Showing posts with label pies and tarts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pies and tarts. Show all posts

Friday, September 3, 2010

Speaking of Pie, How About a Model T Bakery Truck with a Pie Display in the Trunk!

The coolest bakery truck EVERRRRRR!

In honor of Sunday's 2nd Annual KCRW Good Food Pie Contest in Beverly Hills, I thought I'd share a very neat pie vehicle. Huh? Read on!

Back in June, I attended the Palo Alto Concours D' Elegance, an annual classic car show in the Bay Area. My dad was showing his 1935 Supercharged Auburn, and I might add, he placed 3rd in his class! Go, Dad! Whenever we attend car shows (which is not uncommon when you grow up with a father who restored a vintage car from a box of nuts and bolts and scraps of metal and expended a lot of blood, sweat, and tears for 20 years to complete the project flawlessly), we take an hour or so during the show to walk around and see the other car entries. It's always fun to take a stroll through time, spanning about a century, and see beautiful, old cars. Plus, my dad, who is a car expert, helps me appreciate everything I'm seeing more by explaining the history or significance of each car.

Mom, Dad, me standing in front of my dad's red 1935 convertible Auburn sedan,
and the reason we're at the car show

Standing with my dad's baby

Well, at the Palo Alto Concours D' Elegance, we happened upon a Ford Model T circa 1913. But not just any Model T...a Model T-turned-bakery truck with a pie display in the back!

My mom posing by the pie display at the back of the old bakery truck

My mom and I were instantly in love. We wanted this old bakery truck! My dad explained to me that back in the day when this truck was not vintage, but modern, a bakery would place an order with Ford for the Model T and then Ford would send the Model T to a body company to modify the body and turn it into this specialty truck.

This truck has so much character. Look at the wood sides, the shelves, the paint job. I wish more vehicles today had a personality like this. Instead, I'll just continue to attend car shows with my dad and continue to dream as I walk down aisle upon car aisle representing an era that's now mostly a happy memory.

The pies are on wooden shelves at the back of the bakery truck

Though maybe if I save up enough money, I'll invest in my own Model T bakery truck so a piece of that car personality I yearn for can be mine. And I'll have the paint job say Happy Go Marni Bakery. Wouldn't that be nice...

See you Sunday at the pie contest!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Mom and I Are Entering the 2nd Annual KCRW Good Food Pie Contest!

Well, we've gone and done it. We've signed up AGAIN for the KCRW Good Food Pie Contest. We, as in my mom and me! The contest is this Sunday, September 5, at the Taste of Beverly Hills event from 4-6pm. You might recall that this mother-daughter team entered and won the Cream Pies category last year. Woohoo! Well, we're back, and we're changing things up a bit. I don't want to jinx anything so I won't discuss our pie. But I will say, we are not competing in the Cream Pies category this time! We are so excited! My mom is flying down from the Bay Area for the weekend!

Several weeks ago, when my mom and I were flirting with the idea of entering again, we discussed flavor combinations we love. It's funny how the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. We both immediately knew the general direction of the pie, and which two ingredients had to be present. Then we set to building the pie, layer by layer.

We tested fillings, crusts, toppings, and more, adjusting the quantity of sugar or butter or xxx (wouldn't want to give away the recipe!), until we found what we believe to be an exceptional pie! It's taken a lot of time, thought, and expensive ingredients, but it's one of those fun things worth putting resources toward - and come on, doing it as a mother-daughter project makes it a no-brainer. Plus, it's delicious! So regardless of how we do this Sunday at the contest (um, there are more than 200 pies entered!!!), we are quite pleased with how our pie turned out and have already had a lot of fun preparing.

Oh, and there's going to be an apron fashion show at the pie contest. So I am planning on wearing the adorable bright, ruffly apron my very talented and crafty friend Crystal sewed for me in between the long hours she spends researching biomedical engineering orthopedic something-or-other for her Ph.D. Yes, she's a renaissance woman!

With Crystal on the night she gave me the apron!

Anyways, wish us luck this Sunday! And if you're in LA, think about coming out to cheer us on, say hello, and meet lots of fellow foodies. It's very fun and you get to taste the pie entries after the judging is over! Free pie? Yes siree!

Details about parking, schedule, etc... are on the official pie contest page.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fresh Peach Pie with a Lattice Top

I went to the Hollywood Farmer's Market this past weekend. Mostly, I was there for the cookbook sale hosted by the Culinary Historians of Southern California. And of course I bought 5 cookbooks. But that's a story for another day.

Since I was at the farmer's market, I might as well get a bunch of veggies, too. Then it dawned on me, with all the beautiful fruit stands, I should make a fruit pie. My first choice was an apple pie, but I was very stubborn and only willing to make the apple pie out of Gravenstein apples, like my mom does, but of course there were none at this market. So I quickly moved onto a different fruit. Peach.

A lady at one of the stands had what appeared to be only 5 peaches left. What! So early in the day? It was only around 10am. The market would be open for another three hours! Anyways, they were a tiny bit bruised in places because they were so ripe. With the bruises, she said she'd sell them to me for 50 cents a pound. Usually they'd be $3 a pound there. Sold! So I bought a few more peaches at another stand for $2.75/lb., which is still kind of pricey for peaches, but I didn't mind since I had saved so much on the first 5. Now I had enough peaches for a pie! Home I went, skipping and humming the whole way, excited to make a pie.

I sat on my living room floor in front of a cookbook bookcase, trying to figure out where to go to find a great peach pie recipe. My cookbook collection is enormous; this was a daunting task. But when I saw the photo of the peach pie in the Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking cookbook, I knew it was the one. I wanted to make a pie that looked exactly like that!

Of the entire process making the pie, from homemade crust, to preparing the peach filling, to placing the lattice on the top, the hardest and most time consuming part for me was getting the skin off the peaches. I often took the peaches out of the boiling water too soon when the skin was not easy enough to peel off. The task itself wasn't so complicated, I just wasn't giving it the patience it deserved. Other than that, it's really not that hard to make a peach pie! And a lattice top, while impressive looking, is easy as pie! :)

Lattice-Top Peach Pie
Adapted from a recipe by Cathy Burgett, Elinor Klivans, and Lou Seibert Pappas in Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking
Makes one 9-inch pie

1 Recipe Flaky Pie Pastry for Lattice Crust (see below)

For the filling
6-8 peaches (3 lb)
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, strained
3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

For the topping
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon heavy (double) cream
2 teaspoons sugar

Prepare the Flaky Pie Pastry and refrigerate to chill as directed. Note: Do not bake the crust yet! The peach filling will be spread over the unbaked pie crust.

To make the filling, begin with the following technique to remove the skin from the peaches. Bring a large saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil. Immerse 3 peaches at a time in the water until the skin appears to puff up and separate from the meat of the peach. It took me anywhere from one minute to several minutes per peach. Sometimes I had to put a peach back in the boiling water to give it more time. Remove the peaches from the water and allow to cool enough so you can handle them. Remove the peel with your fingers or a small sharp knife, then cut each peach in half. Remove the pit and then cut the peach lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices.

In a large bowl, combine these peach slices with 4 tablespoons of the sugar, the lemon juice, and the tapioca. Gently stir to combine but take care not to mash the peaches. Set aside.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out the larger of the two disks of dough so that it will completely cover the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Sprinkle the flour and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar over the bottom crust. Spoon in the peach filling and spread evenly. Roll out the smaller dough disk, then cut parallel lines in the dough to create lattice strips. Place half the strips in one direction on the pie, spacing out evenly, then place the other half of the strips in the other direction, using the lattice technique of going over and under. Gently brush the lattice with the egg mixture, then sprinkle the entire top of the pie with sugar.

Bake the pie until the edges are just starting to brown, about 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 38-45 minutes until the crust is a light golden brown and the peach filling is bubbling through the lattice. Let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into it.

Flaky Pie Pastry for Lattice Crust Pie
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
4 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons sugar, optional
1/4 teaspoon salt
4-6 tablespoons ice water

You can make this dough by hand in a bowl with a pastry blender or two knives, but I prefer using a food processor. Makes the process so quick! A stand mixer will work, too.

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the food processor (or a bowl). Pulse a few times to mix. Add the cold butter and shortening pieces and pulse 8-10 times until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs the size of large peas. Add the ice water a little at a time and pulse 10-12 times just until the dough begins to come together. It should not form a ball yet.

Transfer the dough to your dough board (that's been sprinkled with flour). Divide the dough into 2 portions, one twice as large as the other (in other words, imagine dividing the dough into three pieces and then combine two of them into one disk). Shape the larger portion into a 6-inch disk and the smaller one into a 3-inch disk. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour or for up to overnight.

Step-by-Step in Pictures
In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt, then pulse together with the cold butter and shortening...

Allow the dough to come together, though it does not need to form a tight ball...

Divide the dough into two disks; one disk should be twice as large as the other, then wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least one hour...

To make the filling, first briefly boil the peaches so the skins will peel off easily...

Peel off the skins. Have patience!

Slice the peaches into 1/2-inch slices and place in a bowl with sugar, lemon juice, and tapioca...

Stir to combine and then set aside...

Roll out the larger disk of dough into a circle large enough to cover a 9-inch pie pan...

Transfer the rolled out dough to the pie pan and crimp the edges with your thumb and index finger...

Sprinkle the bottom of the crust with flour and sugar...

Spoon the peach filling onto the crust...

Roll out the smaller disk of dough and cut into strips for the lattice top...

Place half the strips on the pie, spacing evenly...

With the remaining strips, one strip at a time, carefully lay them perpendicular to the strips that are already on the pie, lifting the original ones so that you create an over-under pattern...

Trim any excess dough hanging over the edge of the pie dish, then tuck the lattice strip ends into the pie edge (I use kitchen shears for the trimming)...

Prepare the egg wash by combining heavy cream with an egg...

Brush the top of the lattice with the egg wash...

Then sprinkle the entire top of the pie with sugar...

Bake at 400 degrees for the first 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 and continue baking for about another 40 minutes...

Let cool completely, then slice and serve!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I Took Home 1st Place for Cream Pies at the KCRW Good Food Pie Contest!

Our prize-winning pie!

The much anticipated KCRW Good Food Pie Contest happened yesterday and I can't believe I'm saying this - in fact, it's still shocking to say out loud, but typing is a little easier: My mom and I won 1st place in the Cream/Custard/Chiffon/Mousse category! Ahhhhhhhh! Ok, had to get that scream out of my system. Ahhhhh! Nope, it's not all out.

The lovely cross-section

Our winning pie was a Chocolate Caramelized Bananas and Peanut Butter Mousse Pie with a garnish of Caramelized Peanuts. We are suckers for chocolate, peanut butter, and bananas. Both my mom and I tested the pie recipe separately, varying it slightly to see what worked best. Friday night when we made the official pie we'd be entering into the contest (together under one roof because my mom flew down from the Bay Area!!!), we changed the chocolate cookie crust one more time. Third time's the charm! And practice makes perfect!

My sister, me, and my mom with our pie!

With close to 150 pies entered and all of them looking interesting or gorgeous, the competition was fierce! We were honored to be among such a talented mix of professionals and amateurs. It was fun to chat with the entrants while we waited for judging to begin. Plus being surrounded by such an esteemed judging panel, I was swooning and dying from celebrity chef and food figure sightings. It's one thing to be a fan of a famous chef or food writer, it's another to have them be a fan of your pie! The tables have turned, if just for one day, and I'm bursting on the inside!

The ribbons table

Watching chef Eric Greenspan of The Foundry on Melrose taste my pie and give the "oooooh-yummy-I-like-this" look of the century was incredibly exciting. Mark Peel, chef and founder of Campanile and La Brea Bakery, Stefan Richter, Top Chef Season 5 contestant and chef of Stefan's at LA Farm, and Russ Parsons, the LA Times food editor, offered me similar looks. I wish I could bottle up the thrill of seeing that. Greenspan and others even returned to my pie for additional tastes later in the judging process. So glad my sister got a short video of Greenspan mid-taste...

We are plating the pie for the judges

To go back a few steps and explain the day from the beginning, first I registered my pie entry when I arrived and was then taken to the tables where the pies would be displayed. This event took place in the giant Westfield shopping mall in Topanga, CA. The general public looked on from the other side of the ropes as I cut my pie into 8 pieces. 2 of those 8 would be plated for judges to sample. I took special care to make clean slices. I didn't know the judging rubric but I could have guessed presentation would be part of it. The slices came out great and showed off a fun multilayer cross-section. I was so relieved! Now, assuming the pie doesn't melt or deflate as it sits there unrefrigerated (cream pies aren't especially forgiving at room temperature for too long), my work is done and it's up to the Pie Gods to make miracles happen.

The Foundry chef-owner Eric Greenspan tastes our pie!

Russ Parsons, the LA Times food editor, tastes our pie!

Mark Peel, chef-owner of Campanile and La Brea Bakery founder, tastes our pie!

It took quite awhile for everyone who brought a pie to register and slice up their pie. Eventually, all the pies were out on display and the judges entered the area to perform their noble duty. I moved to the other side of the ropes blocking off the pie area, joining the general public, and watched judge after judge approach my pie to taste it. After a very long judging period and much deliberation and back-and-forth among the judges, the winners were determined.

Holding up my ribbon, biggest grin ever, and with
event host/food genius Evan Kleiman

Evan Kleiman, the incredible chef-owner at Angeli Caffe, star of Good Food on KCRW, and host of this pie contest, took to the mic and announced 3rd, then 2nd, then 1st place in each of the four categories: Fruit and Nut; Cream, Custard, Chiffon, Mousse; Savory; Interpretive (Defies Categorization); and then Best in Show. When she called Pie #22, our pie, I just about died. I put my hands over my face, Home Alone style, then pulled my mom's arm behind me, and we rushed up to receive our award ribbon and prizes. The LA Daily News snapped a pretty awesome photo of us as we heard our pie announced. As for prizes, we got a tote bag of cookbooks, wine, and a gift certificate to Westfield mall. Plus bragging rights! When all winners had been announced, the public was invited to taste the remaining pie slices. It was a mad dash to the tables, and so much fun!

2nd place in Creams Dan Hong (for his delicious banana cream pie)
stops for a photo with my mom and me

I can now check off Mother-Daughter Bake-off Experience from the list - though I wouldn't be opposed to more of those in the future. And how special to have my sister there cheering from the sidelines. We won an NPR bake-off? We love NPR!!!!! It was a really great day.

Oh, and at least for now, I'm keeping the winning recipe a secret. Sometimes I like a good mystery. :-)

Judge Eric Greenspan and me

Judge Mark Peel and me

With my friend Lindsay William-Ross, the editor of LAist

With Chrystal Baker, a fellow first place winner
but for the Savory category, and fellow food blogger!

With Max Lesser, fellow pie entrant and chef/owner
of the amazing Morning Glory Confections

A very appropriate pie contest entrant outfit -
matching aprons for mommy and baby

Some of the Pie Entries

Updated! Press and Blog Coverage
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