The New York Times Pie Issue

Stars in Your Eyes Whiskey Apple Pie

Lovers of pie, The New York Times has got you covered. Check out today’s Dining & Wine section for a variety of articles about pie, including 20 summer pie recipes, a pie debate and an amazing graphic to teach you how to build a better apple pie.

4th of July Baked Goods

America’s birthday is once again upon us. The weather seems a little unstable out here in Brooklyn. My dream of seeing the Macy’s fireworks show may be dashed again.

If the weather is threatening to rain on your parade, here are some 4th of July baked goods you can whip up to celebrate indoors.

Stars in Your Eyes Whiskey Apple Pie

Nothing is more American than apple pie, so try your hand at the Stars in your Eyes Whiskey Apple Pie. It’s one of my favorites.

Marzipan star

If you have a vegan in your life, you could try the Red, White and Blue cupcakes I made a couple summers back. They have marbled interiors and cute marzipan decorations on top.

Googling “Fourth of July” baked goods will bring you many results, but here are a few of my favorite from around the Web.

The Busty Baker’s Red, White and Blue Cake is gorgeous…

as are her Firework Sugar Cookies.

There’s the classic Berry Flag Cake.

This one’s been making the rounds on Pinterest in various forms: Red, White and Blue layered drinks.

I hope these links have given you some ideas for your own Fourth of July yummies. Have a great holiday, don’t forget the sunscreen (or umbrella) and Happy Birthday, America!

Summer Treats

It’s been so long since I’ve posted that I’m not sure I still remember how to do it. Sorry I’ve been missing so long. I’ve been baking, just not posting. I’m going to rectify that today with a few desserts that are perfect for July or any time you’re craving something sweet.

First up are Fourth of July Cupcakes. These are just plain ol’ vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting; the secret is the tri-colored batter! All you have to do is divide your batter in halves or thirds and mix in some food coloring. I of course went with red, white and blue, but you could do whatever colors you like.

Fourth of July Cupcakes

I created the two-toned frosting by filling two small piping bags with red and white frosting respectively and then forced them into one larger piping bag with a large tip. Squeeze frosting out until you see both colors, then pipe away!

The second dessert is a tart treat and perfect for a warm summer afternoon barbecue– Key Lime Pie! Though technically, I just used regular limes, so I guess it’s a Lime Pie. Either way, it’s incredibly tasty and incredibly easy. You can find the recipe I used here.

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie

This pie is so easy to put together and holds up nicely in the refrigerator. I recommend making it the night before you want to eat it and waiting until a few hours before consuming to make and apply the whipped cream topping. It’s so delicious! Creamy and lightly tart with a really wonderfully simple graham cracker crust.

I’ve been baking so many things out of a new cookbook and I will post about it soon. I just have to make a few more things because I’ve been eating them before I can even take a picture!

My 30th Birthday Party

My dessert table and I

Yes, it’s true. I’m finally finally 30! I’ve been waiting since I was about 12 to turn 30 and I’m pumped that I’ve finally made it.

To celebrate, I threw myself a county fair themed birthday party. It was basically an excuse to do a ton of baking and make a dessert table. I also organized a few games of skill and a 1981 trivia contest.

I won’t bore you with the details, but I will bore you with lots of photos* from the day. Here we go!

Dessert table
The dessert table

Whiskey Apple Pie
Whiskey Apple Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (this was the hit – not even crumbs left!)

Vegan Blueberry Pie
Vegan Blueberry Pie

Vegan Cotton Candy Cupcakes
Vegan Cotton Candy Cupcakes

Vegan Ice Cream Conecakes
Vegan Ice Cream Conecakes

Caramel Apple Cake Pops
“Caramel Apple” Cakepops

Kiesha

* Some of these photos were taken by my sister-in-law Megan Duffy, but I can’t remember which are which. Obviously, any with me IN them were taken by her.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

This weekend was definitely a Jerseylicious weekend. We spent Saturday with friends and Sunday with family. As the food front was covered in spades with our family, I decided to bring dessert to the friends’ gathering.

Lately I have been trying to bake things that I’ve never made before. It’s my goal for the rest of the year to make a lot of stuff that is off my beaten path. So I decided to bake a pie that was neither apple nor pumpkin. I’d bake a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I’m not the biggest fan of strawberries. I love the flavor, but the texture always bothers me. I tend to find those little seeds in my teeth for days. And rhubarb? I can’t say that before Saturday I ever ate it in my life. It certainly doesn’t look like something that would be good in a pie.

Nevertheless, I busted out Martha Stewart’s Pate Brise recipe from her Baking Handbook and found a fairly simple filling recipe over at Epicurious.

I also cut out hearts out of pie crust dough for the top of my pie, although the next time I do this, I’m going to buy a smaller heart cookie cutter. These hearts looked like I’d spooned biscuit dough on top of my pie and they sorta resembled hearts…

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Epicurious recommends baking the pie for 20 minutes at 400 degrees and then lowering the temperature to 350 and baking for another hour and 20 minutes. I pulled my pie out 20 minutes early, because it had reached that point between smelling good and emitting smoke. I think I made the right decision, as the crust was a beautiful golden brown and the filling solidified within two hours.

And talk about solidifying! This was quite possibly the easiest chunky fruit pie I’ve ever sliced up. No oozing, no falling apart, just clean, smooth slices. Beautiful!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Everyone loved this pie. Even I liked this pie! The texture was good, chunky, but still solid and the flavor was great. Not too sweet, not too sour, but somewhere right in the middle. And I think it was my best pie crust to date.

I’ve also got to say I’m pretty pumped with my photos from this pie. I was working with less than ideal sunlight, but after a little Photoshopping, they came out looking pretty snazzy.

Strawberry Rhubarb PIe

Happy Pi Day!

Today, March 14 is National Pi Day. So naturally, I had to bake a pie.

Happy Pi Day!

I chose a Lemony Pear Pie from “Bubby’s Homemade Pies”. This pie tastes really great, but it is sort of a ‘wet’ pie. I cut into it and out came the lemon and pear juices, making it really difficult to serve pretty slices (hence why there are no pictures of sliced pie).

I also challenged Danae over at The Busty Baker to bake a pie as well, and you can read about her experience here.

Happy Pi Day, everyone! Stay tuned later this week for St. Patrick’s Day cupcakes!

Back to School: The Brooklyn Baker goes to the Institute of Culinary Education

So, as I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been all about pies lately. Sometimes I like to kill time on various culinary schools’ websites, thinking about becoming a pastry chef. While I don’t think I’ll ever do this (unless I win the lottery), I did notice that the Institute of Culinary Education offers recreational class, and it’s right in Manhattan.

I was looking at their list of classes a few weeks ago and found the Superb Spring Pies class. It was held on a Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and was $100. So I immediately signed up, and then made my way there last Sunday.

Student!

The recreational classes are held in empty classrooms right next to classrooms that are in use for actual students. Our class was held in a chocolate room which held two large stainless steel tables and more mixing bowls, professional-quality KitchenAid mixers and induction burners than I’ve ever seen in my life. I was in heaven.

The class accommodated ten people and began with all of us sitting around one of the tables and listening to the Chef Instructor go over the recipes and techniques we would be using. Each person could pick one of about twelve different pie recipes to create. I settled on Lemon Cream Meringue Pie, as I’ve never made one before.

We each paired up with another student and set to work making our pies. I finally learned how to make a decent pie crust without using a machine. At home I always use my hand held pastry blender, but in the class, we did it using only fingers to incorporate the butter into the flour. It came out amazing, much better than any pie crust I’ve ever made before.

While our pie crusts chilled, we started on our various fillings. Mine was a lemon-infused milk and cornstarch mixture with lemon juice.

Infusing milk with lemon on a induction burner

Let me just say that induction burners are a wonderful thing. They heat up in a millisecond.

Finally we assembled our pies and baked them (or baked the crust and then filled it with the cooled filling, as in my case) and put them all out to be admired. Here’s mine:

Lemon Cream Meringue Pie

As you can see, my crust sort of went south on me. I apparently left too much crust on the edges. I tried to do a fluted pie crust, but since there was too much crust, it wouldn’t hold up in the oven and instead, sort of dripped down the sides. So, other than the ugly crust edges, I think it turned out pretty cute. I used a pastry bag to apply the meringue and then got to use a torch to brown the meringue.

Here’s a sampling of some of my classmates’ pies:

Pies from my fellow students

Each pie then had one piece cut out of it so that we could sample each one. Man, were they good. The chocolate tarts were so rich you could only eat a bite, and the crumb-topped apple pie was still warm, which made it soooo delicious.

We each got to take home the rest of our pies, which my husband was delighted about. We polished off the rest of the pie by Tuesday.

I’m already checking out the schedule of classes for the rest of the summer and have found some that I’m very interested in (cakes and summer fruit pies!). If you’re in the New York area and are at all interested in baking and/or cooking, I would really recommend taking a class at ICE. Well worth the money and so much fun.