Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Blueberry, Peach, Basil (End of) Summer Pie

Okay. Maybe the title "summer pie" needs a little revising (edit: just revised it). I made this pie during the peak of peach season and I think that season along with #summersixteen is winding down just a little bit by now...though I am in full denial about that. You know that terrible movie Spring Breakers where the main characters say "spring break 4evaaaaaaa"? Well, I feel like summer should lasts "4evaaaaaaa" and I will make all the summer pies until...well, I can't. 

I love summer baking because there are so many fruits you can choose from. Peaches, berries, apricots, figs (!!). I try to cram in all my fruit baking in the summer because even if I have too many pies, no one will ever complain when receiving a peach pie out of the blue. I do love my fall baking because I'm a sucker for squashes and apples, but the vibrant colours of summer fruits make my heart go pitter-patter a tad harder. I always make some variation of peach pie in the summer. This time around I added blueberries and basil to the mix. Peaches and blueberries are always a great combination and adding a basil gives it a little earthiness to the otherwise sweet pie.

It's definitely no my first time making pie but it still intimidates me every time decide to do it. Making pie dough stresses me out a little. Making sure that the bottom crust isn't soggy stresses me out a lot. So why do I still make pie? I think making lattice tops is one of my favourite things to do. Does "braiding and criss-crossing butter-laden things" qualify as a hobby? Can I put that as a interest or extracurricular on my resume (not that I really have a passable resume)? If making lattice tops (not the pie dough, though) can be a full-time career, how do I make that a reality for me? There must be pie factories out there where I can just inject myself into the factory line. I'll just squeeze myself in between the pie dough roller-outer and the person in charge of brushing on the egg wash. I could be really happy doing that job. 

PS. Thanks Country Living for saying my lattice top for this pie is "goals." Current status: eating humble pie and feeling humbled. Can I make the lattice tops for future humble pies?

Peach, Blueberry, and Basil Summer Pie 
Yields one double crust 9-inch pie

All-Butter Pie Crust
Recipe from Four & Twenty Blackbirds
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup cold butter, unsalted, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup cold water
4 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 cup ice 

Peach, Blueberry, and Basil Filling
3 cups fresh blueberries
2 medium peaches, peeled and diced
1/2 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon butter, unsalted

All-Butter Pie Crust
In a large bowl, stir together flour, salt, and sugar. Set aside.

Add the butter pieces and coat with the flour mixture using a bench scraper or spatula. With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until mostly pea-size pieces of butter remain (a few larger pieces are okay!).

Combine the water, cider vinegar, and ice in a small bowl. 

Add two tablespoons of the liquid mixture over the flour mixture. Mix and cut it in with bench scraper or spatula until fully incorporated. Continue adding the liquid, one to two tablespoons at a time. Mix until the dough comes together in a ball.

Shape the dough into two flat discs, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Once the dough has chilled, roll out the dough in between two sheets of parchment and fit it on the pie plate.

Peach, Blueberry, and Basil Filling
In a large bowl combine all the pie filling ingredients, except for the butter. Let the filling rest for 10 minutes.

Spoon the filling into pie crust, leaving any liquid behind. 

Add little pieces of the butter on top of the filling before arranging the top crust.

Assembly and Baking
Coat top crust with a simple egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Place pie on a baking sheet before putting it in the oven, just in case any juices bubble over. Bake at 425F for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pastry is set and beginning to brown. Lower the oven temperature to 375F and continue to bake until the pastry is a deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling throughout, 30 to 35 minutes longer.

If the top crust is starting to get a little dark too quickly, place a pie shield on the pie. 

Once ready, let pie set for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into it. 

Thursday, 15 September 2016

For the time being...

Thank you so much for all the love on the last post! I am falling just a tad behind on this whole blogging regularly thing. I have baked many things (!!) and taken a few set of photos for the blog in the last few weeks but have not gotten the chance to edit all of them - so please excuse me as I go slave away on those. I promise I will have something new soon. You can expect a pistachio cake, two different pies, an autumnal loaf, and a grapefruit tart in the very near future! This actually makes me very happy because I've never been so "ahead" in the baking and blogging game. I usually do all this week by week...but for the first time ever I have ready-ish content for the upcoming weeks. Yay! 

For the time being, you can look at even more photos from the orchard collaboration with Kelsey - we took some photos of our coffee date before styling and shooting cakes and pies on the apple farm. It is not that often you will see me sauntering on a farm (what is nature?), so Victor, Kelsey, and I took full advantage of that and documented it through a million photos.We also had a lot of fun with Victor's tripod and timer setting on his camera. PS, there is also a cute little gif (umm, is that pronounced as "geh-if" or "jiff"?) at the end! See you soon : )

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival to all of you who celebrate it! I hope you get all the moon cakes (with double yolks, of course)!

Photography & Editing || Victor Yuen
Kelsey's Blog || The Farmer's Daughter

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Apple Cake with Brown Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Yesterday I got a v photogenic salad for lunch, a wine writer that works close to the office gave the office free prosecco, and I had enough French food for dinner to feed an entire village. Oh and the owner of the restaurant insisted that he remake my post-dinner coffee because the original one I got was "not pretty enough." Extra PS. that coffee came with a warm pistachio apricot tart and a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. I went home after all that to listen to the Views album in its entirety. I've peaked. I think I have peaked, guys. 

Talk about peaking, this blog post is also something of that nature. This whole lets-pretend-we-are-v-kinfolk-and-shoot-on-an-apple-farm idea was something Kelsey, Victor, and I have been dreaming of for while. We finally found a date that worked with everyone and Victor drove us up to her family's farm! I requested a Drake playlist for the car ride there and Victor was totes *one hundred emoji*. 

I don't even know where to begin with this post. Do I talk about how the 7pm light was nothing short of amazing? Do I talk about how Victor somehow managed to make me look like angel even though that is not the case in real life? Or do I talked about how we had two pies, two galettes, and a three layer cake in the middle or the orchard? I think the part where we drove to the orchard in these mini tractor-like vehicles called "gators" with all our pies, cakes, styling props, and Kelsey's dining table is definitely worth a mention.

Before this blogging date, I have never been to Abbotsford before. It is only a one hour drive from Vancouver but I just never got the chance to go. Now I have more of an excuse than ever to go back. Kelsey's family's farm is so lovely. They grow all kinds of apples, plums, pears, rhubarb, and pumpkin. They also have all these baby sheep and farm cats that I can snuggle with until the end of time. Well maybe not the sheep because they will probably try to eat my dress and they do smell kind of funny. I'll snuggle the cats though.

After I stopped fawning over the sheep, the cats, and how quickly pumpkin actually grew, we loaded a gator with Kelsey's dining table, all the pies and cake, all of our styling props and drove out to set up our spread in between two rows of apple trees. We took photos from 7pm to about 9:30pm and you will see the progression of the sun setting in the photos. We then had pie as a late supper and everything couldn't be any better.

Before I bombard you with the copious amount of photos, let's take a moment to talk about brown butter. I love brown butter. I don't care if you think it's overrated. I love it. I don't know why it didn't occur to me earlier to make brown butter swiss meringue buttercream. It is so. dang. lovely. You get the nutty flavours of the brown butter but because it's a swiss meringue buttercream, it's still very light! I'm obsessed.

Apple Cake with Brown Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Yields three layer 6 inch cake

Brown Butter Apple Cake
Adapted from Linda Lomelino
1 1/4 cup brown (unsalted) butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 medium apples, peeled and diced

Brown Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream
4 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown (unsalted) butter, cubed, at room temperature

Brown Butter Apple Cake
Browning the butter (*make ahead):
Start melting butter over medium heat. Use a pan with a light-coloured bottom so you can keep track of the colour. Swirl the pan occasionally to be sure the butter is cooking evenly. As the butter melts, it will begin to foam (~5 minutes).  You can tell the butter is browning because dark golden flecks (browned milk solids) will appear in the melted butter, which will start to smell nutty and toasty.

Once you're happy with the level of browning, pour the butter (scrape every bit of browned milk solids and all) into a bowl. If you were to leave the butter in the pan, the residual heat would continue to cook/burn it. 

Preheat oven to 350F and grease three cake pans.

In a medium sized bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the brown butter and sugar. Once fluffy, add vanilla and eggs, one at a time until well incorporated. Add in half the milk and half the dry ingredients. Gently mix together before adding the remaining halves of both. 

Very gently fold in the diced apples.

Evenly divide batter into cake pans and bake for 35 - 38 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the tins for 15 minutes, then carefully turn them out on to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Brown Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Place egg whites and sugar into a stainless steel or glass bowl, and place the bowl over a sauce pan of simmering water. The bottom of the bowl should not be touching the water. Continuously whisk the egg whites and sugar together until sugar has melted.

Remove bowl from heat and beat mixture on high until the egg white and sugar mixture is white and fluffy. 

Once the mixture has cooled a bit, start adding brown butter gradually. This is the part where you have to trust that the buttercream will turn out. It might look kind of lumpy and not buttercream-esque, but just keep on mixing.

Photography & Editing || Victor Yuen
Kelsey's Blog || The Farmer's Daughter

PS. I have a second blog post drafted up for all the other photos from the orchard shoot that I cannot wait to share!