Saskatoon Berry Pie

This is a Canadian pie flavour if you ever saw one!

Our neighbours stopped by the other day with a bunch of fresh Saskatoon berries because they picked too many. What a great present!

I’ve never really worked with Saskatoon berries before, but Paul is a big fan of them. I have discovered that I love the flavour of them, but the texture throws me off a bit. So, I made a pie, ate a piece, and promptly cut Paul a bigger slice.

Since it’s fresh berry season, find some of these Saskatoon berries, and make this pie! I found the original recipe here, and didn’t change anything at all. I should have put a bit more cornstarch in the recipe, but like I said, this was the first time I have baked with Saskatoon berries, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Either way, the flavour is great, and Paul really enjoyed the pie. If it has the Paul seal of approval, it’s a winner!

Ingredients

1 9-inch pie

1 recipe Flaky Butter double pie crust
4 c. Saskatoon berries
1/3 c. water
2/3 c. sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. butter
½ tsp. almond extract
1 egg
1 tbsp. water

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a pie plate with the pie crust.

In a medium saucepan, add the Saskatoon berries and the 1/3 c. water. If you are using fresh berries, you may need a bit more water. Bring to a boil.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch. Add to the berries, and stir until sugar is dissolved and the mixture is thickened.

Add the butter, lemon juice, and almond extract, and stir until butter is melted. Let cool.

Pour cooled filling into the pie plate, then cover with the top crust and crimp edges. Cut holes for ventilation.

Whisk together the egg and the water, then brush the egg wash over the pie.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, or until top is golden brown.

Cool, slice and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Advertisements

Nanaimo Bars

Happy Canada Day!

I was feeling in the mood to celebrate Canada Day, and I figured what better way to celebrate than making a treasured national dessert.

I had no idea how easy Nanaimo bars are to make, and I’m kind of kicking myself for not making them sooner. I like Nanaimo bars, but I find that they can be a bit rich, so when I indulge, I usually only have a small piece. Paul loves them, though, and he doesn’t get them very often. These are also no-bake! How fantastic is that! There is a little bit of stove-top use, but really, that’s about it. For the recipe, I actually went to my mom, and to the plethora of cookbooks I have in my kitchen. I found a recipe in a Company’s Coming cookbook, and my mom (bless her heart!) actually sent me to the City of Nanaimo website, where they HAVE A RECIPE FOR THESE! Crazy, right?

The Company’s Coming cookbook was the 150 Delicious Squares book, (where these Marshmallow Squares originated from), and here is the link to the City of Nanaimo website. I compared them to see how different they are, and they are almost identical, so I took a few things from the cookbook, and a few things from the website to create (hopefully) a perfect version of a Canadian classic.

Happy Canada Day from me to you!

Ingredients

Yield: 1 9×9 inch pan (24-36 bars, depending on cut size)

For the bottom layer:

½ c. butter
1/3 c. cocoa powder, sifted
¼ c. sugar
1 egg, beaten
1¾ c. graham cracker crumbs
¾ c. shredded unsweetened coconut
½ c. finely chopped almonds

For the middle layer:

2 c. icing sugar
½ c. butter, softened
3 tbsp. milk or cream
2 tbsp. vanilla custard powder (I used Bird’s brand)

For the top layer:

2/3 c. (or 4 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp. butter

To make the bottom layer, melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add in the cocoa and sugar and stir until smooth. Add in the beaten egg. Stir until mixture thickens. Remove from heat.

Stir in the graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and almonds. Press into an ungreased 9×9 square pan. Set aside in the fridge to firm up.

To make the middle layer, beat the butter with the icing sugar and custard powder until smooth. Add in the milk or cream as needed. Spread evenly over bottom layer. Set aside in the fridge to firm up.

To make the top layer, in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate chips, stirring often. Remove from heat when chocolate is almost fully melted, and stir until smooth. Spread evenly over middle layer. Smooth out, and chill in the refrigerator until top layer is set.

Slice and serve.

Olive Oil Cake with Limoncello Mascarpone Cream

I have to be honest. I didn’t come up with this combination.

I was visiting a friend of mine in Lethbridge, and we went on a dinner date to a new Italian restaurant in town. We split one of their desserts: an olive oil cake with a limoncello mascarpone cream sauce. It was absolutely heavenly.

Well, my friend Jericka told me I HAD to try and recreate the cake at home, and I was up for the challenge. I mean, it was just an olive oil cake. The cream part was a little more complicated. I wasn’t sure about all of the meshing of the flavours, but then sure enough, Jericka found a recipe for just the cream we were looking for.

The original recipe for the cake was found here, and the recipe for the cream was here. Not going to lie, I made a few changes that I have reflected below in the recipe. Looking at the comments for the cake, I reduced the amount of olive oil ever so slightly, and switched out the orange flavourings for lemon. For the cream, I just used the cream part of the recipe, and whipped it by hand for about 5 minutes. I didn’t want a full-on whipped cream, so I stopped when it was thicker, at just barely soft peaks.

The cake and the cream paired perfectly together, and reminded me exactly of the cake I was attempting to recreate. I call that a success!

Ingredients

Yield: 1 9 inch round cake or 1 10 inch Bundt with cream

For the cake:

2 c. flour
1¾ c. sugar
1½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
1 c. olive oil
1¼ c. milk
3 eggs
1½ tbsp. grated lemon zest (or ½ tsp. lemon extract)
¼ c. lemon juice
¼ c. limoncello liqueur

For the cream:

¾ c. chilled whipping cream
4 oz. mascarpone cheese
3 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. limoncello liqueur

To make the cake, preheat oven to 350°F. Liberally grease a 9 inch cake pan that is at least two inches tall. If you don’t have a pan that tall, use a springform pan or a Bundt pan. Make sure every corner is sprayed down with oil. If using a circular pan, line the bottom with parchment. If using a Bundt pan, use A LOT of oil to make sure that the cake comes out. (Mine stuck a bit… just warning you.)

In a medium bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, milk, eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest (or extract), and limoncello. Add in the dry ingredients, and whisk together until just combined.

Transfer batter to cake pan, and bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from oven, and cool in pan for 30 minutes. Remove from cake pan, and allow to cool completely.

To make the limoncello cream, in a medium bowl, whisk together the cream, sugar, limoncello, and cheese. Whisk vigorously until mixture thickens to soft peaks, about 5-7 minutes.

To serve, slice cake, and top with cream.

Classic Cream Puffs

I’ve been intimidated by cream puffs for a while now. I thought they had to be extremely hard, because of the fluffy pastry and the cream filling.

I was so very wrong, and I am happy at how wrong I was! These cream puffs are actually quite simple, and that is a dangerous thing. With how easy they are to make, I have a feeling that I will be making many more of these bad boys.

The base of a cream puff is the pate a choux, or choux (pronounced shoe) pastry. It is a light, airy dough of (I believe) French or Italian origin. The dough is quite basic, only having a few ingredients.

I mean… it’s so easy! I was blown away by how easy the dough was. The hardest part (for me) was filling the piping bag with the choux pastry. I followed this recipe pretty much exactly, and just filled the cream puffs with a basic vanilla whipped cream. However, now that I know how easy choux pastry is to make, you might start seeing a lot of experimentation… eclairs, other cream puff fillings, the sky is the limit now!

Ingredients

Yield: Approx. 2 dozen cream puffs

For the choux pastry:

1 c. water
½ c. butter, cut into cubes
Large pinch kosher salt
2 tbsp. sugar
1 c. flour
4 large eggs, room temperature

For the cream filling:

1½ c. heavy cream, cold
3 tbsp. icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.

To make the pate a choux, in a medium saucepan, combine the water, butter, sugar, and salt over medium high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine, until butter is melted and the mixture is coming to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium, and immediately add the flour into the butter mixture, stirring constantly to make sure the flour becomes evenly incorporated. Continue to stir over medium heat until the dough begins to pull away from the sides and form a ball. This should take about a minute.

Take off the heat and transfer the dough into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Leave to cool for about 5 minutes (so you don’t cook the eggs when they are added).

With the mixer on low speed, add in the eggs, one at a time. Do not add the next egg until the previous one is completely incorporated. The batter will look smooth and glossy when it is ready after all the eggs have been added.

Fill a pastry bag with a large round tip, followed by the choux pastry. Hold the pastry bag over the prepared pans, and squeeze the pastry bag until you have a small round of dough about 2 inches wide. Swirl the tip and stop the pressure to finish piping, and continue until all dough has been piped, about 2 inches apart from each other. Pipe no more than 12 dough rounds onto a baking sheet. If they have little peaks on top, tap the peaks down gently with a wet finger.

Place one pan at a time (I learned the hard way – only cook 1 pan at a time in the center of your oven or you will burn the bottoms!) in the preheated oven, and immediately turn the heat up to 450°F. The increase in heat helps them puff more.

Bake at 450°F for 10 minutes, WITHOUT OPENING THE OVEN DOOR, then turn down the heat to 350°F for 13-15 minutes, until pastry is puffed and golden brown.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before filling.

To make the cream filling, combine the cream, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip together until stiff peaks form. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a small or medium round tip with the whipped cream.

Take a small paring knife, and cut small “x’s” in the bottoms of each cooled dough puff. Push the pastry bag with the cream filling into each puff, then squeeze a generous amount of whipped cream inside. Don’t overfill, or they might explode on you! You can feel the cream puffs expand slightly when they are full.

Sprinkle with icing sugar for garnish, and serve.

Brioche Bread

Time for another foray back into the world of bread-baking!

Brioche is a classic French bread. Its main components are eggs and butter, and boy, is it rich. This baby has a whopping total of 9 eggs (including the egg wash egg), and a full cup of butter in the batter. It is not for the faint of heart.

I’ve been looking up recipes for Brioche for years. I’ve dabbled in the “Easy” the “Beginner’s” and “So-Good-It’s-Almost-Brioche” recipes. They’ve never been the winner for me.

This recipe has it all – I loved how easy it was to follow along. A lot of brioche recipes sounded quite confusing, or needed a ton of time, or just seemed too finicky. I mean, this recipe does take quite a bit of time. All of the prep time, the rising time, and the baking and cooling time adds up to quite a chunk of your day. I was always turned off by the amount of eggs that the dough uses.

But, I don’t know what happened. I was surfing around Pinterest last night, looking for a recipe, and BANG. This brioche recipe dropped into my lap. The picture pulled me in, and I read through Marta Antonia Rivera’s blog Sense and Edibility to find this recipe. 

Suddenly, brioche didn’t seem so daunting. And I had a sudden urge that YES, I want to make brioche.

So here we are.

Not going to lie, the recipe calls for bread flour, and I only have all purpose. I know, I know, bad baker, but we buy HUGE bags of all-purpose flour from Costco, so I can never quite justify going out and buying more flour than we already have. I bake a lot, okay?

Either way, I do not have the beautiful step-by-step pictures as the original recipe did, so if you want, head over to the site linked above and check out the step-by-step, and hopefully, brioche becomes easier to tackle because of today’s recipe!

I wish you could smell this bread through your computer screen. It is absolutely divine, and so soft! Trust me, go make this. It is completely worth the effort!

Ingredients

Yield: 2 loaves of bread

For the sponge:

¼ c. honey
2 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 c. milk, warmed to 110°F
1 c. flour

For the dough:

½ c. sugar
4 tsp. salt
8 eggs (large)
5¾ c. flour
1 c. butter, cut into tablespoons

For the egg wash:

1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp. water

To make the sponge, pour the milk into a large mixing bowl. Add the honey and yeast to the milk and allow the yeast to bloom for 5 minutes. If the yeast does not get bubbly and foamy, it is dead. Open a fresh pack of yeast, and try everything again.

Whisk the flour into the yeast mixture. The sponge should look like a thick cake batter.

Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel. Leave in a warm, draft-free spot (like the oven with the light turned on) to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

To continue making the dough, transfer the sponge to the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix in the eggs, sugar, and salt. After incorporating, the mixture should look like a smooth, thick batter.

Slowly add the remaining flour into the dough. If it gets too hard to incorporate with the paddle attachment, switch to the dough hook.

Once the flour is incorporated, add in the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time. Add the next 2 tablespoons only when the previous 2 are completely incorporated into the batter, and save the wrapper from your butter.

Once all of the butter has been incorporated into the dough, it should be soft, smooth, and pliable. Remove the dough from the bowl, and grease the bowl with the leftover butter on the wrappers. Discard the wrappers.

Return the dough to the bowl and turn to coat in the butter lining the bowl.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel, and allow to rise again in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Once the dough has finished rising, punch the dough down and turn out onto a lightly floured countertop. Divide in half.

Preheat oven to 375°F, and lightly grease two loaf pans.

Form the two halves of dough into logs roughly the same length as your loaf pans, and place them in the greased pans. Whisk together the egg and water of the egg wash and brush the loaves with the egg wash to prevent drying.

Place the pans in a warm, draft-free spot and allow to rise until the dough is about 1 inch away from the top of the pan. This should take 30 minutes to an hour.

Brush loaves again with egg wash, and if desired, cut the tops of the loaves into a decorative pattern.

Bake loaves in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

Remove pans from the oven, and allow bread to cool in pans for 10 minutes.

Remove bread from pans, and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and serving.