Archived entries for pastry

Bavarian Apple Kuchen

If you multiply the deliciousness of this cake times the easiness of its preparation your calculator will explode (or your head if you’re really good at math.)  Just try it and see.  I DARE YOU.

Bavarian Apple Kuchen
serves 12

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. veg oil
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 c. apples peeled and sliced.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat eggs with oil until creamy.  Add sugar, vanilla, flour, cinnamon, soda and salt. Mix well.  Batter will be stiff.  Fold in apples.  Pour in a greased 9×13 pan. Bake for 40-60 minutes until center tests done with a toothpick.

 

Spinach Pie with Pita Crust

I love the spinach pies at my local Lebanese bakery with all their lemony spinach wrapped in a delicious fluffy pita crust. I’ve been wanting to make my own!

Whenever I search for recipes though, all I can find are ones with phyllo crusts.  Phyllo may be convenient since you can get it pre-made, but it always turns out soggy pies.  Since I can’t find any recipes for spinach pies with a pita crust, I decided to develop my own.  I mean, its just a spinach pie filling in pita, right?  Well, my guess was a good one and I was happy with the results.  Try for yourself.

Spinach Pie with Pita Crust
makes about 10 pies
2 1/2 hrs total: 60 min active time, 90 minutes inactive

Spinach Filling

  • 3 lbs cooked spinach or 3- 1 lb boxes of frozen spinach
  • 1/2 lb crumbled feta
  • 2 large lemons, juiced
  • 1 bunch of green scallions, chopped (about 1 1/2 c.)
  • 2 eggs
  • salt to taste

Pita Dough

  • 2 1/2 tsp yeast or 1 package
  • 1/2 c. warm water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 c.  flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c. lukewarm water
  • 1-2 egg yolks for glazing pies

Make Pita dough: Because the dough for the pita needs to raise, we’ll start with that.  Mix yeast with warm water and let sit until foamy.  Add sugar and stir until dissolved.   In a mixing bowl, mix flour and salt.  Make a well and add yeast mixture.  Mix and stir while slowly adding another cup of warm water.  Mix until elastic.  I usually use my electric mixer when making bread dough, but pita dough is softer and I think works better when doing it by hand.

When the dough is elastic, place on a well floured surface and kneed until its no longer sticky.  The dough should be soft and elastic but not stick to your hands.  Keep flouring the surface if you need to.  Once kneeding is done, coat a bowl with a small amount of oil.  Place dough in bowl, cover with towel and allow to raise until doubled in size, about 60 – 90 minutes.**

**Time Saving Trick: To speed up this process, preheat oven to 250 degrees.  When dough is ready, turn oven off and place dough in an oiled oven proof bowl covered with a towel and put into oven. Dough should rise in 30 minutes.

Make Spinach Filling: In a saute pan, cook fresh or defrosted spinach until wilted.  Remove from heat and squeeze out excess liquid.  You will probably have to do this in a couple of batches as spinach cooks down quite a bit.  Saute scallions in a small amount of olive oil until clearish.  Mix spinach, scallions, feta, lemon juice and eggs and mix well.  Place in saute pan and cook gently until eggs just begin to turn whitish, but the mixture is still juicy.  Remove from heat.  Taste and season with salt to taste.

Assemble Spinach Pies: Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Seperate egg yolks from egg whites and place yolks in a bowl with a pastry brush. Remove dough from bowl and roll into a log.  Cut dough into 10 sections.  On a floured surface roll out dough to about an 8 inch circle.  Place ~1/4 c. filling in center.  Brush egg yolks over edges of dough and pinch together. Allow a small hole at center where you can see filling, this will allow steam to be release from the pie.  Using hands, press in at edges of pie to form a triangle.  Place on a baking sheet with parchment or silicone mat.  Assemble all pies

Bake Pies: Once pies are assembled, cover with a towel and allow to raise for 15-20 minutes.  After raising, brush pies with remaining egg yolk.  Place in oven and bake for 8-12 minutes, until pies are golden brown.  Remove from oven, allow to cool and place in an air tight container.  Stays fresh for a week or so.

 

Chicken Calzones with Sun Dried Tomatoes

I’ve been on a “sun dried” tomato kick, as I spoke about in my last post; by which I mean drying them in the oven instead of the days long process of leaving them out in the sun. By only slow roasting them for an hour or two, you can intensify the flavors but still keep the tomatoes juicy. They can create a great instant sauce by mixing with pesto and putting them on top of pasta, pizza or in calzones. I was having a friend come over for a nice lunch, so I decided to make a quick and delicious calzone with some baked chicken breast, pesto and tomatoes. Here’s my process:

Chicken Calzones with Sun Dried Tomatoes
makes 3-4 calzones; prep time: 60-90 min; bake time: 20 min

Dough:

  • 1 3/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 c. luke warm water
  • 1 tsp live active yeast (1/2 package)
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 2 Tbs Olive oil

Filling

  • 3-4 large plum tomatoes
  • 1 large chicken breast
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. bread crumbs
  • Italian seasoning (or dried basil, rosemary, thyme)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 – 1/2 c. pesto of your choice
  • Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Parmesan cheese

Prep dough: Mix flour and salt.  Make a well in dry ingredients and pour water.  Place yeast in water and let sit for 5-10 minutes until yeast is disolved and looks puffy.  Add oil and honey.  Either by hand or using a dough hook on a mixer, gently begin to kneed the dough together.  Once dough is smooth, cover with a towel and place near or on top of your stove.  Let sit for an hour to rise.

Prep Tomatoes to slow roast:  Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Cut tomatoes in half or quarters.  In a bowl, coat with olive oil, sprinkle generously with dried Italian herbs, salt and pepper.  Lay out on a baking tray and roast for about an hour.

Prep breaded chicken breast: Cut chicken in half through the width of the breast, like you would fillet a fish.  Cut slices in half, to make four pieces.   Mix dried bread crumbs with Italian seasonings, salt and pepper in one bowl.  In another bowl, place egg and lightly beat with a fork.  When tomatoes are done in oven, turn broiler on.  Take each chicken breast and coat in egg and dip in bread crumbs.  Place breaded breasts on a baking sheet and place under broiler for about 8-10 minutes for each side until breading is golden and chicken is cooked.  Keep an eye on them, so the bread crumbs don’t burn.

Assemble Calzones:  Preheat oven to 400.  Take your dough and separate into 3 or 4 balls.  Roll dough out into circles.  Dice your garlic cloves and place in a small dish.  Lightly cover with olive oil.  Brush garlic oil over middle of dough circles.  When chicken is done in broiler, remove and cut into thick slices.  Lay slices of chicken over garlic oil.  Brush 1-2 Tbs of pesto over chicken.  Lay oven dried tomatoes over chicken.  Cover well with shredded mozzarella cheese.  Using left over egg from Chicken breading process, brush egg yolk around edges of Calzone.  Fold close and pinch edges.  Brush tops of calzone with egg and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and your choice of seasoning.


Bake Calzones: Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.  Eat up.  Yum!

Cheddar Biscuits Can Equal Big Discounts

Spring is here and the weather is getting warmer. Time for some fun bike riding. Girls, here’s a great hint if you have a bike which needs work. Men love biscuits. It makes them feel all old timey, like cowboys on the range. Put on a cute skirt and make a plate of biscuits and wheel that rusty hunk to the shop. Flash some smiles, whip out the biscuits and get some discounts!

Here’s a cut above your average biscuit to help seal the deal.

Cheddar Biscuits with Sun Dried Tomatoes

  • 1 3/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbs Parmesan cheese
  • 4-6 Tbs chilled butter
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 1/4 c. shredded cheddar
  • 1/4 c. sun dried tomatoes, chopped

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients and Parmesan cheese. Using a fork or pastry cutter, mix butter into the dry ingredients until chunky. Add milk and mix until dry ingredients stick together to form a rough dough. Don’t over work it. Add tomatoes and mix.

On a floured surfaced, roll dough out about 1/2″ – 3/4″ thick. Cut out biscuits, using a circular cookie cutter or juice glass with approx. 2″ diameter and place on a baking sheet.

Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove tray from oven and sprinkle biscuits with cheddar cheese. Place back in the oven for 2-5 more minutes until biscuits are golden and cheese is melted.

Quick and Fruity Breakfast Pastries

The best way to get everyone to like you is to fill them up with sweet treats. A Sunday brunch seems like the perfect opportunity for bribing people with some sort of delicious breakfast bites except for one thing: I hate getting up early. HATE IT. I also like to go out on Saturday night, so if I am going to make it the day before, it has to be fast and easy.


Black currant and cherry pastries with lemon zest sugar topping.

I’ve been obsessed with whipping up these quick danishes by stuffing puff pastry with a berry filling. Pre-made puff pastry is a shortcut we approve of, as making puff pastry from scratch is putzy and time consuming. Fresh or frozen berries can be thickened with sugar and cornstarch to create the filling or if you are really pressed for time, you can just open up a can of pre-made pie filling.

Quick Fruit Pastries

  • fruit filling
  • 1 package of puff pastry
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • citrus zest.

To make your own Fruit filling:

  • 2 cups berries or chopped fruit, frozen, canned or fresh (doesn’t matter)
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 heaping Tbs cornstarch
  • 1/2 c. fruit juice (you can just use water if you don’t have juice)

Mix in a sauce pan, bring to a boil and continue to stir until the sauce is nice and thick. You can add some added flavoring to the filling depending on your fruit. Almond extract goes great with berries. Citrus zest can give be fun, but a little goes a long way.

Puff pastry usually comes in a box with two sheets. Defrost dough and roll out each sheet into 12″ squares. Cut the squares into quarters and quarter again so you have 16 small squares. Spoon 1 tsp of fruit filling into the center of each square. Brush raw egg along all edges of each square.

Assemble the small pastries by pinching the corners together at the center. Then pinch together the open corners so there are no places where filling can leak out. Pinch tightly with fingers to seal, if the dough is giving you trouble you can twist the dough.

Brush with raw egg and top with sugar. I like to add some fresh lemon or orange zest into the sugar to give some added pep!

Bake little guys for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove from oven when the dough is nice and golden. Allow to cool completely before placing in air tight containers.

The next morning, these pastries are little light crispy bites of fruity friendship. Everyone will like you and you will be happy.

Raspberry Jam Kolaches

Jam Kolaches have to be one of my all time favorite Christmas cookies. Biting through the delicate savory cream cheese pastry helps set off the sweetness of the jam interior which almost pops in your mouth as you enjoy this rich little treat. I have to admit, because each cookie has to be filled with jam and folded over individually, its a little high on the putzy meter, which is why this is always one of the first batches I make (before I am too sick of baking to be bothered). Its worth the time though. I make them every year with NO REGRETS!

Jam Kolaches

  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 8 oz. package of cream cheese
  • 1 1/4 c. flour
  • Jam of your taste. I always use raspberry, because, come on, raspberry is the best.
  • approx. 1/4 c. milk
  • approx. 1/4 c. sifted confectioners sugar.

Using a mixer, cream butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy. Add flour slowly and mix until a dough forms. Chill in fridge for 15-20 minutes (you can skip this if you are in a hurry).

Roll dough out on a floured surface to approx 1/4″ thickness. Using a 2″ round cookie cutter cut out as many circles as you can. If you don’t have a round cookie cutter (I don’t) you can use a drinking glass or a tin can.

Just dip glass or tin can in flour to coat edges before cutting.

Place dough circles on a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon lining. You can also just grease it if you don’t use those things, but I suggest parchment at least (helps to keep your dough from burning).

Brush one side of dough circle with milk. Spoon 1/4 tsp jam on each cookie. Fold opposite sides together, slightly overlapping edges and gently pinch closed to form little half circle pockets around jam.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.

Remove to cool and sift confectioners sugar over cookies.

So delicate. So delicious.
These cookies are truly precious.
Eat the whole batch in one sitting
and you’ll find your pants not fitting.

A Quick Pie Crust


My Grandmother’s no-chill pie doughis delicious, easy, and quick because you don’t need to chill it for a couple hours before rolling out!

This recipe requires:

2 1/2 c. Flour
1 c. Shortening
1 Tsp. Baking powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 egg + 1/2 c. cold water

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Sift the dry ingredients together. Using a fork or a pastry cutter, mix shortening in until dough is chunky.

Take a liquid measuring cup. Add 1 egg (best if at room temp). Add cold water to egg until mixture measures 1/2 cup.

Use cold water only as it helps bind dough and keep dough solid when handling. Mix Egg and water together with fork.


Using a pastry cutter, mix together pie dough.

Fork water and egg mixture into the dough.

Kneed your dough together. I like to use an old pillow case I reserve only for baking purposes. It helps limit the handling as well as the mess!



Kneed dough in pillow case until a nice dough forms

The pie dough recipe is enough for two pie crusts. Cut dough ball in half to prepare your crust.

Roll out your dough on a floured surface. When your crust is the right size, roll dough around rolling pin and gently transfer dough to pie pan. Pat dough down into contours of pie pan.

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Pie Rolling TIP:
Use a piece of parchment paper sprinkled with flour, roll out pie dough. I like rolling on parchment because you can spin it around easy to change your angle and you can lift the edge of the paper to ease your dough onto your rolling pin when you need to move rolled dough into the pan. Parchment paper is not expensive and found at every grocery store. It has many other handy uses in the kitchen so is always good to have around.

Add your pie filling.

If you are making a crust top for your pie, repeat previous step to get your dough rolled out. Using a pastry brush, brush on egg mixture to help top and bottom crusts join.

Once your top and bottom crust are together or if you only need a bottom crust: Cut off any excess pie dough around the edges, leaving about a half an inch for decorative pinching.

Decoratively pinch to finish edges and make your crust very pie-like. Brush remaining egg mixture on pie crust and your pie is ready for oven.

Done!

For your filling you can try this apple pie or this pumpkin pie.

Tip: Everybody Loves Bread Bowls

I know when I think bread bowls images of Country Kitchen or other tacky diners come to mind. But all tackiness aside, there is something awesome and comforting about the idea of soup or stew served in a edible carb loaded vehicle. I made bread bowls for our Forkably Hip, of course fancifying it up with the title “pastry dish”. Using my good ol’ standy pizza dough recipe, brushed with garlic and olive oil and sprinkled with a bit a Parmesan cheese, my “pastry bowls were delicious, elegant and definitely enjoyed by all!

But how did I make them bowl shapped you ask?


“Pastry bowls” cooking in oven. 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Tip: Bake your dough draped over bowls to mold their shape.

  • Make sure to use OVEN SAFE bowls or glassware
  • Make sure bowls are adequately sprayed with cooking oil before topping with dough.

Simple and fun, these little guys can definitely give an added panache to any soup or stew. Try it out!

Doughn’t You Know

I’ve heard people say that making pies intimidates them because of the crust. Listen, its not rocket science. I mean, I can do it; anyone can do it. I guess it just takes the right recipe. There are tons out there for every different taste and diet. My mom prefers my Grandma’s recipe where the secret to its flakiness is lard (although she sometimes substitutes vegetable shortening). When Ira was a vegan, I relied on using his mother Janice’s oil crust recipe, which is animal friendly and simple with three ingredients: flour, oil and water.

My favorite pie dough is a recipe I got out of Bon Appetit many years ago. It’s a basic butter crust recipe, with an addition of a bit of sugar added to the dry ingredients and water spiked with just a splash of cider vinegar to give the dough a more tart flavor, which I think makes the crust so much more fun to eat. Of course, my Mom thinks I’m a cretin for abandoning the traditional family crust.

I know you want the complete recipes for the three pie crusts mentioned above.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!TIPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here are four useful tips I hope you will find helpful when working your dough.

  • Use cold butter, either kept refrigerated until right before using, or placed in freezer for a short period before mixing into the dough.The hard cold butter will give a better texture to the dough, as you will have areas of chunky butter which, when baked, will make the crust more flaky.
  • Use ice water to mix the dough. The cold helps bind the dough better and keeps the butter from melting when you are handling it.

  • Use an old pillow case to knead your dough. This limits the handling, which will insure a more flaky crust as well as reduces the mess you have to clean up afterward. Don’t over work the dough, a quick knead is all you kneed. Obviously you’ll want to make sure the pillow case is clean and has all the lint picked out, because head grease and fuzzies aren’t the best accents to your pie dough.

  • Roll the dough on a piece of parchment paper. You can spin the parchment around to easily roll the dough from different angles. When moving the dough to the pie pan, I wrap the dough around the pin to give it support. By rolling on parchment paper, you easily lift the dough onto the rolling pin so you can avoid breaking or tearing.

Ahhh. Andrea…Shut up. No more tips. Lets make pies!



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