Each year on my blog Inspired by Charm, I pick a food-related challenge. In 2013 I focused on yeast-based recipes. I’ve always had a fear of yeast, so last year I made breads, pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, and lots of other goodies. By the time December rolled around, I was happy to have produced some wonderful recipes and overcome my fear. With that challenge behind me, this year I decided to tackle pie.
When I was growing up, my maternal grandmother was in charge of the pies. And, of course, they were always fabulous. Several years ago my mom decided to learn the skill from my grandma. It took my mom a few attempts to nail the art of crust making, but now her pies are just as wonderful.
Since I’ve avoided making crust because I heard it can be tricky, I thought that this year would be the perfect time to master the skill. I started off my challenge with an apple pie. For my second pie, I decided to try a recipe from BHG. When I came across this Double Cherry Slab Pie (and instantly started salivating), I knew this would have to be my next creation. I was also happy to see that the crust was a little different from the first recipe I used. As you can imagine, there are several ways to make a crust. I’m hoping to try as many as possible to figure out what I like best.
So far, I’ve yet to have any major crust failures. One tip I picked up from this recipe is using wax paper to roll out the dough. This is especially helpful when it comes to transferring the dough to the pan. Since the crust is fairly large, the wax paper makes it easy as … er … pie.
After Graham Cracker Creme, berry pies are probably my favorite. As you can tell, I decided to swap out the cherries in the original recipe for a combination of blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries.
If I say so myself, the resulting pie was absolutely delicious. I mean, you can’t go wrong with sweet berries stuffed into a light and flaky crust. It’s truly magic for the mouth.
You can get the full recipe for this Slab Pie here. As I mentioned above, I adapted the filling of this pie to make it my own. For the mixed berry option, follow the following recipe adjustment:
7 cups fresh berries
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
In a large mixing bowl, combine berries, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice. Use this filling in place of the cherry filling listed in the recipe.
I also dusted the top of my pie with sanding sugar.
Happy baking, friends! (I’m off to have another slice of this deliciousness.)
Michael Wurm, Jr. – Inspired by Charm
In January of this year I started a new series on Inspired by Charm called A Year of Yeast. When I created this series, I knew I wanted to find a really great pizza dough recipe. I was thrilled the other day when I stumbled across this recipe for Pizza Dippers. To be honest, I was excited for several reasons. First, I love homemade pizza. Second, I love lots of sauce and this recipe suggests an extra side of it for dipping. And finally, there was an option in this recipe for whole wheat. Perfection!
I pretty much followed the recipe except for a few minor tweaks in my toppings. I figured both the whole wheat crust and some extra veggies on top would make me feel a little bit better about eating pizza. I sliced some fresh yellow squash and baby portobello mushrooms and sprinkled them on top. I also added some julienned fresh basil leaves on top before baking and a few small, whole leaves after the pizza came out of the oven.
The pizza was delicious and the crust turned out beautifully. It was wonderfully soft and flavorful. The addition of the sugar in the dough really brought everything together. I think I just may have found my go-to pizza dough recipe!
I tried to limit myself to only a few slices for dinner, but as the night progressed, most of it disappeared. – You know a pizza is truly delicious if you can eat it straight from the fridge!
You can get the recipe for Pizza Dippers here.
For more information about A Year of Yeast, swing by Inspired by Charm anytime. And I’m curious: What are your favorite pizza toppings? Let me know in the comments below.
Michael Wurm, Jr – Inspired by Charm
Seasons greetings, everyone! Jessica Christensen, senior editor with Better Homes and Gardens special interest titles here to welcome you to December—the busiest baking time of the year. I love baking during the holidays (and any time, really) but with my 9-month-old son demanding the majority of my time this year, my baking is going to be more structured and organized—as in make-ahead everything!
Which leads me to last weekend. When my son’s nap time rolled around, I set to work on a batch of rolls to freeze for Christmas dinner. My choice: Feather Rolls, a time-tested recipe from our BH&G archives. Like the name implies, these rolls are soft, tender, and light as a feather (thanks to the secret ingredient of mashed potato!).
However, since I don’t eat dairy products (long story), I had to find a substitute for the butter. My solution to that problem: Earth Balance margarine, the best non-dairy, high-fat margarine on the market for baking. It contains 100 calories per tablespoon, just like butter, so it behaves in much the same way. It’s also free of hydrogenated oils, which is not true of most margarines.The dough came together beautifully—made from flour, sugar, margarine, mashed potato, water, salt, and yeast. Once the ingredients were mixed together, it was a simple matter of kneading the dough until it formed a smooth ball.
Now here’s a big perk of the Feather Rolls recipe—the dough can rise in the refrigerator for 2 to 24 hours. So when I got completely distracted for the rest of the day playing an endless game of peekaboo, it was no big deal. The next day I turned the dough out, cut it into 16 pieces (the recipes says 15 pieces, but it’s much easier to get equal sizes from an even number of bread pieces), formed each piece into a rough ball, and placed the pieces in a 13×9 pan to rise for 40 minutes. The awkward 16th piece of dough had to squeeze in on one end of the pan, but I’m OK with that. Then it was just a hop, skip, and a jump to hot and yeasty baked rolls.
Once the rolls were cool, I wrapped them up in a layer each of plastic wrap and foil, and then placed them in a larger baking dish with a tight fitting lid. Then off to the freezer they went, where they will stay until the big holiday festivities later this month. I plan to pull them out of the freezer the morning of the feast to thaw and then bake them for about 10 minutes at 350°F to warm them up.
Then, because I was “on a roll” I decided to make up a double batch of Mini Focaccia. I used half of it to make a large focaccia round, and then split the other half of the dough up to make mini focaccia. I topped it with fresh rosemary (from a summer plant I brought inside that is now struggling to survive in my window). I learned long ago that this recipe needs to either be eaten immediately or frozen to keep it from getting tough and dried out. Fresh bread doesn’t last nearly as long as store-bought. So after it was baked off to the freezer it went.
Three cheers for planning ahead! What baked goodies are you going to prep and freeze for the holidays this year?
Delish Dish, In the Test Kitchen | Tags:
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