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Entries in pie (34)

Sunday
Nov012009

Pie Time: The Most Amazing Pumpkin Banana Cream Pie with Brandy Whipped Cream

Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart with homemade brandy whipped cream
There are pies--and then there are truly great pies. And it's my great pleasure to introduce you to one of the truly great ones: Pumpkin Banana Cream Pie with Brandy Whipped Cream. This triple-decker treat is a triple-threat of awesome, combining recipes by Ina Garten and Tom Douglas, with some added variations (like Brandy whipped cream) dreamed up by my friend Nurit, ace baker and writer of 1 family. friendly. food., with whom I baked this hunk of delicious the other day. But really, words are wasted when we could be talking about how to get on the express train to having this pie in your mouth:

Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart with homemade brandy whipped cream
Pumpkin Banana Cream Pie with Brandy Whipped Cream

Nurit's Note: We used an 11-inch tart pan but you can use a regular pie pan. In any case, you probably will have some extra custard which you can layer and serve in pretty little bowls. (Check her site for her own posting about the pie, and check back soon for a separate post about this dessert!)

More notes:The pumpkin custard is based on Ina Garten’s Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart and the vanilla custard is based on Tom Douglas’s Coconut cream pie (but substituting banana for coconut). The dough was from a recipe of Nurit's, and the brandy whipped cream (ethereal!) was her brainchild as well.

For the dough:
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups self-rising flour
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup banana chips, crushed in food processor

For the pastry cream:
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract plus 1 teaspoon vanilla paste (the original recipe called for 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1-2 bananas thinly sliced

For the pumpkin custard layer:
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
A pinch ground nutmeg
3 extra-large egg yolks
1 package (2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 ripe banana, finely mashed
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup orange juice

For whipped cream:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons brandy

Make the dough. 

  1. Pulse butter, sugar, and flour in a food processor, or do it with hands, until you get big crumbs. Add the yolks, pulse until the crumbs are moist. Press into a generously greased 11-inch tart pan. Press banana chips into dough. Refrigerate covered for 30 minutes or so. 
  2. Bake at 375 F for 20-25 minutes.

Make the pastry cream. 
  1. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan until it almost comes to a boil. Add the vanilla. (If using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the bean and add both the seeds and pod to the milk mixture. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and stir occasionally.)
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and flour until well combined. Temper the eggs (to keep them from scrambling) by pouring about 1/3 cup of the scalded milk into the egg mixture while whisking. Then add the warmed egg mixture to the saucepan of milk. Whisk over medium-high heat until the pastry cream thickens and begins to bubble. Keep whisking until the mixture is very thick, 4 to 5 minutes more.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the butter and whisk until it melts. (Remove and discard the vanilla pod.) Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and place it over a bowl of ice water. Stir occasionally until it is cool. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a crust from forming and refrigerate until completely cold. The pastry cream will thicken as it cools.

Make the pumpkin custard layer.
  1. Heat the half and half, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, ginger, and nutmeg in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water until hot, about 5 minutes. Whisk the egg yolks in another bowl, stir some of the hot pumpkin into the egg yolks to heat them, then pour the egg-pumpkin mixture back into the double boiler and stir well. Heat the mixture over the simmering water for another 4 to 5 minutes, until it begins to thicken, stirring constantly (so the eggs to scramble) until it reaches 160 F degrees. Remove from the heat.
  2. Dissolve the gelatin in 1/4 cup orange juice (or water). Add the dissolved gelatin, banana, and orange zest to the pumpkin mixture and mix well. Set aside to chill in the fridge or use the same ice bath as the vanilla cream.
Make the whipped cream.
  1. In an electric mixer with the whisk, whip the heavy cream with the sugar and brandy on medium-high speed until firm peaks form.
Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart with homemade brandy whipped creamGoodbye, pie
Assemble it all.
When the custards and dough are cooled, assemble the pie by layering the fresh bananas on top of the dough. Then spoon with vanilla cream on top, smoothing the surface. Next, add the pumpkin custard, and last spoon the whipped cream. Decorate with banana chips or fresh banana slices (add fresh banana only shortly before serving so they don’t brown). Let pie set in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.

Keep up with my friend Nurit by visiting her site and by following her on twitter!

Monday
Oct262009

Apple of My Pie: A Field Guide to the Best Apples for Baking, from Pillsbury

Apples Vs Pie
Apple pie is pretty delicious most of the time, no doubt about it. But in the fall, when apples are in season, it gets heightened to a new level of awesome. But which apples are best suited for baking?

Thankfully, the kind people at Pillsbury, who currently have a "Love the Pie" campaign going on to promote making, eating, and sharing pie recipes (love it!) were kind enough to make a field guide detailing which kind of apples are best suited to baking, snacking, freezing, cooking, and so on. It's a keeper!

You can find more pie ideas (including recipes, contests, and general pie deliciousness) at the Pillsbury Pie page.
Love the Pie Apple guide from Pillsbury

Sunday
Mar152009

Twin Peaks: Cake Walk With Me: Cherry Pie and More in North Bend, WA

Cherry Pie, Twede's (The Twin Peaks Diner)
When it comes to pie's place in pop culture, one reference seems to stand out above any other: Agent Dale Cooper's love of good cherry pie and a "damn fine cup of coffee" in the strange little hamlet called Twin Peaks


Twede's CafeLaura Palmer
Twin Peaks, of course, is a fictional town. But many of the show's exterior locations--including the diner in which said pie and coffee were consumed--were filmed in the very real towns of Snoqualmie and North Bend, about a half-hour outside of Seattle. And so it seemed appropriate for a posse of Cake Gumshoes to venture out and sample some of the immortal pie on March 14 (aka "the other pie day"). 

Damn Fine Cherry PieCherry Pie, Twede's (The Twin Peaks Diner)
Twede's Cafe is very aware of its status as cult destination: the tee shirts and exterior proudly proclaim it as the home of the "Twin Peaks Pie". As a dining destination it's not especially memorable (though their Tweetie-bird heavy decor might give you David Lynch-esque nightmares) but their typical diner fare (burgers, sandwiches, fries) is satisfyingly salty and greasy. Of course, anything savory you might order is really just foreplay.
The main event really occurs when they bring out the pie.

Coffee at  Twede'sPies at Twede's (The Twin Peaks Diner)
The double crusted cherry pie is served warm in a dish, topped with whipped cream (or, if you'd like, a la mode). We ordered ours with coffee (naturally). 
The pie itself is...fine. It's not a bad pie, but it's not really an above average pie either. The filling is syrup-sweet, the crust a little too chewy. But somehow, this is not the point. After all, while Agent Dale Cooper rhapsodized about the pie and coffee, it somehow seems clear that the quality is also beside the point: it's more about the ritual, the act of giving oneself a treat--a moment of sweet respite, if you will. And on that point, the pie delivered. After all, taking an adventure with friends and seeking out this sweet treasure on a rainy Saturday--the real reward was the journey itself.

Cherry Pie, Twede's (The Twin Peaks Diner)
Of course, if all of this rambling about the journey strikes you as a little bit new agey-- we hear you. So if you're seeking a damn good pastry, why not head two doors down, to George's Bakery & Deli. Though we hear mixed reviews about their deli fare, the bakery is a gem: we picked up a most delicious frosted cookie, spied some mazurkas, and discovered a cake we'd never seen--the Fyrstekake. And yes--they even had cherry pie.

Frosted cookie from George's Bakery, North Bend, WACherry Pie, George's Bakery, North Bend WA
Twede's Cafe, 137 W. North Bend Way, North Bend, WA, (425) 831-5511; online at twedescafe.com.


Twede's Cafe on Urbanspoon

 

Also mentioned: George's Bakery & Deli, 127 W. North Bend Way, North Bend, WA, (425) 888-0632; online at UrbanSpoon.
George's Bakery & Deli on Urbanspoon

Wednesday
Mar112009

Humble Pies: How Many Have You Tried?

Marionberry pie, Irwin's Coffee and Bakery

There's some controversy on the subject of which day National Pie Day ought to be celebrated, either January 23 (as specified by the American Pie Council) or March 14 (as specified by the math geeks of the universe). We've got the perfect solution though: why not celebrate on both days? Certainly there's enough pie love to go around.
With March 14th coming around, we decided to forgo the usual apple, pumpkin or blueberry pie in favor of compiling a list of somewhat lesser-known pies; each is linked to a recipe or page explaining its history. Maybe you'll come across some old favorites or new discoveries. But mostly we're curious...how many have you tried? 
If you're so inclined, feel free to post about it on your site or leave a comment below--if you want to get really fancy, you can specify which ones you've tried by italicizing which ones you've eaten, and link back to this post so everyone can judge--er, see--your responses!
And of course, if you have any other "forgotten" pies that you think we should know about, do tell!

Acorn Pie
Avocado Pie
Bean Pie
Butter Tart Pie
Cactus Pie
Chess Pie

 

Sunday
Feb152009

Pie, A La Mode: A Campaign to Make Pie Cooler

A La Mode, a Pie Gossip Magazine
Every so often, someone will make that grand, sweeping statement: "Pie is the New Cake". Usually, this is someone who owns or is related to the owner of a pie-related business. Unfortunately, in a world which supports cupcake shops opening roughly every five minutes, pie has simply failed to have the same effect in the baked-good market.

So what's the problem? Clearly, it's a lack of media attention. After all, what did Heidi get for Posh on her birthday? What does Katie pick up for a sweet afternoon snack with Suri? Sorry, pie--but cupcakes are most definitely taking that cake.

But we feel for you pie lovers--really, we do. And so, in an effort to lend a helping hand in getting pie the attention it deserves, may we humbly suggest the following tried-and-true tabloid methods to be applied for pie promotion? Here goes:

Stir up some controversy:


A La Mode, a Pie Gossip magazine

 

Get people thinking about the issues that touch pies' lives:


A La Mode, a Pie Gossip magazine

 

Dish about fashion faux pas:


A La Mode, a Pie Gossip magazine

 

But of course--in spite of everything, don't forget to show how pies really are just like us:


A La Mode, a Pie Gossip magazine

 

 

Scandalized? Well, they say there's no such thing as bad press; surely these sweet tips are the first step in making pie the true cream of the crop--or at least shaking off some of that wholesome crusty image.

 

Saturday
Jan242009

Pie, Oh My: The Most Amazing National Pie Day Celebration Ever

Best Pie Day Ever!
Did you know that January 23rd was National Pie Day?


Now, some may argue that the day to celebrate pie ought to be March 14th.

 

Unfortunately, these math nerds missed out on the cool-kid party we attended last Friday: a no-holds barred, absolute pie love-in, the likes of which we'd never seen.
Pie Day LocationEAT PIE!
It was held at the Salmon Bay Eagles Hall in Ballard, Seattle; while the sign said FOE, the sandwich board definitely let on that PIE meant FRIEND.
Glowing Pie at Pie Celebration
Tees for Sale at Pie day celebrationPrize Table
Inside, a veritable pie nirvana awaited, including music ("American Pie", anyone?) by our new favorite band the Fillings; EAT PIE t-shirts (designed by Christine Larsen); ginormous glowing pie sculptures; a projector screening various pie imagery, and of course, a delightful table of raffle prizes (including Cakespy artwork!).
With Music by "The Fillings"Me and Mary, the Pie Party organizer
The organizer, Mary, and her team (the À la mode girls) all wore the cutest pie-themed headpieces and dresses. (pictured: Head Spy Jessie with Mary)

Coconut Cream PiePecan PieCranberry Walnut PieThe Lemon Chess Pie was quite popular

Pie Buffet, with ice cream for those who prefer a la modePieSpy!
But of course, truly, the Pièce de résistance was the pie buffet: a series of tables set together in a line, it must have been over 30-ish feet long, with every type of pie you could ever dream of, both sweet and savory. We ogled over and sampled sweet varieties such as coconut cream, lemon chess, blueberry, marionberry, bourbon pecan, and more; even though we don't usually foray into savories, the Veggie Frito pie does deserve at least a mention. In a stroke of what can only be described as sheer brilliance, a large tub of vanilla ice cream (donated by Molly Moon) was positioned at the end of the line, a sweet gesture for those who preferred their pie à la mode; nearby, a station with milk and coffee offered accompaniments, but of course the cool and over 21 crowd could go to the adjoining bar area.

Of course, even sweeter than the pie was the mission: proceeds from raffle ticket sales went toward The Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research

Seriously, words cannot really convey the true awesomeness of this Pie Day event.
Peanut Butter Mini Pies
In honor of the day, here is the offering that Head Spy Jessie made to the Pie Buffet: Cup-pies so dense and delicious, they'll knock your socks off (or rot your teeth out, either/or). Though the white chocolate version is shown, we brought the dark chocolate variety to the party.
White or Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup-pies

Crust (to be blind-baked before filling), recipe adapted from Taste of Home:
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons cold water
Preheat oven to 450. In a bowl, combine flour and salt; cut in shortening until crumbly. Gradually add water, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball. Roll out to desired thickness (maybe slightly thinner than you would for a regular-sized pie) on a floured surface; either cut with a biscuit cutter or round cookie cutter (or just eyeball it and cut with a knife, you can shape it later) to about 2.5 inches across; press into cupcake cups and with fingers, shape to fit (I found this works best with silicone cupcake cups, which are sturdier than paper variations). This amount will make anywhere from 8-12 cup-pies, depending on how thick you like the crust. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until slightly browned on the edges.
Filling (not baked), adapted from Diana's Desserts:
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate chocolate, coarsely chopped 
OR
  • 8 ounces white chocolate couverture, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream 
  • 2 heaping tablespoons peanut butter (I used Peanut Butter and Co.'s White Chocolate Wonderful)
Microwave chocolate and whipping cream in medium bowl on HIGH for 2 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring every minute. Beat with wire whisk until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended. Add the 2 tbsp. of peanut butter; mix well. Spoon into prebaked (already cooled) shells. Refrigerate let cool; refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.
Note: You may have extra filling, depending on how thick your crusts are. If so, it's...um...delicious by the spoonful.
For more info on all things pie, visit piecouncil.org, or to get in on the argument over holiday's date, visit The Stranger. Though it's not been active for some time, the Mini Pie Revolution has a lot of cute ideas too.

 

Sunday
Nov302008

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Presidential Sweet: A Tour of Presidential Holiday Desserts

Presidential Sweet
The holidays are a wonderful time, aren't they? You get to sit around and eat. Hopefully at someone else's house, where they cook and you don't have to clean up afterward.

But what about the big house? That is to say, the White House? We began to wonder what sweets and traditions might have played into Presidential culture, in both the current age and years past. And luckily, we were chosen by Foodbuzz for the 24, 24, 24 project so we suddenly had the time and the means to learn and explore a bit more--all amounting to quite a sweet surprise for our family and friends the entire week of Thanksgiving! Let's just say it wasn't just one day of feasting chez Cakespy.

Mount Cupmore

 

The below is a combination of the actual dishes served based on actual Presidential menus we've located, known favorite recipes of the presidents and their wives, and, you know, a little mischievous daydreaming of our own. We made several of the recipes and served them to family and friends--and so, without further ado, here's a summation of several of our favorite Presidential-inspired dishes, going in chronological order:

A note about Thanksgiving: You'll notice that most Thanksgiving recipes kick in later on in the list--this is because although the first one was celebrated in 1671, it wasn't actually a holiday (or even celebrated regularly) until 1863, when Abraham Lincoln finally made it a national holiday. But there was plenty of other holiday goodness going around before--and since!
George thinks the cake is great
Washington's Great Cake: Our journey of delicious started with the big man, that Cherry-tree killa George Washington (OK, so maybe he did it, maybe not). Though George Washginton did have a Thanksgiving dinner, what we found much more entrhralling was Martha's famous "Great Cake" (read more here!), one of her favorites which was traditionally served at Christmastime. This cake truly was great--especially in size, as it called for 40 eggs, 4 pounds of butter, and a variety of fruits including 2 pounds of apples, and plenty of cream sherry. While tempted, the materials just seemed like a bit of a wast, so ultimately we did the recipe in 1/8 scale and it actually worked out ok; we ended up swapping egg-white icing (an acquired taste in our opinion) for a rich cream cheese frosting with some festive stars. George would approve, we think. If you want to try the actual recipe for THE great cake though, check out this site.
Cake frosting
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Corn Pudding
Thomas Jefferson's Corn Pudding: TJ was certainly a renaissance man, and in addition to a great deal of hobbies and interests, he was quite the gourmand--he's even credited with introducing the greater US culture to the île flottante (which he served at a New Year's fete). Though Thanksgiving wasn't technically a holiday yet, we like to think that he'd serve something like this sweet corn pudding at his table--a popular recipe during his Presidential years. At our table, we found it to be a pleasant-tasting dish--like some types of cornbread, gently skirting the line between side dish and dessert.
Thomas Jefferson's Corn Pudding
Sweet Corn Pudding Recipe
  • 2 c. whole kernel corn (1 16 oz. can) drained
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 1/2 stick butter
Place all ingredients in a blender and mix at high speed 10 seconds. Pour into well greased baking dish and bake 45 minutes at 375 degrees. To make enough for company I triple the corn and double everything else and bake it for an hour or more until a knife comes out clean.
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Gingerbread
Madison's Gingerbread: While to many, the Madisons (namely, Dolley) are linked to ice cream, Dolley also had a much warmer, but equally delicious, favorite for the holidays--Soft Gingerbread. Apparently hers got its unique and delicious flavor from beef drippings, but call us chicken, we decided to use butter instead and while we have no point of comparison, this one was very moist and delicious, so the butter seemed to have worked just fine. If you'd like, though, be the judge yourself!

DeliciousDelicious
Dolley Madison's Soft Gingerbread
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2/3 cup fresh beef drippings
  • 1 rounded tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 cup very hot water
  • 2 and 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 rounded tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • Powdered sugar (to top)
Mix molasses and beef drippings; dissolve baking soda in the 1/4 cup of hot water and add to molasses and drippings mixture. Sift together flour, ginger and cinnamon and add alternately with the cup of very hot water to molasses and dripping mixture. Beat well until batter is thoroughly mixed and soft enough to pour. Bake in shallow, well-greased pan at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, or until center of cake springs back when pressed gently. Serve warm, sprinkledwith powdered sugar. Makes 6 servings.

President stuff
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Martin Van Buren's Doughnuts: Well, we didn't actually make them, but we were fascinated to learn two facts about MVB: first, he and his wife spoke Dutch at home (he was American-born but of Dutch heritage); the second, that his favorite food was doughnuts. Here's a recipe for an 1800's era Dutch doughnut (oliebollen) that we bet he would have loved on Christmas morning.
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*Mischievous note* William Henry Harrison Might have Liked it: well, he wasn't president for long. but, he did prompt us to learn more about Funeral Pie.
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*Mischievous note* James K. Polk might not have had much of an interest in food, but we'd officially like to dedicated the Bûche de Noël and the millefueille to him--after all, he was Napoleon of the Stump.
--------------------------------------------------------------
Mary Todd Lincoln's Cake
Abraham Lincoln / Mary Todd Lincoln's Vanilla-Almond Cake: It's said that this is the one Mary made when courting Lincoln in the early days. Since they both met and later married during the holiday season--not to mention that Honest Abe declared it to be the best cake he'd ever tasted-- we figure it's a good holiday offering to represent Lincoln's era.
While the cake itself is good--dense, slightly nutty, and plenty buttery--we're not so sure about its aphrodisiac powers. We made our cake in just one layer, not two; all the more frosting to glaze on over it all.

 

 

Mary Todd Lincoln's Vanilla-Almond Cake (via Recipe Goldmine)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 1 cup almonds, finely chopped
  • 6 egg whites, stiffly beaten
  • White Frosting
  1. Cream together sugar, butter, and vanilla extract.
  2. Stir together the cake flour and baking powder; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir in almonds.
  3. Gently fold in the egg whites.
  4. Pour into two greased and lightly floured 9 x 1 1/2-inch round baking pans.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees F for 28 to 30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans. Fill and frost with White Frosting.
White Frosting: In a saucepan, combine 1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water, 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar and dash salt. Bring mixture to boiling, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

 

In mixing bowl place 2 egg whites; very slowly pour the hot sugar syrup over, beating constantly with electric mixer until stiff peaks form, about 7 minutes. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
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Cakespy Note: Though it's not strictly dessert, we couldn't help but notice that Andrew Jackson, FDR, Calvin Coolidge, and LBJ all had an admitted penchant for pancakes. We'll bet these carb-lovin' presidents would have enjoyed this Christmas tree composed of crepes like this one.
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William Howart Taft: It takes only a mere glance at the man to tell that he was as serious about sweets as he was about politics (it's true--he weighed well over 300 pounds). Apparently above all he had a soft spot for pumpkin pie; while we found the recipe below online for a "William Taft Pumpkin Pie", it seems a little bit suspect (we're not sure if they had canned milk then...does that sound ignorant?) we've gotta believe that in a different era, he'd have enjoyed the one at the bottom of this post even better.
  • 9 Inch pie crust
  • 1/4 c Granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c Brown sugar
  • 3/4 c Canned milk
  • 3/4 c Fresh milk
  • 1 1/2 c Pumpkin
  • 2 Eggs; separated
  • 1/4 ts Allspice
  • 1 ts Cinnamon
  • 1/2 ts Ginger (if you wish)
  • 1/2 ts Salt

Line a 9-inch pie pan with pastry. Mix sugars, salt and spices. Add
pumpkin. Add egg yolks and milk. Add more spices, if desired. Last, fold in
beaten egg whites, not too stiff. Pour filling into unbaked pie shell. Bake
at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, then turn down to 350 degrees until done,
about 30 to 40 minutes (depending on your oven). Pie ready when knife comes
out of filling clean.

 

Pietime!Tasting pie is serious business
--------------------------------------------------------------
Sweet Potato Casserole
Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Richard Nixon (his menu below) and Lyndon B. Johnson were apparently huge fans of the sweet potato casserole; happily, there's an official White House recipe. We doubled the marshmallow for added awesomeness. The founding fathers would approve, we think. We sure dug into this one with relish--er, sweetness.


November 27, 1969

 

 

  • 8 medium sized sweet potatoes,
  • roasted, peeled and passed through
  • a fine mesh sieve
  • 3 whole eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ bag miniature marshmallows
  • cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, lightly mix all the ingredients except the marshmallows. Spray a 9 inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Pour the custard and top with a half bag of mini marshmallows. Bake for about a half hour. Keep warm for service.
Sweet Potato Casserole
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Truman mini pie
Harry S. Truman's Light Pie: Via The Old Foodie, we discovered this excerpt from a 1946 edition of the New York Times:

WHITE HOUSE MENU GUARDS WAISTLINE.
The White House announced today an ample menu for the Thanksgiving dinner which President Truman will sandwich in between two diplomatic dinners, but he’s still dieting.

 

The continued waistline-reduction regime is on the authority of Mrs. Mary E. Sharpe, White House housekeeper, who counts the Presidential calories. She declined to elaborate other than to say: “When I make up menus I keep it in mind.”

Mrs. Sharpe gave the Thanksgiving menu as follows: clear bouillon, curled celery and olives, roast stuffed turkey, cranberry sauce, giblet gravy, candied sweet potatoes, buttered peas, cauliflower au gratin, orange and cress salad, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and cheese, candied fruit, nuts, coffee.

And so, we figured that it would be in keeping to make a pint-sized (diet friendly) pie for Harry--so, with an extra bit of filling from the Mesnier recipe (bottom) we made a single-serve piece in a cupcake cup, with a low-fat marshmallow topping. Still yummy, and mos' def cute!

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Jackie Kennedy's Hot Fruit DessertJackie Kennedy's Hot Fruit Dessert
Kennedy's Hot Fruit Dessert Pies: It's known that assorted pies and ice cream always played a role in the Kennedy Thanksgiving dinner. However, we took it a step further by combining the pie idea with Jackie Kennedy's famous Hot Fruit Dessert (click here for the recipe)--her signature dish. We made the dessert but then baked it in as a pie filling; we used extra pie crust from the recipe at the bottom of this post and used it to line cupcake cups, filling them with the fruit slurry and topping it all off with a brown sugar glaze on top. Though we're not usually fruit pie fans, this one had enough of a rich kick from the buttery glaze and sour cream that even we were impressed. As seen below, we think JFK approves as well. Of course if you don't care for fruit pies, you could always try to replicate these cookies.
JFK approves
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Ladybird Johnson's Lemon Cake
Johnson's Lemon Cake: Behind every great President is a great First Lady, and behind at least one first lady--Ladybird Johnson--was a great arsenal of awesome cake recipes. We went for one of her (and the President's) favorites--taking a modern twist and making them into cupcakes. The result? A cupcake that is light, fluffy, and simply delicious--so refreshing, it provides a nice foil to all of those other holiday foods!

 

 

Ladybird Johnson's Lemon Cake
  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine (at room temperature)
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
What's in the batter?
Icing Ingredients
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine (at room temperature)
  • 1 lemon, Grated rind only
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons cream (or more, until spreading consistency)
  • Yellow food coloring, if desired

Directions:
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks until light and lemon-colored; blend into creamed mixture. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt; resift 3 times. Add sifted ingredients to creamed mixture in thirds, alternating with milk. Beat the batter thoroughly after each addition.

 

Add vanilla extract, lemon rind and lemon juice; beat 2 minutes. Bake in greased 10-inch Bundt pan in preheated oven at 325 degrees F for 1 hour or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. You can also can use three 9-inch round cake pans and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Double the frosting recipe for a layer cake.

Lemon Icing
Combine ingredients and beat, adding cream until desired consistency.

Ladybird Johnson's Lemon Cake (as cupcakes)
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Tassies
Jimmy Carter's Pecan Toffee Tassies: Now, Jimmy Carter did have holiday meals at the White House, duh, but even more importantly, he was the first Presidential figure to ever bake with Paula Deen--so we'd say that these cookies are a step above. We'd serve these at any Christmas party. Ours were stickier and less pretty than Paula's, but man, were they rich and delicious. Needless to say, they disappeared really fast.

Pecan Toffee Tassies (Via Paula Deen)

 

  • 1 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 (10-ounce) package almond brickle chips
  • Directions
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Unroll the piecrusts onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into 2 (15-inch) circles. Cut out 48 circles using a 1 3/4-inch fluted or round cookie cutter, re-rolling dough as needed. Place in 1 3/4-inch muffin pans, pressing on the bottoms and up the sides of each of the mini-muffin cups. Combine the melted butter, brown sugar, flour, and eggs in a large bowl, mixing well. Add the vanilla. Stir in the pecans and brickle chips. Spoon the pecan filling evenly into the pie shells. Bake for 25 minutes, or until filling is set and crust is lightly browned. Cool in pans on wire racks.

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Presidential Eggnog
And now, to the modern day. What better to get into the spirit of the holidays than with some holiday spirits? For 11 years spanning the Clinton and George W. Bush presidencies, this eggnog recipe has ruled. In White House Chef, author Walter Scheiber describes how
every year, the holiday season was kicked off with the "running of the 'nog", our playful way of referring to the tour of the House we made with the eggnog (and a riff on the "running of the bulls" from Pamplona, Spain).
What can we say? This is the real deal--it certainly packs a punch, and even if it was just thanksgiving, it certainly put our crew in a celebratory mood. (Though for full disclosure, we didn't have Cognac so just doubled up on the rum. *hic*)
White House Eggnog
  • 5 ounces egg yolks (6-7 yolks)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup bourbon
  • 3/4 cup Cognac
  • 3/4 cup dark rum
  • 7 ounces egg whites (6-7)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 quart milk, plus more if needed
  • Nutmeg, for serving
  1. Put the yolks and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with whisk attachmen; whip until pale yellow ribbons form, 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add the cognac, bourbon, and rum, whip well, scrape down the sides, and mix again. Transfer the mixture to a 6-qt bowl.
  3. In separate, clean mixer bowl, whip the egg whites and salt until very stiff peaks form. Fold into eggnog mixture.
  4. Wipe out the mixer bowl, pour in the cream and vanilla, and whip until very stiff peaks form. Fold this into the eggnog mixture. Add the milk and whisk until smooth, 3-5 minutes.
  5. Chill, garnish with nutmeg (and cinnamon, in our case!) and enjoy!
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Yes We Pie
And for the past 25 years or so, apparently one pie has risen above all others in the White House: Raymond Mesnier's Ginger Pumpkin Pie. So we made it--here's one thing we wouldn't mind passing on to the next administration, we must say.

 

 

Presidential Pumpkin Pie With Ginger
Ingredients for the Pie Crust
Makes enough for 2 12-inch pie shells.

  • 3 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups shortening, plus some for greasing parchment

Recipe for pieProduct Placement?
Ingredients for the Pumpkin Filling
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 Tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 18 ounces milk
  • 2 2/3 cups plain canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 baked 12-inch pie shell (recipe below)
  • 1/2 pint heavy cream
  • Candied ginger, finely cut

Directions for the Pie Crust

 

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place ingredients in mixing bowl. Then using paddle attachment of an electric mixer, mix until well blended, about 3 minutes.
2. Divide dough in two; shape each into a ball. (Dough balls can be wrapped and frozen.)
3. Roll out on floured surface into a round to fit a 12-inch glass pie plate. Trim crust at edge of plate. (It will be covered with whipped cream.)
4. Prick crust with fork on bottom and sides. Crumple a piece of parchment paper; open up and grease one side of the paper. Place greased side down in crust; fill bottom and a little up the sides with dried beans.
5. Bake 15 minutes; remove from oven, and carefully remove paper and beans. If crust tears, patch it by pressing together with your fingers. Bake another 10 minutes, until crust is brown, and remove. It is not necessary to wait for crust to cool before filling.

Directions for the Pumpkin Pie

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Beat whole eggs and yolks lightly.
3. Cream sugar and eggs, and beat in salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and milk until thoroughly blended. Stir in the pumpkin. Pour into pre-baked pie shell.
4. Bake about 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Do not jiggle. Cool pie on wire rack, then chill.
5. To serve, whip cream and pipe around edge of pie; decorate with candied ginger.

(Eggnog and pumpkin pie Recipes courtesy of Roland Mesnier, Chief White House Pastry Chef, copyright 2001.)
Yes We Pie

 

As for a grand finale? How about a sculpture of Mt. Rushmore rendered in sugar cookie dough and cake? OK, it sounded great in theory--but alas, our chef d'oeuvre turned out to be a major chef don't. And yet...while eating hunks sugar cookie dough molded into a vague visage of a President, one can't help but be slightly dazzled by all that sweetness--regardless of whether the outcome looked more like an unholy mashed potatoes and peas combination. Hey, you win some, you lose some.
Mt Rushmore from sugar cookie dough
In closing? Have a sweet Holiday Season, and thank you again to Foodbuzz for letting us have fun with the 24, 24, 24 project--and do check out the other entries here!

For suggested further reading, check out the sources we used for this post:

Dessert University: More Than 300 Spectacular Recipes and Essential Lessons from White House Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier
The White House Cook Book : A Comprehensive Cyclopedia of Information for the Home Containing cooking, Toilet and Household Recipes, Menus, Dinner Giving Table, Etiquette, Care of the sick, Health Suggestions, Facts Worth Knowing Etc.
Presidential Tidbits & Trivia by Sid Frank and Arden Davis Melick
The President's Table: Two Hundred Years of Dining and Diplomacy
Zimbio.com
Hugging the Coast

 

 

 

Friday
Nov282008

Shake it Up: The Lovely and Amazing Pumpkin Pie Milkshake

Pumpkin Pie Shake
There's a lot of attention given to Thanksgiving Leftovers. From smashed potato cakes to stuffing fritters to creative recipes that go far beyond the standby turkey sandwich, the leftovers are sometimes even more coveted than the feast itself.

However, never until this year had we ever had to worry about leftover Pumpkin Pie. In general, it gets--wait for it--gobbled up straightaway.
However, this year, having made not one but four different pies (more about that in a few days), we suddenly did find ourselves with leftovers. While steaming milk for coffee this morning, suddenly we had a memory of recently having read about a gorgeous-sounding apple pie shake in John T. Edge's Apple Pie book; why not try it with some pumpkin pie?
Now, we're certain that there are a zillion different variations that you could use, but here's what we did--and man, was it delicious.
  • 6 ounces unsweetened soy milk (we're sure dairy milk would be fine too, this just happened to be what we had)
  • Dash of soy creamer
  • small handful mini marshmallows
  • 1 small slice pumpkin pie (we used one on which the crust measured about 2 inches)
  • 4-5 ice cubes
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger to taste
  • Leftover PiePumpkin Pie Shake
  1. In a small saucepan, warm soy milk and creamer; once warm, add marshmallows and continue to warm (but not boil) until marshmallows are fully melted. Add in cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger or spices to taste.
  2. Place pie slice in blender.
  3. Pour liquid mixture over pie slice, and add ice cubes
  4. Blend until smooth

Pumpkin Pie Shake
Try to drink slowly; inevitably, it will be so delicious that you'll get brain freeze. Wait it out, then repeat. It's sure to give you energy for all that shopping you've got to do.

 


 

 

Wednesday
Oct082008

Sweetie Pie: Learning to Love the Navy Bean Pie

 

Banana Bean Pie
You know those little ad words that google oh so sweetly places at the top of your email browser? Well, recently one of those intrigued us, because it was for a type of baked good we'd never heard of before: the navy bean pie. Now, upon first thought the idea of a navy bean pie isn't necessarily attractive, but then again, when you really think about it, does "sweet potato pie" or "zucchini cake" really sound delicious at first? So, we decided to give these bean pies a try.

 

Pie Tasting
OK, so what are they? According to Wikipedia, a bean pie is a "sweet custard pie whose filling consists of mashed beans—usually navy beans—sugar, butter, milk, and spices." But beyond that, where do these pies come from? While the bean pies are associated with soul food cuisine, a very interesting wrinkle is that they are also associated with the Nation of Islam movement: its leader, Elijah Muhammad, encouraged their consumption in lieu of richer foods associated with African American cuisine, and the followers of his community commonly sell bean pies as part of their fund-raising efforts. And as trybeanpie.com says,

 

"The Navy Bean Pie is a nearly century old recipe that originated in the Holy
City of Mecca.
The Bean Pie was introduced in America around 1930 in the community known as Black Bottom Detroit, the Black community. It was originally formulated as a healthy alternative for sweet potato pie."

 

Now, while the Nation of Islam movement (and the pies) seem to have roots in Detroit, we first encountered the pies through Sister Nadine's, which is based in Boston (if you're interested in their story, read about it here.) Cakespy Note: We feel we should give them props for packaging the pies very securely; they and arrived in Seattle in perfect condition.

OK, and so now that you're educated, how did they taste?

 

Original Bean Pie
First we tried the "Original" bean pie. The texture was on par with that of a pumpkin pie, slightly custardy and not overly sweet; surprisingly, the beans did not lend any grittiness to the chewing process--had we not known that these were bean pies, we might not have known what they were (but of course, that would not have stopped us from continuing to eat it). We ate ours plain, but bet it would attain a few degrees of additional deliciousness if paired with vanilla ice cream or a thick layer of whipped cream.

Blueberry Bean Pie

 

The second one we tried was the Blueberry bean pie. We thought this was a strange flavor, but it was ultimately rewarding--the blueberries were the first taste that hit the palate; as Mr. Cakespy put it, if this pie could speak, it would say "Hi, my name is blueberry...and this is my pie". This sweet initial taste, paired with a more substantive bite of the bean filling, made it an unusual, but addictive, pie. Of all of them, this was probably our favorite.

 

Banana Bean PieBanana Bean Pie

 

Finally, we went for the banana bean pie. Once again, it was an unusual flavor combination, but somehow it worked. The banana didn't necessarily hit you right away--it was more of a complement than a contrast to the bean filling, and the flavors sort of, if you'll allow us to be poetic for a moment, well, blossomed inside of the mouth. Paired with the substantive crust, these reminded us fleetingly of banana pakoras (but of course, baked, not fried). Overall, a very nice pie for banana fans.

 

 

All things considered? Our investment was well worth it--we were happy to discover a new baked good, and rewarded to find them delicious. They're definitely a more substantial dessert, but a very tasty one too--the perfect addition to a fall baking repertoire.
To buy Sister Nadine's bean pies, visit sisternadines.com; if you want to try your own, why not give this recipe a whirl?

 

Sunday
Sep282008

American Pie: Recipe for a Quick Fix

Not apple pie
Apple pie is an enduring symbol of America. Why? Well, there are more reasons than we can go into right now--but if you're curious, we highly recommend Apple Pie: An American Story by John T. Edge.

But what happens when apples are scarce or prohibitively expensive, as during the rations of World War II?

You do another all-American thing: find a quick fix! During those war years, that fix was making a mock "apple" pie filled with a slurry of (inexpensive) Ritz crackers, sugar syrup and lemon rind. Ready to throw up in your mouth a little? Well, hold it in, because while not as good as "real" apple pie, it's strangely passable if you close your eyes and think really hard about apples while chewing.

And when we made this pie recently, we decided to go a little further on the mock concept. In celebration of what seems to be a New England-centered (or does it perhaps root from the Midwest?) preference for eating pie with a wedge of sharp cheddar, we made our mock pie using cheese-sandwich Ritz crackers. Here's a shot of it in progress (before adding the sugar syrup and top crust):


Pie filling
So how did this concoction taste?
Well. It smelled amazing while baking and once out of the oven.  The crust was tantalizing. Taste-wise, however, this regional specialty didn't really translate to the chemical counterpart. The cheese remained somewhat gravelly in texture and didn't really ooze throughout the way we'd hoped; instead, it remained in grainy, salty, cheesy deposits which acted more like landmines than sweet surprises on the palate.

I'm not apple!
Of course, perhaps the most insulting part of this story is that living in Washington state, we're currently experiencing a bounty of delicious (real) apples--and next time we'll try to remember the saying of another great american icon Marvin Gaye, "Ain't nothing like the real thing, baby". Because friends don't let friends eat fake pie.
Sucker!

 

Ritz Mock Apple Pie (from backofthebox.com)

The classic pie, featuring Ritz crackers baked in a golden crust,
is perfect for the holidays.

Pastry for two-crust 9-inch pie
36 RITZ Crackers, coarsely broken (about 1 3/4 cups crumbs) --we used the mini cheese-filled sandwich crackers
1 3/4 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Grated peel of one lemon
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Roll out half the pastry and line a 9-inch pie plate. Place
cracker crumbs in prepared crust; set aside.

2. Heat water, sugar and cream of tartar to a boil in saucepan
over high heat; simmer for 15 minutes. Add lemon juice and peel;
cool.

3. Pour syrup over cracker crumbs. Dot with margarine or butter;
sprinkle with cinnamon. Roll out remaining pastry; place over pie.
Trim, seal and flute edges. Slit top crust to allow steam to escape.

4. Bake at 425 F for 30 to 35 minutes or until crust is crisp
and golden. Cool completely.

Makes 10 servings

Preparation Time: 45 mins.
Cook Time: 30 mins.
Cooling Time: 3 hrs.
Total Time: 4 hrs. 15 mins.

 

 

 

 

 

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