Apricot Crumble Tart

I feel like with half my posts I provide a St Lawrence Market update. This week, berries and cherries continue to dominate the landscape, but two new players have arrived: apricots and peaches.

I was so excited to see apricots as I had been flipping through David Leibovitz's My Paris Kitchen the previous evening and there was a delicious looking recipe for an apricot crumble tart. I promised myself that if I saw apricots at the market, it would happen.

And here we are.

I love this tart because the crust is crunchy (but not too crunchy) and caramelized and buttery – perfect for containing the juicy apricot filling. As for crumble, I'm sure you all are like me and could eat whole batches raw or cooked.

I ended up buying a springform pan for this recipe and I'm glad I did because it made everything easier. Although if you have a 9 inch tart pan with 2-ish inch sides, you could definitely use that.

Crust Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp salted butter, slightly softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Crumble Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup whole almonds
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp salted butter, chilled and cubed

Filling Ingredients

  • 2lb ripe apricots, quartered and pitted
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot starch
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of allspice

Steps
To make the crust, mix butter and sugar in a stand mixer until fully incorporated and there are no streaks of butter. Add egg yolks and mix until smooth. Add flour and salt and mix until dough comes together.

Butter a 9 inch springform pan and press the dough into the bottom of the pan and 1-2 inches up the side. Ensure the dough is evenly spread, using the bottom of a cup to smooth if needed. Place in freezer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the crumble. In a food processor, combine almonds, flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt and pulse until almonds are in small pieces. Add butter and pulse until the mixture turns sandy, then starts to stick together in parts. (I did this by hand – chopping the almonds finely and mixing with the dry ingredients, then cutting in the butter with a pastry blender. I then used my hands to pinch and mix until a crumble formed). Chill until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 375F. Remove crust from freezer, line tightly with foil and place pie weights/dried beans/dried rice on the bottom. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove weights and foil and bake for 5 minutes, until beginning to slightly brown.

To make the filling, mix apricots with sugar, starch, vanilla and spices. Don't make it too far in advance, or it will be too juicy.

Pour filling into shell and spread evenly. Sprinkle crumble on top.

Bake at 375F for 40-50 minutes until crumble is browned (it only took me 40 minutes). Allow to cool a few minutes and run a knife around the edge of the tart and let cool for 30 minutes before removing from springform pan.

Adapted from My Paris Kitchen

Sweet and Sour Cherry Pie

After the success of this week’s cherry cobbler, I knew it was high time I made my first cherry pie.

However in typical Pie Girl fashion, I had to mix it up a bit.  Enter sour cherries.  I’ve always seen these at the market and been so in love with their bright red colour, yet I never bothered to buy them.  I thought of using a mix of sweet and sour cherries before buying but I tried a sour one at the market to be sure, and I’m actually kicking myself that I haven’t been baking with these longer.  THEY ARE DELICIOUS – sour in the best way.  I finally understand the concept of the sour Cherry Blaster candy.

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This pie has the best of the sweet and sour cherry world.  The classic sweetness of Bing cherries, made not too sweet and a bit tangy with these gorgeous ruby red sour cherries. The lovely colour that comes from the both of them together is the cherry on top (no pun intended…)  I also used lime juice to cut the sweetness which is a lovely complement to the cherry flavours (although very subtle).

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Get ready for some juicy hands

Crust Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup butter (straight from the fridge, cut into 1 inch pieces)
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (I use cider vinegar, mix it in the water)

Filling Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups sour cherries, pitted
  • 2 1/2 cups sweet cherries, pitted
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp arrowroot
  • Pinch of allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Steps

To make the crust, mix together flour, sugar and salt.  Using a pastry blender, “cut” in the butter. This means you’re almost mashing the butter into the flour with the blender, ensuring all butter is covered in flour until the butter pieces are about the size of peas or a bit bigger.

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Then, splash in a bit of your water mixture (2-3 tablespoons) and mix it around with your hand.  Continue to add a little at a time and mix and squish with your hand until a large dough ball forms.  If you need to get a bit more binding, add a bit of water to your fingers to help it along.  Don’t feel compelled to use all the water, mix it in until just combined and the dough is holding together.  Cut the dough ball into two halves and flatten into disks. Wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

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Remove from fridge and let sit for 5-10 minutes so the dough doesn’t crack. Roll out each disk on a floured surface until about 1/4 inch thick (it will be about 12-13 inches in diameter).

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Fold the rolled out crust in half and set into a buttered 9 inch pie pan.  Unfold gently and settle the bottom of the crust into the corners.  Refrigerate while making filling.

Roll out the other dough disk and cut into 8 strips (6 large, 2 very small) with a paring knife or pizza cutter, braiding a strip if desired. This will be your lattice.  Place in fridge.

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To make the filling, mix pitted cherries with lime juice and sugar, stirring gently together.  Add arrowroot starch, spices and salt and stir gently to combine. (A trick to pit cherries without a pitter: take an empty wine bottle, place stemmed cherry on top of the bottle mouth. Hold cherry in place and poke through the middle with a chopstick. The pit should fall out into the bottle.)

Remove pie shell from fridge and sprinkle 1 tsp each of flour and sugar on the bottom to keep the crust from getting soggy (this is an important step for juicy fillings like this).  Scoop in filling with a slotted spoon.

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To make the lattice, arrange two thick strips in an off-centre “T”, like below.  Place a strip vertically on top of the horizontal strip on either side of the first vertical strip.  Place one under the horizontal strip on the end, and it will look like the photo on the right.

Peel back the second and fourth vertical strip from the left and place a strip horizontally below the existing horizontal strip, and place the peeled back strips back on top.  Repeat with two horizontal strips on top, alternating which you peel back and the pie will look like below.

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Roll the crust overhang over top of the ends of the lattice strips, like a crust wall trimming any overhang if you feel you need to.  Make sure the “wall” is sealed well so it doesn’t unroll while baking.

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To crimp the edge of the crust, “pinch and push” using your thumb and pointer finger and other thumb, like below:

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Place the pie in the fridge for 10 minutes and preheat the oven to 425F.

Remove pie from fridge and brush with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar to your liking.  The egg wash ensures the pie is nicely browned.

Place the pie on a baking sheet on the bottom oven rack and bake for 20 minutes until the pie crust is starting to set and brown.  Reduce the oven heat to 375F and bake for 30-35 minutes until the crust has browned and juices are bubbling throughout the pie.  Let cool for 2-3 hours and enjoy!

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Cherry Cobbler

This is definitely my favourite time of year.  I can go to any farmers market and be overwhelmed with choices of what to make for dinner AND what to bake.

I stopped by the farmers market in Trinity Bellwoods yesterday and one stand in particular was overflowing with cherries. Believe it or not, the only thing I’ve baked with cherries is clafoutis. I figured I better expand my horizons and bake my first cobbler!

I was surprised at how easy it is to make cobbler. Basically prepare the the fruit, throw it in a pan, stir together the cobbler ingredients, scoop the dough on the fruit and bake! For something so simple, it’s insanely delicious and perfect for a last minute dessert necessity.

PS – this is definitely best warm from the oven!

Filling Ingredients

  • 6 cups cherries
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1.5 tbsp arrowroot starch
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of cardamom
  • Pinch of ginger

Dough Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, plus more for brushing
  • Raw sugar, for sprinkling

Steps

Preheat oven to 375F and butter a 9 inch cast iron skillet or pie plate.

Pit the cherries using a pitter, or with this trick: take an empty wine bottle, place stemmed cherry on top of the bottle mouth. Hold cherry in place and poke through the middle with a chopstick. The pit should fall out into the bottle.

In a large bowl, stir together pitted cherries, sugar, lemon juice, arrowroot and spices. Pour into prepared pan or skillet.


In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt.  Pour in cream and stir together until just combined (it will be a wet dough).


With a large spoon, scoop dough onto prepared cherries in large blobs until the pan is mostly covered. Brush dough with cream and sprinkle with raw sugar.


Bake for 45 minutes, until dough is browning and juices are bubbling. Allow to cool slightly and serve with ice cream!



Saskatoon Berry Pie

This is the first pie that I ever made.

Starting in middle school, each summer I would go to my Grandma’s house to pick the berries off her Saskatoon berry bush (provided the birds didn’t get there first, which happened this year) and bake a big pie and some mini pies for the family.  I loved (and still do) love baking with my Grandma and this was my first exposure to pie baking.

For those unfamiliar, Saskatoon berries look like purple wild blueberries but have a unique flavour (I struggled with how to describe the taste because to me it’s just “Saskatoon berry” – but imagine a cross of blueberries and cherry) and are juicy with a few small seeds inside.  You can imagine my excitement when I went to the market yesterday and all the vendors were selling them, when I had only ever seen them in my Grandma’s backyard.

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When my Grandma and I made the pie, we simmered the filling first to start the thickening process before baking, but since this crust recipe takes longer to bake, I poured the raw filling straight into the shell.

If you can find these berries, PLEASE bake a pie.  It may change your life.  But if you are not fortunate enough to find them at your market/store, you can replace them with wild blueberries.

Crust Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup butter (straight from the fridge, cut into 1 inch pieces)
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (I use cider vinegar, mix it in the water)

Filling Ingredients

  • 4 cups Saskatoon berries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp arrowroot starch
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt

Steps

To make the crust, mix together flour, sugar and salt.  Using a pastry blender, “cut” in the butter. This means you’re almost mashing the butter into the flour with the blender, ensuring all butter is covered in flour until the butter pieces are about the size of peas or a bit bigger.

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Then, splash in a bit of your water mixture (2-3 tablespoons) and mix it around with your hand.  Continue to add a little at a time and mix and squish with your hand until a large dough ball forms.  If you need to get a bit more binding, add a bit of water to your fingers to help it along.  Don’t feel compelled to use all the water, mix it in until just combined and the dough is holding together.  Cut the dough ball into two halves and flatten into disks. Wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

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Remove from fridge and let sit for 5-10 minutes so the dough doesn’t crack. Roll out each disk on a floured surface until about 1/4 inch thick (it will be about 12-13 inches in diameter).

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Fold the rolled out crust in half and set into a buttered 9 inch pie pan.  Unfold gently and settle the bottom of the crust into the corners.

Roll out the other dough disk and cut into 16 evenly sized strips with a paring knife or pizza cutter. This will be your lattice.  Refrigerate strips and crust lined pan for 30 minutes.

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To make the filling, gently stir together berries, sugar, arrowroot and lemon juice.

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Remove pie shell from fridge and sprinkle 1 tsp each of flour and sugar on the bottom to keep the crust from getting soggy.  Pour in filling.

To make the lattice, arrange 8 strips horizontally.  Peel back every other strip (see below) and place a strip vertically close to the middle, on top of the strips not peeled back.  Put the peeled strips back down, and repeat peeling back and placing a vertical strip with the other strips (alternating which 4 are peeled back) until you reach the end of the pie, then repeat on the other side.  It will look like the photo below.

Roll the crust overhang over top of the ends of the lattice strips, like a crust wall trimming any overhang if you feel you need to.  Make sure the “wall” is sealed well so it doesn’t unroll while baking.

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To crimp the edge of the crust, “pinch and push” using your thumb and pointer finger and other thumb, like below:

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Place the pie in the fridge for 10 minutes and preheat the oven to 425F.

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Remove pie from fridge and brush with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar to your liking.  The egg wash ensures the pie is nicely browned.

Place the pie on a baking sheet on the bottom oven rack and bake for 20 minutes until the pie crust is starting to set and brown.  Reduce the oven heat to 375F and bake for 30-35 minutes until the crust has browned and juices are bubbling throughout the pie.  Let cool for 2-3 hours and enjoy!

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Salted Brown Butter S’more Tart

I think we can all agree that s’mores are one of the best parts of summer? Sweet, chocolatey and toasty, it taps into the highlight reel of summer, from cottage trips to roasting marshmallows on the stove. Just me? Ok.

I thought up this tart yesterday morning, wanting to put all the things I love about s’mores into a simple yet elevated tart.  The addition of brown butter to the graham crust enhances the toastiness of the torched meringue, the sea salt cuts the sweetness and adds a delicious salty crunch, and the torched meringue tops everything off on a light note.

The lightness of this tart is what stands out I think. Despite the rich ganache and buttery crust, the ganache and meringue together have a chiffon like texture, so you don’t feel heavy after eating.

I am obsessed.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 6-7 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 cup salted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 egg whites
  • Pinch of cream of tartar 
  • Flaky sea salt

Steps

Preheat oven to 350F.

Stir together graham cracker crumbs, 3 tbsp sugar and 1/4-1/2 tsp of sea salt. 

In a medium pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Allow it to bubble and foam, stirring frequently until it turns golden brown and smells nutty.  Remove from heat and pour over graham cracker mixture, stirring until the mixture has the texture of wet sand.


Press mixture evenly into a 13×4 inch rectangular tart pan or 9 inch circular tart pan. Bake for 10 minutes until golden and allow to cool.


Meanwhile, to make the ganache, scald cream over medium heat and pour over milk and dark chocolate in a bowl. Whisk until smooth and sprinkle in a pinch of sea salt. Spread ganache into cooled crust (about 3/4 full) and place in fridge to chill for 1 hour.


To make meringue topping, beat together egg whites, 1 tbsp of sugar and cream of tartar until foamy. Add 2-3 tbsp sugar (depending on how sweet you like, I used 3tbsp) and beat until meringue is shiny and stiff peaks form.


To assemble, sprinkle flaky sea salt over ganache filled tart. Spread meringue over ganache, sealing to the edges of the crust and creating any design as desired. Using a kitchen torch, toast the top of the meringue until golden brown. I recommend testing a small corner area to start in order to get a feel for the torch and how quickly the meringue will brown.


If you don’t have a torch, place tart under the broiler and remove when meringue begins to brown.

Sprinkle with a bit more flaky salt and serve immediately.

The ~Baked~ Brownie

I like my brownies fudgy.

I like them dark, chewy and gooey,

I don’t think I’m the only one either.

If you agree – this recipe is for you.  The Baked Bakery really got it down pat here, because this brownie is everything I listed above and more.  The fact that it’s super simple to make is just the cherry on top.

I don’t want to say this brownie will get you a boyfriend/girlfriend or anything… But I made these with my boyfriend on our third date and we’ve been dating awhile now…  So make your own assumptions.  They’re THAT good.

If you want to put a little twist on these, I would sprinkle the top with a bit of flaked sea salt halfway through baking.  These brownies are super rich and salt would definitely cut the richness in the best way.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 11oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (you can also use high quality chocolate chips!)
  • 1 cup salted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 5 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Steps

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper (trust me, these would be sticky otherwise!).

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sea salt and cocoa until combined.

Set a large, heatproof bowl over a pot of gently simmering water.  Place butter and chocolate in the bowl and stir occasionally until completely melted and smooth.  Turn off heat and add sugars to chocolate mixture, whisking until completely combined.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Add 3 eggs to chocolate mixture and whisk until combined.  Add the remaining eggs and stir until incorporated.  Add vanilla and stir until just incorporated, careful to not overmix (will otherwise be cakey texture).

Sprinkle flour mixture over the batter and fold flour into the batter using a spatula until there are very slight streaks of flour remaining.  Again, the key is to ~just~ mix so you keep a fudge texture in the end.

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 30 minutes (turn the pan 180 degrees halfway through baking).

Let the brownies cool completely in the pan, then lift them out with the parchment as a handle to cut.

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Adapted from Baked

Strawberry Ginger Pie

Okay I feel like I’ve been teasing with this pie.  I’ve made it as hand pies, a galette but only now have I made it in classic pie form.  I just cannot get enough of this flavour combination (and strawberries are treating me well while I wait for other berries to come into season).

I tried a more freeform lattice on this pie – a few braids thrown in, smaller strips and treating two strips as if they are one.  Again, this is what I love about pie.  There are so many options for decoration and it’s strictly up to you, be creative!

Now for a fun fact, I’ll be doing a demo of this pie on Global News The Morning Show on Thursday June 15th!  If you want to catch a first hand glimpse of how you can make it, tune in at 8:50am.  I’ll also post a link to the clip afterwards.  Exciting!

Crust Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup butter (straight from the fridge, cut into 1 inch pieces)
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (I use cider vinegar, mix it in the water)

Filling Ingredients

  • 5 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced into quarters
  • 3 tbsp plus 1 tsp white sugar
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (about half a lemon)
  • 2 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2-2/3 cup packed brown sugar, depending on your preference for sweetness
  • Pinch cardamom
  • Pinch allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3 tbsp ground arrowroot
  • 1 tsp flour
  • Egg wash (1 Egg plus 1/2 tsp of water)
  • Raw sugar, for sprinkling

Steps

To make the crust, mix together flour, sugar and salt.  Using a pastry blender, “cut” in the butter. This means you’re almost mashing the butter into the flour with the blender, ensuring all butter is covered in flour until the butter pieces are about the size of peas or a bit bigger.

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Then, splash in a bit of your water mixture (2-3 tablespoons) and mix it around with your hand.  Continue to add a little at a time and mix and squish with your hand until a large dough ball forms.  If you need to get a bit more binding, add a bit of water to your fingers to help it along.  Don’t feel compelled to use all the water, mix it in until just combined and the dough is holding together.  Cut the dough ball into two halves and flatten into disks. Wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

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Remove from fridge and let sit for 5-10 minutes so the dough doesn’t crack. Roll out each disk on a floured surface until about 1/4 inch thick (it will be about 12-13 inches in diameter).

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Fold the rolled out crust in half and set into a buttered 9 inch pie pan.  Unfold gently and settle the bottom of the crust into the corners.

Roll out the other dough disk and cut into 8 evenly sized strips with a paring knife or pizza cutter. This will be your lattice.  Refrigerate strips and crust lined pan for 30 minutes. (To create this lattice design, turn 3 of those strips into braids and cut the other 5 in half again).

To make the filling, sprinkle hulled and quartered strawberries with 3 tbsp white sugar, gently toss and allow to macerate for 30 minutes.  This releases the strawberry juices and makes for a more flavourful pie.

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Once macerated, drain excess strawberry juices (be sure to save for cocktails!) and sprinkle on grated ginger and lemon juice, stirring gently to combine.  Add brown sugar, spices, salt and arrowroot and stir until fully incorporated.

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Remove pie shell from fridge and sprinkle 1 tsp each of flour and sugar on the bottom to keep the crust from getting soggy.  Pour in filling.

To make the lattice, arrange a braid in the middle going vertically and cross two thin strips over it horizontally.  Place two thin strips over the horizontal strips on each side of the braid.  Place one more braid on the far right under the horizontal strip, like below.

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Lift the bottom pieces of the two braids and place two thin strips going horizontal, like below.

Repeat on the top side – once with the braids and once with the thin strips and the pie will look like below.

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Roll the crust overhang over top of the ends of the lattice strips, like a crust wall trimming any overhang if you feel you need to.  Make sure the “wall” is sealed well so it doesn’t unroll while baking.

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To crimp the edge of the crust, “pinch and push” using your thumb and pointer finger and other thumb, like below:

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Place the pie in the fridge for 10 minutes and preheat the oven to 425F.

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Remove pie from fridge and brush with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar to your liking.  The egg wash ensures the pie is nicely browned.

Place the pie on a baking sheet on the bottom oven rack and bake for 20 minutes until the pie crust is starting to set and brown.  Reduce the oven heat to 375F and bake for 30-35 minutes until the crust has browned and juices are bubbling throughout the pie.  Let cool for 2-3 hours and enjoy!

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