When you have a craving, at least in my mind, you should satisfy it, if not you'll be thinking about more and more and more. Madeleines were on my mind all week, they go superb with tea and coffee. They're exceptionally simple to make and cute. This is a recipe from Julia Child's book which really needs no changing and the only thing I did was introduce new flavors. I've been wanting to play with perfumes more and more this year and this heavenly mix is hard to pin down as one scent so I'm going to go with "scented Madeleines". I used a metal mold that I found at a thrift store in North Carolina many years ago.Read More
We're a few days away from Halloween. And I've baked this masala chai pumpkin cake for West Elm that has a good dose of pumpkin seeds and crystallized ginger bits embedded in it. I've also plastered this cake with a spiced maple syrup buttercream frosting and adorned it with fondant black cats all over to make it spooky. You could even serve this at Thanksgiving and leave out the cats and get creative and make a border of pumpkins if you have a pumpkin shape cookie cutter.
Happy baking and Happy Halloween!!!
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by West Elm, however all opinions expressed are solely my own.
Cannelés are one of those pastries that I love to eat but don't make as often as I'd like to. I've tried to make them in silicone molds a few years ago and the results were consistently not that good. (I've never used aluminum and can't speak about them but check out this experiment by Serious Eats) But a few months ago, M took a work trip to Paris and I asked/begged him to get a couple of copper Cannelé molds from Dehillerin. I fell in love with my little copper molds, perfectly shaped with their ridges just waiting to be seasoned with warm, melted beeswax before they could be used.
So once you have the molds, we definitely need to talk about seasoning them. This is as important as the molds because it will allow the mold to release the pastry with ease. Some folk use beeswax while others a mixture (1:1 ratio) of unsalted butter and wax. I used Dominique Ansel's method of seasoning the molds before they can be used. Try and find edible beeswax pellets because they're easier to melt than the block I have in the photo below (you have to chop it up to bits and then use as much as you need).
The next part is the actual batter for the pastry. You will need to prepare it a day in advance to allow the flour to hydrate and the sugar to dissolve. I've used a combination of cardamom and orange zest which are steeped in the hot milk, eventually the zest is removed through straining the batter and let it sit overnight. The rest of the steps are pretty straightforward. Though Cannelés are best eaten the day they're made, I have found freezing the cooled pastries in a ziptop bag for 2 to 3 weeks to be pretty efficient. You just need to thaw them before and you can also warm them up in the microwave.
cardamom and orange Cannelés - adapted from Dominique Ansel's - The Secret Recipes (Simon and Schuster - 2014)
Makes 10 medium cannelés (about 2¾ ounces or 80 grams each)
Time: 20 minutes one day before (plus 45 minutes if using brand-new cannelé molds); 1 hour 30 minutes the day of
10 cannelé molds 2 inches tall by 2 inches diameter (5 cm tall by 5 cm diameter)
Pastry brush (optional)
Instant-read thermometer (recommended)
Beeswax (for the molds) as needed
1½ cups (352 grams) whole milk
3 tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter (84 per cent butterfat)
1 tsp ground green cardamom
1 tsp fresh orange zest or orange extract
3 egg yolks (large)
3 tablespoons (38 grams) dark rum
½ cup + 2 tablespoons (94 grams) all-purpose flour
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (180 grams) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon (1 gram) kosher salt
Purchasing, preparing, and caring for cannelé molds
– There are several options when picking out cannelé molds, but I would recommend using copper molds. Copper conducts heat extremely well and ensures a crispy exterior and moist flan-like interior as the cannelés bake.
– If you are using copper cannelé molds for the first time, it is important to season them properly. The traditional way is to use beeswax. Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C) for conventional or 375°F (190°C) for convection. Melt beeswax in the microwave in 30-second intervals. Brush the inside of the molds with melted wax and place them on a sheet pan in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and invert on a wire rack over a sheet pan to let excess wax drain out. When the molds cool, repeat this process three more times. Seasoning the molds in this manner ensures that your cannelés will have a shiny and smooth exterior. It also prevents them from sticking to the molds. Ideally, this process should be repeated each time you bake cannelés, but it can be done every other time after the first five bakes if the cannelés are unmolding easily.
– Beeswax can generally be found at specialty stores or online at several retailers. It comes in blocks or chips. I recommend chips simply because they are easier to melt; otherwise they are the same.
– Copper cannelé molds do not need to be washed. To clean, wipe with a dry towel.
One day before: Season molds
Prepare cannelé molds in the method described above.
1. Combine the milk, butter, and cardamom and orange zest in a medium pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat and let cool to about 100°F (38°C), or lukewarm to the touch.*
2. Whisk the egg yolks into the milk mixture. When they have been incorporated, whisk in the rum.
3. Whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl. Whisk in the warm milk one-third at a time, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl between additions. Some air bubbles will form, but keep these to a minimum. When finished, the batter will have the consistency of heavy cream.**
4. Strain the batter through a medium sieve into an airtight container. Before closing, cover with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface of the batter, to prevent a skin from forming. Press the lid of the airtight container on tightly. Refrigerate overnight to rest the batter.
The day of: Bake
1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C) for conventional or 425°F (220°C) for convection.
2. Warm the molds in the oven for 15 minutes before filling. Preheating the molds helps ensure that the cannelés will have a crunchy, caramelized exterior.
3. Brush the molds with a thin layer of melted beeswax. (Too much wax will cause the mixture to spill out of the mold during the baking process.) Gently mix the batter to reincorporate ingredients that may have settled overnight. Be careful not to overmix, or you risk incorporating too much air into the batter. The more uniform the batter is, the better the final product will be.
4. Fill each mold to about ¼ inch (6 mm) from the top, about 2¾ ounces (80 grams) of batter each. When the cannelé bakes, it will rise slightly, then sink, so it is important to leave a small space to account for this rise.
5. Place the molds on a sheet pan and bake on the center rack for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (175°C) for conventional or 325°F (160°C) for convection, and bake for 35 to 45 minutes more.***
6. Let the cannelés, still in their molds, cool for 10 minutes. Turn the cannelé molds upside down and gently tap the top until the cannelé drops out onto the wire rack. Let cool completely before serving.
If you read my interview with the Kitchn as part of their Bite-Sized Guide to Oakland, you will have learned some exciting news. Sometime late Fall last year, I signed a book deal with the wonderful folk at Chronicle Books. "My first cookbook", it feels a little surreal to even type those words or say it but this is happening and will be released in Fall 2018! So stay tuned while I reveal behind-the-scenes footage and more, over the next few months here and on Instagram.
I rarely share too many traditional Indian recipes, most of recipes reflect my journey of adaptation as an immigrant, I sometimes cook traditionally but more so than often the food I cook and create is influenced strongly by my past and present. It's somewhere in between/ Take this samosa pie for instance, I first ate phyllo in the honey soaked baklava at a Greek restaurant in Cincinnati. The sweetness and the crunch of the thin sheets of flaky pastry that revealed a heavenly nut filling scented with rose water. Samosas are an Indian-style hand pie and on some days I'm too lazy to assemble two dozen samosas and so the samosa pie was born. This one envelopes the filling with layers and layers of thin delicate phyllo, brushed with ghee and topped off with a generous sprinkle of nigella.
samosa phyllo pie
makes one 9 inch-pie
2lbs russet potatoes
2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil
2 teaspoons crushed coriander seeds
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
2 inch piece ginger root, peeled and julienned
1 cup frozen or fresh peas
1 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (cayenne will work)
1 1/2 teaspoon amchur powder (dried raw mango powder)
1 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup packed chopped cilantro leaves
1 serrano pepper thinly sliced
1 box of whole-wheat phyllo pastry, at room temperature (about 18 single sheets of phyllo)
1/4 cup melted ghee or butter
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
1. Rinse and scrub the potatoes and place them in a large stockpot and fill with cold tap water up to an inch above the potatoes. Add 1 teaspoon salt and heat on medium-high heat for about 20 to 25 minutes until the potatoes are completely cooked and tender. Drain the water from the potatoes and allow to cool before peeling. Once the potatoes are cooled, chop them into large chunks and keep aside.
2. Heat the oil in a large stockpot or Dutch-oven on medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot add the coriander seeds and cook until they start to brown within 30 to 40 seconds. Add the onions and ginger and cook until they brown in about 10 to 12 minutes. Then add the chopped potatoes, peas, the remaining salt, chili, amchur, black pepper and cook for another 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally to coat evenly. Remove the stockpot from the stove and and taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Fold in the cilantro leaves and serrano.
3. Place a wire rack at midlevel in the oven and preheat to 350F. Grease a 9-inch circular pie pan with a little ghee or butter. Carefully line the surface of the pan with one single sheet of phyllo and brush gently with ghee or butter. Place another sheet of pastry at a slight angle to the first and repeat. This will allow you to cover the entire pan as you rotate the placement of the pastry sheets. Place 9 such phyllo sheets. Then fill the pan with the potato-pea filling. Cover the filling with the remaining sheets of phyllo, brushing each layer with ghee or butter. Once the pie is layered, take a kitchen shears and trim the overhang leaving about 1 inch of extra pastry on the edge. Fold this extra inch over itself and crimp it gently to seal. Brush the entire surface of the pastry with the ghee or butter. If you have any extra left-over pastry, you can use it to garnish and decorate the pie. Sprinkle the nigella seeds over the pie and make six 1 inch cuts around the center of the pie to allow it to vent in the oven. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for about 60 minutes, rotating once halfway through until golden brown. Remove the baked pie from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Serve slices of the pie with a sweet tamarind chutney and/or spicy green cilantro chutney or even Indian-style mango pickle.
Here's part 2 of my experiments in puff pastry. Now you don't think, I'd make a batch of laminated dough and then not make croissants, would ya? There are two ways that I know of when it comes to shaping croissants, the first one is described here in the recipe text where you start with a rectangular piece of dough and then cut triangles out from the Cook's Illustrated "Cook's Science" cookbook. The second method involves using a circular piece of dough and then dividing it into sectors which you then roll up just like you would for the first method. Save scrap pastry and freeze for later to make danishes or use in tarts, pies, etc.
The possibilities with laminated dough and for that matter, even croissants are endless, with numerous toppings and fillings available, you can go wild and you should! And this year, expect a lot of puff pastry type things from me, for you to eat! Happy Sunday.
croissants (from Cook's Illustrated Cook's Science 2016)
one batch of laminated dough
1 large egg
1 teaspoon cold water or milk
a pinch of salt
1. Keep the dough in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Transfer to a lightly floured counter and roll into 18 by 16 inch rectangle with the long side of the rectangle parallel to the edge of the counter. Fold upper half of the dough over lower half. Using a rule, mark dough at 3 -inch intervals along bottom edge with bench scraper (you will have 5 marks). Move ruler to top of dough, measure in 1 1 1/2 inches from left, then use this mark to measure out 3 inch intervals (you should have six marks). Starting at lower left corner, use pizza wheel or knife to cut dough into triangles from mark to mark. You will have 12 single triangles and 5 double triangles; discard scraps. Unfold double triangles and cut into 10 single triangles (you will get 22 equal sized triangles in total). If the dough begins to soften, return to the freezer for 10 minutes.
2. Shaping the croissants: Place 1 triangle on counter. (Keep remaining triangles covered with plastic while shaping). Cut 1/2 inch slit in center of short end of triangle. Grasp triangle by 2 corners on either side of each slit and stretch gently, then grasp bottom point and stretch. Place triangle on counter so point is facing towards you. Fold both sides of the slit down. Positioning your palms on folds, roll partway towards point. Gently grasp point again and stretch. To finish, continue to roll, tucking point underneath. Curve ends gently toward one another to create a crescent shape. Repeat with remaining doughs.
3. Place 12 croissants on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets ( 6 per sheet), leaving at least 2 1/2 inches of space between them. Lightly wrap baking sheets with plastic wrap, leaving room for the dough to expand and rise. Let stand at room temperature, until doubled nearly twice in size (2 1/2 to 3 hours). You can refrigerate shaped croissants for up to 18 hours . Remove from the refrigerator to rise and add at least 30 additional minutes to rising time.
4. Before baking, adjust oven racks to upper middle and lower middle positions and temperature to 425F. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and water along with a pinch of salt. Brush croissants with egg wash, reduce oven heat to 400F and then bake for 12 minutes, then switch and rotate baking sheets and bake for another 8 to 12 minutes, until the croissants are golden brown. Transfer croissants to a wire rack to cool until just warm. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Puff pastry is one of those mysterious and magical inventions of man where a simple mixture of flour, butter and yeast create a light and flaky texture. It requires a little bit of time and patience and low temperatures and you can file this one under "weekend projects" but once you've tried it out, you will want to avoid buying the store bought stuff.
There are several different recipes in books and on the internet when it comes to making puff pastry from scratch but when I got to review the Cook's Illustrated "Cook's Science" cookbook, it was the recipe that immediately stood out. As always, they've done a marvelous job of making it easy for home kitchens and explained the science behind this unique pastry. There are three key things to keep in mind here;
1. Use a high-protein content all-purpose flour.
2. Turn the pastry three times to create a light pastry that will contain hundreds of delicate layers.
3. Use European-style butter for it's higher fat content. If you use regular butter (which has a lower fat content and more water) some books and recipes recommend adding a little extra flour to the butter but that as Cook's Illustrated points out creates a pastry that is not as flaky.
4. Keep everything as cold as possible. A warm will your butter soften fast and your pastry will be too delicate to handle. Chill the pastry as soon as it starts to get too sticky or soft.
5. Use a cold surface such as marble or metal to keep the pastry cold at all times. It will give you much better results.
Use this puff pastry to make desserts such as croissants or danishes or line a pie or tart. It's a useful recipe to keep on hand.
laminated dough (from Cook's Illustrated Cook's Science 2016)
yields: one sheet of puff pastry - 18X16 inch rectangle
3 tablespoons + 24 tablespoons unsalted European-style butter, very cold (it is easier to start with a rectangular chunk of butter or sticks)
1 3/4 cups whole milk
4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
4 1/4 cups (602.42g) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (49.61g) bakers sugar
2 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
1. Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter over low heat in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in the milk (temperature must be less than 80F). Whisk in the yeast, transfer the milk mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add flour, sugar, and salt. Using the dough hook, knead on low speed until cohesive dough forms, 2 to 3 minutes. Increase speed to medium-low and knead for 1 minute. Remove bowl from mixer, remove dough hook, and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
2. Transfer dough to parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet and shape into 10X7 inch rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap tightly with plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.
3. Butter Block: Take a full sheet of parchment paper and place the butter at the center of the sheet and wrap the sides of the paper over the butter to form a rough 6 inch square. Then using a rolling pin, gently beat the butter to fill up the empty space and form 6 inch square. Using the end of a bench scraper to get the butter block into shape. Stick the butter block, wrapped in the paper into the refrigerator for about 45 minutes.
4. Dough Lamination: Transfer the dough to the freezer. After 30 minutes, transfer the dough to a lightly floured counter and roll into a 17 X 8 inch rectangle. Unwrap the butter and place it at the center of the dough, fold the two sides of the dough over the butter square so they meet in the center. With the rolling pin, press firmly on each open end of the packet. Roll out dough, perpendicular to edge of counter, to rectangle 24 X 8 inches. Bring bottom third of dough up, then fold the upper third over it, folding like a business letter into an 8-inch square. Turn dough 90 degrees clockwise. Roll out dough again, perpendicular to the edge of the counter, into 24X8 inch rectangle and fold into thirds. Place dough on a baking sheet, wrap tightly with plastic, and return to freezer for 30 minutes.
5. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and roll into 24X8 inch rectangle and fold into thirds. Place dough onto baking sheet, wrap tightly with plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.
6. Transfer dough to freezer. After 30 minutes transfer to a lightly floured counter and roll into 18X16 inch rectangle with long side of rectangle parallel to the edge of the counter. Lightly dust the dough on both sides with a little flour, fold the dough over itself to create 3 folds and wrap tightly with plastic and freeze in an airtight ziploc back until needed for up to 2 months.
So it's that time of the year when I pull the ginger out and make my favorite cake, the indomitable gingerbread cake. It's one of the few cakes, I look forward to making each year and every year, I try to do something different with it. This year's version is full of fruity flavors and spice from some expected and unexpected sources.
The inspiration from the flavors in this cake came from my trip to Sacramento when I visited the California Olive Ranch and learned about the different types of olive oil (and see the oil being made in action). The Arbequina variety not only comes with a bright green color but also has one of the fruitiest flavors which pairs really well with the spices in this cake. Brown rice miso is caramel colored salty fermented paste made from rice as the name suggests while mirin is a sweet rice wine, both of these ingredients are used often as seasoning agents in Japanese cooking and in this gingerbread cake, they do just that. And since, miso is rather salty to start with, there's no need for the addition of extra salt to this cake batter.
Since it is the holiday season, I've made a few marzipan Christmas trees to put on top of the cake and you can make some snow with a dusting of a little confectioner's sugar. Since there's no snow where we live, I had to bring it to us!
Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this cake;
- If you can't find moscovado use dark brown or light brown sugar. Jaggery is another great option.
- Arbequina is one of the best olive oils to use in dessert because it has a natural fruity flavor and in this cake, it makes a big difference. However, if you can't find arbequina, try to a fruity extra-virgin olive oil.
arbequina, brown miso and mirin gingerbread cake
yields: one round 9 inch cake
a little unsalted butter to grease the cake pan
2 cups (311g) whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs, chilled
3/4 cup Arbequina olive oil from California Olive Ranch
3/4 cup (177ml) dark molasses
1/2 cup (135g) packed moscovado sugar
4 tablespoons brown rice miso
1/4 cup (60ml) mirin
1 cup (240ml) plain full-fat greek yogurt
green food coloring (optional)
1/4 cup (31g) confectioner's sugar
1. Line and grease a round 9 inch cake pan with a sheet of parchment paper cut to size and a little butter. Place a wire rack at midlevel and preheat the oven to 350F. Dry whisk all the dry ingredients from the flour to the cloves in a large mixing bowl and keep aside.
2. Attach the whisk attachment to the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the eggs, olive oil, molasses, moscovado sugar and miso. Whisk on medium-high speed until creamy for about 4 to 5 minutes. Replace the whisk attachment with the paddle, reduce the speed to medium-low and add in half of the whisked dry ingredients . Whisk on low speed until combined. Then add in the mirin and the yogurt along with the remaining flour and whisk until combined. Scrape the bottom of the bowl using a silicone spatula to make sure there are no visible flecks of flour. Transfer the cake batter to the prepare cake pan and bake in the preheated oven for about 55 to 60 minutes. The cake will done when it is firm and spongy to touch at the center and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the center. Once the cake is baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake to release it and cool on a wire rack.
3. Decorate the cake with the marzipan Christmas trees (See Video Here on how to prepare). Dust the cake with confectioner's sugar as needed.
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by California Olive Ranch. However, all opinions expressed are solely my own.
Irvin Lin needs no introduction, he writes Eat the Love , one of the first baking blogs that I started to read many years ago, even before I started mine. And now Irvin has a gorgeous new book on baking that is reflective of the work on his blog; he creates the unexpected dessert that's not only a visual treat but also one for the tastebuds. This book reinvents baking through interesting flavors and ideas and Irvin executes every recipe in the book with perfection. For example, I've struggled with making apple roses for a long time. Most recipes require you to pour boiling water or keep popping them into the microwave while they sit in a lemon juice-water bath. But Irvin's technique is much simpler and actually works with ease, you'll still need one apple to play with. But with a few pulse in the microwave, I got my apple roses without any fuss and you don't need a water bath.
With Christmas around the corner, I figured I'd redesign this tart to resemble a wreath and be extra festive. I used the left over pastry to make the bow and simply cut out strips of pastry that I shaped into the bow and placed that on tart. I actually ended up using 2 large apples versus the ones listed in Irvin's original recipe from the book below but if you want to fill up the entire tart and skip the wreath, stick to his amounts.
I think this is a book you definitely want to add to your Christmas list this year! There's something in it for everyone, a sweet treat for every day and every occasion! You'll be cooking your way through Irvin's book just like I am.
irvin's spiced brown butter apple rose tart (from Marbled, Layered and Swirled - Irvin Lin - HMH - 2016)
yields: one 10 inch tart
1 1⁄4 cups (175 g) all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup (75 g) whole-wheat flour
1⁄4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
3⁄4 cup (170 g or 1 1⁄2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
2 large egg yolks
1⁄4 cup dark rum
browned butter filling
1⁄2 cup (115 g or 1 stick) unsalted butter
6 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
3 green cardamom pods
1 star anise
1 large vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1⁄2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Zest of 1 orange
2 large eggs
1⁄2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
1⁄4 cup (35 g) all-purpose flour
1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1⁄2 pounds (about 5 medium) red-skinned firm apples, such as Braeburn, Gala, or Jonagold
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1⁄4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1⁄4 cup (55 g) packed dark brown sugar
1⁄3 cup (50 g) all-purpose flour
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
make the crust
Combine both flours, the sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into 1⁄2-inch cubes and sprinkle over the dry ingredients. Toss the butter cubes with your hands to coat, then squeeze until they flatten out, squeezing and tossing until the dough starts to resemble crumbly cornmeal with bits of butter still in flattened chunks. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks with the rum, then drizzle the liquid over the flour-butter mixture and fold together. As the dry ingredients become moister, work the ingredients together with your hands until they come together and form a dough. If the dough seems too sticky, sprinkle a little more flour into it. If the dough seems too dry, add a little more rum or cold water. The dough should be soft. Flatten the dough into a disk about 1 inch thick, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
Roll out the dough into a 14-inch circle, but don’t worry if isn’t perfect. This dough is really forgiving. Fit the dough into a 10-inch round tart pan with are movable bottom. This recipe makes a little more dough than necessary, so if you need to, use the extra dough to patch up any holes or tears. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork all over, then line with a piece of parchment paper and fill with dried beans, uncooked rice, or pie weights. Freeze the lined pan for about15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Set the tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until very lightly golden brown around the edges, about 10 minutes. Let the crust cool on a wire rack, and reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
make the browned butter filling
Combine the butter, cloves, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, and star anise in a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the pan then add the vanilla pod as well. Add the nutmeg and orange zest. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the butter melts and starts to brown and turn fragrant. Once the butter starts to brown, turn the heat off and let the residual heat bring the butter to the right point. You don’t want to burn the butter fat, you just want it golden brown. Discard the cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, and vanilla pod. Let cool to room temperature.
Whisk together the eggs, sugar, flour, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the butter, scraping the brown bits at the bottom of the pan into the bowl. Pour the filling into the crust.
make the apple roses
Cut the apples by placing the apple on its bottom and slicing down near the core but not close enough to get any seeds. Rotate the apple 90 degrees and slice down again. Repeat two more times until you have a rectangular core, which you can discard, and 4 apple chunks with skin on them. Place the apple chunks flat side down on the cutting board and cut thin lengthwise slices with a sharp knife (or use a mandoline). Each slice should have one flat edge and one rounded edge with a thin piece of red skin. Place the apple slices in a large microwave-safe bowl with the lemon juice. Toss to coat to prevent the apple slices from turning brown. Slice all the apples, continuing to toss the apple slices with the lemon juice as you go. Add the sugar and butter and toss to coat.
Microwave the apple mixture for 1 minute. You don’t want to completely cook the apples, just soften them enough to make them pliable. If they are still too crisp and break when you bend them, cook in additional 15-second increments, testing until they are bendable. The amount of time will depend on how thick you cut the apples and how powerful your microwave is.
Starting with the thinnest, smallest piece you can find, curl the apple slice, with the skin side at the top, into a spiral, forming a rose-like shape. Wrap another, larger slice around the first slice. Build a rose with as many slices as you can. Use a spatula (or the side of a large chef ’s knife) to move the apple rose to the filled tart crust. The filling should help hold the apple roses together. Repeat with the rest of the apple slices, until you have tightly filled the entire surface of the tart. Any gaps in the tart where the roses don’t quite fit can be filled with extra apple slices and smaller roses.
make the crumble topping
Combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl and stir together with a fork. Drizzle the butter over the dry ingredients and toss until crumbs start to form and stick together. Sprinkle the crumble in a ring, about 1 inch wide, around the edge of the tart on top of the apples.
Bake until the apples are a rich golden brown and the filling has set and looks puffy and slightly golden, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for at least
30 minutes before releasing the tart from the sides of the pan.
Let's me just start with how many mishaps this pastry involved. I had some grandiose plans as you will see below for styling it and then ended up repairing and fixing my pie top because my measurement was off for the larger ring of flowers on the top sheet of pastry. Still things worked out well and I covered it with the flowers I had cut out earlier.
If you've noticed on Instastories, I've been going crazy over our neighbors huge stack of passion fruit vines that keep dropping their fruit all over the sidewalk. Every day when I take Snoopy on our walk, I make sure we get some passion fruit (this also makes M think I'm a little crazy). I guess I'm urban foraging??? But who can say no to free fruit and produce grown on your street, not me! That beautiful guava like taste is so delicious and I think it is one of the most under-appreciated fruits of fall.
I like the purple variety of passion fruit because it is less acidic than the other cultivars. All you need to do is scoop out the yellow flesh with the seeds in a strainer kept over a bowl and expel the liquid by gentle pressing the flesh against the sides. The delicious yellow liquid will be released and you can discard what's left behind in the strainer. You will need to sweeten it a little and then you should be good to use the liquid in whatever way you want to.
Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this pie;
- Use a European style butter to prepare the crust because of it's high fat content. Your crust will be flakier.
- I use Bob's Red Mill whole-wheat pastry flour, gluten content can vary a little between different brands so keep this in mind.
- I prefer to thicken the passion fruit liquid separately before adding it to the blueberries. I also chill the thickened liquid once I'm done because
- My blueberries were very sweet and the passion fruit wasn't too acidic. I recommend tasting your fruit before you decide on how much to sweeten it. I'm not a big fan of overly sweet pies where all you can taste is the sugar and not the fruit or crust. Starting with less sugar is always good.
standard double crust pie dough (pastry recipe adapted from the Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum)
yields: one 9 inch double crust pie
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks/170gm) unsalted butter, chilled
290gm whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 teaspoons fine grain sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
128gm cream cheese, cold
3 tablespoons heavy cream or whole milk
1 tablespoon (15mL) cider vinegar
blueberry and passion fruit filling
1 cup (236mL) passion fruit pulp liquid with no seeds (see notes on how to extract)
2 tablespoons + 4 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
6 cups (760g) blueberries
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon (64g) finegrain sugar
1. Cube the butter into small chunks, wrap with plastic film and freeze for 30 minutes.
2. Dry whisk the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder and freeze in an airtight container for 30minutes. Attach the dough blade to a food processor, then put the flour mixture into the bowl of the food processor. Cube the cream cheese into 4 pieces and add it to the flour. Pulse the mixture for about 30 seconds until it resembles coarse meal. Add the cubes of frozen butter and pulse until the butter cubes are reduced to the size of small peas. Add the cream (or milk) and cider vinegar and pulse until the entire mixture resembles chunky particles. Transfer this to a dry clean gallon ziploc bag. Remove most of the air from the bag and then seal it. Using the heel of your hand knead and press the mixture from the outside of the bag to bring the dough together. Open the bag and transfer the dough to a large sheet of cling film. Form a large ball of dough and then divide it into two equal halves. Wrap with cling film and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before using (you can make the dough up to 2 days in advance).
3. Roll out each block of pastry into 1/8 inch thick discs between two sheets of parchment paper, using minimal flour as you roll to prevent it from sticking. Cut one circle of 12 inches diameter and line the bottom of a 9 inch pie dish carefully. Trim off any pastry overhangs using a scissors. Wrap the pie dish with cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Cut another 12 inch circle from the second disc of rolled out pastry and make cut outs of any shapes using a small cookie cutter. I used a flower stencil to cut out patterns but you can use any shape you like. (Since this is a blueberry and passion fruit filled pie, there is a lot of liquid which needs to be released and you will have to vent the pie by making some sort of holes or slits in the top crust).
4. In the mean time start to prepare the filling. Pour the passion fruit liquid into a medium-sized saucepan, reserve two tablespoons of the liquid in a small bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to the reserve fruit liquid and whisk to make a slurry. Heat the passion fruit liquid on medium-high heat until it just starts to boil. Quickly whisk in the cornstarch slurry and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes with constant whisking until it thickens. Remove from stove and allow to cool over an ice-water bath. Place the blueberries in a large mixing bowl, add the remaining cornstarch and sugar and fold with a silicone spatula to coat evenly. Remove and unwrap the chilled pie dish from the refrigerator, transfer the blueberries to the pie and then pour the cooled and thickened passion fruit liquid over the berries. Wrap the pie dish with cling film and return to the refrigerator. Place the second 12 inch circle of pastry over the over the pie filling and fold the edges of the first one and crimp the edges. Decorate the top with the cutout flowers if using the same pattern in the photos. Brush the base of the cutout flowers with a little water to help glue them to the surface of the pastry. Wrap the pie dish with cling film and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours before baking.
5. To bake the pie, place a wire rack at the lowest level in the oven. Take a pizza stone and wrap it with aluminum foil and place it on the wire rack and preheat the oven to 425F. Wait an additional 20 minutes before baking the pie in the oven. Just before baking, remove the pie from the refrigerator and unwrap the cling film, line the edges of the pie crust with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour until the fruit juices start to bubble, rotating the pie dish halfway through the baking process. The crust will be golden brown when done. Remove the baked pie from the oven and discard the aluminum foil, allow to cool on a wire rack completely before serving. This pie can be refrigerated for up to 4 to 5 days.
Both my hands trembled by the keyboard, for a good 5 minutes or so when I found out I had been included as a finalist in the Best Photo Based Culinary Blog category for this year's IACP awards. We were almost a few minutes from leaving our home to head out to the open house at the culinary school that I'm hoping to attend (barring all other life constraints, etc) when I received the news. Then came the excitement and the crazy happy dance with the dog looking at me in complete bewilderment. To be included among these talented folk makes me feel thankful and humbled. And, I have you to thank for this, your constant encouragement and support is what makes me and this tiny space on the internet grow.
Sometimes, it's good to deconstruct and then reconstruct. This is exactly what this recipe is all about. Break the triangular samosa down then build it up again in the form of a mini pie in a mason jar. The crust is flaky and buttery, seasoned with a pinch of pretty black nigella seeds. Little marbles of red, white and purple potatoes with brightly green colored peas remain hidden under this layer of pastry only to reveal a pepper and ginger spiced coating. Serve these pies straight out of the oven with your favorite accompaniments, this cilantro mint chutney and/or this sweet tamarind and date one will go well.
To prepare the pastry crust, I used whole wheat pastry flour from Bob's Red Mill which gave me the exact amount of texture and flavor I needed. The pastry turned out to be pretty light and with even layers of flakiness making it perfect for this mini-samosa pie. This is going to be one of my favorite whole grain flours to work with from now on!
Here are some of my kitchen tips when preparing these mini pies, that you might find useful:
- I used whole-wheat pastry flour which is different from whole-wheat flour in origin, it is milled from white wheat while regular whole-wheat originates from hard red wheat. The pastry flour variety is also low in protein when compared to the regular whole-wheat (via Bob's Red Mill).
- When I use my food processor to blend flours, I wrap the mouth of the bowl with cling film and then attach the lid before switching the machine on. This way any flour mess is minimized. Once the liquids are added to the dry ingredients, the
- I recommend using a cool surface to roll out the pastry, a marble pastry board does a great job.
- If you can't find nigella seeds use black sesame or carom seeds in the same amount.
- Traditionally a samosa is fried and uses no egg wash. But since I baked the pastry in the form of a pie, I brushed the surface with a little egg wash to give it a glaze to make it more attractive. You can definitely brush the entire pastry completely even on the sides, I personally prefer the center glazed and the sides untouched. Do it the way you like.
- The Fillings: go all out, you can use my savory filling here, or do a breakfast one or an apple one. Let your creative juices flow!
- ***One word on the pie-slits in the crust. You don't need to do it. If you do it add a teaspoon of water into each pie before sticking it into the oven, this keeps the filling from becoming too dry in the oven. If you don't want to create the slits to vent the pie that is fine too.
mini samosa pot pies with tricolored marbled potatoes and peas
yields: around 8 X 4ounce mason jar pies
2 cups ( 9 7/8 ounces) Bob's Red Mill whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain kosher sea salt
7 tablespoons ( 3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
2 tablespoons greek yogurt (2% fat)
1/4 cup chilled water + you might need a little more
8 teaspoons water, chilled
1 large egg lightly mixed with 4 tablespoons water (at room temperature)
1 tablespoon nigella seeds (or black sesame/carom seeds can also be substituted)
1. Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor attached with a dough blade. Cover with the lid and pulse for 5 seconds, four times to blend. Add the butter and yogurt and begin to pulse the ingredients. While the ingredients are mixing slowly drizzle the chilled water into the flour. Stop adding water until the dough starts to come together. You might need to add a little more water. The dough will be soft, transfer the dough to a cool and clean surface such as a marble pastry board. Using your hands, quickly bring the dough together to form one large ball and then flatten it into a disc and wrap in clingfilm. Allow the pastry to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before using.
2. Place a wire rack at mid-level in the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Unwrap the rested dough and divide it into 4 equal parts. Take one part of the dough and then cut it in half, roll one half to form a circle that's about 1 1/2 to 2 inches larger than the diameter of a 4 ounce mason jar . Cut in half and place one half over a potato and pea stuffed mason jar (4 ounce size), add one teaspoon of water to each jar and then press the edges of the pastry against the jar gently and trim off the excess pastry hanging from the edges. Prepare the rest of the filled jars in the same manner. Using a sharp paring knife cut three, 0.5 inch slits equally apart from each other in the center of the pastry. Brush the surface of the pastry of each jar with the egg wash and sprinkle with generous pinch of nigella seeds. Place the prepared jars on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 20 - 25 minutes until the surface of the pastry is golden. Serve hot. *** See my note above on the pie slits
Note: Any extra left over pastry can be reused.
tricolored marbled potatoes and pea filling
yield: enough for 8 X 4 ounce mason jars
2 tablespoons olive oil
32 ounces tricolored marbled potatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher sea salt
3/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper, freshly ground
3/4 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup red onion, chopped fine
2 inch piece ginger root, peeled and julienned into thin strips
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds freshly ground
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 tablespoon lime juice, freshly squeezed
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan with a lid on medium-high. When the oil gets hot, add the potatoes and salt. Cover with the lid and allow to cook for about 8-10 minutes with occasional stirring until the potatoes are seared and just tender. Using a potato masher, lightly smash half of the potatoes in the saucepan.
2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add all the peas and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients from the onion to the garam masala and cook for one additional minute. Remove from stove and drizzle with lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Divide the filling equally between 8 clean 4 ounce mason jars. Prepare the pies as described earlier.