Come to the Dark Side… I have pie.

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Pie! Such a perfect food. Especially when it resembles… the Death Star! Because why have plain pie when you could show off your nerdiness to the world? I almost didn’t want to eat this… but I did.

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Pie crust used to intimidate me, which is pretty stupid given that it’s basically just flour and water and butter… yet I think sometimes the simplest things end up being the trickiest (in life and in baking!). But pie is also a fairly forgiving food, and will love you endlessly if you learn to make it with the confidence it deserves.

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I think I’m finally at that point — this one felt great! I am quite pleased with the way it came out both in looks and taste… the sci-fi nerd is strong in me ;) I think the key with pie crust is not to let on that it makes you nervous! It can probably sense that, ha! Maybe with its pie crust force powers…

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Thank goodness pie is so delicious – it makes all the potential crust shenanigans worthwhile.

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In other news, another drawing for the series!

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Anndddd…. the first skiing of the season! Wheeeee!!! And what great skiing it was. More to come, that’s for sure.

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But for now, pie. Because often the simplest things in life are the most enjoyable, especially leftover pie for breakfast in good company! Nothing better.

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Wild Blueberry Pie with Whole Wheat Dark Side Crust

Refined sugar free and whole wheat! Naturally sweetened with coconut sugar. Crust recipe yields a double crusted pie, enough for a Death Star of your own making if you so choose. Crust recipe lightly adapted from Carolyn McCuaig (thanks Carolyn, if you’re reading this!)

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For the crust:

  • 2.25 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/3 c vegetable shortening
  • 1/3 c butter (mine was salted), cut into chunks
  • 5-7 tbsp ice water

For the filling:

  • 4 c wild blueberries, or enough to heapingly fill your pie plate (frozen is fine)
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 c coconut sugar
  • 1/3 c whole wheat pastry flour

For finishing: 1-2 tbsp butter, 1 egg for egg wash

To make the crust: in a large bowl, whisk together pastry flour, coconut sugar, salt, baking powder, and lemon zest. Cut in shortening and butter either with your fingers or a pastry cutter until a coarse mixture forms and the butter chunks are the size of peas. Make a well in the center of the dough and add in the ice water one tablespoon at a time – mix as little as possible when incorporating the water to avoid overworking the dough. Once it will stick together, you’re good to go. Divide it into two even pieces, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 10 minutes and up to an hour.

While the dough is chilling, put together the filling. Toss blueberries, lemon juice, coconut sugar and flour in a large bowl.

Once the dough is chilled, roll it out between two pieces of parchment or on marble, whatever you have – I like parchment for easy removal. Aim for about 1/8″ thickness, and lay the bottom crust into a lightly greased pie dish. Shape it with your fingers, evening out the top as per your pie plate or design you want — this crust will make a double crusted pie, so keep that in mind. Toss in blueberry filling goodness and dot with butter.

If you want to get fancy and do the Death Star…

Cut out templates (thick paper or thin cardboard work nicely) for the Death Star and a TIE fighter. Have egg wash and coconut sugar handy (I use a beaten egg + 1 tbsp water). Use the templates to cut out the top crust shape, then use a chopstick or a knife to make the surface lines. Roll out thin pieces of dough for the details, and brush everything with egg wash to make it stick. Sprinkle coconut sugar where contrast is desired. Once finished, carefully lay top crust over the blueberry filling — there is no real need to seal the edges. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, then 350 for 35-40 until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven when done and let sit to cool for at least an hour, preferably more so that the filling will set. Serve warm or at room temp, and store any leftovers overnight on the counter, loosely covered, or in the fridge for longer (assuming it lasts that long). Pie can be made a day in advance if needed and reheated briefly in a 375 oven to crisp the crust and warm the filling – 10/15 minutes. The pie filling will firm up if stored in the fridge overnight, making slicing easier.

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Pie and my happy place!

Once again, a long hiatus between posts. But this time I have an extremely good reason:

I was here.

happy place.

Among other things, doing some of this:

like a boss.

And a ton of this:

dock yoga!

Yes. You SHOULD be jealous. Be very, very jealous…

Because this also happened:

the best place to do yoga? I think so! I’m on the left in the ridiculous shorts… 

My tenth year at the best, most beautiful place on earth: a counselor for the best campers; laughing, goofing (can I say we pulled the most amazing prank ever?!), singing, eating pilfered brownies whilst stargazing: a group of the most diverse and amazing women I have ever met.

And I came back with sore ribs from laughing so much. Camp is wonderfully restorative—-being covered in camp dirt for ten days always gives me a refreshed perspective on life back home. Camp = love! So much love. I already can’t wait to go back for my 11th summer next year.

pieeeeee!

Anyway—I got back Wednesday night. And all I wanted was PIE. Blueberry pie, to be exact. Don’t ask, I’m not exactly sure why… I do love pie, but it’s not usually my go to (I’m guessing this has something to do with the somewhat temperamental nature of pie crust and the comparative ease of cake, as well as my laziness). I think it might have been the lack of berries up at camp or something, but sheeesh… pie definitely needed to happen. I decided to get experimental and make a teeny pie, just enough for four people (I bought a new 6″ cake pan, since mine are sadly in storage in another state…I had to break it in somehow, didn’t I?!). I also dispensed with the top crust- I like crust, but a bottom one is enough in a small pie, and I wanted to see what happened when I halved the recipe. Great success! Half the crust recipe fit perfectly into a 6 by 2″ cake pan, and left just enough for a top decoration. I wasn’t sure on bake time either, but it turned out perfectly. I think this might be the best crust I’ve ever made—I credit Carolyn McCuaig and her awesome pies for the recipe! Pie is most assuredly happening with greater frequency in the wait…are those…cookies universe, now that pie crust has decided to be a tad more cooperative.

mmm., antioxidants!

Blueberry Pie

Simple and satisfying, and tastes like summer in a bowl. Do yourself a favor, and eat it a la mode, like any self-respecting pie should be eaten (especially for breakfast). Many thanks to Carolyn McCuaig for her pie recipes :) I’ll include the full recipe here. For a pie like I made, make half the recipe and use a 6″ cake pan.

Double crust:

  • 2.25 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 c vegetable shortening (like Spectrum brand)
  • 1/3 c butter (preferably unsalted, although I used salted and the crust was still really good)
  • 5-6 tbsp ice water

Blueberry filling:

  • enough fresh blueberries to fill your pie dish or tin of choice
  • 1/3 – 1/2 c sugar (depending on sweetness of blueberries)
  • 1/3 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • a squirt of lemon juice (I didn’t have any, if I had, I would have added it…but it’s still fab without)
ahh, pie a la mode. Summer in a bowl.

Listen to some awesome music and get yourself in the pie groove:

Preheat the oven to 425, and (if using a cake/pie tin) grease and flour the pan. In a largish bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut in butter and shortening (the colder the better) until the mixture looks like cold sand. I like to use a pastry cutter for this. Add ice water a tablespoon at a time until the mixture just holds together, then pat into a flatish disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for a bit. You can roll it out right away, but dough that’s been chilling is easier to deal with. Meanwhile, toss blueberries with sugar and flour (and lemon juice, if using) to coat. When the dough has chilled (I left mine in for about 15 minutes), roll it out to 1/8″ thickness between two pieces of plastic wrap. Peel off one layer, invert dough over pie dish/tin, and press out the dough, crimping the edges as you go. Prick the bottom with a fork a few times, then toss in filling. If using a top crust, make sure to cut a few steam vents in the center.

Place the pie tin on a cookie sheet (to protect against spills), and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350, and bake for another 30 minutes (for a 6″ pie), or 40-50 for a normal sized pie, until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Let cool completely before cutting, to give the filling time to set up.

Eat. Love. Taste the summer and reflect on the people and places you love in life!

kind of weird with the sun, but I love how it makes the berries look.

Baking > Stress Butterflies

mmm, antioxidants!

I warned you about the baking itch, did I not? Or wait. Let’s be real: the stress baking prior to my thesis presentation on Tuesday! Butterflies, I will defeat you with copious amounts of baked goods! So there. Baked goods and lots of yoga. Stress ain’t got nothin’ on downward dog. (Or this is what I will tell myself, ha)

So, since I had a spare afternoon yesterday relatively unexpectedly, I made a tart! Because what else am I supposed to do with that time? That’s right, I thought you’d agree that a tart is clearly the superior option.

This tart was/is delicious! I’m so pleased with myself since I winged bits of it, and threw a bunch of elements together into a credible whole. YAY! Love when that happens. The flavors all work really well together, and it’s even semi-healthy! Or at least not bad for you… I’m sure I can come up with some nutritional benefits: coconut is always good; the crust is vegan; blueberries contain LOTS of antioxidants, and cardamom has some spice-type benefit, I’m sure. And it gave me another excuse to use my tart pan, and that awkward half bag of frozen blueberries in the freezer.

AND I baked it whilst wearing one my pearl necklaces. Which made me feel lots like Julia. Especially when my tart turned out fabby! Don’t forget, you’re all alone in the kitchen! Bonnnnnn Apetit!

crust! I always have fun with my tart pan...

Blueberry Tart with Coconut-Cardamom Pastry Cream and Almond Crust

Makes one 9″ tart. I used a really basic crust recipe, and adapted the pastry cream from Delicious Shots, here! Assembly is really easy, and the chilling times are probably the longest part of this recipe. Fresh blueberries would be wonderful, but frozen work just as well—I defrosted them in the fridge and then in the counter for a bit. The crust is suuuper crumbly, but don’t worry, you can press it into the tart pan and it’ll behave.

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Tart Crust:

  • 1.5 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp Earth Balance
  • 1.5 tbsp almond paste
  • 2-3 tbsp cold water

In  a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add in butter and almond paste until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Add water until the dough comes together. Don’t worry if it’s crumbly—mine was, and turned out fine. Shape into a disc, and wrap in plastic. Let it chill in the fridge for 30-45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375. Once the dough is chilled, roll it out to 1/8″ thickness on a floured surface, and press it into your tart pan, evening out the sides as you go. Prick the bottom with a fork, and line with foil and weights (I used rice. Beans are fine too, or pie weights if you’re swanky and have cool kitchen tools like that). Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned. Mine went for 20 with the weights, and then 5 without them. I’m sort of a crust noob, so mine seem to come out ‘needing improvement’. Granted, I usually think they taste great… this one maybe could have used a tablespoon-ish more Earth Balance, perhaps?

cardamom flecks!

Coconut-Cardamom Pastry Cream

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 c turbinado sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 c light coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • between 1/4 and 1/2 tsp cardamom, depending on preference (I used more like 1/2, since Kira and I are cardamom nuts)

In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and half of the sugar until light yellow in color. Toss in the cornstarch and the flour, and whisk until combined. Set aside. In a small saucepan, combine coconut milk, vanilla, and cardamom, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Temper the milk mixture by pouring it in a steady stream over the egg yolks/sugar, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Once the two are completely incorporated, pour the mix back into the saucepan, and bring to a boil again, still stirring constantly (Sorry. Lots of stirring. But oh hey, arm workout!). The custard will start looking thick and your whisk will make tracks. Boil for just one or two minutes, and then remove from heat and pour into a bowl to cool. I used a shallow one, so it would cool faster… and place a bit of plastic wrap or sandwich baggie over the surface to prevent a skin forming. Once cool, place in the fridge for further chilling.

tart. Sans antioxidants.

Assembly! (Aka the best part)

  • Fruit of choice. I recommend blueberries… I used about 5 oz, or half a bag of frozen.

Pour the custard into the cooled crust, and smooth it out until it looks pretty…and then top with fruit! Easy peasy. And delicious. And looks like you put so much more work into it than you actually did. Shhh, I won’t tell :)

Best eaten the day it’s made, but it still makes excellent (if not quite as aesthetic) leftovers. Store in the fridge!

yumyumyum