Friday, January 20, 2012

I'm'a bear! Flash Fiction!

Here's the very short three sentence story for this last week's Flash Fiction Challenge from The challenge was to make a three sentence story about a variety of animals, and I decided to use the bear. It's not a serious story, but a funny one.

I'm'a bear, I'm'a bear, I'm'a big dancing happy bear! I like berries, yes I do, yes I do like berries and I'm stuffing all the berries into my mouf as fast as I can because I'm'a bear and I like berries, oh yes I do, I dance for berries, look at my berry dance, dance, dance, I'm'a bear, nom nom nom!

Great, you're a bear Frank, we all know that because we're all bears, not stop doing your stupid berry dance and get to eating, we have a long winter ahead of us, which makes me so happy you're in another gorram den than I am because I can't stand your stupid hibernate dance either.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Perfect Pie Crust

New pie crust!

All butter pie crust from the Best of Fine Cooking Pies, Crisps and Cobblers
Awesome magazine!

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. sugar
3/8 tsp. salt
1/2 c cold butter, cut into cubes
3 - 4 Tbs cold water

Put the dry ingredients together, then put the butter in the bowl. Hand squish the butter in with the flour until it's all just mixed. This is fun! The butter should stay as cold as you can keep it, and don't over mix. The magazine says that it should become small disks of butter overlaid with flour.

I didn't know this, but the pie crust becomes flakey when the butter melts, then steams. The little pockets of air between the flour becomes the flaky crust. Pretty cool! But in order to do this, the butter and water have to be cold enough so they don't melt. Once it all melts, the pockets of butter aren't there anymore.

Once the flour and butter are mixed to be a crumbly mix, add the water a little bit at a time until it all mixes into a slightly sticky dough. Don't over mix. That's usually my biggest problem with baked goods. It should be a shaggy dough that holds shape when you press it together.

Form the dough into a disk and cover in plastic. Chill for at least an hour in the fridge. When it's ready to be rolled take it out and let it rest until it's just cold enough to depress the dough, but not so cold that it cracks under the finger imprint.

Bethany Pastry Cloth.
I usually keep the cloth in the freezer.
Roll it out, I actually took out my pie cloth to do this. I normally don't bother but I was really determined to make a good crust.

When I rolled this out I was suitably amazed. It was a great dough! I have a terrible time with pie crust usually, when it rolls out it's always crumbly and the rolling pin pulls it into all kinds of mangled shapes. This time it rolled out and was stretchy! I've never made a stretchy crust myself before! It rolled out smooth and I hate to keep harping it, but it was fantastic!

The crust, rolled out. So beautiful!

It was like a pie-crust-making-dream.

Anyways, the rest of the pie making was pretty typical. I made a mix of thawed strawberries, cornstarch and sugar (should have used more sugar) and a touch of cinnamon and since the crust turned out so beautifully I cut up the rest of the apple I had left, heated up the carmel I made with the previous pies, and made a couple apple pies too.

The crust, though, was defiantly the shining point. The all butter crusts I've made before have all been soggy and just tasted like liquid butter. This time the crust was delicate and didn't scream of butter. Next time I think I'll add a little vanilla to the mix in place of a little of the water, or at least some cinnamon or something. If I make strawberry filling, I think I'd add some sugar or maybe some honey.

I also learned with electric pie makers to let the pies cook about twice as long as they suggest, until the filling starts really bubbling and the crust stops having any wet looking spots on it.

The pies, I'm getting better at them!
It was fabulous! A great second try and I'm going to try the crust again. I'm pretty excited about the pie magazine.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Apple pies! How Electric!

So I got this to play around with. It's an electric mini-pie maker!

When we bought the laptop, we got reward points on it, which ended up being enough for a hefty gift certificate. Hubby insisted I buy this pie maker. Apple pies to make from points from my Apple computer!

I was really excited so I decided to whip up some pies to see how it worked last night.

I had some apples left from the holidays along with some store bought pie crust. 

It asked to mix up sugar, brown sugar, but I added spices. It's just not apple pie without cinnamon, nutmeg, and some cloves! I use Penzey's spices, they are so good! The vanilla bottle in the picture is theirs and has a whole vanilla bean in it, which I save to make vanilla sugar once the bottle is empty.

There wasn't nearly enough dough with the store bought brand, so I had to mix up my own, I used the pastry pie dough recipe with the book, I've never made crust with vinegar and eggs before, so it was a treat to make it. You can see my pie cutter here, it's old school and I love it. Cuts the shortening so well!

You can also see the rolling pin behind the bowl there. That's my great-grandma's (I think) and I love it. Old fashioned wood rolling pin, it even has a slight lopsided side because it was hand made. 

The recipe called for me to make basically a carmel sauce to pour over the apples once the apples were put into the bottom part of the pies. I've made carmel a couple of times before, I really love the smell of it! With the brown sugar it had a really nice brown butter smell.

One of the things about electric made pies is the filling needs to be cooked before it's put into the machine, so I made sure to keep the sauce nice and hot so the apples would cook once the sauce was poured on them. 

Here's everything all ready! The darker pie crust circles are the ones I made, and I did make two pies with the store bought crust. You can't really tell from the picture, but the crusts I made really had a lot of crumble to them, which was very frustrating.

I have gotten some tips from my friends on G+ and they advised me to use a little more water and have the shortening at room temp next time. Hopefully I can make a good sugar pie crust! The crust really does need to taste good, it's a big part of the mini-pie.

This is the mini-pies baking. The two two are the store bought crusts, they brown nicely. The bottom two are my crusts, which didn't brown as much, but were still nicely golden. Next time I'll put an egg wash on them.

This was actually my second batch. I found you can really stuff the pies silly with the apples and pour a ton of the carmel sauce on top. The carmel stuck to the top of the pie machine just wiped off like a dream, I'm really happy with the non-stick surface. I like easy clean machines! 

And here's the finished pies! The first one fell apart terribly because the crust split when I put the apples in. It wasn't until after I made the pies that I watched a youtube on making them and found that you can use the pie crust cutter that comes with the machine to push the crusts into their bowls, which will make it a lot easier to make these later. 

They were super tasty! The apples were nicely cooked and the carmel was a good sweet. Next time I'll add more caramel to each pie, layer it with the apples more instead of just pouring it over the top.

All in all I'm really happy I got this. I'm going to try to make an egg pie next, I think. I like breakfast pies a whole bunch! I found a recipe that uses bacon in the crust, which sounds fabulous!