{Baking} MIXED CHERRY & BERRY PIE … the day dessert was on Jamie! Great for Mother’s Day!

“Yield to temptation; it may not pass your way again”
Lazarus Long

  I really shouldn’t have stopped by. The minute I saw Jamie’s post title in my reader I was mesmerised but I knew I had to stay away. Yet, I reached there in a hypnotic trance following the strings of my heart! How they tugged, and not without reason. There she had posted the most gorgeous lattice crust Mixed Berry Pie, a pie I have long wished to try, but have never had the courage to.

But when someone so close to you makes and blogs about the most perfect looking pie under the sun, you know it’s more than safe to head out to the kitchen and take a stab at it. The hot weather here is not very pie crust friendly, and most certainly not pastry rolling friendly either; but I had THAT pie on my mind! I was prepared for lattice failure because at 40C+ I know that pastry and pastry strips don’t hold up well.  Take a look, I tried to do a lattice, didn’t succeeed a 100% well, but managed a patchy job, which was good enough for a first time.
I loved everything about the pie. First it had fruit in it, which as most of you know is my first love in baked desserts. You can use a mix of seasonal mixed berries, or even customise it to your tastes with berries of your choice. The pie crust is full of gorgeous goodness, and very very forgiving. It holds up well with good old patchwork, which I resorted to to a large extent as the pastry wasn’t doing too well in the heat. In the end, as you can see for yourself, it held the pie together beautifully.
For a step by step tutorial on pie crust making, do stop by at  Jamie’s post here, as she is quite the pastry queen! She’s had extensive experience in pastry making and can toss together a mean pie in minutes! {She and I are also partners in our blog dedicated to macarons @ MacTweets! have you been there yet? Do stop by and feel free to join a whole bunch of macpassionate folk find feet once a month!}
The verdict on the pie for me was out before I even sliced it. In my mind I thought, “If it looks and smells  this good coming out of the oven, it’s gonna taste even better!” Wasn’t far from it. It was divine in every bite. The fruit all firmed up beautifully, and had the perfect consistency. Mr PAB gave it a high five, and called it a quality dessert … well he did get a second slice for that!! I was bursting with pride, and when I tweeted it out to Jamie, so was she!! You could try making it for Mother’s day, trimmed with heart cut outs or flowers! She’ll  L♥VE  it!!

It was everything good, even it had a cup of butter in the crust. Well no butter in the filling, made up for that and it balanced beautifully! I reduced an egg in the pie crust because pastry making experience in hot weather has made me wiser. Maybe next time, if I make it in hot weather, I ‘ll use just the yolk. That might give me a firmer dough. I think you can even get the whole pie together, and chill it in advance, baking it later if you need to. Might just work out to be a good dessert to make in advance. Oh, and I have to say, it tasted very nice cold too!

MIXED BERRY PIE WITH SWEET PASTRY LATTICE CRUST
Adapted minimally from Jamie @ Lifes A Feast
Filling:

6 cups (ie one filled glass measuring cup) mixed berries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup vanilla sugar, or granulated
1/3 cup flour
Juice of 1 lime
*I used 2 cups fresh, seasonal pitted black cherries, 1/2 cup stoned plums, 1 cup frozen strawberries. You can use blackberries, blueberries, raspberries or currants too.
Sweet Pastry Pie Crust {Double crust}
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
1 egg, lightly beaten with a fork
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Method for filling:
Toss the sugar, flour, cinnamon and zest together in a small bowl and stir to combine. Place all of the fruit in a large bowl and, using your hands, toss with the flour/sugar mixture until all of the fruit is coated with the dry ingredients.
Method for pie crust:
Combine flour and sugar in the bowl of the food processor. Add chilled butter & whiz till breadcrumb like mixture forms,.
With a fork, vigorously stir in the lightly beaten egg until all the dry ingredients are moistened and a dough starts to pull together and form a ball.
Scrape up the dough together, re-flour the surface lightly and work very briefly and quickly until you have a smooth, homogeneous dough. If the dough is a bit too soft or sticky for you, refrigerate it for 10 or 15 minutes until it can be easily rolled out without sticking to your rolling pin.
Cut the dough in two pieces, one half slightly larger than the other (this larger part will be the bottom crust). On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough for the bottom crust until you have a circle about an inch (2 cm) wider all around than the bottom of the pie plate. Carefully roll up the dough around the rolling pin and lift and transfer to your pie dish, unrolling into the dish. Gently lift up the dough all around, sliding and pressing the dough down into the dish so as avoid stretching or breaking the dough. If the dough splits, no worry, it can simply be stuck and pressed together again.
Using a knife or your rolling pin lying flat on top of the pie dish, cut off all excess dough hanging over the edges. Repress the sides of the dough back into the (crimped) sides of the pie dish.
Pour the prepared fruit filling into the pie dish and push the fruit around until evenly distributed and filling any gaps.
Preheat the oven to 190°C.
On your floured work surface, roll out the remaining dough into a circle the size of your pie plate or slightly larger. Cut into even strips of any width. Form a lattice over the fruit filling. Using every other strip from the cut circle of dough, space them evenly across the top of the pie, leaving the edges hanging loosely over the edge of the pie.
Trim the edges of the dough strips and press (flour your fingers if they stick to the dough) the strips into the dough of the bottom crust. If you like, use any leftover dough to make decorative shapes for the top (I made hearts). ‘Glue‘ these shapes of dough onto the crust with a bit of milk. Gently and lightly brush the crust lattice with milk.
Bake in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, until the crust is golden and cooked, and the fruit is bubbling. If any part of the crust begins to brown too fast – the edges of mine began browning well before the center, simply cover with strips of aluminum foil.
Carefully remove from the oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack. The filling will firm up perfectly when cooled to room temperature.
Serve plain, with unsweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥
On another note, my good friend Sid, the Chef at Large, asked if I’d like to host a giveaway on my blog for my local readers! YES please! So here we are. On offer is a delicious dinner for 2 at the Empress of China, Intercontinental Eros at Nehru Place, to be used anytime in the month of May. Do leave a comment on this post telling me what your fave Chinese joint in the NCR is! Will pick a winner on Tuesday!

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GETTING CREATIVE WITH DARING BAKERS-MULBERRY CHEESECAKE!

“Marge, it’s 3 AM. Shouldn’t you be baking?”
Homer Simpson
The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge. We’re back again & with another great challenge. It’s the Daring Bakers time of the month again, & this time it’s CHEESECAKE!! What caught my attention about this month’s challenge was the announcement : April 2009 Challenge – Time to get creative! The real challenge this month is to take this basic recipe and play with it. Make it unique. Make a showstopper of a dessert. Add flavor, sauces, decorations – dress it up and show it off. I tried!!For this month’s challenge, Jenny has picked a basic cheesecake recipe, courtesy of her friend Abbey T., who has tweaked and played with this recipe. She has made many variations, and anyone who knows Abbey, knows to ask her to bring a cheesecake!
Was surprisingly quick on the challenge this month; surprised myself too. Actually had these beautiful mulberries that the fellow who works for me brought home one evening. We chomped some, then some more, but there were far too many. Mulberries, one of a clutch of Indian berries, are a sign of Spring, but have a very SHORT shelf life. They just drop off the tree once ripe, making a royal mess of the place. They are beautifully coloured, & are plump & juicy.Checked the Daring Bakers forum that morning, & saw the challenge. Yippee, time to put the mulberries to some productive use! Followed the recipe as is, except for the cream cheese, used curd cheese instead, & got a wonderful cheesecake, though not as rich & creamy as the original would have been. I used a blend of digestive biscuits & almonds in the biscuit base.I flavoured the batter with concentrated mulberry syrup. The syrup was quite difficult to make coz the berries don’t let go of their stalks easily. I macerated the berries for an hour with sugar & then pushed them through a sieve. Phew … tough work. In the end though, they didn’t lend a huge outstanding kick of flavour, just a gentle mild berry flavouring.
The cheesecake itself was easy to bake, with a set of clear cut instructions from the host. You can find the recipe for ‘Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake’ here @ JennyBakes.com. The water bath ensures that the cake doesn’t crack on top while baking. I lined the inside of my tin with double foil too to ensure that no water seeped in. It didn’t, but resulted in an uneven side, so I covered the sides with slivered almonds to get rid of the flaw. My base got a bit soggy; suspect that was because of the mulberry syrup … The recipe itself – a WINNER!!!I did the top with a mirror glaze coz I remembered seeing a really old DB post at Meeta’s @ WFLH for a Strawberry Mirror Cake. More than anything else, I thought it just added to the finish & general appearance of the cheesecake, & gave me a chance to experiment. I love the contrast the ‘mirrored’ look offers. All in all, it was a fun challenge … & I did procrastinate typing out the post. I was so excited that I completed the challenge well in time, yet kept postponing putting my words down. Here I am, on D day, editing pictures & typing madly. Sigh…
Thanks a million Jenny, for such a fun & creative challenge, and for making ‘Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake’ famous, & very popular indeed!

Check out what delightful creations the rest of our Daring Bakers have been serving up this month here.

CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY REFRIGERATOR CHEESECAKE…No Bake No Eggs

“There’s more to life than chocolate, but not right now”
Anonymous

There’s a new book out there, & it sounds good … Cooking Green by Kate Heyhoe. It’s aimed at shrinking your ‘cookprint’ (new interesting word for me), & offers daily strategies for ‘lower impact living’. To quote the author, “How we cook is as important as what we cook. Fortunately, the kitchen is the place where you can make real green choices, and take direct control of your impact—through passive and active cooking strategies, water conservation tips, and low-carbon choices for cookware, appliances, foods, dining, and more. Save money and time, too, just by rethinking how you cook and eat. Cooking Green is like having a personal eco-consultant at your side whenever you cook, shop or eat. You’ll discover how to prepare favorite meals using less fuel and water, and make greener choices along the entire food chain, from field to market to home. The goal: lower your impact, and shrink your cookprint. Topics cover cookware from skillets to pressure cookers, appliances small and large, buying options from organics to packaging, and strategies that stretch from water heater to kitchen sink.”
This eggless no-bake cheesecake was delicious, but more importantly, gained brownie points due to a lower cookprint & use of yogurt in the form of curd cheese. It also gave me a chance to combine 2 good things in life … chocolate & strawberries. We’ve bid adieu to strawberries this season, & this is one the last few things I tried while I could lay my hands on some good fresh ones.

I receive numerous mails from readers of my blog looking for ‘eggless cakes’. A large portion of people in India are vegetarian / ‘no egg’ eaters, some on certain days of the week, some for a short period of time, & some others for life. I’m not a huge ‘egg in food’ person myself, & prefer my ice-creams, pastas, bread eggless etc, but have come a long way in learning that the problem lies more in my mind than on the plate. I have no reservations about using eggs , but sometimes would choose a panna cotta over a bake which has eggs. Strange…hmmmm.Baking & eggs do go hand in hand … what do eggs do?
Eggs, as well as flour, are the structural ingredients in baking. Eggs provide leavening; add color, texture, flavor and richness to the batter. They are very important in helping to bind all the other ingredients together. Beaten eggs are a leavening agent as they incorporate air into the batter, which will expand in the oven and cause the cake to rise. Some cakes use beaten eggs as their only source of leavening. Eggs are also used as a thickener in custards and creams, and to glaze pastries and breads. Egg whites are used to make meringues.
Yet, ‘no bake & no eggs’ make good friends at times. Learnt that in this Strawberry Refrigerator Cheesecake I did earlier. This time it had to be chocolate. I had hung curd cheese in the fridge, & wanted to make something with chocolate this time around. There was frozen yogurt in the freezer, so frozen chocolate yogurt would have to wait for another day, though is entirely a possibility in the experimental days to come. Of course when I lay down at night, the mind kept thinking, & this is what I attempted the next morning. I had initially planned individual desserts, but lack of time forced me to make a single cheesecake with curd cheese. It came out beautifully…smooth, rich & delicious! For the biscuit base, I used some left-over Brown Sugar Shortbread I had iced earlier in the week for Easter. I had made about a dozen round cookies to use as a base for individual desserts, but a rapid change of plans made me crush them. Feel free to use graham crackers or digestives if you like.

CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY REFRIGERATOR CHEESECAKE (Eggless)

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups curd cheese (made with curd hung overnight to remove all whey)
400ml low fat cream (We get a 25% fresh cream/Amul here)
200gms dark chocolate
50 gms white coocolate (optional)
1/2 cup vanilla sugar (or plain)
1 1/2 tbsps gelatin
1/3 cup milk; cold
Biscuit crust
200gms brown sugar shortbread cookies; crushed (or gingersnaps/digestives etc)
75gms melted butter
Method:
  • Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold milk & leave over a bowl of warm water till clear & melted.
  • Melt the dark chocolate & loosen it with 100ml cream. Microwave for 20-25 seconds to blend well if need be. Leave to cool.
  • Whisk the remaining cream  {minus 2 tbsp  to soft peaks}.
  • Whisk the curd cheese & sugar in the processor till smooth. Add the melted dark chocolate ganache & whisk till well blended. Then add the gelatin mixture & blend again. Fold in the whipped cream. Adjust sweetness if required.
  • Melt the white chocolate with 2 tbsps cream, & stir until smooth.
  • Hull & halve about 10 strawberries for the sides if you like, reserved 3-4 for topping, & hull, chop the rest.
  • Line a 7″ spring from tin with baking parchment on the bottom & sides. Stand the halved strawberries all around, tip facing downwards & drizzle some white chocolate around the circumference to hold them in place. (You can omit this if you are short on time).
  • Scatter the chopped strawberries on the bottom of the tin. Pour the chocolate mixture gently over this, careful that the standing strawberries don’t get shifted. I have just an 8″ springform tin, so I used a ring in the centre to get a decent height to my cake.
  • Set in the fridge for at least 4 hours, check to see that the top is slightly firm. Mix the melted butter into the breadcrumbs, & tbsp by tbsp spread gently but quickly over the top to form a uniform crust. You need to this a little quick as the butter will begin to set in contact with the chilled cheesecake. Allow to set a further 4 hours or overnight.
  • Invert onto a dessert plate, garnish the top & serve chilled slices!
This is also my entry for Monthly Mingle #32 @ What’s For Lunch Honey, where the lovely Meeta is calling for fruity Spring Cakes. Our Spring is done with here in India, but this fruity cake is all yours Meeta…

 

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