Cute Little Pies

Well I have finished my employment at Wimpy’s.

I really am going to miss working with such a great group of people. There was days that the shift would fly by as we readied the fridges and cooked the dishes, just because we were chatting so happily. It will be a very fond memory.
Right now though I am free and felt like baking. Gathering a few ingredients with the help of my mother, and by help of my mother I mean she bought everything, I started up a quick project.

First off was mixed berry pie. I always make the dough first when I am making any sort of shell recipe, it’s great to get it prepared then chill in the fridge so the butter isn’t in too soft a state when you begin rolling it out. Next was the filling. We had grabbed mixed berries with cherries, I’ve always wanted to make a straight cherry pie with fresh cherries but they are very expensive even on sale. Anyway, using the frozen blueberry pie filling recipe from the textbook, I converted it down from needing 2000 grams of fruit to just 600. I’ve actually gotten very used to making fillings like this that require boiling the juice and thickening it with cornstarch so this process only took a few minutes to complete.
From there I mixed the thickened syrup in with the berries and popped it into the fridge to cool while I rolled out the pie dough. I had left over 6″ pie tins from Christmas, they’re very dinky, I mean these things make a two person pie. So to start I rolled out four shells with lids and proceeded to fill them with the berries, which was actually a great estimate since it was an exact fit.
My next concern after adding the lids was if I should cook the pies as long as a 9″ pie requires. I put it in the oven for the required 30 minutes and constantly checked through the glass while I rolled out shells for later use. Once the 30 minutes was up I was pleased to see it came out fine, then added a little icing sugar to the lid for decoration.


BerryPie Mixed berry pie complete.


I ended up with four of these little guys, and tried out the completed product once it had cooled down a little, I’ve burned my tongue way too many times. The pastry was flaky and soft, so I knew I hadn’t cooked it past the point that it would become hard and crunchy. Now I cannot say enough about the filling. I’m not a huge pie fan, give me cake any day. I find some fillings for pie are just too sweet, but this one came out beautifully. The berries gave the needed sweetness, but the combination of lemon juice and cherries helped add a tartness that complimented the dessert very well. I was quite pleased how it came out and proceeded to my next project.

By now my mother had come home from work and I proceeded to make cabbage rolls for supper. At Wimpy’s they had decided to make them for the Sunday special a few times just because the roast beef was losing popularity, so I asked my boss if she could show me how to make them next time and being an awesome lady she proceeded to show me the next week. It was actually a very simple recipe; cabbage, ground beef, cooked rice, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and pasta sauce.
What she had shown me and what I did this time, was boil the cabbage until the leaves were pliable to come off. And carefully using tongs take a leaf off at a time, when you come across a leaf that won’t budge, just let it simmer for a while longer until it can.
It ended up being a very quick process, and half a dozen cutely wrapped cabbage rolls later I was playing Euro Truck Simulator while they cooked in the oven for an hour. I myself am not a cabbage fan, but my mother said they tasted good and proceeded to eat three, with coleslaw..
Way too much cabbage.


CabbageRI apologize for the photo, I didn’t realize it was blurry till I uploaded it. Just don’t click for a better view.


Since I had pie shells leftover I went about making a lemon meringue pie. I’ve never done it before, not even the meringue, but felt quite confident I could pull it off.
Using the lemon filling recipe I found online I quickly went about making the pies. By now it was probably 10 p.m, but I was determined to get it done before going to bed.
Like the berry pie filling, it was a matter of boiling and thickening, the longest part was just zesting the two lemons. After the pie shells were done baking I filled them with the lemon which also was only going to make four. My assumption from now on that a recipe for one 9″ pie will make four 4″ pies.
Next came the meringue. I’ve done plenty of recipes that require constant whipping but I was quite surprised at how long it took to get the egg whites to foam to a hard peak. My mother even came over to give me some tips about when she had made meringue from scratch. Once it was finally complete with the added sugar I proceeded to spread the mixture over the pies. At first I was a little worried that the warm lemon mixture might melt the egg, but after completing one I realize it wasn’t going to happen and happily finished up.
So into the oven it went for the required ten minutes, which ended up being longer since the meringue hasn’t firmed. Once they came out I was happy to find they had a nice golden colour to them and came out fine. My mother even had one and said it tasted great.


LemonM2LemonM1


Funny enough I don’t eat any of these things, so yes, my mother is my constant tester. If my husband was here I would be forcing him to eat them too. Ever since school, baking has become more fun for me and I end up with better results. I feel the chefs have given me a better understanding of what I was doing

I imagine this will be the last food experimentation I post until I finally move. The fridge is packed full of pies and my equipment needs to get into a box.

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A Time Of Pie

Pies had always been an item that I believed to be extremely complex. At Christmas three of them would appear at my grandmother’s; pumpkin, apple, and pecan. As a kid I didn’t particularly like pie, so I never asked to how to make them but she always made them out to be difficult when she talked about them so I lost further interest.

Well years later I learned how to make pies in my first semester and I have to say they are pretty easy if you’ve got the time. Yeah you can purchase pre-made shells and fill them with what you want, but they aren’t as tasty as a from scratch pie. So this weekend I made decided to make pumpkin and apple pie for my family. It just seemed right, with our weather sometimes acting like fall and other days acting out summer and winter, I thought it would set a nice atmosphere. And it somewhat did.

To start with, I decided to make the flaky pastry with butter. I had read in Professional Cooking For Canadian Chefs that it was not commonly used for mass production because of pricing, but it does create a delicious shell. As for the filling, for the apple pie I used granny smith, and for the pumpkin I used a puree can along with the spices the recipe called for.

One thing I have taken to heart from school is to weigh out my ingredients instead of using volume for everything, so it was a surprise for me once I finished the dough that it was still quite sticky. With advice from my mother I ended up adding at least another 200 g of pastry flour to get it to a wet but unsticky state. Then came what usually is the tricky part for me, but actually turned out quite simple. The dough was good enough that I barely dusted the counter and rolling pin and made some great looking shells which I then put in the fridge over night.

The next morning I started on the filling. Since the apples had to sit for a while with the sugar I began them first and moved onto the pumpkin filling. With this recipe I followed the instructions completely yet was surprised at how watery the mixture looked. I thought it would be a little thicker and ended up searching online on how to thicken it up and what consistency it currently should be. Well I only ended up finding advice for when I tried again, so only using one shell to see how it turned out I filled it nearly to the top and popped it in the oven.

By then the apples were ready to be drained. This is my favourite part about making apple pie, the sugary syrup that you drain out and boil to then add a slurry of cornstarch that makes a caramel looking substance. Well that was done with quickly and in the fridge where I then took a half hour break to play War in the North as the filling cooled and the pumpkin pie baked.

Time passed, orcs were dead and I pulled out an interesting looking pumpkin pie. What I didn’t know is they expand a little. I guess I should’ve known since it had quite a few eggs in it. Luckily it just went up near the brim and didn’t spill over onto the cookie sheet. Now the thing I find weird is the top is a nice orange, yet inside it a lighter colour. Could it be because of the milk? All the pictures I found on Google had a complete colour throughout the pie, as you can see in my slice of pumpkin pie though it does not. And yes, that is freshly made whipped topping. It didn’t last long though since my husband was hovering nearby to eat it.


PumpkinPie


Last was the apple pie. Filling the pie shells carefully by arranging the apples slices, I quickly eggs washed the edges and cut a triangular design into the lid, then sealed it shut using the fork method. Once more using egg wash to paint the lid, I sprinkled on a bit of sugar and began baking them.

As they cooked I never got an apple spice smell, but instead the scent of the buttery pastry. 35 minutes later I pulled them out and found one had browned a little, while the other two had gone just a little golden.


ApplePieSlice


Challah’ve A Lot Of Dough

Every week I have three cooking classes in a span of two days. Baking, Lab, and Retail. The first two are about learning how to prepare and cook different types of foods, while the third uses skills we’ve already gained to mass produce items for sale in our school’s Pantry.

This week I’m going to discuss the baking class. In class we produced baguettes, challah (pronounced Ha-La. I learned that today.) brioche, and souffles. Even though our class had already made bread in the previous semester I always appreciate a refresher, and with our chef being a pastry chef her tips were amazing.

Her best tip for me was how to to roll out a baguette easily while keeping nice tapered ends. Hopefully I can explain this well enough for you to understand.

  1. Place the portioned dough on the surface. Try not to use flour, if it’s a little sticky that’s alright.
  2. Shape it into a rectangle, I’d estimate around 8-9 inches long. Then with the outer edge on the left and right, fold it in just slightly.
  3. Now pull the top down about an inch and using your knuckles, kneed the seem into the dough. Afterwards, bring the dough towards you to roll into a tube.
  4. From there, see if you can fix your ends with a little adjustment of the dough if it has a hot dog look.
  5. With the seem of the dough against the table, use your palms to roll it forward until the seem is against your hand, then roll it back until it reaches the other side.
  6. Keep using this motion to roll while sliding your hands towards the edge to work the dough into your desired length.

Next came the challah, I had previously heard of this bread before but only knew it was Jewish. Once I realized that it wasn’t cha-lah, but ha-la, I reread the recipe and found that one of the differences about this bread to french bread is that it is made with eggs and butter, and our recipe called for a four part braid.

Portioning the dough into even little balls, we created four strips and began to braid. 4 over 2, 1 over 3, 2 over 3. Over and over we went with the strands until the entire thing had become a huge braided dough line. So with a quick egg wash, time in the proofer and another egg wash, we tossed (not literally) them into the oven and waited for them to bake and darken.


  Challah                                  Challah3


Well they came out great, I was completely agreeable with chef that they went a bit crooked, but other than that their coloring was nice and they tasted delicious. Perhaps it is because I know they are made with butter and egg that I taste a difference in the flavour, but if you ever have had the two I’m sure you know what I mean.

Next came the brioche. We mixed two versions; regular and chocolate. Since the dough is currently frozen and to be used later I will talk about it then. Though I have got to say, after adding over a kilo of butter to the cocoa and sugar it smelled mighty yummy.

Last was the souffles. I’ve written only a few minutes worth of material by now but all this took around 4 hours to assemble. Back to the souffle.

Our chef gave yet another few tid bits that I found interesting. The first was, the sugar and butter we smooth onto the edges of the ramekins is not only for flavour, but so the batter can use the sugar as a ladder to climb. The second was on whipping the egg whites. The recipe called for a stiffness that when you lift the whip from the bowl with whites on it, the fluff should be erect, yet what she recommended is that the whites have a bit of a curl like a Dairy Queen cone.


Souffle1


Once baked the souffles looked pretty neat. I didn’t realize she literally meant they would climb out the ramekin but they did and within 30 seconds of being out you could slowly see them begin to deflate. Before they fully collapsed we all got to try one and personally, I don’t like it. They smell too eggy and their texture other than the tops don’t appeal to me.

They were popular with the class though so I imagine they are a popular dessert when offered on a menu. Here’s a tip that will make your trip to a nice restaurant more special. If you order souffle your order becomes the most important thing on the line. The pastry chef cooks it up and within seconds the server absolutely, no if, ands, or buts about it, must have it in their hands and at your table before it begins to deflate.