Pumpkin Pecan Pie? Or Spritz Butter Cookies?

The baking schedule got a bit turned around this weekend. Marie had intended to have the pumpkin pecan pie on the schedule at the right time for Thanksgiving dinner. She posted to our Facebook group recently to apologize – because for Americans, having the pie made in time to post about it on the Monday before Thanksgiving Thursday would mean that it would have to sit all week waiting for the big event. I have to admit, I’ve never really understood why Thanksgiving’s on a Thursday in the US, but that’s beside the point. Anyway, at the last minute (after I’d baked it), the schedule got updated to swap pumpkin pecan pie with spritz butter cookies. I did not make spritz butter cookies. Since I’m married to an American, we often do two Thanksgiving dinners. One for the real thing in October, and one for this silly American thing at the end of November. Since we don’t get Thursday off, we did it the weekend before, this time. Perfect timing for pumpkin pecan pie!

I don’t think I have much to say about this one, really. I didn’t take many pictures, either.

You roll out a pie crust, then add chopped pecans:

Deep dish of pecans
Deep dish of pecans

Add the sweet goo that is pecan pie filling (sugar, egg, butter, golden syrup…), and bake for round 1. Make the pumpkin filling. I got no pictures of this, but it’s basically cook pumpkin with sugar and spices, then whiz that in the food processor, then add eggs, cream, and milk. Really, the whole thing is about all things that are delicious. After the pecan pie layer has cooled a bit, add the pumpkin filling, and bake again, only this time with a pie shield to protect the crust.

Next stop: Thanksgiving dinner. We had apple pie, pumpkin pecan pie, cornbread, and rolls. Er.. and the stuff Jay made, too. Turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, maple glazed carrots, green beans and salad. Actually, you know, despite not being much of a cook, I contributed to much of that, too – all but the turkey, gravy, salad, and converting the cornbread into stuffing. Jay prepped the veggies and cooked the potatoes, but I did the seasoning and mashing and whatnot. I’d call dinner a success. Nobody went away hungry, but plates were clean, and we had turkey soup for dinner the next day. We also now have a freezer full of poultry stock, since we tend to save up chicken carcasses until we do a turkey, then boil all the bones at once in the pressure cooker.

Despite both of us trying both types of pie, neither Matt nor I had trouble cleaning our dessert plates. Jay’s even had some pie in the last couple of days since then, so I must have done something right. He’s not generally a leftovers person. Inspired by my recent trip to (…Swabia? Bavaria? Technically, modernly,) Baden-Württemberg, I made a crème anglaise (aka vanilla sauce) to go with the apple pie. Feedback on that, so far: a little bit thicker and a little bit more vanilla, next time. Next time is tomorrow night, for my contribution to a potluck “soup strainer” Movember lunch at work on Wednesday. No auction this year, though, so I’ll have to find other ways to get the baking out of the house over the coming year!

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Mud Turtle Pie

What’s a mud turtle pie, aside from this week’s recipe from Rose’s Alpha Bakers? It’s a pecan pie, with chocolate on top. Think a turtle candy, but the caramel’s a little less chewy. I went with the milk chocolate ganache, rather than the dark option. And I made the ganache long before making any of the rest of the pie. I also made 2 pies, since, as someone pointed out recently, it’s really not that much more work than one pie. I had some pie dough in the freezer, so I just doubled the other parts of the recipe, so that I could leave one at home for Jay while I’m away visiting family this week, and take one into work, sort of in part as a thank you for my co-worker bringing in a rhubarb custard pie on Friday.

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Perfect Peach Galette

No, I’m not boasting. That’s the name of the recipe. Your second question is probably, “What’s a galette?” The answer, according to our friends on Saturday night, is, “I don’t care. Is it dessert? Did Kristina make it? I’ll have some.” We decided it had been too long since we’d had people over for a fire, so planned one for this past Saturday. Our friends Megan & Doug brought their family, so we thought we’d start with a BBQ with them, since we figured the kids wouldn’t last all that late for the campfire.  BBQ: ribs, corn, potato salad (from my garden!)… what could be better than peach pie for dessert? Nice timing on the schedule, Marie! Peaches are perfectly in season here, too.

To skin the peaches, place them in a pot of just-boiled water for 1 minute. Then run them under cold water. The skins rub/peel off pretty easily. Then you’ve got a pile of slippery peaches to deal with.

Skinned peaches are slippery!
Skinned peaches are slippery!

I tried cutting in half, then removing the pits, but they just ended up a mess, so instead I sliced around the pit, then pulled off a few slices at a time.

All sliced
All sliced

That seemed to work out well.

Mix the sliced peaches with sugar & lemon juice, then let that sit for 1/2 hour or up to 1.5 hours. That’s called “macerating” and it causes the fruit to release some of its juices. In the meantime, I kneaded my bread (lurking in the corner in the next picture) and got the pie crust rolled out.

Macerating
Macerating

Take the juice recovered from the peaches, and boil it for a while, reducing it by about 1/3. I actually had more than a cup of liquid, because I (sort of) doubled the recipe. Well, I doubled the filling, but apparently didn’t roll the dough out thin enough, or didn’t have quite enough dough, since I’d put together a bunch of scraps & half of a double-crust pie recipe, out of the freezer.

Peach syrup reduced
Peach syrup reduced

The reduced peach syrup was nice & thick and slightly caramelized, just like the recipe said it should be.  Once I mixed it with the peaches, and added the almond extract and cornstarch, I realized I had way to much filling to do a single layer of any sort on my pie crust. So, I put the leftover in a bowl and had a snack. 😉

"Perfect"?
“Perfect”?

The galette kind of exploded a bit in the oven, but fortunately, I had laid parchment down over the pizza pan, and it didn’t make a mess. I was even able to gently slide a pizza peel under the galette and lift it up off the parchment for serving. I forgot to get a picture of that, so you’ll just have to believe me. I sliced it with a pizza wheel, too. It seemed appropriate, given the serving vessel!

Jay really liked this one, because it’s more crust than fruit. 🙂 I think I prefer pie in a pie plate, because it just looks better, but I can’t say I minded this, either. I might get better at rolling the pie crust and folding it prettily, if I did it more than once. But, next week’s a new scheduled recipe, so onward we go!

Next weekend, we’re heading to Niagara (home of the peaches I used here) to introduce our friends to one of my favourite singer/songwriters, David Myles, who also happens to have sat across a concert band from me for 6 years in school – he played trumpet, and I played flute. We were in a lot of classes together and ran in the same band geek circles, too. I’m hoping to get a chance to say “hi,” again, despite this being a fairly large venue. The last couple of times we’ve seen him have been much smaller concerts, and I got an enthusiastic hug as soon as he recognized me when he was selling CDs and signing autographs. 🙂

One of my favourite songs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NY-E_aQQWFU

Er.. All that to say, I might be late with my baking/posting next weekend. Or maybe I’ll do it on Friday and be early. We’ll see.

ElderBlueberry Pie

Have I mentioned I love making pie? I love making pie. If I make up a “big” batch of pie dough ahead of time, I can easily knock a couple of pies out in an hour, not counting baking/cooling/resting times. And there’s always something in season that you can turn into a pie. And of course, as a couple of friends keep insisting:

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BlueRhu Pie

I love making pie. The effort/annoyance factor versus payoff ratio is perfect. This week, the Rose’s Alpha Bakers group had blueberry-rhubarb pie on the schedule. Ever since the first time I made Rose’s flaky cream cheese pie crust, I’ve had a go-to recipe for pie dough, and it comes out perfectly every single time. I’ve detailed her process for pastry dough before, both on the post about the black and blueberry pie, and the one on the sour cherry pie, so I’ll skip that part of the process here, which, to be honest, doesn’t leave much to talk about. Since Jay’s not a fan of either blueberries or rhubarb (“Yuck! Gross! Disgusting!”), I figured that this would be a good recipe to take to my Thursday BBQ lunch at work. On Tuesday night, I made the pie crust, figuring I’d make the filling and assemble on Wednesday. Then I looked closer at the recipe, and realized that the filling was supposed to cool before going into the shell, so I made it on Tuesday evening, too!

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Sour Cherry Pie

I’ve mentioned my Thursday potluck lunch with co-workers, before. It’s pretty much the best part of the week, even though I work with pretty great people all week long. The group has 8 members, currently… carefully hand-picked for reliability, sense of humour, and general awesomeness:

  • 2 members of one of my scrum teams – one of whom was a founding member of the group, and was at the Focaccia campfire
  • 1 member of another one of my scrum teams – another of the founding members
  • 1 of my former teammates, from when I was on what can safely be described as the best team ever
  • 1 of the technical writers that I regularly work with (and whose wedding I attended last fall)
  • 1 of our scrum masters, who, yesterday, was wearing a shirt that read “Don’t read the next sentence. Oh, you little rebel. I like you.”  Today, it was a loading symbol with “Sarcastic comment loading. Please wait.” Matt‘s all kinds of awesome.
  • Me – a former developer, turned product owner/product manager. I think I managed to keep my place in the group after turning to the “dark side,” solely on my baking merits.
  • Oh, and a VP. VP ALM Solutions or something like that. I have no idea who invited him to the group.

Over the years, the members of the group have changed here and there, like when someone turns out to not be good at volunteering to contribute, or annoyingly regularly fails to notify the group when they won’t be there. Generally, the meals are pretty awesome. We have occasionally had to order pizza, though… like the time that one member of the group thought he could bring in a raw 10 lb roast in the morning, and have it cooked by lunch, in a slow cooker. Dude didn’t cook. AT ALL. Take out, all day, every day. He changed jobs a while back, saving us from kicking him out of the group. 😉

This week, Doug made chicken tortilla soup for us, and it was really tasty. I’m putting that recipe (or Jay’s improvisation of it, because he never follows recipes), on my request list for home. For dessert, I figured I’d make the cherry pie a few days early, and bring it to share, so that I’d have this ready to post for pi day.

David takes better pictures than me
David takes better pictures than me

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Black and Blueberry Pie

Last weekend, when I tallied up the sweets in the house, I made a decision about this week’s recipe from The Baking Bible bake-through. I eat lunch with some of my favourite people that I work, every Thursday. It started as a summer BBQ thing, many years ago, since we’re fortunate enough to have a patio and a grill available for employee use. In the summer months, we pay in a certain amount a month, and someone picks up food for the grill and gets reimbursed from the pool. A couple of years ago, we decided to try a potluck version in the winter – we rotate through main course slow cooker meals, and try to keep it relatively equitable. This week, my contribution was going to be dessert.

My most appealing shot of the pie
It looked best before baking…

Here’s a conversation from lunch, from memory:

Doug: It’s quite good. I really like the crust.

Matt: Yeah, it’s good.

Doug: You have to say WHY you like it.

Me: Yeah, if you don’t give me good feedback, you won’t get quoted on my blog.

Matt: I don’t want to be quoted on your blog. It’s good.

[Me, in my head: Too bad, Matt!]

Doug followed this up with gesturing to the pie with his fork, and saying something along the lines of: Normally, I mean, other than something like lemon meringue pie, the filling just all spills out, and the top collapses. This is actually full of fruit. It’s a nice consistency.

Geordie & Jeff agreed with him.  So, there you go.

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