Mini Pies, Peach

Mini Peach Pies

Texas Peaches

My love for Texas runs deep and one of the things I love the most about Texas is the produce. Texas has the best of every fruit or vegetable you can imagine, but the real stars of all things produce are the peaches. The peaches here are incredibly delicious and can only be described as juicy and juicy. Peaches here are so juicy you have to eat them over your sink… literally. I’m ashamed to admit that I lived in Austin for a full 3 years before ever trying one. I still remember my first bite in my friend’s car and the unexpected delicious juice explosion that happened. I came home after and ate 4 more over my sink. If you live in Texas and haven’t had a Texas peach, do yourself a favor and stop at the next peach stand you see on the side of the road. Trust me. You’ll thank me later.

For this week’s bake and to celebrate the start of peach season in Texas I decided to bake a few mini peach pies. This past weekend we made a trip to our local farmers market and grabbed the best peaches they had to offer. Below is the recipe for my mini peach pies with a hint of nutmeg and brown sugar along with my tips, tricks, and don’ts that I did. Enjoy!

Mini Peach Pies

Ingredients and Directions for Pie Filling

4 cups of sliced peaches (about 5 medium peaches)

2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup all purpose flour

2/3 cup of brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 tablespoon of ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients into a medium sized bowl and toss to cover peaches.

Ingredients for Double Crust

2 cups of all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon of salt

2/3 cup of butter

1 tablespoon of white vinegar

5-6 tablespoons of 2% milk

1 egg white whisked plus 1 tablespoon of water

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Directions for Pie Crust

In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt.

Cut in shortening until mixture is crumbly.

Sprinkle with vinegar.

Gradually add milk, tossing with a fork until a ball is formed.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until easy to handle.

Putting it all together

Divide dough into 2 portions, 1 slightly larger than the other.

Roll out larger ball on a lightly floured surface to fit 4 small pie pans.

Add Peach Pie filling to uncooked pie shells. (about 1 cup per mini pie pan)

Roll out remaining pastry to fit tops, trim and flute edges.

Cut slits in tops for venting.

Mix the egg white and water in a small bowl and brush over the pies.

Sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue cooking for an additional 30-40 minutes or until tops are golden brown.

Mini Peach Pie

Tips and Tricks and Don’ts that I did

To peel or not to peel… lots of peach pie recipes say to peel the peach skin. I left mine on because I love every single part of the peach. Feel free to peel if you’d prefer.

I used a mix bag of super ripe to barely ripe peaches for this recipe. It took a lot of self control not to devour the super ripe peaches over my sink, but it was worth it for the pies. Pick whatever peaches you think are best. If you choose all barely ripe peaches you may need to bake your pies a tad longer.

The pie crust recipe can be used for a full pie instead of 4 minis. If you make the full pie you’ll need about 2 additional cups of peaches.

If you don’t like the taste of nutmeg, feel free to substitute with cinnamon.

Go ahead and wrap your edges with foil before you start baking the pies. Usually I wrap pie edges mid-bake, but for these lil guys you’ll get an even bake without any burnt edges if you foil wrap pre-bake.

Don’t over bake your pies. Once the pies are golden and the peach juice starts to bubble it’s time to take them out.

Don’t be sad if the pies aren’t perfect. I was a little dissapointed when my pretty pies ended up with peach juice all over them, but the peach juice is delicious and adds a little peach flavor to the crusts.

These pies don’t have a ton of added sugar which makes them fairly healthy so don’t feel guilty if you eat an entire mini pie… or two.

You can sub regular flour for a gluten free blend if you want a gf crust.

These pies are delicious by themselves or you can whip up some homemade whipped cream or vanilla ice cream to go with them.

Don’t forget to Enjoy!

Mini Peach Pie with Whipped Topping

Blueberry, Gluten Free, Muffins

Healthy Gluten Free Blueberry Oat Muffins

Healthy Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

Hey Bakers! It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog and like most of you it’s taken some time for me to adjust to our new normal (I hated that phrase 3 months ago, but here we are). I’m fortunate enough to work from home during the pandemic, but working from home AND teaching two kids in two different grades has been an adjustment. I think I make at least a thousand decisions before lunch so the blog, unfortunately, has fallen off my radar. Rest assured I have been baking and I’m ready to share all of the scrummy treats I’ve been cooking up since my last blog.

One thing you probably don’t know about me is that I’m typically a healthy eater. Although you probably wouldn’t guess that if you just looked at my bakes. I work out at least six sometimes seven days a week and have a very healthy diet that is full of protein, low in sugar, and includes tons of veggies (I do enjoy an occasional celebration weekend of course). With that being said, because we’re all staying home and staying out of gyms, I’m pivoting and taking this blog into a new direction. I’ve decided to bake and blog delicious healthy treats that are guilt-free, but most importantly taste great (I promise not to post a bake that hasn’t been taste-tested and approved by me and my taste testers). If you’re looking for delicious HEALTHY treats to get you through the quarantine, you’re in the right place.

One thing that keeps me on track with my nutrition is weekly meal preps; which includes breakfast. For this week’s bake I decided to whip up a classic; blueberry muffins! These aren’t your typical unhealthy heavy muffins so don’t worry about eating more than one. This blueberry muffin recipe is gluten-free, low sugar, and packed with yummy blueberries.

Below is the recipe for my blueberry oat muffins along with my tips and tricks and don’ts that I did.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour blend (I use King Arthur Measure For Measure Blend)

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats

3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 large eggs room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoon orange extract

1 1/2 cup blueberries (1 additional tablespoon of flour to coat the berries)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line muffin tins with liners.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together gf flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, butter, eggs, vanilla extract, and orange extract.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the well. Then carefully stir with wooden spoon or rubber spatula until just blended.

Toss blueberries in 1 tablespoon of flour then fold them into the batter.

Divide the batter into prepared muffin tins. Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes then transfer to wire rack.

Tips and Tricks and Don’ts that I did

Spray muffin liners with non stick cooking spray. I hate when half the muffin sticks to the paper. Spraying it with non stick spray gives you a perfect muffin, every time.

I used fresh blueberries that were frozen, but you can use fresh if you’d prefer.

If you don’t want the orange flavor feel free to omit it and add more vanilla.

If you’re not gluten free, you can substitute with regular flour and get the same delicious results.

I made these as part of my weekly meal prep. Store in large freezer bag and pop them in the fridge. To reheat you can microwave them for 20 seconds or until warm.

As always don’t forget to ENJOY and STAY WELL.

Cookies, lemon

Simple Petite Glazed Lemon Cookies

One of my favorite things to do during the summer is soak up the sun at Barton Springs Pool in Austin TX. For this weeks blog I was dreaming of those warmer days by the pool and wanted to do a bake that was fresh and tiny but packed a huge flavor. The recipe below is easy, delicious and full of sunshine; one bite will make you feel like you’re poolside on a grassy hill soaking up the warm rays of summer. Don’t forget to keep reading to my dos and don’ts that I did to find out why this recipe might be the easiest bake I’ve ever made.

Ingredients

1 cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons lemon zest, finely grated

7 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into cubes

1 egg yolk

3 teaspoons ice water

Ingredients for Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice

Directions for Cookies

In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar and lemon zest.

Cut in chilled butter using a pastry blender until mixture looks like coarse crumbs.

Add in egg yolk using a fork until blended.

Using your hands gently knead the dough.

Add ice water 1 teaspoon at a time and continue kneading the dough until a ball forms.

Once a ball has been formed cut the dough in half.

Roll each half into a log about 1 inch in diameter.

Wrap logs in plastic and allow them to chill in freezer for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove logs from freezer, unwrap and slice into 1/4 inch rounds using a serrated knife.

Place cookies on lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely.

Directions for Glaze

Place powdered sugar into bowl and add lemon juice.

Whisk until smooth and syrupy.

Submerge cooled cookies into glaze top side down and return to cooling rack. Repeat this step 2 more times for a thicker glaze.

Tips and Tricks and a few Don’ts that I did

These cookies are so easy that the scariest part was rolling the dough. Even that part is as simple as playing with playdough. You literally just roll it on a lightly floured surface between your hands and the counter. Wrap it, freeze it and bake it. It could not be any easier.

You don’t have to make both logs if you’d like to save one. It can be kept in the freezer for at least a month, but trust me you’ll want to bake it sooner than that. These cookies may be small but they are addictive. I ate the first batch by myself in two days and only shared two. They are seriously that good.

Play with the flavor of the glaze. If you don’t want a punch of lemon flavor, you can add less juice to your sugar.

That’s it. Very few don’ts that I did and so simple I don’t have many tips or tricks. These cookies are tiny in size but mighty in flavor and incredibly easy. I’ll be eating these a lot this spring and summer. I hope you will be too! Enjoy!

baklava

Baklava

Baklava

I love living in a big city. I love the sites and sounds, the hustle and bustle, but most of all, I love the food. I love not knowing what you’re eating for dinner on a Sunday night and ending up in a random restaurant chowing down on a mediterranean buffet. It was in this restaurant that I had my very first baklava and the inspiration for this week’s bake. The tasty flaky treat was one of the best things I have ever eaten, or so I thought. The following week we found ourselves in another greek restaurant and I had another baklava that was even better. Every single element of that pastry from the crispy layers to the gooey honey sauce was amazing. I was in awe of this dessert and determined to learn how to make baklava at home. After several hours of research, a few videos and some history lessons the recipe below was born.

If the thought of making baklava seems a little daunting keep reading for my tips, tricks and don’ts that I did and you’ll see why it’s much easier than it looks.

Ingredients for Honey Sauce

1 cup of water

1 cup of sugar

1 and 1/2 cups of honey

1 tablespoon of orange extract

2 tablespoons of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of ground cloves

Directions for Honey Sauce

Add water and sugar to medium sized pot and bring to a boil.

Stir until sugar has completely dissolved.

Turn heat down to medium and add honey slowly while stirring.

Add orange extract and ground cloves.

Continue to simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and let cool.

Ingredients for Nut Mixture

6 ounces of finely chopped walnuts

6 ounces of finely chopped pistachios

6 ounces of finely chopped pecans

6 ounces of finely chopped hazelnuts

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon sugar

Directions for Baklava

1 package (16 ounces) of filo dough

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add chopped nuts, cinnamon and sugar to bowl, mix together and set aside.

Melt butter in microwave.

Using a pastry brush, brush the butter on to a 9×13 in baking dish.

Add one sheet of filo and brush dough with a thin layer of butter. Repeat this step until you have layered 10 sheets of filo.

Add 3/4 cup of the nut mixture to the pan of filo.

Add five sheets of filo to the pan buttering in between each layer of dough.

Repeat the two steps above 3 more times.

Add 10 sheets of filo, buttering in between each layer and butter the top.

Here’s a breakdown of the order for the Baklava

  • 10 buttered sheets of filo, 3/4 cup nut mixture
  • 5 buttered sheets of filo, 3/4 cup nut mixture
  • 5 buttered sheets of filo, 3/4 cup nut mixture
  • 5 buttered sheets of filo, 3/4 cup nut mixture
  • 5 buttered sheets of filo, 3/4 cup nut mixture
  • 10 buttered sheets of filo, butter top of pastry

Using a sharp knife, cut pastry into squares and then the squares into triangles.

Bake baklava for 50 minutes or until golden brown and crisp on top.

Remove from oven and immediately pour the sauce over the entire pan.

Sprinkle remaining nut mixture over the top of the baklava.

Let sit and cool for a few hours before serving.

Delicious Easy Baklava

Tips and Tricks and a few Dont’s that I did

I mentioned before that this recipe is pretty easy, but it is a little more time consuming than other bakes. Don’t let that discourage you, it’s just building the layers that takes some time. It gets easier and faster each time you make it.

Make your honey sauce before you start building your baklava, giving it enough time to cool before adding it to the bake.

Filo dough is very very fragile. I recommend covering the dough with damp paper towels in between uses. Don’t worry if some of the filo tears during layering. You won’t be able to see it when the bake is complete.

Keep your butter hot. I melted mine in a microwavable safe bowl, boiled some water and sat the bowl in the hot water while I put together my baklava.

To avoid a soggy bottom, be sure to only brush a thin layer of butter to each filo layer.

Feel free to play with flavors with the sauce. I wanted a little more spice to my sauce for a traditional taste, but you can omit the cloves or add more if you like.

Speaking of flavors. I read several articles that said pistachios and walnuts are traditionally used in this dessert, but I also read a few that said hazelnuts and pecans are typically used. I love all of them so decided to use them all. Use whichever nuts you like, just make sure it’s at least 24 ounces finely chopped.

The nuts need to be chopped pretty small for this bake. Invest in a chopper or buy your nuts already chopped. Chopping them by hand would take forever. I have an immersion blender that has a chopping attachment (I’ve had this for years and this is the first time I used the attachment or even knew what it was for). I’ve included a link below to the one I have. Definitely worth the investment. https://www.amazon.com/Immersion-Utalent-BPA-Free-Container-Smoothies/dp/B07LFY1L31/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=153PLSNP0AIMV&keywords=immersion+blender&qid=1582042040&sprefix=immersion%2Caps%2C190&sr=8-1-

Don’t worry if your sauce is a little runny. It will thicken as it cools.

When cutting the pastry, try not to cut the bottom few layers. This will help hold the sauce and allow it to soak more into the pastry.

One of the best and most fun parts (besides the taste and saying the name) of making this dessert is the crackle of the baklava. When you hear the dessert crack while pouring the honey sauce over it you know you’ve made a perfect baklava!

This bake is best after it sits for at least 3 hours and even better the next day. This gives the pastry enough time to absorb the sauce and it gets that delicious sticky gooeyness you want in a baklava.

Baklava can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer and enjoyed later, but it’s best served at room temperature within a few days.

I say this with every bake, but this one is a favorite and probably the tastiest. One of my Mae Bakes taste testers and a self proclaimed baklava connoisseur told me this was the best baklava he has ever eaten. Don’t forget to share this with all of the dessert connoisseurs in your world; it’s too good not to.

Enjoy!

Easy Baklava
Cookies

Easy Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies

Easy Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies

This weeks bake was inspired by a fellow baker who told me he sometimes substitutes brown sugar in his bakes instead of using granulated sugar. Since I’m not an experienced baker, I thought I’d try this tip on something a little bit easy; chocolate chip cookies. The cookies turned out great and I found the brown sugar adds an unexpected delicious fullness to the flavor. Below is the recipe along with my tips and tricks and don’ts that I did.

Ingredients

2 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 sticks softened butter

2 and 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 cups dark chocolate morsels

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt.

In large bowl beat butter, vanilla, and brown sugar until creamy.

Add eggs one at a time until well mixed.

Slowly add in flour mixture until well mixed.

Stir in morsels until evenly distributed.

Scoop with cookie scoop onto parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes.

Move to cooling rack and cool completely.

Tips and Tricks and Don’ts that I did

Parchment paper is your baking best friend. Instead of flooding your cookie sheets with cooking spray, line them with parchment paper and the cookies slide right off.

I’ve recommended this before, but a cookie scoop is a game changer. You’ll get a consistent sized cookie with every scoop.

This dough can be frozen and used later. I made enough to share and froze the remaining dough to use later this week for after school treats for my boys.

Don’t be nervous about the brown sugar substitution. I thought for sure my cookies wouldn’t turn out, but these cookies are some of the best chocolate chip cookies my taste testers have ever had. It was worth the risk and an amazing tip I’ll continue to use. Enjoy!

Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies
Blueberry Scones

Quick and Easy Blueberry Scones

For this week’s bake I decided I would try to recreate one of my favorite coffee shop breakfast treats; blueberry scones. I wanted to create a quick and healthy recipe that could be made easily before starting my day. I honestly thought these scones would be way more challenging, but I think you’ll be surprised by how easy and fun they are to make. Below is the simple recipe along with my tips and tricks and don’ts that I did.

Blueberry Scones

Ingredients

1 lemon finely grated

1/3 cup sugar

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup old fashioned oats

2.5 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/3 cups chilled heavy cream

2 tablespoons honey

1 cup fresh frozen blueberries

Ingredients for Topping

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons oats

1 tablespoon chilled cream

1 egg yolk

Directions

Place rack on upper third in oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

Finely grate 1 lemon with microplane into large bowl.

Add 1/3 cup of sugar and mix with fingers until mixture looks like wet sand and is very fragrant.

Add 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of oats, baking powder and salt to bowl with zest. Whisk to combine.

In a medium bowl whisk cream and honey until well combined.

Slowly drizzle cream mixture into flour mixture tossing with a fork until flour is saturated and there are very little dry spots.

Add 1 cup of frozen blueberries and fold mixture with a rubber spatula until the blueberries are evenly distributed throughout and the dough is sticky.

Dust countertop with flour and turn out dough. Mold dough into a 1 inch thick square.

For the topping mix egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of cream with pastry brush in a small bowl. Brush mixture across the surface of dough.

Mix 2 tablespoons of oats and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Sprinkle over dough.

Cut dough into four smaller squares and then each square in half diagonally.

Transfer each triangle onto lined baking sheet.

Bake scones until tops are lightly golden brown (about 20 minutes).

Let cool on baking sheet and serve warm.

Tip and Tricks and a few Don’ts that I did.

Don’t forget to freeze your blueberries the night before. If they’re not frozen they will explode during the bake and cause you to have soggy scones.

Don’t over bake your scones. Scones should be soft and warm in the middle.

These scones look like they take a long time to make. Don’t let that fool you. I made them in less than an hour on a Sunday morning before rushing out to the gym. Not only were they easy to make, but fun too!!

Pay attention to your oats. I accidently picked up steel cut instead of old fashioned. Luckily I had some old fashioned at home and ended up mixing the two. The scones turned out great, but I learned a valuable lesson in reading instead of grabbing and going based on the picture.

These scones can be frozen and reheated. If you have time, you can reheat them in your oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or you can microwave them for 45 seconds. I’ve done both, and both ways are delicious. Enjoy!

lemon, Tart

Easy Lemon Vanilla Tart

This week it’s pastry week at Mae Bakes! I’ve watched a billion shows about making tarts and thought why not give it a whirl? I’m still on a lemon kick from jam week (I’m always on a lemon kick, my love for lemons runs deep) so I decided my first ever tart would be a lemon tart. Just to prepare you pastry is not easy, but it sure is rewarding when you get it right. Check out the recipe below and keep reading to my donts that I did to find out why the biggest mistake I made baking this week had nothing to do with the recipe.

Ingredients for Tart Pastry

1 1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup cold butter cut into chunks

2 egg yolks lightly beaten

1 tablespoon ice water

Directions for Tart Pastry

In medium bowl stir together flour and sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until pieces are pea size.

In a small bowl stir together eggs yolks and cold water.

Gradually stir in egg mixture to flour mixture.

Using fingers gently knead dough just until a ball forms.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes or until dough is easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

On a lightly floured surface use your hands to slightly flatten pastry.

Roll pastry from center to edges into a circle about 11 inches in diameter.

Wrap pastry around rolling pin.

Unroll onto 9 inch tart pan that has a removable bottom.

Ease pastry onto pan without stretching it.

Press pastry into flattened sides of pan and trim edges.

Line pastry with double thickness foil and bake for 8 minutes.

Remove foil and bake for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool on wire rack.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Tart Filling Ingredients

2 lemons

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

Tart Filling Instructions

Finely shred 4 teaspoons of lemon peel and set aside.

Squeeze lemons for 6 tablespoons of juice and set aside.

In a medium bowl combine sugar and flour.

Add eggs and beat with electric mixer on high speed about 4 minutes or until light in color and slightly thickened.

Stir in 4 teaspoons of lemon peel.

Add lemon juice and vanilla.

Pour into baked tart shell.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until filing is set and lightly browned.

Cool on wire rack.

Serve and Enjoy!

Tips and Tricks and a few Don’ts that I did

Go slow when adding the egg yolk mixture to your flour. The first time I made this tart I dumped it in all at once and it affected the flakiness of my crust.

Invest in a pastry blender. When I first heard about pastry blenders I thought they were actual blenders, as in something you plug into an outlet. They are not another kitchen appliance, but they are wonderful little hand tools that help you mix cold butter into flour in the best way. I still used my fingers at the end, but using one of these will help keep your butter cold in a way that warm hands obviously can’t. I’ve included a link to the one I have below. https://www.amazon.com/Spring-Chef-Professional-Stainless-Black-Medium/dp/B01CX1RIMQ/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?keywords=Pastry+blender&qid=1579753632&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=

Don’t stress if your edges are a tad darker than the rest of your tart pastry. I researched for several hours, watched too many videos and read a whole bunch of tips about how to prevent burnt edges. About 98% of everything I read said to make a “shield” for your edges out of tin foil. I ended up tripling up the shields and my edges were still dark. Don’t let the color fool you, dark does not mean burnt. It still tasted amazing.

Do follow the time listed in the recipe and don’t over bake your tart. The instructions say until set. I missed that step and kept baking about 10 minutes longer than I was supposed to because I thought it wasn’t done. Even though my first one tasted fine, the second was AMAZING. Don’t forget, it’s not a cake it’s a tart, two very different textures.

And finally, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned so far on this adventure. Don’t take your bad day out on your bake (I like to refer to it as rage bake). I made the first tart when I was having an off day. Although I was doing something I loved to feel better I still rushed my bake and didn’t give it the attention I normally would have. The crust was not perfect, the texture wasn’t great and the taste was just okay. The second time I made it I took my time, put way more care into what I was doing and ended up enjoying the tart and the experience way more. The second tart was off the charts in every way (it’s been said it was my best bake yet). The crust was golden, the texture was beautiful and the taste was delicious. It may sound a little cheesy but I definitely think it had everything to do with how I felt while baking. I turned the first tart into a learning experience (mainly learning not to rage bake), but like I’ve said before, the more you bake the better you get. I’ve included a picture below to show you the differences in the two bakes.

The first one is the rage bake and the second is the calm and collected bake.

Don’t forget to ENJOY (the bake AND the experience)

Apple Pie, Bake, Pie

Easy Low Sugar Apple Pie

This week’s bake is the bake that made me fall in love with baking. Before this pie the only pie I knew anything about was the kind you buy from the grocery store. Then one day my kids school asked for volunteers to bake pies for their teachers for the holidays and for whatever reason I decided right then I could bake not just one pie but 3 delicious apple pies…. from scratch. After a few days of research, recipe recommendations and one temper tantrum (basically I had a moment where the idea of baking a crust scared the crap out of me and I had to be talked down from that ledge) the pie recipe below was born.

I’ve also included a few tips and tricks and my don’ts that I did at the bottom of the recipe. Enjoy!

Ingredients for Double Crust

2 cups of all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon of salt

2/3 cup of butter

1 tablespoon of white vinegar

5-6 tablespoons of 2% milk

1 egg white whisked plus 1 tablespoon of water

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Ingredients for Apple Pie Filling

5 cups of thinly sliced apples (about 10 large apples)

3 tablespoons of sugar

3 teaspoons of cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of salt

Directions for Pie Crust

In a small bowl, combine the flour and salt.

Cut in shortening until mixture is crumbly.

Sprinkle with vinegar.

Gradually add milk, tossing with a fork until a ball is formed.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until easy to handle.

Directions for Apple Pie Filling

Peel and thinly slice your apples.

In a medium bowl combine sliced apples, sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt.

Toss gently to combine well.

Putting it all together

Divide dough into 2 portions, 1 slightly larger than the other.

Roll out larger ball on a lightly floured surface to fit 9 or 10 inch pie plate.

Add Apple Pie filling to uncooked pie shell.

Roll out remaining pastry to fit top, trim and flute edges.

Cut slits in top for venting.

Mix the egg white and water in a small bowl and brush over the pie.

Sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 400 degrees and continue cooking for an additional 30-40 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Tips and Trick and Don’ts that I did

For the apples I used half granny smith and half fuji, but you can use any type you’d like. I liked the tangy sweet combo of those two together, but there are so many kinds of apples you can mix and match several different combinations.

I used a potato peeler to peel my apples, it works perfectly.

When adding the apple filling, be sure to layer your apples and not just dump them in the shell. It helps to evenly bake your apples. I’ve included a picture below to show you how I layered.

Don’t be afraid to foil your edges when baking your pie. It’s kind of a pain, but worth it. I burned the edges a little on my first one because I wasn’t sure exactly how to foil and was too afraid to try. I found that cutting four strips of foil and doing it in sections worked best for me. Be careful not to burn yourself and make sure to foil before they get too brown (about half way through the bake).

My recipe has an extra teaspoon of cinnamon, but if you’d like a sweeter pie you can add just 2 teaspoons instead of 3.

I had no idea what “cut in the shortening” meant when I started baking. It just means to add cold butter to your dough. I found that the best way to do this is with a fork and your hands. Be careful not to handle the dough too much. The key to a flaky crust is cold butter.

I also had no idea how to make slits in a pie. The purpose is to allow the steam in the pie to be released during the baking process. The slits are basically vents. Start with a circle in the middle and then add slits however you’d like. Have fun with it. I added some dough leaves to my pies but there’s a million things you can do. Don’t be afraid to be creative!

Don’t throw a temper tantrum if this recipe seems hard. Trust me, if I can do it anyone can do it. And if you mess up, try again. My first pie was far from perfect, but the second and third turned out pretty great. Baking is like everything else, the more you do it, the better you get.

Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy!

bread, jam, lemon

Easy Gluten Free Bread with Lemon Jam

Happy January! For this week’s bake I wanted to do something I thought I would never ever do. Make bread! And not just any bread, gluten free bread that tastes like regular delicious bread. Typically I try to avoid eating gluten (even though most of my bakes thus far are full of gluten) so I wanted a recipe that I could make weekly and also taste like it took hours to bake. The recipe below ticked all of those boxes… easy, gluten free and most importantly delicious.

Once I had the bread recipe perfected it was suggested that I make a lemon jam to go with it. I absolutely love lemon, but had never had lemon jam so I jumped at the chance to try and make it. I’m definitely tooting my own horn when I say this lemon jam recipe will knock your socks off. It’s the best jam I’ve ever eaten and luckily the recipe makes enough to share. It’s the perfect addition to the bread recipe below.

Ingredients for Gluten Free Bread

1 cup warm milk (110 degrees)

1/4 cup sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup butter

2 large eggs

Directions For Gluten Free Bread

Combine milk, sugar and yeast in small bowl and set aside for 10 minutes to froth.

Combine gluten free flour blend and salt in stand mixer. Beat on low gradually adding yeast mixture until well combined.

Add butter and eggs, mixing and scraping the bowl until well combined. Increase speed to high and mix until very smooth.

Cover with clean kitchen towel and let rise in warm place for 1 hour.

Grease loaf pan. Stir dough and pour into pan. Loosely cover with greased food plastic wrap and let rise for 20-30 minutes or until just above edge of pan.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Bake for 45 minutes or until top is golden brown. Remove from pan and let cool on cooling rack.

Ingredients For Lemon Jam

8 lemons

1/2 cup lemon juice

2 cups sugar

6 cups of water to boil zest

3 cups of water to make jam

Directions for Lemon Jam

Grate 6 lemons into dutch oven.

Squeeze 4 of them to have 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Set lemon juice aside.

Slice 2 lemons thinly and add to dutch oven with zest.

Pour 2 cups of water over zest and lemon slices. Bring to a boil over medium heat and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Repeat this 2 more times. This will remove the bitterness of the lemon zest.

Add sugar, lemon juice and 3 cups of water over strained sliced lemons and lemon zest in dutch oven.

Bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn heat down to low and let simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.

Turn heat completely off and let sit for 10 minutes. Jam will be runny, but it gets thicker as it cools.

Store jam in jars, place in refrigerator.

Once jam has set, slice the gluten free bread, spread with jam and enjoy!

Tips and Tricks and Don’ts that I did

The yeast mixture should be frothy, but don’t freak out if it’s not a volcano of froth. Your dough will still proof just fine.

I proof my bread in the window of my kitchen because I like the idea of the warm Texas sun helping with my bakes, but you don’t need a window to proof and most ovens these days have a proof feature. Any warm place in your kitchen is fine and if you don’t have a proofing setting, you can set your oven temperature to the lowest setting and use that to proof.

Don’t forget to grease your loaf pan. You’ll want to take it out of the pan once it’s baked to cool. If it’s greased properly it should slide right out.

Slice and freeze the bread for storage. I made the mistake of just freezing the entire loaf, but when I wanted to toast a slice I had to wait for it to defrost before I could cut into it. After you slice the bread add a piece of wax paper in between each slice. Store it in a storage bag in the freezer and grab a slice when needed. Easy Peasy.

Be really careful not to get your sugar, water, lemon mixture too hot when making the jam. My first batch basically turned into lemon flavored caramel because I overcooked and overheated it. You only need to bring it to a boil, do not let it boil for an extended period of time.

Don’t worry about the rinds or zest when putting your jam into jars. The rinds get really soft and somewhat sweet during the cooking process and they taste pretty good too.

The jam will be runny. The consistency is pretty much like runny jello. Do not worry. Once it’s cooled it will firm up and when you jar it and put it in the fridge it will firm up even more.

I really like lemon flavor and wanted it to stand out more than the sweetness, but if you’d prefer less lemon flavor and more sugar, feel free to cut down the lemon juice and add more water and a tablespoon more of sugar.

This bread is perfect for this jam and this jam is perfect for this bread, but you can enjoy them separately too. Make a turkey sandwich with the bread or add the jam to your favorite english muffin. Whatever you do, don’t forget to ENJOY!

Mousse

Simple Mousse Recipe

For Christmas this year I gifted myself a new mixer and thought making a mousse would be a perfect way to test it out. So for my first bake and blog of the New Year I made one of my favorites, a Chocolate Mousse Pie.

This was the first time I did a blind bake with my crust too so I wanted to make sure I got the crust perfectly flaky and absolutely did not want a soggy bottom. This meant I needed to do my research and lots of it. I spent a few hours online reading various recipes and reviews about the perfect way to blind bake a pie crust. There is a ton of information out there about the best options, from pie weights to uncooked rice and beans and more in between. Ultimately I decided to go with sugar because I had sugar on hand and it had great reviews from fellow bakers.

Below is the recipe for the chocolate mousse, the crust, the blind bake and how to put it all together for a delicious light and fluffy New Year Treat. I’ve also included my tips and tricks and don’ts that I did at the end.

Ingredients for Single Pie Crust

1 cup all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup butter

1 and 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar

4 tablespoons 2% milk

Directions for Pie Crust

In a small bowl combine the flour and salt.

Cut in butter with fork until the mixture is crumbly.

Sprinkle mixture with vinegar.

Gradually add milk tossing with a fork until a ball is formed.

Cover with foil and refrigerate for 30 minutes until easy to handle.

Blind Baking Your Crust

Once the dough is chilled, roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface to fit 9 inch pie plate.

Crimp edges a little taller than the pie plate so there is less room to shrink.

Line crust with heavy duty aluminum foil.

Freeze crust for at least an hour.

Once the crust has had time to freeze, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Fill pie to the top with granulated sugar.

Bake for 60-75 minutes.

Remove pie crust from oven.

Remove sugar and store sugar for later use.

Let crust cool and prepare mousse.

Ingredients for Mousse

4 cups heavy cream

6 tablespoons of sugar

12 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions for Mousse

With stand mixer beat 3 cups of heavy cream and sugar to stiff peaks (about 6-8 minutes) refrigerate until ready to use.

In a medium saucepan combine 1 cup of heavy cream, chocolate chips and vanilla.

Place over medium heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning the chocolate.

Once the chocolate has melted (about 2-3 minutes) remove from heat and let cool.

When chocolate has cooled, gently fold it into 2 thirds of the whipped cream until completely incorporated

Putting It All Together

Pour mousse into prepared crust.

Refrigerate for 8 hours or freeze for 4

Top with remaining whipped cream and serve.

Tips and Tricks and a Few Don’ts That I did

Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty when making the crust. I found that in order to cut in the butter to the flour my hands worked better than the fork.

That being said be careful not to handle the dough too much. Overworking the dough will cause it to become tough and not tender and flaky. The key to a good pie crust is cold butter.

One mousse recipe I tried said to add salt to the semi sweet chocolate. Whatever you do, DO NOT add salt to semi sweet chocolate. That type of chocolate has a saltiness to it already and adding more salt made it inedible. It was AWFUL. I ended up throwing out the entire thing and starting over minus the salt. It turned much much better.

I’ve given this tip before, but it’s worth repeating. Do not stop stirring your chocolate. It melts and burns really fast. I use a rubber spatula to stir and scrape the bottom of the pan. It works great and so far I haven’t burned a batch of chocolate. **knock on wood**

A stand mixer is awesome to achieve quick peaks, but it isn’t necessary. I’ve made whipped cream with a hand mixer and it turned out just as great.

Freeze or refrigerate your pie, but make sure it’s served cold. I froze mine to share later this week. If you freeze it just be sure to take it out of the freezer at least 30 minutes prior to serving so the crust has time to thaw a little.

Enjoy and Have a Very Happy New Year!!!