Monday, August 31, 2009

Cherry Custard Pie

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Cherry Custard Pie

I think nothing says summer like homemade ice cream, peach pie, and cherry pie. I already made the first two this summer, so I had cherry pie on the brain. I like how this one is different, with the cherries sitting in a sweet custard and that flaky crust. This recipe's from Ken Haedrich's Pie, but I used Rose Levy Beranbaum's Flaky Cream Cheese Pie Crust, my all-time favorite pie dough recipe. Save your dough scraps to make the cute little cherry cutouts, and the leftover cream to whip for garnish.


This contraption is a cherry pitter. You could also use frozen, pitted cherries for convenience, especially out of season.

After rolling out, trim the ends to an even circle, and tuck under.

Shape the rolled-under edge into a scalloped crust.

Poking holes reduces puffing-up. I followed the instructions for resting and chilling, but there was still some crust shrinkage. Can't be helped sometimes, I guess.

After pouring in your custard -- which was so easy to throw together -- drop the cherries in one by one, trying to space them evenly. Plan enough time for the cooling and chilling before serving.

Cherry Custard Pie
From Ken Haedrich's Pie
1 recipe Basic Flaky Pie Pastry, Single Crust (See the cream cheese pie dough recipe I used here)
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
⅔ cup sugar
1 cup light cream or half-and-half
½ cup heavy or whipping cream
½ tsp vanilla extract
1½ tbs kirsch, Grand Marnier, or triple sec (optional)
Pinch of salt
One 15-ounce can pitted sweet cherries, drained, or 1½ cups fresh sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted

Prepare the pastry and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400°. On a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, roll the pastry into a 12-inch circle with a floured rolling pin. Invert the pastry over a 9-inch standard pie pan, center, and peel off the paper. Tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching it, and sculpt the edge so it is slightly higher than the rim. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes, then partially prebake (Fit a sheet of foil into the pie pastry and pour in enough dried beans or other pie weights to fill to the top. Bake the pie shell on the center rack for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and beans and lower the temperature to 375°, then take a fork and prick the pastry all over the bottom. Bake the pie shell for another 10 to 12 minutes.) and let cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°.

Combine the eggs, egg yolk, and sugar in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, blend briefly on medium speed. Add the light cream, heavy cream, vanilla, kirsch (if using), and salt and blend briefly. Slowly pour the filling into the cooled pie shell. One by one, gently drop the cherries into the filling, spacing them more or less evenly.

Place the pie on the center oven rack and bake until the custard is set, about 45 minutes. Rotate the pie 180 degrees halfway through the baking, so that the part that faced the back of the oven now faces forward. When done, the filling will jiggle -- not move in waves -- when you give the pie a little nudge.

Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool thoroughly. Cover with loosely tented aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight before serving.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge: Dobos Torte

This month the challenge was to bake that famous Hungarian cake, the Dobos Torte. It calls for baking thin layers of cake, stacking them with buttercream, and topping them with hazelnuts and wedges of caramel. I made mine a miniature so I wouldn't scarf down too much cake, and opted for wispy strands of caramel.

I also nixed the hazelnuts because Joe can't have them, and halved all the ingredients but kept the cooking temp and times the same. I got seven layers out of my little cake tower -- they slide around a little bit with all the buttercream, so you may want to insert a wooden skewer through them while you stack and frost, then remove it and chill. Recipe and obligatory challenge rules follow the pics.

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Whip your egg whites to a soft peak and then a stiff peak.

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To make my cake a mini, I used a personal-sized springform pan without the bottom. I ladled a third of a cup of batter into the mold, and you can see that when you lift the mold the batter mostly holds its shape. They bake up looking kind of like pancakes.

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The buttercream is cooked slightly in a double boiler, and then you add the chocolate to melt.

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To make strands of caramel, lightly coat some waxed paper with cooking spray. Dip a spoon into the warm caramel and wave it in zig-zag motions over the paper. Let it firm for a few minutes, and then lift it off the paper. Use a recipe other than the one in this challenge, which is more toffee-like and didn't have the right consistency for caramel strands. (I used Martha Stewart's.)
The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular DobosTorte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: ExquisiteDesserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

So, what is the Dobos Torta (or Torte)?

The Dobos Torta is a five-layer sponge cake, filled with a rich chocolate buttercream and topped with thin wedges of caramel. (You may come across recipes which have anywhere between six and 12 layers of cake; there are numerous family variations!) It was invented in 1885 by József C. Dobos, a Hungarian baker, and it rapidly became famous throughout Europe for both its extraordinary taste and its keeping properties. The recipe was a secret until Dobos retired in 1906 and gave the recipe to the Budapest Confectioners' and Gingerbread Makers' Chamber of Industry, providing that every member of the chamber can use it freely.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ming Tsai, and Backyard Veggies

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I've never been interested in putting my mug on this blog, but it's not every day I get a photo op with Ming Tsai! The renowned chef of Blue Ginger in Wellesley and Simply Ming on PBS came to support the opening of the Asian American Journalists Association Convention in Boston. He was a sweetheart, and there are hopes he'll be doing more with our group in the future!

On to the rest. No recipes in this posting, but I have been munching happily on homegrown tomatoes! Aren't they beautiful?

I love the sweetness of the grape variety, and they're perfect for just throwing in salads. And the basil plants are growing in the same pots like weeds. Tasty weeds . . .

Did you know eggplant plants grew flowers? I had no idea. Pretty purple ones.

And this guy is still small, and the only one on the plant. I wonder if it's ready for picking. Come to think of it, I don't think I bought the big variety. Now, what to make with it . . .