.

Well, I am here to tell you that I may have broken some rules, and I have no regrets.

All Butter Pie Crust Made By Hand

(This makes enough pie dough for two single crust pies, or one double-crust pie.*)

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (300 grams**)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar (optional, for sweet pies)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold-from-the fridge unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice
  1. Place a large, shallow glass bowl in your freezer just for a few minutes or so (I use a 4 quart Pyrex bowl).
  2. Pour 1/2 cup of water into a glass, add ice and a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or white vinegar to it, and put in fridge.
  3. Take out your chilled bowl. Measure out your flour**, salt and sugar into it, and stir together with a fork or pastry blender.
  4. Cut two sticks of cold-from-the-fridge, unsalted butter into 1/2 inch cubes and toss them into the flour mixture as you go. Get your hands in there and make sure the cubes are separate and toss to coat.
  5. Cut butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender, turning the bowl as you go along. I like to cut the butter in along the side of the bowl. Every now and then, remove butter chunks from the pastry blender with you fingers or a butter knife, and swoosh everything around with the pastry blender to bring up the flour from the bottom of the bowl.
  6. Continue to blend the butter into the flour until everything has the consistency of bread crumbs, with a few (only a few!!!) ever-so-slightly larger pieces of butter still hanging around. Those few pieces should only be the size of small peas. SMALL peas.
  7. Get your fingers in the dough and quickly flatten any larger pieces of butter you find.   This part is fun, because aren’t we trained to not touch the butter???
  8. Remove ice water/vinegar mix from fridge and remove the ice cubes. Drizzle two tablespoons of the ice water over the flour/butter mix, and toss with a fork. Add two more tablespoons and toss again with a fork. At this point the dough should start to come together a bit, but you might notice how there are dry floury bits at the bottom of the bowl. Scoot some of the dough over to one side to expose the floury part, and toss one tablespoon of ice water with that floury part. Now scoot the other half of the dough over to expose the other half of the floury part. Toss one tablespoon of water with that part. You have now used 6 tablespoons of ice water. That is probably enough, but if you still see too much dry floury stuff, go ahead and toss in a bit more ice water, but go lightly at this point, maybe a teaspoon at a time, until you only see a bit of flour here and there.
  9. Run fingers through the dough, letting it fall through your fingers, to evenly disperse the water. Do this a couple of times.
  10. Quickly scoop up about half of the dough (it will still be in pieces), fold it over onto itself, and flatten it all down. Turn bowl a quarter turn and repeat (fold over and flatten). Turn bowl one more time and repeat.*** If you are nervous about your hot hands doing this part, you can do this using a spatula, but it is easier with your hands. Dough should be very much together at this point. Shape dough in the bowl into an oblong/rectangle-y thing. Cut in half with butter knife.
  11. Wash hands if you want to :). Have a piece of plastic wrap ready on your workspace. Take half of the dough and plop it down onto the plastic wrap. Using the sides of the plastic wrap, smoosh the dough together and shape it into a disc. Wrap well with the plastic wrap, and once wrapped, press out any cracks in the dough with your hands. Place dough in refrigerator and repeat with the other half of the dough. Let dough chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.


*The above recipe gives you just enough for two discs of dough for pies made in standard 9″ pie pans. If you will be making a deep dish pie, or even if you just like to have a bit extra dough to make rolling out a bit easier, then I recommend these amounts:

  • 3 cups flour (360 grams)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

**If you are not using a kitchen scale, stir your flour to aerate and fluff it up before lightly sprinkling your flour by the spoonful into measuring cup, and use the straight edge of a knife to level the flour. By this method, your flour should weigh approximately 120 grams per cup.

***I dared to try this method after reading Sister Pie, by Lisa Ludwinski. I am constantly checking cookbooks out from our local library (sorry, no more room on my kitchen bookshelves). I often check out the same ones over and over again if they are about pie. And I read them over and over again. Because I never know when my brain will have room for one more great idea.

And here are some pictures of the process. Some of the photos are a little on the dark/shadowy side; sorry about that! I will take new photos soon.

Get your ice water ready (you can add a bit of vinegar) and put in fridge.

Measure your flour and salt (and sugar if you are using it) into cold bowl.

Two sticks of unsalted butter straight from the fridge.

Cut into 1/2″ cubes – a bench scraper makes quick work of this.

Add butter to flour/salt mixture, and toss and separate cubes.

Start to cut the butter into the flour, rotating bowl as you go.

Keep going.

See these pieces of butter? They are too big!

Keep going.

Get a good look at this. This is just right. Like bread crumbs with a few bigger pieces.

Now get your fingers in there and quickly pinch to flatten any larger remaining pieces of butter.

Add a couple tablespoons of the ice water.

Toss from the bottom up with a fork.

Add two more tablespoons water.

Toss some more.

Push dough aside to reveal floury parts underneath.

Add a tablespoon of water to the dry part and toss some more. Repeat on the other side.

Run fingers through dough to evenly distribute the water.

Take half of the dough with your fingers…

And fold it over onto itself.

Rotate the bowl a quarter turn and grab some more dough to fold over.

Press it down and flatten it. You can do this one more time if you like.

Form dough into an oblong/rectangle-ish shape.

Should look something like this. And the dough is still relatively cool thanks to the chilled bowl.

Cut in half.

Place half of dough onto sheet of plastic wrap.

Bring up the sides of plastic wrap to smoosh the dough together, shaping it into a round disc.

Wrap and press out air and flatten the disc a bit. It might be about 3/4″ thick.

Smooth out the sides of the dough to get rid of any cracks.

Repeat with the other half of the dough. Store in fridge for up to three days, or keep in freezer in a freezer bag for up to three months.


Posted in Comfort Food, Desserts, Fun in the kitchen! | 6 Comments

Favorite Spinach Quiche

This is my latest favorite quiche. I’ve already written about quiche before, but now I’m stuck on this one. The recipe for the filling uses a bit of all-purpose flour (a trick I use for pumpkin pie) to stop the custard from curdling. I don’t like my quiche filling to look like scrambled eggs, and this definitely takes care of that problem. This quiche is elegant, and the custard is satiny smooth.

And it’s relatively simple to make. You can make the crust from the original recipe, or you can make your own favorite crust, or you can make my favorite crust, or in a pinch you can use a frozen store bought crust. But I encourage you to make a crust from scratch, whichever one you choose, for the most wonderful experience. I like to make my crust a couple of days ahead of time and pop the dough in the fridge, or even roll it out and freeze it (well wrapped). That way, when it’s time to make the quiche, it’s not an all day affair.

This recipe comes from Emma Laperruque and Food52. You can follow her recipe exactly as written here, but I have made a few changes that have made it easier for me, and hopefully for you as well.

Spinach Quiche

Adapted from Food52

  • One 9″ frozen pie crust (store bought or made from scratch)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 ounces fresh spinach
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup grated gruyère or white cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 2/3 cup half and half
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 dash ground nutmeg
  • 1 egg white
  1. Preheat your oven to 400° and place a rack in the lower third of the oven.
  2. Place prepared frozen pie crust (if you are making your crust from scratch, you will need to have prepared it, rolled it out, and put it in a pie pan, and freeze it for 30 minutes) on cookie sheet, line pie crust with parchment paper or aluminum foil, then fill to the top of the crust with dried beans or pie weights.
  3. Place crust and cookie sheet on bottom rack of oven, and bake for 40 minutes, rotating the crust halfway through the baking time.
  4. While crust is baking, heat oil in a large skillet. Saute the onion for a few minutes until tender, then add the spinach and cook until wilted. Remove from pan and let cool on a plate.
  5. When crust is ready, carefully remove the dried beans and parchment and save beans indefinitely for blind-baking your crusts. Beat the egg white with a pinch of salt and brush the inside of the hot crust with it. Put back in the oven and bake for one more minute. Remove crust from oven and set aside. Turn oven down to 325°.
  6. Place 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour in a large bowl. Pour a small amount of the half and half (maybe 3 Tablespoons or so?) into the flour and whisk until smooth. Add the eggs and egg yolk, whisking, then slowly add the rest of the half and half and whisk until everything is well blended. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  7. Sprinkle half of the grated cheese on the bottom of the pie crust, then add the spinach and onion. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper evenly over the spinach, then add the rest of the cheese. Slowly pour in the egg custard.
  8. Bake the quiche on the center rack in your oven at 325° for 55 to 65 minutes. Use a crust shield or aluminum foil around the edge of the quiche if the crust is browning too much. The custard should be set and not jiggly when the quiche is done. Mine takes 55 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool almost completely before serving. This quiche is yummy served with mixed greens and thinly sliced tart apples tossed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, but you can serve it with anything you like. To reheat, place individual slices of quiche on baking sheet and heat for 15 minutes in a 350° oven. Enjoy!

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

About crust, flan patissier, and other things…

When I was in college, I was fearless about crust. That was back in the days when people didn’t snap a photograph every time you turned around. I was absolutely enamored with Anna Thomas’ cookbooks: The Vegetarian Epicure, and The Vegetarian Epicure, book two. There are lots of wonderful recipes in those books, many of which require crusts, for both sweet and savory tarts, quiches, pies, etc.

At that time in my life, I would just open up one of those cookbooks and pick something. I would follow the instructions, and whatever I ended up with was good enough. I would bring things to dinner parties, or throw one of my own. There may have been moments of frustration with crusts cracking while rolling out, or not being nice and round, or any number of other crust difficulties, but I don’t recall letting that get in the way of making food and having fun with friends. Funny that I don’t have a single picture of any of my culinary exploits from back then.

Somewhere along the line, things changed. Life got busy, and I stopped making my own crusts. And then, when I finally went back to it, making my own crust seemed suddenly very daunting. Those same cracks and imperfections that never bothered me before seemed to be a deal breaker. Was it because I was older, and wanted things to be perfect? Was I less patient? Was I doing something wrong?

Then came all of the trials and errors, as I tried to find the perfect crust recipe. One that was flaky and tender every time, one that was easy to roll out and didn’t crack in a million ways, one that would behave the same way each time I made it. And here is what I discovered. Well, first of all, I did find a recipe that I loved. It is pretty much fail-proof as far as I’m concerned. And that is great. But what happens if I come across a recipe that calls for a different kind of crust?

I want to be fearless again. I want to make any crust that a recipe calls for and not be afraid. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want epic failures. But I do want to be flexible in the kitchen. I am thinking about all of this because just a couple of days ago I made a flan patissier, a vanilla pastry cream baked in a flaky pastry crust. I used to love getting a slice in the late afternoon from a little corner bakery when I lived in France. I have never attempted making this before, but when I discovered that David Lebovitz had posted a recipe for one, I just had to do it.

I considered using my own crust recipe, but then decided I would follow the recipe exactly as written, crust and all. And I did have some issues with the crust. It seemed a little dry when I made it. It cracked when I rolled it out. Oh, did it crack. And it was a crazy, falling apart mess when I ever-so-carefully put it into the 9 inch spring form cake pan. But David says in his post: “Use your hands to patch and smooth any wrinkles or cracks. (The dough is quite forgiving once baked and filled so don’t worry if it’s not perfect.)” And it’s just that simple. His attitude is so relaxed. Really, this is baking 101. And here is the crust after I followed David’s directions, all patched and smoothed out.

… so don’t worry if it’s not perfect.” Somewhere inside of me I know this. But it’s always good to have kind and gentle reminders. There is so much that I would miss out on if I waited for things to be perfect. So, after making this gorgeous flan patissier, I did not do my usual making-the-recipe-a-million-times-until-it-was-absolutely-perfect. Here is what I did do. I invited some friends over, friends who love pastries and custards, friends who love to talk about good food, and enjoy eating good food with friends. And we had an impromptu late afternoon tea party. And it was perfect.

Posted in Desserts, Fun in the kitchen!, Musings | 9 Comments

Beautiful Blueberry Tart

I love fresh fruit tarts, and I think I might just really really love this one. Maybe it is because of the fresh blueberries from our garden. Or maybe it is from the lemony cream cheese layer, or the crisp cookie-like tart shell. Or maybe from all of these things.

I took a risk and tried David Lebovitz’ version of Paule Caillat’s French Tart Dough recipe. It’s an unusual technique, but the result is a thin, delicate, crispy, ever-so-slightly-sweetened tart shell that serves as the perfect backdrop for anything you want to put in it. Similar to a shortbread crust, or a pâte sucrée, but no egg, making the flavor more subtle, so it doesn’t compete with the filling. It just enhances it.

Don’t worry about the cracks!

I also decided I wanted a cream cheese layer instead of a pastry cream, and I have no regrets. The tangy lemony flavor pairs perfectly with fresh berries, it stores well, and it doesn’t make the crust soggy either. Oh, and did I mention how ridiculously easy it is to make?

I have made this tart three times now. The first time was a big hit, so I had to make it again, and since I am me, I decided to tweak the crust recipe to make it a bit sweeter, and who knows what else. Nope. In the final analysis, the crust recipe is perfect just as David has written it. I made the tart a third time with no changes to the crust, just to be sure. I asked Millie to arrange the fruit. She added strawberries, which we all agreed was the perfect combination.

And this tart keeps well in the fridge for three days! It might keep longer than that, but it hasn’t lasted longer than that at our house. This tart actually benefits from a day of refrigeration. All the ingredients seem to get cozier with each other.

Beautiful Blueberry Tart

Serves 6 to 8

For the crust:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into pieces
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil (canola works well)
  • 1 1/3 cup (160 grams) all purpose flour*

For the filling:

  • 8 ounces cold cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (or what you can get from one lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Approximately 1 pint, or 2 cups blueberries, or a mix of berries.**

Glaze (optional):

  • 3 tablespoons apricot preserves
  • splash water
  1. Preheat your oven to 410°.
  2. Making the crust: Measure your flour in a small bowl and set aside. Place the butter, water, sugar, salt, and oil into a large oven-safe glass bowl (I use a large Pyrex bowl) and place in preheated oven. Heat until ingredients are bubbly, and the edges of the butter are starting to brown. For me, that takes somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes.
  3. Carefully remove bowl from oven using oven mitts or gloves (there will be splattering). Add the flour (there will be more splattering!) and mix with a spatula until the dough comes together. Keep in mind the bowl will be dangerously hot, so resist the urge to hold the bowl with one hand unless you are still wearing your gloves or mitts.
  4. Transfer dough to 9″ tart pan and spread the dough out a bit with the spatula. Let the dough rest for a few minutes until it has cooled enough to handle it. Don’t let it sit too long or it will dry out. Remove a tablespoon’s worth of the dough and set it aside to use for patching. With your fingers, spread the dough to cover the pan and going up the sides, making it as even as possible. You should have just enough to do this.
  5. Poke holes in the dough all over with a fork. Place the tart pan on a cookie sheet and place in the 410° oven. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. If you see the crust puffing up and doming while it is baking, take a fork and carefully poke a hole or two into the domed area, and gently press down. You might have to do this a couple of times during the bake.
  6. Remove from oven, and patch any of the larger cracks with the reserved dough. Don’t worry if you don’t cover all the cracks.  Let cool completely.
  7. While crust is cooling, make your filling: using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice until light and fluffy.
  8. Once the crust is cool, spread the cream cheese mixture evenly into the crust, then place your blueberries (and maybe strawberries and blackberries too) on top. Refrigerate for *at least* two hours, but longer is better, and this tart is excellent on day #2. If you want a shiny more finished appearance, you can heat up some apricot preserves with a small splash of water to make a glaze. Brush the top of the fruit with it before refrigerating. I prefer without for a more rustic look. Enjoy!


* To get an accurate measurement of flour, using a scale is best. If you don’t have one, aerate your flour first by stirring it, then sprinkle it into your measuring cup and level and sweep off the excess with the straight edge of a knife.

** As you might suspect, this tart is only as good as the fruit you use, so make sure your berries are firm and fresh and have good flavor.

And now for a few pictures of the process.

The ingredients in the glass bowl will go into the oven.

The butter has browned a bit at the edges. The bowl is hot!

Dump the flour in, and be careful of the splattering.

Stir until it comes together.

Dump the dough into your 9″ removable bottom tart pan.

Spread it out a little bit and let it cool until you can use your fingers, and don’t forget to put a bit aside for patching later.

Shape as evenly as you can. Dough should still be very warm.

Poke holes all over with a fork. Bake on cookie sheet in oven until golden brown.

Patch the worst of the cracks while crust is still hot. Let cool completely.

While crust is cooling, you can work on the filling.

Add cream cheese filling to cooled crust. Notice the cracks. No problem! It’s rustic.

Spread filling evenly.

Arrange fruit starting from the center for best results.

Chill for several hours or overnight before serving.

Posted in Desserts, Fun in the kitchen! | 12 Comments

Millie’s Fruit and Oat Cookies

I got this recipe from my friend Clark (also part of “music night”, where I got to try Elisa’s fabulous ginger molasses cookies). It was originally a chocolate chip cookie recipe from NYT Cooking, and when I made it as such, my dear hubby didn’t love them because, well, they weren’t Matthew’s Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies. Sometimes you just have to stick with one chocolate chip cookie recipe and quit experimenting already. BUT, my Millie doesn’t love chocolate, so I decided to tweak a few things and change this recipe into a fruit and oat cookie for her.

Millie, who spends much of her time reading and crocheting.

These cookies are nubbly, crisp on the outside, and gooey (but not too much so) on the inside.

There are a few specialty items that make these cookies stand out. One is the superfine sugar, also called baker’s sugar. You can find it at Safeway; in other words, it’s easy to find, and it’s not very expensive as far as specialty items go. I believe that the superfine texture of the sugar makes the outside of these cookies extra crispy. Also, I love Trader Joe’s Golden Berry Blend; it is a mix of dried blueberries, cranberries, cherries and golden raisins. The extra tang and different flavors you get from the fruit adds a complexity of flavor you won’t get with just raisins. And then Maldon Sea Salt Flakes compliment the tang from the fruit. It’s just a really good combination. I decided to also add a small amount of old fashioned oats, to give the cookie a bit more chew, but not so much as to make them seem like oatmeal cookies.

Items you won’t regret having.

It’s worth it to splurge on the Maldon Sea Salt Flakes. The box will last you forever. You can use these flakes to sprinkle on top of cookies before baking them, or on top of bread rolls before baking, like these ones. But kosher salt will do. And if you don’t have the superfine sugar, regular granulated sugar will be fine. And if you don’t have the berry blend? Use raisins or cranberries or chopped up dried apricots… whatever you have on hand. I think you will still really like these cookies.

Millie’s Fruit and Oat Cookies

(Adapted from Ravneet Gill’s recipe)

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2/3 cup superfine sugar (or regular granulated)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (250 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon Maldon sea salt (or kosher salt)
  • 1 cup mixed dried fruit of your choice
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugars in a stand mixer or mixing bowl until the color becomes lighter and stop there. It doesn’t need to be overly fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until well incorporated.
  4. In a smaller bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) and add to the wet ingredients, mixing on lowest speed, or mix by hand.
  5. Stir in the dried fruit with a wooden spoon.
  6. Scoop out your cookie dough into 1 1/2 tablespoon balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheet, at least two inches apart. Bake for 13 minutes, or until the edges have started to brown a bit. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet.

Note: If you want your cookies to be taller, you can scoop out the cookie dough balls and refrigerate, covered, for a couple of hours or longer before baking.


Posted in Comfort Food, Cookies, Fun in the kitchen! | 2 Comments

Chewy Molasses Cookies with Fresh Ginger

I never thought molasses cookies would become one of my favorite kinds of cookies, but then there was this time when getting together with friends to play music together, that Elisa brought some very magical cookies.

Elisa is on far left playing a fiddle solo while we all admire her.

Elisa’s cookies were so delicious, and they had a big burst of spicy fresh ginger that was WOW. So of course I asked her for the recipe. It was Tom Douglass’ recipe for molasses cookies, from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook. When I made the recipe following Tom’s exact instructions, including weighing all the ingredients, and grating the fresh ginger, my cookies came out flat and kind of greasy. And there was no big WOW of ginger. What on earth happened? I quizzed Elisa about how she made her cookies. Did she weigh the ingredients? Heck no. Did she grate the fresh ginger, as specified? Absolutely not. She chopped the ginger. So I tried making these cookies again, but still failed. This recipe was going to make me crazy. So much testing!!!

Yes, I really did this.

I finally decided to chop ginger the way I imagined Elisa might do it. Kind of with a laissez-faire attitude. Which meant that the ginger was coarsely chopped, not finely chopped. Now I was getting closer.

Looks kind of like roughly minced garlic, but it’s ginger!

My first several batches of these cookies came out really flat with no crinkle, so I very cautiously added a little more flour to each batch. Well, I finally just went for it and added a good extra half cup or so more flour. Although I was still unable to replicate the magical and elusive Elisa-style cookie, I did come up with a cookie that I was very excited about. A cookie with a spicy earthy flavor, crispy along the edges, chewy in the center, and that classic crinkled cookie look. And these cookies stay chewy/fudgy a good long time in an airtight container, although the crispy edge business is only the first day… rolling them in sugar ensures that they will still have a little crunch, even after the crispy edges have mellowed into chewiness.

I find this sugar to be perfect for rolling. The crystals are not too big, and not too small.

And guess what? I had Elisa and her family do some taste testing for me! She sent me pictures (they were quarantining).

They had four different versions to try.

Elisa’s son Isaac and husband John trying the different cookies.

They all ended up having different favorites, go figure, but Elisa’s son Isaac agreed with me about which one was the best, and that clinched the deal.

Chewy Molasses Cookies with Fresh Ginger

(Adapted from Tom Douglas’s recipe)

Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 grams*) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (86 grams*) molasses
  • 1 heaping tablespoon peeled and chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 1/2 cups (320 grams*) all-purpose flour (I recommend King Arthur brand)
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup (or a bit more) organic cane sugar (for rolling the cookies)
  1. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and granulated sugar with an electric hand mixer** until light and fluffy, maybe just a minute or two.
  2. Add in the egg, beating well. Then add the molasses and fresh ginger and beat until well incorporated.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Add to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  4. Scoop the cookie dough into 1 1/2 tablespoon sized balls (a cookie scoop makes this easy) and place on a cookie sheet. Refrigerate for at least two hours, but longer is better. (Once the cookie dough balls are cold, you can transfer them to an airtight container if you want to let them chill for longer.)
  5. Preheat your oven to 375° and line a new cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Roll the cookie dough balls in the cane sugar and place on lined cookie sheet, at least 2 inches apart; they will spread! Bake on center rack in oven until the cookies have darkened around the edges and are tall and puffy, about 11 minutes for my oven. Longer = crispier edges, but too much longer and you will dry out your cookies.
  7. Let cookies cool for 3 to 4 minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to cooling rack to cool completely.


* I have included weights for some of the ingredients. These are the weights that work for me, and are accurate. If you are not using a kitchen scale, the volume measurements should work just fine. Stir your flour to aerate it before spooning it into measuring cup, and use the straight edge of a knife to level the flour.

** Using a hand mixer is better for this recipe, as it makes it easier to completely blend the ingredients efficiently, especially the molasses. It’s just better. Trust me.

More experimenting.

Elisa, Isaac and John




Posted in Comfort Food, Cookies, Desserts, Fun in the kitchen! | 3 Comments

Matthew’s Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

There are several cookie tins on top of our fridge, and one of them almost always contains these chocolate chip cookies. This recipe is Alton Brown’s “The Chewy”. There was a lot of excitement over this cookie several years ago. As is often the case, I am late to the party. But I am also here to tell you that these cookies are pretty darn near perfection.

The chocolate chip cookies go in the Danish Butter Cookie tin. Doesn’t everyone have one of those?

They are Alton’s take on the traditional Toll House chocolate chip cookies. What are some of the differences? Well, you use bread flour instead of all-purpose flour. You use one egg and one egg yolk instead of using two eggs, adding a bit of whole milk to make up the difference. You use melted butter instead of room temperature butter. You use a lot more brown sugar than granulated. You bake the cookies at a higher temperature. All of these changes equal a chewy cookie. The day they are made, they are crispy on the bottom, soft and slightly gooey in the middle, and not flat at all, which was always my issue with the Toll House cookie, but maybe I was doing something wrong? Who knows. It has been a while. In any case, these are perfect straight-up chocolate chip cookies that are bakery delicious on the first day, and then still yummy on day two, or even day three if they stay around that long.

Hello, my lovelies.

So why am I writing about this when you could just go to Alton’s recipe? Well, there is some confusion if you look at the recipe and then watch the video. Some of the measurements are different. SO, I made the cookies for myself to see what worked best for me. I followed his recipe almost exactly, with only a few changes to how I make them; the recipe is the same. Well, almost the same. Instead of regular granulated sugar, sometimes I use toasted sugar (recipe here from Stella Parks), which imparts a wonderful yet subtle caramel-y flavor to the cookies. But sometimes I don’t, and the cookies are still really really good. If you feel the urge to make that toasted sugar, make a big batch and it will last you a very long time. I keep mine in a jar on my counter. I think I have enough for a gazillion more batches of cookies, so I’m good for a while.

Toasted sugar is on the right… just a bit darker than regular granulated.

Another thing I recommend is to scoop out the cookie dough using a standard 1 1/2 Tbsp cookie scoop. Using a cookie scoop will ensure your cookies are all the same size, meaning they will all bake up beautifully. Scoop the dough as soon as it is made (the dough will be very soft, but that’s okay; it’s too difficult to scoop out the dough once it’s cold) and place the dough balls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. It’s okay if they are very close together, because this is just for chilling purposes.

Ready to go in the fridge or freezer. They are only this close for chilling!

Put the tray with all the cookie dough balls in the freezer for several hours, until completely frozen. Once frozen, place the dough balls into a freezer storage bag, pressing out as much of the air as possible, and store in the freezer so you can make small batches whenever the mood strikes.

Frozen cookie dough ready to bake!

And here is the truth: the cookies bake up better from frozen. You can bake the cookies a tad longer, making for a nice dark bottom, without risking an over-baked, cakey cookie. The cookies are tall and still gooey on the inside. Hubby likes the bottoms of the cookies almost scorched, so to be able to attain this while not ruining the rest of the cookie is quite a feat.

On the left baked from frozen; on the right baked from refrigerated. They are both good!

So, if you like softer, flatter cookies, then bake from refrigerated. If you like taller cookies with a crisper bottom, bake from frozen. And here’s an idea: after making the dough, scoop out and refrigerate eight (or however many you like) cookie dough balls, and scoop out and freeze the rest. Wait an hour, then bake the refrigerated cookie dough balls. Then you will have the rest to bake from frozen. You can decide what you like best! Either way, you will need to watch like a hawk to not over-bake them. Bake until the edges have started to brown but the tops still look slightly under-done.

Left: baked from frozen. Right: baked from refrigerated.

As an aside, Matthew and I have different ideas of when the cookie is at its best. Matthew likes the cookies straight out of the oven, while the chocolate is still melty (he says “it’s an event!”), or he likes them a day or two after being baked. I, on the other hand, prefer my chocolate chip cookie after it has been sitting on the cooling rack for an hour or two, so the bottom is still crispy, but the cookie itself has settled a bit, and the chocolate is no longer melty, but the inside is still gooey. What is your chocolate chip cookie sweet spot?

Alton Brown’s “The Chewy” (Matthew’s Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie)

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 2 3/4 cups* (340 grams) bread flour (I use King Arthur brand)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup (227 grams) light brown sugar**, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 Tbsp whole milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 bag (12 oz/340 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips

*If you do not use a kitchen scale to weigh your flour, you will want to aerate you flour first by stirring it with a spoon, then sprinkle your flour into your measuring cup and sweep the top with the straight edge of a knife to level the flour. It’s worth the extra time to get an accurate measurement.

**If you use dark brown sugar, the cookies will be a bit denser and chewier. I prefer light brown sugar for a lighter texture and more subtle flavor.

  1. Melt butter in heavy bottomed sauce pan on low heat. Remove from heat when the butter is almost completely melted. Stir until all butter is melted (this should only take a few seconds) and set aside to cool.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. In bowl of stand mixer, pour in butter and sugars. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. You can also use a large bowl and a hand mixer for this, but a stand mixer makes the whole process easier.
  4. Turn mixer to low speed and add the egg, egg yolk, milk and vanilla. Mix until incorporated.
  5. Turn mixer to “stir” (lowest speed) and add flour mixture one large spoonful at a time. Stir until just combined, scraping down bowl as necessary.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips by hand, setting aside about 1/4 cup of the chips for later.
  7. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using a 1 1/2 Tbsp cookie scoop, scoop cookie dough, fitting as many cookies as possible on the sheet (this is for chilling, not baking!!). As you get near the end, add the last 1/4 cup of chips to the remaining dough (this takes care of the problem of those last cookies not having enough chips) and finish scooping cookies. (I find that I can fit about 35 on a cookie sheet, which is about how many this recipe makes.)
  8. Chill scooped cookies for at least one hour in the refrigerator before baking (for softer, flatter cookies), or freeze for several hours until completely frozen. Transfer frozen cookie dough balls to a freezer storage bag and keep in your freezer for spur-of-the-moment freshly baked cookies.
  9. When dough has chilled for at least one hour, preheat your oven to 375°. Make sure to preheat your oven for at least 15 minutes to ensure an even bake.
  10. Line a new cookie sheet with parchment paper and place up to twelve chilled or frozen cookie dough balls on sheet, spacing 2 inches apart.
  11. Bake on center rack of oven for 10 to 11 minutes***, or until edges have started to brown, but tops still look a bit underdone. For best results, bake one sheet at a time.
  12. Remove from oven and let cookies rest on cookie sheet for 3 to 4 minutes (NOT LONGER) before transferring to cooling rack to cool completely. If you forget and let the cookies rest on the cookie sheet for too long, you may end up with soggy bottoms.
  13. These cookies store quite nicely in an airtight cookie jar for several days. Only on the first day will they have the crisp bottom, but the following days, they will still be chewy and delicious.

***All ovens are different, some running hotter, some running cooler. I like to keep a couple of oven thermometers (what if one stops working?) in my oven to make sure I have heated my oven to the proper temperature before baking.

And here’s what really prompted me to write this post. Matthew’s brother Ben was in town this past weekend, and we got to spend time with him and Barb – my mom-in-law and Matthew and Ben’s mom. We talked about all kinds of things, including the cookie tins on top of our fridge and how one of them always has chocolate chip cookies in it for Matthew. Barb’s chocolate chip cookies are something that Matthew still remembers and talks about. I know I can never compete with a memory, but one of the things he liked about those cookies, aside from the fact that his mom made them, was that the bottom was baked very well… read: almost scorched. So it makes me happy to be able to come up with something similar at our house.

Front row: Matthew on the left, Barb in the middle, Ben on the right. Top row: me, Millie, and Mara.



Posted in Comfort Food, Cookies, Desserts, Fun in the kitchen! | 11 Comments

Apple Crumb Pie

I know I make a lot of apple/crusty types of desserts, but I must say that this is my dream pie. I’m a sucker for anything with a crumb topping, and I love a buttery flaky crust, and caramelized apples?? Oh my. I made this pie maybe a year ago, and I thought it was pretty good, but maybe not swoon-worthy; I only made it once. That’s an indicator. I did remember that I loved the crumb topping though. Then just a few days ago, I had to make a pie since it was Pi Day. I didn’t have a lot of time, and I already had a single crust in the freezer just waiting to be used, so I decided an apple crumb pie was in order.

Nice to have a homemade crust waiting in the freezer for pie emergencies.

I followed the Betty Crocker recipe, the same that I used last year, but I used my own pie crust recipe. There were some problems. The top of the pie got a little burned, but the apples were a tad crunchy; no thank you. And the flavor was missing something. Don’t get me wrong – the pie was good, but it just wasn’t great. But I still posted a picture of it on FaceBook…

Burned crumb, but still good.

So after posting the photo, I got a request for the recipe! I couldn’t in good conscience hand over a recipe that I didn’t love, so I decided to make the pie again with all the  necessary changes. How to get better flavor? A different mix of apples, an addition of nutmeg for warmth, a bit of salt to bring out the flavor more… it doesn’t take a lot. And I don’t like pies that have too much going on. I like it simple. And how to have it so the pie doesn’t burn but the apples get cooked properly? Two things – slicing the apples much thinner, and also tenting the pie for the first part of the bake. And I also baked the pie for a longer amount of time so that I was sure to get that wonderful caramelized edge that is so dreamy.

Look at all the wonderful gooey caramelized juices at the edge of the pie!

I was worried that maybe the apples would get mushy from being baked too long and being sliced so thin, but that did not happen! I chose gala and pink lady apples, which both hold their shape quite nicely in pies. The result? The apple crumb pie of my dreams. And get this: I made it yesterday in the early evening, so it was too warm to eat. Also too warm to cover or wrap! so I put the pie in my pie basket carrier and put it in our cool temp garage overnight. The pie basket is so great – it protects the pie, but lets it breath. I love my pie basket.

A gift from my sweet husband.

Everyone always says pies are best the same day they are made, but I must tell you, this one was fantastic on day #2, even cold!!! Everything about it was right. Flaky crust, flavorful apples with just the right amount of tenderness, caramelized edges, and a tender-crisp crumb topping. I am going to cry now. Tears of joy.

Apple Crumb Pie

(Adapted from Betty Crocker’s recipe)

  • 1 disc pie dough for a single pie crust or one frozen pie crust*


  • 5 medium to large apples (I used 3 pink lady and 2 gala), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (1/8″)
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (go lightly… 30 grams)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Crumb Topping:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick, 113 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (don’t go lightly! 140 grams)
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

*If you choose to make my favorite pie crust recipe, make the full recipe (it will come out better that way) and wrap and freeze one of the discs for another use. It’s fine if you want to use a store bought frozen pie shell as well.

**For directions on how to roll out and shape your pie dough, follow the directions from this post.

  1. On a lightly floured surface, roll pie dough into a 13″ circle.** Drape dough into a cold 9″ pie pan (I like to chill my pie pan in the freezer before I roll out my dough). Ease the sides of the dough into the pan, pressing along the sides and bottom gently (don’t stretch the dough!!!). Trim the dough to have a 1″ overhang from edge of pan. Tuck the dough under and crimp, making a fluted edge. This adds height to the crust and helps keep all the filling and juices in the pie! Put the crust in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
  2. Preheat your oven to 400° and make sure there is a rack in the lower third (bottom) of the oven.
  3. Peel and core the apples, then slice the apples thinly (1/8″). Place the apple slices in a large bowl, tossing the slices in a bit of lemon juice as you go along. Add the rest of the lemon juice, the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and toss everything together.
  4. Remove your pie crust from the freezer. Pour the apples into the crust and mound slightly toward the center. Set aside.
  5. To make the topping, put softened butter, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Using a fork, mix the ingredients together until you have a crumb consistency. If you want larger crumbs, you can get your hands in there and make some larger crumbs by squeezing some of the smaller crumbs together.
  6. Place the pie on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil to catch any overflowing juices. Sprinkle all of the crumb topping on the apples as evenly as possible. Don’t worry if it looks like a big mound; it will bake down. Take another sheet of aluminum foil and lay it gently on top of the pie, making a “tent”.
  7. Place tented pie on the cookie sheet on the bottom rack of oven. Bake for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, remove the foil tent and turn the temperature down to 375°. Bake for another 30 minutes, or until you see thick juices bubbling up in several places. You can rotate your pan at any point for even baking. Don’t worry if the juices are pooling at the edges (that’s what you want!). Some might even drip over the edge of the pie crust. That’s okay. If the top starts to get too brown, put the foil tent back on.
  8. When the juices are thick and bubbling, remove the pie from the oven. Let cool completely (this can take up to 4 hours… sorry) before serving. This pie is delicious warm, at room temp, or even cold. Store at room temperature for up to two days out on your counter with just a loose covering. Enjoy!

Picture Tutorial:

I like to slice my apples first this way.

Then slice 1/8″ slices lengthwise, then in three. Toss in lemon juice.

Tossing with the rest of the ingredients.

Place apples in frozen crust, mounding toward the center.

Put all crumb topping ingredients in a medium bowl.

Mix together with a fork until a cohesive crumb forms.

Make some bigger crumbs by squeezing some of the smaller crumbs together (optional).

Place pie on foil lined cookie sheet and cover apples evenly with crumb topping.

Add foil tent, and bake on lowest rack in 400° oven for 45 minutes. Remove tent, reduce heat to 375°, and bake for another 30 minutes.

Let cool completely. Enjoy!



Posted in Comfort Food, Desserts, Fun in the kitchen! | 2 Comments