1 Apt. 2B Baking Co.: March 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lemon Meringue Pie

A few weeks ago, totally out of the blue, an old friend contacted me with a very exciting proposition. She was planning a quick trip to New York and had magically procured tickets to a taping The Martha Show (!) and was wondering if I was free to join her. It took me about .5 seconds to draft a reply that included many, many yeses, thank yous, and exclamation points. I was more than a little excited to see Martha in person and when we arrived and found out the theme of the show that day was Pies and Tarts, I just about died. Martha's new Pies and Tarts book was about to be released and Martha and her crew spent the whole hour demoing recipes, like coffee cream pie and raspberry rhubarb gallettes, but the best part was when the show generously gave everyone in the audience a copy of the book, along with some other goodies (thanks Martha). On my train ride home, I immediately tore open the book and started dog-earing pages, I dog-eared a lot of pages. Even though the temps today are in the 30's I am hopeful for a Spring and Summer full of raspberry slab pies and lemon poppy-seed curd tarts of tomato basil pies and panna cotta tartlets, and this lemon meringue beauty that I will definitely be making again.

Lemon Meringue Pie
adapted from Martha Stewart's Pies & Tarts

For the Crust (makes 2 crusts)

2 1/2c all purpose flour
1t salt
1t sugar
1c cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/4-1/2c ice water
1t apple cider vinegar

1. Pulse the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor.
2. Add butter and pulse until the butter is the size of large peas.
3. Combine the ice water and vinegar in a measuring cup and while pulsing, slowly drizzle the liquid down the feed tube. Pulse until the dough starts to hold together a bit, there should still be visible hunks of butter in the dough
4. Dump the contents of the food processor onto a piece of plastic wrap and use the wrap to press the dough together. Separate dough into 2 pieces, form into disks, and chill for at least 30min before rolling.
5. For one pie, remove one dough disk from the fridge and roll out to a 13'' circle. Place the dough in a 9'' pie dish, then fold and crimp the edges to form a decorative rim. Freeze the formed crust for 30min before baking.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line the frozen shell with parchment paper and fill with beans or pie weights. Bake the crust for 15 min, remove the paper and weights, then bake until the crust is golden brown. Set aside to cool completely.

For the Filling

1/4c cornstarch
1c sugar
1 1/2t finely grated lemon zest plus 1/2c fresh lemon juice (organic or unsprayed if you can swing it)
1/4t salt
2c water
4 large egg yolks (reserve whites for meringue topping)
4T unsalted butter, room temp

1. In a saucepan, combine cornstarch, sugar, zest and salt. Whisk in the water. Cook over medium hear, stirring constantly, until bubbling and thick. About 7 min (2 min after it comes to a boil).
2. In a medium bowl whisk the egg yolks, then pour the hot cornstarch mixture in a slow steady stream. Return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture comes back up to a boil, 1-2 min.
3. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice, then add butter 1T at a time. Let the custard cool for about 10 min.
4. Pour custard into prepared crust and place plastic wrap directly on the surface. Refrigerate until custard is firm (6 hours or overnight).
5. When you are ready to serve, prepare meringue filling below.

For the Meringue Topping, double for a Mile High topping

4 large egg whites
1/8t cream of tartar
6T sugar
1/4t vanilla extract

1. With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy.
2. Gradually add sugar, increase speed to high and whisk until glossy and forms stiff peaks, stir in the vanilla.
3. Spoon meringue onto the surface of the pie until it reaches the crust, then use a spatula to create a swirly, peaked pattern.
4. Gently brown the topping under your broiler, or with one of those fun kitchen torches. Be Careful! It only needs to be under the broiler for about 45 seconds so keep an eye on it the whole time.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Yeast Raised Waffles

I haven't been very good at sleeping in since I started working early mornings at the bakery. My one and only, on the other hand, is a champion morning sleeper. Most Saturdays I get up an hour or two before him to tiptoe around our apartment, make a big pot of coffee and do a little breakfast scheming. Last weekend I started my scheming a little early because I knew that I wanted these most delicious waffles as a special treat, and I knew that the batter needed an overnight rest. You see, these babies are raised with yeast which gives them the most incredible flavor and light, crisp texture. Don't let the yeast dissuade you beacause the batter comes together so quickly and easily. Then the next morning you can give yourself a few extra cozy minutes in bed (or if you are like me, force yourself to stay in bed for a few minutes) and when you're ready for breakfast, stir some eggs and baking soda into your batter, heat up your waffle iron, and most likely eat more waffles than you intended. I ate three.

Marion Cunningham's Yeast Raised Waffles
adapted from Orangette

1/2c warm water
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) dry yeast
2 cups whole milk, warmed (full disclosure, I used almond milk here and I don't think these waffles suffered one bit)
1/2c unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1t salt
1t sugar
2c all purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4t baking soda

1. Pour the water into a large mixing bowl, then sprinkle the yeast over top and let sit for about 5 minutes to give the yeast a chance to dissolve
2. Add the milk, butter, flour, salt and sugar to the yeast mixture. Whisk until smooth. Cover bowl with plastic and let the mixture sit overnight at room temperature.

The Next Morning

1. Heat your waffle iron and while it's heating mix the beaten eggs and baking soda into the waffle batter.
2. Cook the waffles according to your machine's specifications. I have this model that I lovingly call Tina Fey (she was in the hardware store when my bf and I bought it!). Anyway, for my machine, I use a full 1/3c of batter and it works like a charm. Cook until golden and crisp and douse in maple syrup or alternate worthy topping.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Special Cake for a Special Lady

One of my nearest and dearest is getting hitched in just a few short months and I have been given the honorable task of making the wedding cake. Needless to say, I am pretty excited to be part of the big day! She is marrying her betrothed on her family's ranch just outside of Austin, TX and it is shaping up to be a boot-scootin' good time. When her lovely aunts and cousin decided to throw her an engagement tea I immediately offered to make a mini wedding cake so I could test my recipes with some folks in my target audience. The bride requested a vanilla cake with vanilla frosting, so I turned to the incredible pound cake from Saveur that I have made loads of times and my standby vanilla buttercream that I know she loves. Then I filled the cake with a thin layer of raspberry preserves mixed with fresh raspberries to cut the sweetness and add a pretty pink surprise in the middle. Well, it was a big hit and all of the ladies at the party told me they can't wait to eat it again at the wedding!

If you aren't feeling ambitious enough to make a layer cake, this pound cake is great on its own or with fresh fruit and whipped cream or maybe even a little chocolate sauce if that's what you're in the mood for. Use the best butter, eggs, and vanilla you can afford, this cake is so simple that quality ingredients really do make a difference.

Vanilla Pound Cake
adapted from Saveur

12 oz softened butter
3c flour
1t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1c milk, room temperature
1T vanilla extract
3c sugar
6 large eggs, room temperature

1. Heat oven to 325 and generously butter and flour a 10'' tube pan*. Pat out any excess flour and make sure the entire inside surface of the pan is covered, no one likes a stuck, broken cake
2. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a measuring cup
3. In the bowl of a standing mixer cream butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on med-low speed, gradually pour in the sugar, scrape down the bowl and beat until smooth, light and fluffy, about 3 more minutes.
4. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the butter and sugar mixture beating for 15 second before adding another and scraping down the bowl often.
5. Reduce the speed to low and alternately add the flour and milk mixtures in three batches, beginning and ending with the flour. When there are still a few streaks of flour left in the batter, take it from the mixer and finish the mixing by hand.
6. Pour into the prepared pan and firmly tap to remove any air bubbles. Bake until light golden, about 75 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 30min, then invert onto a rack to cool completely before slicing.

This cake is awesome the next day, or even two or three days after you bake it. I baked my cake on a Friday and served it on a Sunday and it was still moist and delicious. It also really doesn't need any frosting, but if you would like to make a layer cake as I did, I have provided a great simple vanilla bean buttercream below.

*I multiplied this recipe 1.5 times and baked 3, 7'' layers and 4, 6'' layers to make my two tiered mini wedding cake

Simple Vanilla Bean Buttercream

1 lb softened butter
2 lbs sifted confectioner's sugar
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1t vanilla extract
1/4-1/2 cup room temp milk
big pinch salt

1. Cream the butter, salt and sugar together until very light and fluffy, about 5 min.
2. Add the vanilla bean and extract, then slowly stream in the milk until you reach your desired consistency

Here is a great photo tutorial on putting together a layer cake from my girl Martha.