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)

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!!!

Brownies

Fudge Brownies

When the temperature dips below 65 degrees in Texas it’s basically 30 below zero and when it’s that cold it’s hard to come up with indoor after school activities for the kids. For my next bake I decided to attempt the perfect brownie with the kids help to keep them occupied for at least a few minutes. Below is the recipe with my don’ts that I did and a few tips I picked up along the way.

Ingredients For Brownies

1/2 cup of butter melted

2 eggs

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 cup white sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Ingredients for Chocolate Whipped Cream

3 tablespoons of melted butter

1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions for Brownies

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 inch brownie pan

In medium bowl beat eggs on low setting until eggs are light yellow (about 5 minutes)

Add melted butter, sugar and vanilla. Continue to mix until well combined

Add cocoa, flour, salt and baking powder. Mix until combined (about 2 minutes)

Spread into prepared pan

Sprinkle with chocolate chips

Bake for 25 minutes (or until toothpick comes out clean)

Directions for Chocolate Whipped Cream

Blend all ingredients with mixer on medium setting until mixture has a mousse like consistency

Top warm brownie with whipped cream

Don’ts that I did and a few tips and tricks

  • Don’t be afraid to beat your eggs. The perfect brownie starts with eggs that have been well beaten.
  • If you’re an edge person or a middle gooey person these brownies have something for everyone. Don’t over bake your brownies to get that perfect edge. It will happen if you follow the instructions. Trust me, there’s nothing worse than a hard overcooked brownie.
  • The brownies are amazing with or without the whipped cream. I preferred them without, but the kids liked them with. Feel free to skip that step and maybe add a little vanilla ice cream instead. YUM!
  • Cut the brownies when they are warm, but don’t be discouraged if your cuts aren’t perfect. Brownies are surprisingly hard to cut. It helps to wipe your knife in between each cut, but isn’t necessary.
  • Store brownies in tupperware and heat them up for about 10 seconds in the microwave if you enjoy them later. They are also delicious at room temperature.
  • ENJOY!
Doughnuts

Quick and Easy Fried Doughnuts!

For my next bake I decided to make my kids most favorite breakfast dessert… DOUGHNUTS!

My first thought when I decided to make doughnuts was to make easy baked cake doughnuts. There are TONS of recipes out there and they all seem pretty simple, but I decided if I was going to learn how to make doughnuts I would do it the conventional (fried) way. That makes this technically not a bake, but a fried.

The scariest part of this recipe was not the frying, it was the yeast and the proving. I’ve watched too many baking shows to know that proving can go really wrong really fast. The directions on the yeast packet even gave me a little anxiety. I felt completely out of my element, but I powered through and quickly figured out that making these doughnuts was not as hard as I thought it would be. Below is the recipe for Glazed Doughnuts and Chocolate Covered Doughnuts along with Powered Sugared Doughnut Holes. I’ve also included a few tips and tricks and my don’ts that I did.

The Ingredients for Doughnuts

1 cup whole milk

1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon of sugar

1 packet of active dry yeast

4 cups of flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

6 teaspoons of melted butter

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vegetable oil for Frying

Glaze

1/4 cup whole milk

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Frosting

2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

1 cup heavy cream

Sprinkles (optional)

Directions

Grease a large bowl with cooking spray and set aside.

In a small microwavable bowl add 1 cup of milk and heat until warm (about 40 seconds). Add a teaspoon of sugar and stir until dissolved. Sprinkle yeast over the sugar milk mixture until frothy (about 10 minutes).

In a medium bowl whisk together flour and salt.

In a large bowl whisk together remaining sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla. Pour in yeast mixture. Stir until well combined. Next add the rest of the dry ingredients stirring with mixing spoon until a shaggy dough forms. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until elastic (about 5 minutes).

Form into a tight ball then place in oiled bowl and cover with a clean dish towel. Let dough rise in a warm spot in the kitchen until it doubles in size (about an hour).

Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Punch down dough then transfer to a slightly floured baking surface and roll into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Using a doughnut cutter to punch out doughnuts and doughnut holes. Re knead scraps and punch out more doughnuts and doughnut holes. Place onto baking sheet and let rise for another forty minutes.

Glaze

Whisk glaze ingredients until well combined.

Chocolate Frosting

Pour chocolate chips into bowl. Heat cream over medium heat for about 2 minutes until very warm. Pour cream over chocolate and let sit for about 1 minute. Whisk chocolate and cream together.

Frying the Doughnuts

Line large baking sheet with paper towels. In a large dutch oven heat 2 inches of vegetable oil to 350 degrees over medium heat. Cook doughnuts in batches until golden brown (about 1 minute on each side). Transfer doughnuts to paper towels to drain and cool slightly. Add doughnut holes to oil moving turning frequently to ensure each part of the doughnut hole is fried. Transfer to paper towels for draining.

Glazed Doughnuts

Dip doughnuts into glaze while still warm and place on cooling rack.

Chocolate Frosted Doughnuts

Dip doughnuts into frosting and add sprinkles (optional).

Doughnut Holes

Place doughnut holes into a bowl with a lid, add 1/2 cup of powered sugar and shake.

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

1. Invest $10 in a doughnut cutter. It’ll save you time and a headache. I’ve included the link to the one I purchased from Amazon below. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07NK3GK2R/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_image_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

2. Don’t be afraid of the yeast. The instructions say to let yeast get frothy once it’s added to the milk. I was afraid my yeast wasn’t frothy enough the first round and ended up throwing out my first batch. I think I expected a frothy explosion and when that didn’t happen I assumed I did something wrong. My next batch of yeast did the same as the first and the doughnuts turned out great. The lesson is… Don’t throw out your yeast just because it’s not as frothy as you think it should be.

3. Proving is way more fun and rewarding than I ever thought it would be. This was the part that made me not want to make conventional fried doughnuts. I’ve watched so many shows where bakes have been under proved and over proved that I was almost too afraid to even attempt these. The truth is proving is still scary, but it’s not hard and the feeling you get when your dough has doubled in size is worth the fear. I will add that you should treat your dough like a baby. Check the temperature, carry it gently in its bowl, make sure it’s warm enough and it will do exactly what it’s supposed to do. Once you lift the towel and see the tiny ball of dough has grown into a much larger “ready to be rolled into 24 doughnuts sized dough” you’ll be glad you did.

4. Keep watching the oil temperature. My last few doughnuts cooked much faster than the first few because the oil got too hot. 350 degrees is the perfect temp for these so try and keep at that as best as you can.

5. The doughnuts are best enjoyed warm. If you’re eating them the day after take the time to pop them in the microwave for 10 seconds and they’ll taste just like they did when you first made them. Have Fun and Enjoy!

Thanksgiving

Pumpkin (Cake) Bread

Have you ever had Pumpkin Bread? I was a newby until my son had his school Thanksgiving Lunch last week. The one thing about his school lunch that he could not stop talking about was the PUMPKIN CAKE! I later found out that it’s really called pumpkin bread. We’ll call it both because it’s sweet like a cake, but looks and cuts like a loaf of bread. When Clark (my oldest) asked if I could learn how to bake pumpkin cake for our Thanksgiving, I couldn’t say no. Despite the bar being set super high I think we knocked this one out of the park. Below is the recipe with a few tips.

Pumpkin Cake Bread with Brown Sugar Topping

Brown Sugar Topping– 1/4 cup melted butter, 1/2 all purpose flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Pumpkin Bread– 1 15oz can of pure pumpkin puree, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 2 large eggs, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 cup milk, 2 cups all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 teaspoon salt

Maple Syrup Glaze– 1/2 cup powder sugar, 1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Brown Sugar Topping Instructions-in a small bowl mix all ingredient, store in refrigerator while making pumpkin cake bread.

Pumpkin (Cake) Bread Instructions– Preheat oven to 325F and butter the sides of a 9×5 loaf pan. Line with parchment paper. In a medium sized bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and pumpkin spice. Set aside. In a separate larger bowl using an electric mixer; mix together oil and pumpkin puree until combined. Mix in half of the dry ingredients and add the milk. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Pour in pan and spread evenly. Remove brown sugar topping, break up with a fork and sprinkle evenly over the top of the cake. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a toothpick in the middle comes out clean.

Maple Syrup Glaze– Mix together sugar and maple syrup. Pour glaze over loaf while the loaf is still hot. Let the bread cool for 20 minutes before serving. VIOLA! Pumpkin Cake Bread!

Tips, Tricks and a few Don’ts that I did– 1. Whatever you do, DO NOT forget to line the pan with parchment paper. I skipped it thinking it wouldn’t matter since I “buttered” my pan, but it’s a loaf… with a topping. Dumb Dumb move by me because the parchment is what helps get the loaf out of the pan. Otherwise you have to dump it… LITERALLY. I ended up making a giant mess, but learned a valuable lesson. 2. The brown sugar topping is probably the best part for the kids to help. My boys usually get bored with baking, but once I gave them some forks to break up the sugar and sprinkle on the loaf they were in HEAVEN. 3. Don’t be scared. It sounds really hard, but this is by far the easiest bake I’ve made. And maybe even the tastiest. 4. The bread will last for 10 days if stored in the fridge. Wrap it in foil or store in plastic containers and reheat for 10-20 seconds in the microwave. I promise it tastes freshly baked even out of the microwave. 5. ENJOY!

Introduction

Mae Bakes and… Blogs

Hello! My name is Mae and I am not a baker, but I am becoming one. This blog is dedicated to my new passion in baking. Before I start diving into all things sweet here’s a little more about me.

I live in Austin Texas and work full time. I’m a mom of 2 boys ages 10 and 5. When I’m not working or chasing boys you’ll find me in the gym or outside enjoying Austin’s beautiful weather. I’m into reading, art, photography, trying new restaurants and recently BAKING.

I am by far not very experienced in the kitchen. I recently started baking as a way to spend my time with my oldest son. I find myself googling most of the directions or ingredients in recipes just to get a handle on what I’m doing. I’m constantly learning new things about baking and can get a little overwhelmed and stressed in the kitchen.

So why did I decide to keep baking and then also blog about it?

Because I baked a cake. Yep. It took one cake from scratch and I was hooked. Not only did the cake taste amazing, but I had an amazing time making it. I found out that I was actually a pretty decent baker and wanted to share my baking adventures. All of it. The good bakes and bad bakes. The perfect pies and over baked cakes and everything in between. I’ll also share all of my recipes including tips and tricks that I’ve learned along the way.

I hope you enjoy this blog and maybe some day enjoy one of my bakes. Until then, let’s bake! -Mae

The Cake that started it all…