Friday, July 10, 2015

Summer Fruit Pies

Cherry Pie 

Let's start with Ina Garten's Perfect Pie Pastry (it really is perfect!) we're using it today in ALL the pie recipes below because it's just that good!


Cut the following ingredients... 

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter
1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening, such as Crisco

... into the flour mixture below. Use a food processor, a hand-held pastry blender, or two knives. Whatever you use, don't overmix. You should still see clumps of fat about the size of a large green pea when you're done.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt


1/2 cup ice water

Gather the dough into a ball. Flatten the ball into a disc (at this point you can divide into two and wrap separately) wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate.

Additional ingredients for the crust before baking:
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp cream (optional)

1 tbsp sugar for sprinkling

Cherry Filling:
Recipe adapted from Inspired Taste

4 1/2 cups pitted fresh cherries (2 1/2 pounds, unpitted)
1/4 cup (30 grams) corn starch
2/3 to 3/4 cup (134 to 150 grams) sugar, adjusted accordingly to sweetness of cherries
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small squares

Instructions: Roll out the pastry and line the pie pan/plate. Mix up the filling by tossing the ingredients together in a bowl and fill the pie, try to work quickly as you want to handle pastry outside of the fridge as little as possible and as quickly as possible.  Roll out the second pastry disk and use to cover the pie or create a lattice work. tuck in the edges and brush with the mixture of egg yolk and cream. Sprinkle pastry with granulated sugar for a beautiful crust.

Place the pie plate on a aluminum foil lined baking sheet and bake ..

Bake Cherry pie at 400 degree F preheated oven for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and continue for another 30-40 minutes until crust is golden and filling is bubbling.  Allow pie to cool for 2 1/2 - 3 hours before enjoying. Be careful if you're transporting it somewhere in a car, for instance, as the filling can spill out and over, it happened to me!

Blueberry Pie (Pictured Above)
Recipe by Ina Garten 

1 recipe for perfect pie pastry (above)

Filling Ingredients:

4 cups fresh blueberries, washed and dried
1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon creme de cassis or a black currant syrup of your choice (check the local European store!)

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk or cream, for egg wash
1 tbsp sugar for sprinkling

Instructions: Assemble same way as cherry pie and bake in a 400 Degree F preheated oven for 45-50 minutes until pastry is golden and filling is bubbling. Cool 2-3 hours before cutting into it.

Fresh Strawberry Pie 
Recipe inspired by and adapted from Inspired Taste 

1 crust recipe (I used Ina's recipe, same as all the pies above) Use only half and freeze the other half for another use (or for mini pies recipe below)

5 cups (24 ounces or 680 grams) quartered and hulled local summer strawberries (I used Ontario Strawberries from local Willow Tree farm in Port Perry

1/4 (30 grams) cup cornstarch
2/3 to 3/4 cup (134 to 150 grams) sugar, adjusted according to the sweetness of strawberries
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice

For the crust: 
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream

For the topping/serving
Whipped cream

Prepare Pie Crust
Roll out pie dough to fit pie dish. Gently press dough down into dish so that it lines the bottom and sides of the dish. (Be careful not to pull or stretch the dough). Then, use a knife or pair of kitchen scissors to trim dough to within 1/2-inch of the edge of the dish.
Fold edges of dough underneath itself, creating a thicker, 1/4-inch border that rests on the lip of the dish. Then, crimp edges. 

Bake Pie Crust
Heat oven to 425 degrees F (220 C). Place a baking sheet on a middle oven rack.
Pierce bottom of the crust with a fork (this prevent air pockets or bubbles from forming while baking). Line the crust with two sheets of aluminum foil. (Be sure to push foil against the edges of the crust). Then, fill foil with dried rice, dried beans or pie weights. Refrigerate 30 minutes or freeze for 10 minutes, or until firm to the touch.

Place pie crust onto preheated baking sheet and reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees F (200 C). Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until the crust is golden. (I needed to remove the foil after 30 minutes and bake for another 10 minutes) 

Make egg wash by whisking egg yolk and cream in a small bowl. Then, remove rice, beans or pie weights and foil from pie crust. Brush bottom and sides of crust with egg wash. Bake until egg wash is dry and shiny, 3 to 5 minutes. (I baked it for an additional 10-15 minutes until it was baked with a golden crust and the bottom was golden too, which is nice when you use a glass pan to see the bottom)

 Cool crust completely before filling.

Make Pie Filling
Add 2 cups of strawberries to a small saucepan. Mash strawberries until chunky.
Add sugar, corn starch, vanilla extract, lemon juice and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and glaze has thickened; 3 to 5 minutes. Cool completely.

Combine remaining 3 cups of strawberries (keep them whole or slice them into quarters) with cooled strawberry glaze. Stir until strawberries are well coated. Spoon strawberry filling into cooled pie crust.

Refrigerate pie at least 2 hours before cutting to allow filling to set. Top with whipped cream and decorate! Enjoy!

Mini Black Currant Pies 

I make these whenever I have leftover bits of dough and not enough fruit for a big pie or tart ... my mini cherry pies from a couple of summers ago are still a big hit, and attract the most readers to my blog, my husband just loves these little pies and requests them every summer. This year I used our black currant harvest from the bush we have in our backyard which yielded quite a nice amount! I've never made black currant pie before so I used the same guidelines as the blueberry pie and kept it simple, it's truly delicious!

The recipe below is a rough ingredient list, but feel free to use the same ingredients as the blueberry pie if you're doing a full sized pie or if you'd like to make small pies, it's pretty much the same recipe (mix up your fruit filling according to the ingredients from blueberry pie except swap out the blueberry with currants and then roll out your dough and see how many cupcake molds you can fill)
1 recipe for Ina's pie crust (above) 
Black Currants 

Creme de cassis or black currant syrup (optional) 
Lemon Juice

Flour or corn starch (I used flour) 
Pinch of salt
Butter for dotting

Since these pies are smaller I preheated the oven to 400 and then as soon as I put 'em in set the oven to 350 and let them back until browned and bubbling. Don't forget to brush with egg yolk and sprinkle sugar, just like the other pie recipes above.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Sour Cherry Quick Cake

Week two at the local farmer's market and all I saw was cherries everywhere! One farm in particular caught my eye because they were selling sour cherries while everyone else had the bing sweet cherries that I used the week before to make a delicious homemade cherry pie (recipe coming up in the next post when we feature some other fruit pies as well!)

I've always been fascinated by these sour cherries because I would see them up in the trees while we picnicked in the Niagara region of Ontario and I would wonder if they were actually edible.  A couple of weeks ago when my family moved to a house we found out that there was a cherry tree in the backyard, and we noticed people picking the same type of cherries off the same trees in the neighbourhood so when I had a taste for the first time I knew they would make for some delicious baking!

The recipe I'm posting today came from a friend on Instagram, I've been eyeing her homestyle Russian recipes for a while and bookmarked this cake for quick summer time baking and sure enough these cherries were PERFECT for the recipe! I'm so in love with this cake that I know I'll be making it again and again with different fruits and trying that warm cinnamon version that she wrote about on her blog Imagelicious, please stop in and check it out!

I won't put the recipe here as you can head over and check out hers, but I'm telling you, this is such an easy recipe ... it's faster to whip up than an omelet!