3-2-1 Pie Dough and Desserts!

Baked Apple Tart

3-2-1 Pie Dough and Desserts!

I love making pies. I’ve been working on improving my pie dough making for desserts over the past few months. I love making beautiful dessert tarts even more. Sure the rustic nature of a pie is great, but there is an elegance in making a tart.

With the birth of our son Jeremy, we have been blessed with support from family, friends, neighbors and the community at large. I decided to give back to one particular neighbor in the best way I know how, through food, after they gifted us a crib their youngest son grew out of.

I still prefer the 3-2-1 Pie Dough recipe ratio from Michael Ruhlman’s book, Ratio over others I’ve tried. The time it takes to make a solid pie dough and thus tart crust has increased significantly. The time increase mostly comes from the chilling process after working with the dough at each step to relax the gluten and prevent its formation. In my last entry I wrote about Pie Dough and Quiche Lorraine. I didn’t expand much on the pie dough process that much, so this post has pictures to help guide you along.

Pie Dough Ratio:

The first step for the tart dough was of course to make the pie dough ratio. Scaled down for one tart pan (or pie pan) it is:

  • 6 oz flour
  • 4 oz butter (1 stick) cut into chunks
  • 2 to 3 oz of water
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar (this is a sweet dessert after all)

I opted to keep the original amounts so I could make a tart for our neighbors while also being able to savor and judge the results myself. How else am I going to get better if I don’t taste and judge my own products?!

Method:

  1. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl or food processor.
    Dry Ingredients in Cuisinart
  2. Break the cold butter into chunks.
    Butter and Water
    Cut Butter
    Cut Butter
  3. Cut the butter into the flour, salt and sugar either by rubbing it in or by pulsing in the food processor.
    Butter into Dry Ingredients
    Combined Butter and Dry Ingredients*Note: Using a food processor makes it less likely that you’ll melt the butter with your body heat. We want to reduce the amount of water we use to prevent the creation of gluten which would result in a tough leathery crust.
  4. Slowly add water until the dough just comes together.
    Adding Water to Butter and Dry Ingredients*Note: It may be sandy or brittle. When resting in later steps, the water will be absorbed by the flour.
  5. Bring the dough together into the shape of a disk, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  6. Roll out the dough into a disc that is slightly bigger than the tart pan or pie pan you’ve chosen. Wrap in plastic and chill again for 30 minutes.
  7. Place the dough into the tart pan or pie pan you’ve chosen. Ensure that the dough is pressed into the edges. You can use your fingers for this.
  8. Trim any excess dough
    1. If using a pie pan, trim the excess dough from the edges with a knife. Leave a little extra if you’ll be pinching the edge to make it more decorative
    2. If using a tart pan, you can easily trim the excess by rolling over it with a rolling pin. The tart pan will cut the dough and you can peel off the excess.
      Rolling Out Tart Dough
      Rolling out tart dough
  9. Chill your tart pan or pie pan with dough
  10. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees
  11. Blind bake the tart crust for 20 to 25 minutes by either:
    1. Covering the dough with parchment paper and dried beans or pie weights or
    2. Docking the crust with a fork (poking holes). If bubble form while baking, simply poke them with a fork or small sharp knife.
  12. It’s ready when the sides take on some color and dry a small amount. We’ll be baking it long and slow later, so it doesn’t need to be fully cooked.
    Blind baked tart crust

Tart Filling

  • 4 apples, cored and peeled and sliced
  • 1 lemon, to prevent the browning of the apples and to add some flavor
  • ~ 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 oz (1/2 stick) butter, cut into small chunks
  1. Cut the apples into 1/4 inch slices.
  2. Cover the apples with lemon juice as you cut them to prevent browning.
  3. Arrange the apples in the blind baked tart crust
    Lining up apples
  4. Cover the apples with generous amounts of sugar. You may find that you don’t use all of the sugar. That’s ok!
  5. Add the chunks of butter on to of the sugar and apples.
    Butter and Sugar on top of Apples
  6. Bake until the crust is golden and the apples have softened while taking on some color.
  7. While still warm, glaze the apples with the heated apricot jam.
    Baked Apple Tart
  8. Enjoy!

Plated Apple Tart

 

I’m still working on technique, but enjoy making apple tarts. They remind me of my mom as she used to enjoy making them for parties. I hope you enjoy making them too! If you have any comments or questions, please post them below!

Bon Appétit!

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3-2-1 Pie Dough and Quiche Lorraine

It’s been a while since I’ve made quiche. I felt inspired and figured I’d take my culinary school knowledge to work.

I’ve made this pie dough in the past (posted here and here) and it still is one of my favorite recipes from Michael Ruhlman’s book, Ratio.

Pie Dough

The first step for the quiche was of course to make the pie dough. Scaled down for one tart pan (or pie pan) it is:

  • 6 oz flour
  • 4 oz butter (1 stick) cut into chunks
  • 2 to 3 oz of water
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt

Method:

  1. Combine the flour, and salt in a bowl or food processor.
  2. Break the cold butter into the flour and salt either by rubbing it in or by pulsing in the food processor
  3. Slowly add water until the dough just comes together.
    *Note: It may be sandy or brittle. When resting in later steps, the water will be absorbed by the flour.
  4. Bring the dough together into the shape of a disk, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  5. Roll out the dough into a disc that is slightly bigger than the tart pan or pie pan you’ve chosen. Wrap in plastic and chill again for 30 minutes.
  6. Place the dough into the tart pan or pie pan you’ve chosen. Ensure that the dough is pressed into the edges. You can use your fingers for this.
  7. Trim any excess dough
    1. If using a pie pan, trim the excess dough from the edges with a knife. Leave a little extra if you’ll be pinching the edge to make it more decorative
    2. If using a tart pan, you can easily trim the excess by rolling over it with a rolling pin. The tart pan will cut the dough and you can peel off the excess.
  8. Chill your tart pan or pie pan with dough
  9. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees
  10. Cover the pie dough with parchment paper and dried beans or pie weights and blind bake for 20 to 25 minutes. It’s ready when the sides take on some color and dry.

Quiche Filling

  • 4 eggs
  • 8 oz heavy cream
  • 4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
    * while not traditional, it’s what I had!
  • pinch of salt
  • white pepper to taste
  • bacon
  1. Crack eggs into a bowl
  2. Add the heavy cream and cheese
  3. Add salt and pepper and whisk
  4. Break/crumble bacon or the addition of your choice into the liquid

Finishing it all up

  1. When the pie crust is ready from blind baking, take it out of the oven, remove the parchment paper and immediately pour the liquid into it. The liquid will create a seal as it hardens preventing any leaks.

    Quiche Lorraine After Blink Baking
    After Blink Baking
  2. Make sure the cheese and bacon are easily distributed
  3. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the center is just set
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature and enjoy!
Right out of the oven
Right out of the oven, Rising Life a Soufflé
Quiche Lorraine hot and cooling
Hot and cooling
Quiche Lorraine cooled off
Cooled off
A tasty little slice of Quiche Lorraine
A tasty little slice

Tips:

  • For the pie dough, everything should be cold. Use ice water if you can.
  • Non-iodized salt is best for baking. It will distribute more evenly throughout
  • Chill your pie dough after working it each time. Chilling relaxes the gluten preventing a chewy crust. It should be chilled at least 3o minutes each time.
  • Think about the end product. For the filling I chose white pepper so as not to overpower the other flavors and so I wouldn’t have black specs in my quiche
  • Place the quiche tart pan or pie pan on a sheet pan. It will make the process of putting the tart into the oven and pulling it out much easier and safer.
  • Be careful and don’t place the quiche too close to the heating element if you’re using an electric stove. You might get more browning on the top than you intended.
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A Quick Pickle

One of my most-used recipes from culinary school actually came from one of my classmates. I’ve used it often at home and have shared it with friends. After making some modifications to suit my tastes, I also submitted the recipe to the first cookbook for the Harvard Farmer’s Market. I hope it gets published. This will be my first recipe published.

Using pickling cucumbers from our garden (more on our garden in a future post), I cut them up into appropriate sizes. The cucumbers were cut off the plan at different sizes so I could test what made the tastiest pickle and also see how they compared texture-wise.

Here are some pictures.

IMG_5349IMG_5375

Pickling Recipe & Method:

Food preservation through pickling is a great way to keep fresh delicious food available long after it’s in season. This simple pickle recipe works with a variety of foods to produce a slightly sweet and sharp pickle. Try it out with cucumbers, red & white onions, beets, carrots and other fresh items out of your garden or from the farmers market. For best results, let it sit for 12 hours. This pickle can also be stored long-term using a canning method.

Base Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 C White Vinegar
  • 2 T Sugar
  • 2 t Kosher Salt
  • 2 C water

Optional Ingredients:

  • 1 t of mustard seed or ground mustard 
  • Red chili flakes
  • Fresh dill

Equipment:

  1. Large non-reactive pot
  2. Wooden spoon
  3. A heat-safe large bowl for cooling or heat-safe canning jars

Method:

  1. Cut the food you would like to pickle into your desired size
  2. Fill the bowl or canning jars with the food to be pickled. Yield will depend on the density of your food items. Scale the recipe as needed keeping the ingredient ratios in tact.
  3. Combine the base ingredients in a large pot
  4. Bring the pot up to a strong simmer and stir ensuring the sugar and salt are dissolved
  5. Pour the pickling liquid over your pickling items in the bowl or jars ensuring that they are fully covered 
  6. Allow the liquid to cool to room temperature, around 70 degrees
  7. Place in the refrigerator for 12 hours or longer
  8. Enjoy!
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Mother’s Day

For mother’s we planned brunch at a new place, Rapscalion Table and Tap in Acton, Ma. To change things up I decided to make some scones for mom and by mother-in-law based on King Arthur’s recipe. I changed it up a bit for cinnamon and sugar for a sweet breakfast treat I knew she’d enjoy. The dough was dry, but came together at the end. Culinary School is definitely paying off. I’m more confident in the kitchen and can apply what I’ve learned to “sticky” situations.

 

Here are some pictures of what I made.

Cinnamon and Sugar Scones IMG_0134

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New Blog For Chef Training

This blog has always been about self-training and learning. As a result, I’ve created a new blog On Becoming A Chef, to chronicle my journey from enthusiastic cook to chef. The first step in this process has been enrolling in culinary school at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts and you’ll find a detailed account of my studies, learning and experience going through culinary school. This blog will continue to figure posts about learning at home, in recreational classes or general observations about food. I hope you enjoy them both.

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Orientation at The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts

Last night was hopefully the second easiest night I’ll have in culinary school at The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. The easiest night I hope is graduation! I got to meet my classmates, most of the staff and finalize details like taking a picture for my student ID. I was also given my student binder with syllabus, recipes for the program and student handbook. All that remains is finding the right shoes, non-skid closed toe shoes appropriate for the kitchen. I can’t wait to start next week. It’s all very surreal.

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Call the tailor, I’m almost ready

Culinary School Gear

Things are definitely getting real now. I showed up at school today for a fitting which was pretty exciting. On my way in, I was greeted by Matt, another admissions staff member I have been working with over the months. He showed me downstairs to purchasing to be fitted for my uniform. I tried on a few jacket sizes, pants and t-shirts, and narrowed them down to what fit and felt best. The jackets for students will all be embroidered with names, but I was able to bring home the rest including my knife and tool kit and books. Going through the process, and getting all of my stuff made all of this even more real. I’m so close to starting class. The payment of tuition definitely grounded it if all the stuff I had to carry home didn’t!

With orientation right around the corner next week, I’ll be starting classes including my knife seminars where I’ll ultimately pick out my chef’s knife after trying out a few sizes and styles.

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It’s That Time of Year Again

Chocolate Creamwiches with Peanut Butter Cream

The Christmas holiday brings about a great time of year. I really enjoy it because it allows me to spend a lot of time with family and friends and it’s a perfect time for baking and making food to share with others. Over the past few years I’ve made croissants and palmiers and kouign-amann. This year I wanted to make something different. Having spent the past several months in New York, I’ve been exposed to a lot of great food. From a business perspective, food service is ultra-competitive and everyone has to keep coming up with ideas to stand out. One place that I enjoyed going to is ‘wichcraft, an affordable gourmet sandwich shop opened as part of Tom Colicchio’s company which owns Craft, the famous restaurant. I particularly enjoyed eating their cream’wiches which are just small cookies put together and filled with cream to make a sandwich. After eating more than I probably should have, I decided that this year I would try and make them myself to share with family. Lucky for me, the ‘wichcraft blog had the recipes for both the chocolate and peanut butter variety. I made both, but only remembered to take pictures of the chocolate ones. I had fun, mixing and matching the fillings to add variety. I’ve posted some pictures below.

Chocolate Cream’wich

Peanut Butter Cream’wich

 

Chocolate Cream'wich Dough Chocolate Cream'wich Cookies Baked Chocolate Cream'wich Cookies Chocolate Cream'wich Cookies with Ganache Chocolate Cream'wiches Chocolate Cream'which Cookies with Peanut Butter Cream Chocolate Cream'wiches with Peanut Butter Cream

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I’ve Been Accepted to the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts!

Cambridge School of Culinary Arts Acceptance Letter

Great news to share, I’ve been accepted to the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts in the Culinary Certificate Program! I arrived home today find a packet in the mail with an acceptance letter and relevant school information. I’m super excited!

Based on the guidance from many people I spoke with at the school, I applied to the Culinary Certificate Program. This will enable me to get a solid grounding in cooking and baking along with seminars covering a variety of topics each week. The school allows students in the Certificate Program which is essentially the first half of the Professional Program to opt into the full program at the halfway point during the semester. The class is a mix of students in either the Certificate or the Professional program. There was no risk and starting this way enables me to immerse myself in the program and then continue or even switch over to the Certificate or Professional Pastry Program if I choose.

Over the next week I need to be measured for my uniform, and take care of other administrative items. Orientation is January 6th, 2015 with school starting on January 12th!

I also know that our texts will be On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals (5th Edition) by Chef Sarah Labensky, Priscilla A. Martel and Allan “Skip” M. Hause and On Baking (3rd Edition) by Chef Sarah Labensky, Priscilla A Martel and Eddy Van Damme. Surprisingly these books haven’t made it on my shelves yet, so they are welcomed additions. On Baking was recommended to me by Bonnie Slotnick of Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks in the West Village of New York City when I popped into her store this summer, so I’m pretty interested in reading it.

Even more to come as the program starts. Stay tuned.

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Interview at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts

Cambridge School of Culinary Arts

that was fast! I had just dropped off my application to the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts when my phone rang while I was in the checkout line at the supermarket. My heart sank when Denise in Admissions told me she was calling from the school. I quickly asked if I had forgotten anything in the application, the application I knew I had triple checked. As it turned out she was free and asked if I had time to come back for an interview. This was great news and definitely better than finding out that I had forgotten something.

I returned to the school about 30 minutes later and we spoke for a while, I answered some questions about my background, motivations and goals and even had to write a short narrative about my most memorable food experience. I left even more excited about things to come. I should hear back next week and hopefully with positive news. Fingers crossed, this blog is about to get a lot busier.

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