Tuesday, November 16, 2004

MESSAGE Newsletter Winter, 2004

When asked to submit an article for the MESSAGE newsletter, I immediately thought that I would give tips, suggestions and recipes all pertinent to holiday baking. Seems as though I had a lot more to say than I had space to say it in so I have added this to my site as a compromise of sorts. Happy baking and happy holidays! Enjoy!

To make your own pie crust you need to first decide which kind you will need. The 3 basic dough’s are: *Flaky dough - crisp and flaky after baking, this dough is best used to make pre-baked tart or pie shells which are filled after cooling. *Sweet dough - tender and crumbly after baking, this dough is used to prepare tarts and other pastries where a raw filling and raw dough are baked together. *Cookie dough - an extremely fragile and delicate dough, it is best suited for empty shells, filled after baking. Here are two examples: the first of a sweet dough and the second of a flaky dough. You can see how serious the art of pie crust is.

Sweet Pie Crust (Sweet Dough)

4 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
12 ounces (3 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup ice water (strain out the ice just before using)
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

Pie Crust:
In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer), mix the flour, salt, and sugar for 1 minute. Add the butter and mix just until you have a crumbly, sandy mixture. You should still be able to see the pieces of butter. In a small bowl, stir the water and vinegar together. With the mixer running at medium speed, drizzle in the water-vinegar mixture and mix just until a dough forms. You should still see small bits of butter. Turn out onto a work surface, divide the dough in half, and shape into round, flat disks. Wrap separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before using. (Or, refrigerate up to 48 hours or freeze up to 1 month before using. If frozen, let thaw in the refrigerator overnight before rolling out.)
When the time comes to roll out the dough, let the dough warm up for a few minutes at room temperature. Dust a work surface with just a few tablespoons of flour and keep some extra flour at hand. If you like, you can roll out the dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper (flouring the bottom sheet and the top of the dough before rolling), which makes it much easier to transfer to the pan later on. However, you won't be able to check the progress of the dough as easily. It's entirely up to you. Sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough and start rolling outward from the center with quick, light strokes. Don't worry if the edges split a bit; concentrate on forming a good circle from the center. Lift up and rotate the dough 1/4 turn every minute or so to help ensure even rolling. The dough should feel smooth and soft; some say it should feel like the inside of your forearm. If it gets sticky, sprinkle on a bit more flour, but don't do this more than 2 or 3 times; the dough will absorb too much flour. Instead, put it back in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up the butter. Keep rolling until the circle is at least 2 inches larger than your pan (for example, 11 inches wide for a 9-inch pie pan), or 3 inches larger for deep-dish pies.
Set your pie or tart pan nearby. We always use heavy aluminum pans, because glass pans seem to bake the crust too fast. However, we know that the advantage of glass is that you can easily check the color of the crust. Again, it's up to you. Either choice will work. To transfer the crust to the pan, we find it easiest to roll a finished crust up onto the rolling pin, then gently unroll it in the pan. Or, you can fold it gently in quarters, lift it up, position the center point on the center of the pan, and unfold it into the pan. If using waxed paper, peel off the top layer, turn the crust gently into the pan, and peel off the remaining paper. Make sure that the dough is allowed to settle completely into the pan.
Don't stretch and press the dough into the corners; stretched dough will likely shrink back when you bake it. Instead, lift the edges of the crust to let it settle down into the corners. If the dough tears a bit, don't be concerned; we'll patch it in a minute. Using scissors or a sharp knife, trim the dough to within 3/4-inch of the rim. Use any extra scraps to patch the crust, pressing with your fingers (wet them if necessary) or set aside. Leave the edges of the bottom crust hanging over the rim.
Roll out the second piece of dough into a circle about 11 inches in diameter. Line a sheet pan with parchment or waxed paper. Roll the dough up onto the rolling pin, and then unroll it onto the sheet pan. Chill for 20 to 30 minutes before filling.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Flaky Pie Crust (Flaky Dough)

2 ¼ cups (about 11 ounces) Farine Fluide (pour des pâtes) sans grumeaux
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (250 grams) butter
5 to 6 tablespoons ice water


Stir together the flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Cut the butter into 8 to 10 pieces, add it to the flour, and gently toss together to coat the butter.
Using your fingertips, break the pieces of butter into smaller pieces, gently squeezing to rub into the flour, while continually tossing up the flour from the bottom of the bowl. Continue rubbing in the butter just until the mixture has a sandy appearance - some small visible pieces are fine as you also don’t want to overwork the flour. At no time should the mixture become pasty nor should it feel warm. If the butter shows signs of melting, refrigerate the butter/flour mixture for 30 minutes, then proceed.
Sprinkle 5 tablespoons of ice water over the mixture and toss it in with a fork - work the fork upwards from the bottom of the bowl through the dough, without exerting pressure on the dough. To see if the dough is sufficiently moistened, pick up a handful and squeeze gently. If the dough holds together without appearing crumbly, it is sufficiently moistened. If needed, continue adding ice water one tablespoon at a time. One moistened, remove from the bowl, shape in a disc, tightly wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

* Blind Baking:
Spray pie pan with non-stick spray or brush with butter. Place the dough in pie pan evenly and flute edges with either your fingers or a fork for a decorative effect. Dock the dough: Pierce the bottom of the dough with a fork at ½ inch intervals. Cut a disk of parchment paper large enough to reach up the sides of the pan and press it into the pan following the outline of the dough. If you are using store bought dough, use the parchment that came in the package. If you would prefer, you can also use plastic wrap. Trade secret, plastic wrap can withstand higher temperatures than used in baking and works like a charm (always on hand and no pesky cutting too). Fill the covered raw tart shell with dried beans. Bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes (until no longer shiny), remove the cover and the beans and return to the oven for about 5 to 10 minutes more, until the dough is an even, golden color.

Pumpkin Pie
(see below for instructions to make your own pumpkin purée)

1 3/4 cups Unsweetened Pumpkin Puree
3/4 cup Light Brown Sugar, packed

2 tsp Ground Ginger
1 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Salt
2/3 cup Milk
2/3 cup Heavy Cream
3 large Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

In a small heavy saucepan, stir the pumpkin, brown sugar, spices, and salt together till mixed. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 5 minutes or until thick and shiny.
Scrape the mixture into a mixer or food processor and process for 1 minute. With the motor on, add the milk and cream, mixing until incorporated completely. Scrape the sides of the work bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing just to incorporate, about 5 seconds after each egg. When you add the last egg also add the vanilla.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pie shell (sweet dough) and set it directly on the floor of the oven (or on the baking stone). Bake the pie for 50 to 60 minutes at 375 F. It is done when a knife inserted between the sides and center comes out almost clean. The filling will have puffed and the surface may appear dull, except for the center. If the crust gets to dark on the bottom, raise the pie to the next rack. After 15 to 20 minutes, protect the edges with a foil ring.
When pie is done place the baked pie on a rack to cool. When cool, the surface will be flat.

Apple Pie

5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thickly sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar

In a medium bowl, toss the apple slices, sugar, salt, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla together. Transfer to the pie shell (sweet dough), and dot with the butter. Brush the overhanging edges of the dough with water. Carefully place the rolled-out top crust on top and pinch the edges together, turning under all around to make a thick edge. To decorate the rim, just press it all around with the back of a fork. For a slightly more advanced look, press the thumb and forefinger of one hand together. Use them to gently push the thick dough rim outward, while pushing inward with the forefinger of the other hand, so that they intersect in a "V" with the dough in between. Repeat all around the rim to make a wavy edge.
With the tips of a pair of scissors, snip 4 evenly spaced small vent holes in the top crust. Brush the top of the pie with cream, then sprinkle evenly with sugar.
Place the pie on a sheet pan to catch any juices that boil over. Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling at the vents, 40 to 50 minutes more. Check the pie after 30 minutes; if the crust is browning too quickly, cover lightly with foil. Let cool at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Chocolate Cream Pie

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 large egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Finely grated bittersweet chocolate, as garnish (optional)


In the top of a double-boiler, or in a metal bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water, melt the bittersweet and unsweetened chocolates, stirring, until smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a bowl, beat the egg yolks; set aside.
In a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly to keep lumps from forming. Remove from the heat. Add 1 cup of the hot milk mixture to the yolks and whisk until smooth. Add the beaten yolk mixture to the saucepan with the remaining hot milk mixture and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer, stirring constantly, until thick and smooth, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the melted chocolate, butter, and vanilla.
Pour filling into the prepared crust (flaky dough). Let cool, top with loads of whipped cream and serve.

Mud Pie

Crust:
2 cups finely ground chocolate sandwich cookies (filling and all)
1/2 cup chopped unsalted cashew nuts
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Dense Chocolate Mousse:
12 ounces semisweet chocolate
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
5 large eggs, separated
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Light Chocolate Mousse:
5 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
6 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar

Crust:
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and toss until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 10-inch spring form pan and refrigerate.

Dense Mousse:
Melt the semisweet chocolate and the butter together in the top of a double boiler over medium-low heat. Let cool slightly, then whisk in the egg yolks. Keep warm. In the bowl of a mixer, whip the egg whites until they form soft, droopy peaks. Still whipping, add the sugar in a thin stream and whip until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Fold into the chocolate mixture. Pour into the pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Refrigerate.

Light Chocolate Mousse:
Melt the chocolates together in the top half of a double boiler over medium-low heat. Let cool slightly. Meanwhile, in a mixer, whip the cream until it forms soft peaks and chill. In a mixer, whip the egg whites until they form soft, droopy peaks. Still whipping, add the sugar in a thin stream and whip until the mixture is thick and glossy. A third at a time, fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. (You may need to whisk, not fold, the first third if the mixture is very thick). Fold the whipped cream into the mousse. Pour over the dense mousse and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.

Chill until set, at least 3 hours or up to 1 day. To turn the pie out of the pan, warm the sides with a torch and remove the walls.

Lemon Chiffon Pie

1/4 c. cornstarch
3/4 c. granulated sugar
Yolk of 2 eggs combined with 1/4 c. cold water
1 1/4 c. hot water
1/8 tsp. salt
Rind & juice of 2 lemons
2 tbsp. Butter

Stirring constantly, combine cornstarch, granulated sugar and salt into a saucepan. Add the 2 egg yolks combined with 1/4 cup water slowly to form a paste. Then very slowly add the 1 1/4 cups hot water. Cook this mixture until thick. Then add the 2 tablespoons butter, rind and juice of 2 lemons. Cook again all together about 2 more minutes. While still hot fold into the following meringue.
Beat the whites of 2 eggs until they cling to bowl, then gradually add 1/4 cup granulated sugar and continue to beat with mixer until very stiff. While the above lemon chiffon mixture is still very hot, pour it slowly into the beaten egg whites and fold in gently. Let stand several minutes until slightly cool, then pour into a baked pie shell (flaky dough) and let stand until absolutely cold.

Banana Cream Pie

1 cup whole milk
4 egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter, cut in small pieces
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream divided
2 bananas, thinly sliced and tossed with 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
1 baked 9-inch pie shell


In a heavy saucepan, bring milk to the boiling point. Place egg yolks in mixing bowl and beat on medium speed of electric mixer, gradually adding sugar. Beat for 2 minutes, until mixture is thick and lemon-colored. Beat in flour. With mixer on low speed, gradually add the hot milk.
Transfer mixture to heavy saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly. Let mixture come to a boil and boil for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and continue to beat until mixture is smooth. Beat in butter a little at a time; then blend in cinnamon. Stir in vanilla extract; let mixture cool.
Beat 1 cup of the cream until firm but not stiff. Mix about 1/2 cup of the whipped cream into the egg mixture to lighten it. Fold remaining whipped cream into egg mixture then fold in sliced bananas.
Transfer filling to the pastry shell (flaky dough). Whip remaining cream and spoon or pipe onto the pie. Refrigerate until serving time.

Pumpkin Purée

Wash your pumpkin to remove any dirt. Using a large chef's knife, cut the pumpkin into 6 or 8 wedges, depending on the size of the pumpkin.The easiest way to remove the seeds, and pulp is to use a filleting knife along the inside of the wedges.With a little practice, this will leave little or no scraping needed.Arrange the pumpkin wedges in a large roasting pan and bake, uncovered, for one hour at 325 F, and two more hours at 300 F.
The meat should be tender all throughout, and not watery under the dry skin that formed. Turn off the oven and leave the door cracked for ventilation. Let the pumpkin cool and continue to dry for several more hours.
Remove the skin and any exceptionally dry or leathery parts, and puree thoroughly.Please note that most of the dry surface of the meat is still sufficiently tender to be used, but probably not the stem corners. Because the pulp is so dry, it will take several minutes with the food processor and a number of stirs and scrapes, before the pulp liquefies enough to turn over by itself and puree properly. Once it does this, a good minute or more of pureeing will result in a wonderfully smooth, pumpkin paste. Store in an air-tight container and keep in the refrigerator.The pumpkin puree is now ready.


So this has nothing whatsoever to do with pie but they are a lovely, very simple, elegant treat for the holidays. This really is one of those things that will impress friends and you can honestly say « Oh, it was simple really »

Vacherins

1/2 cup egg whites, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 heaping cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
1 pint raspberries

Beat the whites until foamy then add the sugar and continue whipping until stiff and glossy, about 3 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and whip very briefly just to incorporate. Spoon the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a small (1/4-inch) plain tip and pipe onto a parchment paper lined sheet pan. Make a small round flat base 1/2-inch in diameter, then pipe a ring of meringue at the edge of the base and spiral up to make it two rows high. Continue making vacherins in rows on the sheet pan. Dry them out on the top of an oven that has been on, or preheat the oven to 300 degrees, then turn it off and place the vacherin meringues in it 5 minutes later. Leave them over night to dry out until crisp. Using a pastry bag, pipe whipped cream in the center and top each one with a raspberry.


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