Thursday, 20 October 2016

Pistachio Butter Cake with Roasted Peach and Strawberry Mousse

Guys. Guys. GUYS. I'm so behind on everything. I was so on top of things but (once again) I got caught up on taking photos of cakes instead of writing about them here. I also got caught up in watching and re-watching the first season of Mind of a Chef while flipping through Molly's new book. Oh, I also attended my first bridal shower last weekend and even got to make the cake for it (hi, Kiran!). Canadian Thanksgiving also happened in between all that and I ate enough butter-laden things that put me in a food coma for two weeks. I blame all the Thanksgiving feasting for my sloth-like behaviour on the blog and irl.

I really contemplated posting this recipe now. I made this cake waaaaaay earlier in the summer when it was actually peach season. It is no longer peach season. It is decorative gourd season. It is also the season of pumpkin spice lattes (ick), pumpkin pies (depending on where it is from, can be ick), and things with pumpkin when the addition of pumpkin to it was actually not that necessary. Despite all of that I still decided to post this recipe now because:

a) You can use end-of-season or frozen peaches for this recipe.
b) This pistachio cake is delicious even if you are not making the peach mousse to accompany it.
c) If I waited until next year I would probably never end up posting this because I would hate this set of photos by then. If you take photos and blog, you know what I am talking about. You never want to look at old photos and old blog posts because when you do, you kinda shudder. You think, gee, my photos were really not that great back then. Or maybe this is just me. Maybe you all have taken amazing photos since the beginning of time and I am just here flailing around with my camera not knowing what each button really does. 

I have a love/hate relationship with pistachio and pistachio-flavoured things. I LOVE pistachio nuts. They are one of my favourites if you asked me to rank my nut preferences in some of hierarchical fashion. Pistachio-flavoured things on the other hand...can be a mixed bag. Let's talk about pistachio ice cream for a quick minute. Sometimes it tastes like the most heavenly confection that has graced your mouth. But sometimes it tastes like trash. (Disclaimer: I have never actually tasted trash but it is the word I think best encapsulates the cloyingly medicinal taste of artificial pistachio things.) Usually you can tell if something is real delicious pistachio or artificial pistachio by looking at what shade of green it is. Muted, swamp-like green? Probably the real stuff. Highlighter toxic slime green? Maybe you should pick a different flavour of ice cream. I hear chocolate is a solid choice.

I used pistachio butter for this recipe. It can be hard to find pistachio butter. You probably will not find it next the jars of peanut butter and almond butter at your local grocery store. The easiest way to get a hold of pistachio butter is to make your own. With a food processor, grind your pistachios further than you would to make a pistachio meal. If it is looking a bit dry, gradually add a few teaspoons of coconut oil to the food processor. What will come out of your food processor might alarm you. It will probably be a deep swamp-green colour. Perfectly normal. Any leftovers you get is great on toast, a la Cozy Kitchen style. With sprinkles, of course.

I made a vanilla swiss meringue buttercream to frost the outsides of the cake. Feel free to make a classic American buttercream, but the lighter swiss meringue buttercream allows the flavours of the pistachio cake and the mousse to take centre stage.

Pistachio Butter Cake with Roasted Peach and Strawberry Mousse
Yields three layer 6 inch cake

Pistachio Butter Cake
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tablespoon pistachio butter, at room temperature
3 eggs
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
200 ml milk
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

Roasted Peach and Strawberry Mousse
1/2 lb white peaches, peeled, diced
1/2 lb strawberries, diced
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon unflavoured gelatin
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
4 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Pistachio Butter Cake
Preheat oven to 350F and grease three cake pans. 

In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment cream the butter, pistachio butter, and sugar together. Gradually add in the eggs, one at a time.

In a separate bowl, whisk to combine flour, baking powder, and salt.

Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture and mix on slow to combine. Gradually pour in the milk and add in the remainder of the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.

Divide the mixture evenly among the four prepared cake pans and bake for 35 - 37 minutes. Check for doneness a few minutes before the 30 minute mark by using a toothpick - if the toothpick comes out clean, you're good to go. You can also test for doneness by gently pressing your finger on the cake - it should spring back up. 

Roasted Peach and Strawberry Mousse
Preheat oven to 400F.

Peel and dice peaches and strawberries. In a bowl, combine butter, lemon juice, and fruit. Arrange prepared fruit on a large, shallow baking dish. Roast until fruit is tender and cooking liquid is syrupy, 25 - 30 minutes.

Allow fruit to cool. Once cooled, transfer roasted fruit to a blender and blend until pureed. 

In a small sauce pan (off the heat), add 1/4 cup cold water and sprinkle top with 1 tablespoon of gelatin. Let sit 5 minutes to soften then stir in sugar and place over medium heat, stirring just until sugar has dissolved (1 to 2 min) then remove from heat. Add gelatin mixture to the fruit puree and blend until well combined. Cover with lid and chill in refrigerator until mixture begins to thicken, roughly 2 hours.  

Once puree starts to thicken, beat heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form. 

Fold whipped cream into fruit mixture, mixing until smooth.

Vanilla 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 butter gradually. Add vanilla. 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.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Plum + Fig Thyme Pie (with Style Sweet CA!)

Sometimes the internet is a scary place but sometimes it's a wonderful place and you meet lovely people like Tessa. And that's why I invited myself over to her house to bake a pie. And to play with her dog. And to meet her lovely family. And to rummage through her cookbooks and food styling props. That's a normal thing to do, right? Inviting yourself over soon after meeting? Or did that escalate too quickly? While baking pie we also got Chinese take out so I think that makes us really good friends. Nothing really validates the genuineness of a friendship much like thick carby white noodles covered in peanut sauce.

Tessa and I have been meaning to do some sort of collaboration for quite some time but our schedule never seemed to match up. We have met a few times for coffee and cocktails (okay, maybe just one cocktail because I get too anxious about getting all red from one micro-sip of alcohol) to talk about collaborating, baking, and blog award gossip (hehe). Before we met up I was pretty anxious about meeting up because I try v. hard to be funny and cool on the internet but am actually pretty lame in real life. I actually own a shirt that says in a bold, blocky font: "I'm much cooler on the internet." When I meet very amazing bakers like Tessa I get extra nervous because their baking superiority just looms over me (haha, dramatic!). Not only does Tessa have a beautiful blog and a super well-curated Instagram, her baking is so. dang. good. I had a the chance to try her cakes when she was doing a cake decorating demo at a local specialty cookbook store in Vancouver a few months ago. I was so amazed by the way she did a watercolour finish on her perfectly iced cake and her London Fog cake is one of those things I crave all the time. I did not expect anything less since she use to own a bakery put packed that all up to move to the rainy city of Vancouver. 

We finally found a day in September to make all the pie together. We are both more "cake people" (she has a book all about layering cakes!!) but agreed that we were a bit caked out. I love making lattice pie tops and Tessa is basically a goddess with pie designs. Tessa and I decided that she would shoot the pie while I assembled and styled the pie. I took some photos as well but they look like they deserve to go in the trash can when they are put besides Tessa's (ha!). So you get one photo from me (up top!) and the rest are taken by Tessa. You will also find more of the photos I took on my Instagram

The pie crust recipe along with super helpful pie crust tips (kinda like a pie crust 101!) can be found on her blog. The recipe for the plum, fig, and thyme pie filling is here! The recipe is easy peasy and quite short, so I will leave it right here, instead of making you scroll all the way to the bottom for it. But trust me, Tessa's photos are so good that you would want to scroll all the way to the end.

Plum + Fig Thyme Pie
Yields: one double crust 9-inch pie

Plum + Fig Thyme Pie Filling 
2 lbs plums, pitted, 1/2 inch slices
1/2 lbs figs, quartered
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Pinch of salt

Rinse the plums and the figs and remove any stems.

Cut the plums into 1/2 inch slices. I like to keep the skin on the plums so that the plum slices retain their shape and to prevent the plums from becoming applesauce-like in consistency. 

Remove the stems/firmer ends of the figs and cut into quarters. 

In a large bowl combine the plum slices, figs, and thyme leaves. 

Add the granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Mix to combine well. Allow the mixture to rest for 10 minutes. When filling the pie, be sure to leave the liquid behind - we do not want a soggy bottom!

Don't forget to egg wash the top of your pie after you have assembled the top crust. Bake the pie as per the instructions on her post. 

Tessa and I hope you enjoy the pie! You can look forward to more collaborations from us in the future : ) As for me, I have many exciting posts coming up...I just need to find some motivation to type up the text and the recipe because the photos are all edited and ready to go. I have been distracted by so many things lately - like Molly Yeh's new book! I have been anticipating the release of her book for quite some time and when I got a copy, I knew I had to make the scallion pancake challah. Which I did already, of course. 

Photography || Style Sweet CA

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.