1 Apt. 2B Baking Co.: May 2012

Friday, May 18, 2012

Rhubarb Custard Crumb Pie

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Rhubarb is another one of the foods that I've come to love and appreciate a bit later in life. Growing up, we had a huge rhubarb plant that grew by the side of our house, but I can't remember ever eating any of it. I always just admired it's huge leaves and rosy stalks. If you look back in the Apt. 2B archives you may notice last year around this time I had it pretty hot and heavy for the Barb (what, you don't have nicknames for your favorite produce)?

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When I was in Seattle a few months ago visiting family my mom had to restrain me from "borrowing" a few stalks from a neighborhood plant when I realized the one that used to grow in our yard was long, long gone. Don't worry, I'd never actually take anyone's produce without asking, but I admit to being temporarily blinded by my rhubarb lust. It's a good thing that rhubarb season was gearing into full swing by the time I got back to New York.

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So, I picked up a few pounds of the Barb at the Greenmarket and used half for this tart and the other half for this creamy and crunchy custard pie that I will definitely be making again as more fruit comes into season. Although, my mom just told me about the strawberry tart with rhubarb glaze she's been making this Spring so that may just have to be next...

Are you a rhubarb lover too?

More rhubarb recipes from this blog can be found HERE.
More rhubarb recipes from BBC Good Food can be found HERE.

Have a great weekend everyone!


Rhubarb Custard Crumb Pie


For the Rye Pastry
adapted from Kim Boyce's, Good to the Grain
yield, pastry for 1 large rustic tart or a single crust pie

I won't lie, the rye pastry takes a bit of work to put together but man is it good. It's my new favorite base for fruit desserts, but feel free to sub in your favorite pie crust here if you aren't feeling the rye.

4.5 ounces rye flour
4.5 ounces all purpose flour
1/8 ounce salt
1/2 ounce sugar
6 ounces cold butter cut into chunks
4 ounces ice water (may need a little less or more than this)
1t apple cider vinegar

1. In a large bowl, mix the flours, salt and sugar together. Add in the butter and quickly rub it into the flour mixture with your fingers. You want the butter to break up into small pieces the size of peas to lima beans.
2. Combine the water and apple cider vinegar in a measuring sup. Make a well in the flour/butter mixture and slowly stream the water into the dough while mixing gently. Mix until the water is evenly distributed and the dough holds together when you squeeze it. It will look dry, and that's okay, just as long as it holds together when you squeeze it. If it is too dry, add a bit more water.
3. Dump the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, gather the wrap tightly around the dough and refrigerate it for at least an hour or overnight.
4. After it has chilled, unwrap the dough and place it onto a lightly floured board. Pat the dough into a rough square, then roll it into an 8'' x 11'' rectangle. The dough will be a bit rough and crumbly and that's okay! With the long side of the dough facing you, gently fold the dough into thirds. Then turn the dough so the seam is at the top and parallel to your body. Repeat this process 2 more times then wrap the dough in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days before using.
5. Preheat your oven to 375º. Roll the crust out into a 13'' circle about 1/4'' thick. Line a 9'' pie pan with the dough and crimp the edges in a decorative pattern. If the dough seems at all soft, pop it into the fridge or freezer for a few minutes then proceed.
6. Line the crust with a sheet of parchment paper and fill it with pie weights. I use beans or rice as pie weights. Slide it into the oven and bake until the edges begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Then remove the weights and bake until all of the pastry is golden brown and no longer raw, 15-20 more minutes. Set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the filling.

For the Filling
I turned to the fine folks at BBC Good Food for this recipe because I heard that Brits knew what they were doing when it came to rhubarb. They called this pie an irresistible combination of two classic puds and they were right!

12 ounces rhubarb, diced into 1/4''-1/2'' cubes
3.5 ounces sugar
1 whole egg plus 1 egg yolk
.25 ounces or 1T flour
1/2 vanilla bean scraped or 1T vanilla extract
9.5 ounces heavy cream
pinch salt

For the Crumb Topping
adapted from BBC Good Food

For the pie pictured I used leftover crumb topping from this recipe that I had stored in the freezer, but here is a quick and easy formula for a crumb topping that will also work great.

2 ounces melted butter
2 ounces brown sugar
2 ounces oats (or combination of oats and chopped nuts)
pinch salt

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and set aside until needed.

To Assemble and Bake the Pie

1. Add the rhubarb and half of the sugar to a medium skillet. Warm the mixture over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Pour the mixture into a bowl to cool while you prepare the custard.
2. In a separate bowl whisk together the egg and egg yolk, remaining sugar, vanilla or vanilla bean seeds, salt, and flour. Then whisk in the cream with any juices that have accumulated in the rhubarb bowl.
3. Spoon the diced rhubarb into the prepared crust and gently pour the custard over the top. Bake at 400º for 15-20 minutes or until the custard has just barely begun to set.
4. Remove the pie from the oven and turn up the heat to 425º. Gently spread your crumble over the top, slide the pie back into the oven and bake until the custard has set and the topping has browned, about 15 minutes. The custard may have risen and cracked a bit in the oven, but that's okay, it will settle back down as it cools. Serve warm, no accompaniment necessary, but ice cream is always nice with pie, isn't it?

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rhubarb Tart with Pink Peppercorns and Rye Pastry

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Okay, I know. This tart is definitely not going to win any beauty contests. It's a bit brown and lumpy and the rhubarb I used here is a bit more green than Springy pink, but please don't be fooled by its very humble appearance. This tart is serious business.

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It is a dessert for rhubarb lovers of the highest order. Barely sweet and fairly unadorned, aside from a bit of warmth from pink peppercorns, the tartness of the rhubarb really shines through. Before it was lovingly tucked into a nutty rye pastry, the rhubarb took a quick soak in sugar, vanilla bean and the aforementioned cracked pink peppercorns and since I'm not one to waste anything in the kitchen, I sweetened a bit of creme fraiche fortified whipped cream with the excess spiced rhubarb juices to serve alongside.

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Oh, and that mess of a burger up there, it was dressed up Aussie style which means a menagerie of toppings from sliced beets and pineapple to a fried egg. It's another food that probably wouldn't place in a pageant, but that doesn't mean they weren't happily devoured by a hungry horde before tucking into my rhubarb tart with generous dollops of whipped cream.

Rustic Rhubarb Tart with Pink Peppercorn Cream and Rye Pastry

Rye Rough Puff Pastry
adapted from Kim Boyce's, Good to the Grain
yield, pastry for 1 large rustic tart or a single crust pie


I won't lie, the rye pastry takes a bit of work to put together but man is it good. It's my new favorite base for fruit desserts and if you stop by the blog later this week you'll see another rhubarb dessert wrapped up in rye (and custard and crumbs!).

4.5 ounces rye flour
4.5 ounces all purpose flour
1/8 ounce salt
1/2 ounce sugar
6 ounces cold butter cut into chunks
4 ounces ice water (may need a little less or more than this)
1t apple cider vinegar

1. In a large bowl, mix the flours, salt and sugar together. Add in the butter and quickly rub it into the flour mixture with your fingers. You want the butter to break up into small pieces the size of peas to lima beans.
2. Combine the water and apple cider vinegar in a measuring sup. Make a well in the flour/butter mixture and slowly stream the water into the dough while mixing gently. Mix until the water is evenly distributed and the dough holds together when you squeeze it. It will look dry, and that's okay, just as long as it holds together when you squeeze it. If it is too dry, add a bit more water.
3. Dump the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, gather the wrap tightly around the dough and refrigerate it for at least an hour or overnight.
4. After it has chilled, unwrap the dough and place it onto a lightly floured board. Pat the dough into a rough square, then roll it into an 8'' x 11'' rectangle. The dough will be a bit rough and crumbly and that's okay! With the long side of the dough facing you, gently fold the dough into thirds. Then turn the dough so the seam is at the top and parallel to your body. Repeat this process 2 more times then wrap the dough in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days before using.

If the rolling/turning sounds confusing, here is a great photo tutorial for making rough puff pastry on Food52.  Their method utilizes 6 "turns" of the dough, which isn't necessary for this recipe but it will give you a great idea of what the rolling process looks like.

Rhubarb Pink Peppercorn Filling

1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, cut into 3'' batons
5 1/4 ounces white sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and reserved
1/2t pink peppercorns, crushed with a mortar and pestle
pinch

Combine the rhubarb, sugar, vanilla bean seeds, pink peppercorns and salt in a medium bowl. Stir well to combine and let the mixture macerate for an hour.

To Assemble and Bake


1 egg yolk, for egg wash
1 ounce unsalted butter
2T turbinado sugar


Preheat oven to 350º

1. Roll the chilled pastry into a rough rectangle, about 12''x 20''. The pastry should be no more than 1/4'' thick. Place the rolled pastry on a parchment lined baking sheet.
2. Neatly arrange the rhubarb batons in the crust, leaving about 2'' at the edges to fold over. You will have some excess liquid leftover from the rhubarb macerating, reserve about 2 ounces of the syrup to flavor your whipped cream later.
3. Gently fold the excess crust over the rhubarb, making sure to seal the edges well over the rhubarb. IF the pastry seems soft, pop it into the fridge for a few minutes before proceeding.
4. Pour a few tablespoons of the macerating liquid over the rhubarb to moisten it and dot the top with butter. Brush the crust with egg wash and sprinkle the whole tart with the turbinado sugar. Slide into the oven and bake until the crust is a deep golden brown and very crisp, 60-70min.
5. If you have any macerating liquid left brush it on the still warm tart before you serve it, not too much though, you don't want it to get soggy. Serve warm with pink peppercorn cream on the side.

To Serve: Pink Peppercorn Cream

8 ounces heavy cream
2 ounces creme fraiche
2 ounces reserved syrup

Whip the cream to soft peaks, then whip in the creme fraiche and add in the syrup to taste. Serve along side the warm rhubarb tart.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Strawberry Buckwheat Skillet Cake with Cacao Nibs

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Sometimes cake is a many layered, multi-stepped affair and sometimes it's just a quick batter topped with fresh fruit and tossed in a skillet. I don't play favorites so I won't say that I prefer one over the other, but there is something to be said for simple "everyday cakes" like this one.

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I took one of my favorite culinary dream teams, buckwheat and fruit, and paired them in a fluffy buttermilk enriched batter with some cacao nibs for crunch. Then I baked it in my cast iron skillet because we (my skillet and I) are having a moment,  you see, it's seasoned to perfection and practically begging me to use it every chance I get. Feel free to bake this cake in a regular cake pan if that's what you have.

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The strawberries will probably sink to the bottom of the cake and that's okay! They'll bake up into little jammy pockets at the bottom of the cake. Serve for breakfast with a little maple syrup on the side if you are feeling fancy.

Strawberry Buckwheat Skillet Cake
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
yield, one 8'' or 9'' cake

2.25 ounces all purpose flour
2.25 ounces buckwheat flour
1/2t baking powder
1/2t baking soda
2 ounces softened butter
4.75 ounces sugar
1t vanilla extract
1 egg
5 ounces buttermilk
5 ounces sliced strawberries
.75 ounces cacao nibs

Preheat oven to 350º and grease and lightly flour an 8 or 9 inch cast iron skillet or cake pan

1. Whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and half of the cacao nibs.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl, add in the egg and vanilla extract and mix until thoroughly combined.
3. Add in the flour, alternating with the buttermilk in three additions. Mix until combined, making sure to get down to the bottom of the bowl. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan, top with the sliced strawberries and sprinkle with the remaining cacao nibs.
4. Slide into the oven and bake until the edges are browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 18-22 minutes. Serve warm. This cake is best the day it's made, when the cake sits overnight the berries make it a bit soggy.

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Brown Sugar Buttermilk Cake with Roasted Strawberry Frosting

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I guess you could say I made this cake out of necessity, but I didn't have a birthday to celebrate or a party to take it to. The truth is, I picked up a pound of less than perfect fruit, deceptively red and plump but severely lacking in the flavor department. So to save those berries from themselves I gave them a honey bath and tossed them in the oven. See you later, bland berries!

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As I was daydreaming about the best way to use the little jewels roasting away in the oven, the scent of caramelizing fruit began to waft through the apartment. The scent of roasting strawberries is the sweet essence of strawberry, almost artificial in it's intensity.

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I was in the mood to bake something tall and towering so I set to work making a tried and true vanilla buttermilk cake, only I swapped out the white sugar for brown to echo the caramel notes in the berry frosting I planned to make. The slow meditation of softening butter, separating eggs and sifting flour gave me time to consider my frosting options. Cream cheese? Buttercream? 7-minute? Swiss meringue, that's the ticket!

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I whipped up a batch of my favorite (not too sweet) Swiss meringue buttercream and enriched it with a scraped vanilla bean and a healthy amount of strawberry puree and watched as the frosting turned the loveliest pale pink. Maybe try whipping this up for your Mom this weekend, I hear Moms love pink cake.

In unrelated news, you can stream the entire new Beach House record on NPR here. It's 35 minutes of fun, mellow summertime tunes that will start your week right.

Brown Sugar Buttermilk Cake
adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes
yield 1, 8'' cake

4 eggs
2 egg yolks (save the whites for the buttercream)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1Tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups cake flour
2 cups dark brown sugar
4 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8oz softened butter

Preheat your oven to 350º and grease and flour 3, 8'' cake pans. For safety's sake, I lined mine with parchment too.

1. Sift the cake flour, baking soda and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Break up the brown sugar with your hands and whisk it into the flour mixture .
2. Cut the softened butter into chunks and add it into the flour mixture. Mix on low until the butter is evenly distributed and the mixture looks like crumbs. It is helpful to stop the mixer and scrape the bottom of the bowl during this process.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, buttermilk and vanilla extract. With the stand mixer running, add the milk mixture in three additions. Mix for 30 seconds after each addition, then stop the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl and paddle making sure to get down to the bottom of the bowl to ensure the batter is well mixed.
4. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and tap them gently on the counter to release air bubbles. Slide the pans into the oven and bake the layers for 28-30min or until a cake tester comes out completely. Cool for 15 minutes in the pans, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely before frosting.


Roasted Strawberries

1lb strawberries, cut in halves or quarters if they are large
2T honey
1T neutral flavored oil (canola or grapeseed)

Toss the strawberries with honey and oil. Spread out in an even layer on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 400º for 15-20min or until the berries have released some of their juices and caramelized slightly.


Roasted Strawberry Meringue Buttercream 
yield, enough frosting for an 8'' or 9'' cake (plus a little extra)

5 egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar
1lb butter, room temp
pinch salt
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1/2 cup roasted strawberry puree (room temperature)

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk continuously until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch, 5-7min.
2. Using the whisk attachment, beat the egg white mixture until stiff glossy peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 10min.
3. Switch to the paddle attachment and reduce the speed to low and add the salt then add butter a few tablespoons at a time and beat the frosting until smooth. During this step it is very likely that the frosting will "break" and you will think you messed up. Good news! You didn't! Mine breaks sometimes too. All you have to do is turn up the speed on your mixer for a few seconds and the frosting comes back together. Continue until all of the butter is incorporated then add in the vanilla bean seeds and very slowly stream in the roasted strawberry puree.

To Assemble the Cake

Peel the parchment paper from the layers and trim the cakes so the tops are flat. Place one layer onto a serving platter or pedestal and spread 1/2c-3/4c of the frosting onto the cake in an even layer. Place the second layer on top and repeat. Finish by placing the last layer on top, trimmed side down so the top of the cake will be nice and flat and crumb free. Cover the top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of frosting (crumb coat) and refrigerate for about 30min. Pull the cake out of the fridge and add a second, heavier coat of frosting on the top and sides of the cake. Garnish with sliced strawberries. Serve at room temperature. Store any extra frosting in an airtight container in the freezer where it will keep for a few weeks.

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Marmalade Pull Apart Bread

Marmalade Pull Apart Bread

I've talked about my "condiment situation" here before so I know many of you also find yourself with an overabundance of jam on your shelves. Well, with rhubarb season in full swing and strawberries just around the corner I decided it was time to face the pantry head on, and by pantry I mean the shelf in my closet where I keep my jam. It's next to the extra sheets if you were wondering. Fancy, I know. This little loaf that I whipped up last weekend is a lot of things, fun to eat, easy to share, your toast and marmalade all in one, but the best part is that it uses an entire 8oz jar of marmalade. Like a lot of sweet bread this is the tastiest the day it’s made, but if you have to keep it around for a day or so make sure you wrap it up tight and warm it up before you eat it.

Marmalade Pull Apart Bread

For the Dough
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
yield, one 9x5 loaf

3 cups all purpose flour
2 Tablespoon sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast (2 1/4t)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1/3 cup milk + 1/4 cup milk, separated
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the Filling

8oz marmalade
4 Tablespoon butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
½ vanilla bean scraped  or 1t vanilla extract (I used a vanilla scented marmalade and I loved the vanilla flavor so much, but this is totally optional)

To Assemble

1. In a small saucepan heat the 1/3c milk and butter until the butter is melted. Add in the 1/4c milk, vanilla, and the sugar. Let the mixture cool to between 105-115º, then whisk in the yeast and set aside until the mixture is foamy and frothy. 2. In a large bowl stir 2c flour and the salt together, then add in the yeast mixture and stir until the liquid is incorporated. Add the eggs in one at a time, followed by the last cup of flour. Stir for about two minutes, the dough should be quite sticky, but well mixed.
3. Place the dough in a large, greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise until doubled in size, about an hour. While the dough rises, prepare the filling.
4. Dump the marmalade into your blender (or use an immersion blender) and pulse a few times to break up the bits of zest, I pulverized mine pretty well because I wanted it to be easily spreadable. If your marmalade has finer bits of zest to begin with, you probably won’t have to go crazy with the blender, you don’t want to totally puree it. Then, add in the spices and vanilla if using. If you are using a flavored marmalade, you might want to skip the spices and vanilla, your call. Grease and line a 9x5 loaf pan with parchment.
5. After the dough has risen, dump it onto a floured board and roll it into a roughly 12x20 rectangle. Use a brush or spoon spread the melted butter onto the dough, then gently spread the marmalade mixture on top. You want a very, very thin layer of marmalade so you may need a bit less than 8oz total.
6. Slice the dough into 6 vertical strips, then stack the strips on top of each other. Slice the stack into 6 squarish pieces. Lay the stacks of dough in the prepared loaf pan so the layers are visible, like the pages of a book. Cover and let rise until almost doubled again, 30-45 minutes.
7. Heat your oven to 350º. When the dough has risen, put the loaf pan onto a sheet pan and slide it into the oven. Bake until deep golden brown, 30-35min. Let it rest for about 20 minutes then dig in!