1 Apt. 2B Baking Co.: November 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cranberry Meringue Tartlets

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These tartlets were inspired by a lengthy discussion between me and my dinner companions last weekend on whether lemon meringue pie is appropriate Thanksgiving fare. We never came to consensus on the topic, but my general attitude on Thanksgiving is, the more pies the better! So, I think I'll probably sneak one in next year's dessert line up for the lemon meringue lovers in our group, but I also might make a case for these cranberry meringue tartlets instead. They hit all of the right sweet, tart, and creamy notes that a great lemon meringue pie does with the bonus that they are a bit more seasonally appropriate.

The cranberry cream I filled the tartlets with is a riff on Tartine's Lemon Cream, which is a fairly simple (but genius) recipe for lemon curd enriched with a goodly amount of butter. For my cranberry version, I swapped the lemon juice for unsweetened cranberry juice and reduced the sugar and butter to cut the richness just slightly because I knew I wanted to top these tarts with a Swiss meringue cap which can be quite sweet. The cream was a delicious success. In fact, I had to hide the leftovers from myself because I couldn't stop going at it with a spoon.

p.s. I hope you all had a nice holiday weekend! I'll be back soon with a few photos of my Thanksgiving celebration, but in the meantime I'd love to know what you all made this year. Share in the comments below!

Cranberry Meringue Tartlets

Sweet Tart Dough
adapted from Dorie Greenspan
for 1, 9'' tart or 6, 4'' tartlets

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons cold, cubed butter
1 egg yolk (save the white for later)
1/2 teaspoons lemon zest (optional)

1. In the bowl of a food processor or with a pastry blender, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is the size of small peas. Add the yolk and zest and pulse until the mixture begins to clump a bit.

2. Lightly butter your tart pan or pans and gently press the crumbly dough into the pan. Make sure to evenly coat the bottom and the sides while being careful to not compact the dough too much. Alternately, you can pat the dough into a circle, wrap it in plastic, and chill it for 2 hours. After 2 hours, roll the dough in between two lightly floured pieces of parchment paper into a 12'' circle and gently lay it into the pan, making sure to press the dough gently into the sides and bottom of the pan.  You may have a bit of extra dough, save it just in case you have to repair any cracks later on. Freeze the tart shell(s) for 30min.

3. Preheat your oven to 375º and bake the tart shell(s) on a baking sheet (no need for pie weights) until it is lightly golden 20-25 minutes. Remove the foil repair any cracks that may have formed with your leftover dough, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool the shell on a rack while you prepare the rest of the tart.



Cranberry Cream
adapted from Tartine's Lemon Cream

3/4 cup 100% unsweetened cranberry juice (see below for how to make your own, it's easy, I promise)
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk (save the white for later)
2/3 cup sugar
pinch salt
6 ounces unsalted butter

1. Add a few inches of water into a saucepan over medium heat and bring it to a simmer.
2. In a large bowl that will sit securely on the rim of the saucepan without touching the water underneath, combine the cranberry juice, eggs, egg yolks, sugar and salt. Whisk to combine.
3. Cook the mixture, whisking constantly until it is very thick and reaches 180º on a thermometer. If you do not have a candy thermometer, cook the mixture until it is very thick and a whisk leaves a trail through the curd. Remove from the heat and let cool until it reaches about 140º.
4. Cut the butter into tablespoon sized pieces and when the mixture has cooled slightly pour it into a blender. With the blender running, add the butter one tablespoon at a time, blending after each addition. The cream will thicken slightly and turn a lovely shade of light corally-pink. You can also do this with an immersion blender. Chill the cream in the refrigerator until ready to assemble the tarts.

DIY 100% cranberry juice
yield about 1 cup

In a medium saucepan combine 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries with 3/4 cup water. Cook over medium heat until the cranberries are soft and their skins have burst. Press the mixture firmly through a sieve and discard the skins and seeds.

If you aren't up for making your own cranberry juice you can find it at Trader Joe's and most natural food stores.

Swiss Meringue
If you don't like regular meringue, you might like it made this way. It is smooth and marshmallowy in texture. These tarts would be excellent without the meringue cap, but I think the addition of pillowy soft Swiss meringue is the perfect compliment to the tart cranberry cream.

2 egg whites (ideally, the 2 egg whites you saved earlier)
1/2 cup sugar
pinch salt

1. Add a few inches of water into a saucepan over medium heat and bring it to a simmer.
2. In a large bowl that will sit securely on the rim of the saucepan without touching the water underneath, combine the egg whites, sugar and salt. Cook, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is very warm to the touch.
3. Remove from the heat and whisk the mixture with an electric mixer on high until stiff and glossy.

To Assemble

Fill each pre-baked tart shell with a few tablespoons of cranberry cream, top with a few tablespoons of meringue then use a spatula to create a swirly, peaked pattern. Gently brown the meringue 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. Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator for a few hours. These tarts are best on the day they are made.

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Thanksgiving

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I've never hosted Thanksgiving dinner so I can't give you any tips on how to roast the juiciest bird or make the fluffiest mashed potatoes (I like them chunky anyway), but I do know how to make some killer Thanksgiving pies. I like to keep it pretty traditional for turkey day and I also like to give people options, so I think I'll end up making some classic pumpkin pies with lots of whipped cream and simple apple tarts with creme fraiche to feed the crowd I'll be dining with this year. I might even get wild and throw some quince or cranberries into my apple tarts, but I think I'll take the temperature of my dinner companions before going for it. I'd love to hear your plans in the comments!

If you are still pondering your own Thanksgiving menu, here are a few recipes from the archives that would be great additions to your holiday spread. Don't forget, you can make pie crust days in advance and freeze it, well wrapped. Just make sure to give the crusts at least 8 hours to defrost in the refrigerator before you roll them out to make your pies.

Apple and Quince Gingerbread
Apple, Quince and Cranberry Pie
Buttermilk Biscuits
Caramelized Pumpkin Puddings (GF)
Classic Apple Pie
Cranberry Quince Preserves (GF)
Persimmon Bread
Quince Custard Cake
Quince Frangipane Tartlets
Quince Upside Down Cake
Skillet Cornbread with Jalapeño Honey Butter (GF)
Squash Harvest Bread
Whole Wheat Cheese Straws

All of these photos are from Thanksgiving 2011 at the beautiful home of a friend in Connecticut. We'll be there again this year and I can't wait!

Special thanks to the reader who gave me the tip about finding winter luxury pumpkins in NYC. I bought three from Tamarack Hollow Farm last Wednesday at the Union Square Greenmarket and I can't wait to roast them and turn them into pie!

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Apple and Quince Gingerbread

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I hope you're not sick of quince because here's another quince cake to add to your recipe box. You may remember this ginger and quince cake from way back when, but don't worry, this cake has a whole different thing going on. In this preparation the quince are mixed with some sliced apples and a bit of butter and sugar then caramelized before being tucked into a smooth, gingery cake batter. The result is a golden cake with a crisp top that is full of warm spices and it's just perfect for a cozy fall day with a cup of something to warm you.

p.s. I'll be out celebrating Jen Causey's book launch tomorrow night! Will I see any of you guys there?

Apple and Quince Gingerbread
yield 1, 9'' cake
adapted from food52

2 large apples
1 large quince
4 ounces plus 1 ounce butter
4 tablespoons coarse sugar (turbinado or light demerara)
6.5 ounce all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3.75 ounces brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root
2 tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons rum or bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup buttermilk
10 walnut halves (optional)

Preheat oven to 350º. Butter and flour a 9'' cake pan.

1. Core and peel the apples and quince then cut into thin slices. Melt 1 ounce of butter in a skillet and stir in the apple and quince slices until coated with butter, then add 2 tablespoons coarse sugar. Saute over medium heat stirring occasionally until the fruit has softened and caramelized slightly. Set aside to cool while you prepare the cake batter.
2. In a medium bowl sift the flour, baking soda, salt and spices.
3. In a stand mixer cream the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Then beat in the zests, grated ginger, molasses, rum or bourbon and vanilla extract.
4. Slowly stir in the flour mixture followed by the buttermilk until the batter is smooth.
5. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan, top with the sautéed apples and quince, then pour the rest of the batter on top and smooth with a spatula. Arrange the walnut halves on top (if using) then sprinkle with the remaining coarse sugar.
6. Bake the cake for 45-50 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. This cake is best the day that it's made, but will last for a few days in an airtight container.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Apple, Cranberry, and Quince Pie

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First things first, if you live in the United States please VOTE today! Make your voice heard and exercise your rights people. It feels good and you might even get a fun sticker to wear. Then, maybe make a pie to calm your nerves while you wait for the election returns to roll in tonight. You could also just bookmark this one for Thanksgiving and go to your neighborhood watering hole for a pint instead. I won't judge.

Apple, Cranberry and Quince Pie
The combination of sweet apples, tart cranberries, and floral quince is a new favorite of mine and this pie would be a perfect addition to any holiday table. If you can't find quince, just replace it with another apple, but I encourage you to seek it out and give it a try!

For the Crust

This crust comes to you from Brandi Henderson of I made that! and The Pantry at Delancey
where she teaches a class called "How to be a Pie Ninja" and she is not messing around. This
crust is made with  a technique called fraisage which creates long sheets of buttery flakes
throughout the dough instead of little pockets of butter.

12 ounces pastry flour
8 ounces cold butter
4 ounces ice water
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Mix the flour and salt together, then pour the whole lot on a large cutting board or countertop.
2. With a bench scraper, cut in half of the butter until it is the size of lima beans, then cut in the
other half of the butter until it is the size of quarters. Add the apple cider vinegar to the water.
3. Using your fingers, flick the water on to the butter flour mixture and gently fold it in with your
bench scraper. You have added enough water when you can pick up a handful of the dough
and squeeze it together without it falling apart.
4. Then, you smear the butter into the dough. With the heel of your hand push a section of the
dough down and away from you. Scrape your sheet off of the board and place it in a bowl to
the side. Repeat until you have worked through all of the dough, pushing it down and away
from you in sections. Once you've gone through all of the dough gently remove it from the bowl,
press it together, then split it in half, and wrap each half in plastic wrap and form into a disk.
Chill the dough for at least one hour before using. I like to chill mine overnight.

For the Filling

4 large apples (about 2.5 lbs) I like mutsus, jonathans, golden delicious, and cortlands
1 large quince
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2-3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
zest and juice of one small lemon
zest and juice of half of an orange
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter

Peel and core the the apples then cut them into 1/2'' chunks. Peel and core the quince and cut it into 1/4'' pieces. Place the apples, quince and cranberries in a large bowl then add lemon
and orange juices and zests, stir gently to combine. Add the rest of the filling ingredients (except
the butter) and stir gently to combine.

For the Topping

1 egg, beaten
A few teaspoons of coarse sugar like turbinado or light demerara

To Assemble and Bake

Preheat oven to 400º

1. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one piece of the dough into a 12’’ circle 1/4''-1/8'' thick
and place it into a 9 or 10 inch pie pan. Place in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the pie.
2. Roll out the other piece of dough into a 12'' circle about 1/4''-1/8'' thick and place it in the
fridge to chill while you prepare the filling.
3. Fill the prepared pie shell with the apple mixture, dot with the 2 tablespoons butter, and top
with the second crust, trim the edges so there is about 1/2’’ of overhang then crimp the edges
and cut a few vents in the top. If you'd like to make a lattice top (like the pie pictured), here is a really great step-by-step slideshow from Bon Appetit.com.
4. If the crust seems soft or warm, slide the whole pie into the fridge or freezer for about 15min
before you bake it. When you are ready to bake brush the top of the pie with a beaten egg and
sprinkle with a healthy dose of coarse sugar.
5. Put the pie on a baking sheet to catch any drips and bake for 15 minutes on the lowest rack
of your oven, then lower the oven temp to 350º and bake for 40-50 minutes or until the crust is
deep golden brown and the fruit juices bubble. For extra shine, glaze the pie with another coat
of egg wash 10 minutes before you take it out of the oven, but keep a close eye on it to prevent burning.