“It could be argued that there is an element of entertainment in every pie, as every pie is inherently a surprise by virtue of its crust.”
Janet Clarkson

Crack Pies MomofukuCrack Pie … sweet indulgence. This is Momofukus trademark pie, a classic as craveable as the name implies, one that guarantees an instant sugar high. For once, this is just pure decadence in a sweet sort of way. Nothing healthy about it other than the oats in the base maybe. Yet it’s a pie you have to try. It’s one I watched bloggers make and celebrate ecstatically when Momofuku’s Milk came out in 2011.

Rachael from pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she had us whipping up delicious pies in our kitchens! Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies! There’s nothing like pie!

I had the book on my wish list back then. Somehow never bought it. Had this pie bookmarked. For some reason never made it. Life took over and I forgot about it. Much water flowed under the bridge. Then came this challenge. I was ecstatic when I read  “Life of Pie” . What’s not to love?

I made a delicious Strawberry Pie some time back using a pie bird. That was around the time Life of Pi was winning Oscars galore. I really enjoyed making that, yet I enjoyed this challenge more. More so after my recent bout of Smoothie madness, Crack Pie indulgence felt well deserved!

Crack Pies MomofukuSuch an unassuming sweet pie to make. With a name like this, Crack Pie seems enticing. Interpret the name as you like, but the result is the same … an all time delicious sugar high! In the best meaning possible way, {crack adjective. first-rate, splendid} this very rich, chewy, sweet-salty crack pie in an oat cookie crust fits right in!

Crack Pies Momofuku 5

 Bon Appetit says about Crack Pie, “Anyone who has taken a bite of this Milk Bar best seller immediately knows the reason for the sassy name. Once you start eating this rich, salty-sweet pie with its oat cookie crust, you won’t be able to stop.” A thick, chewy crust filled with an outrageously sweet gooey filling, it’s a wicked sugar-rush. You’ll want small servings!

Crack Pies Momofuku 6I bookmarked this the minute I saw the DB challenge. I just knew I would make mini crack pies. I had to! But I procrastinated. So much continues to happen and I finally got my oat crust going on the 26th! Of course I didn’t take into account that the pie needs an overnight rest. That might explain this slightly delayed posting, but I loved making it.Crack Pies Momofuku Crack Pies Momofuku

The idea of baking a huge giant sized oat cookie for the crust was entirely charming. It seemed like such fun though I was a bit unsure of a crisp cookie as my cookie batter was a bit soft. Happily enough, it baked up a yummy giant crisp cookie. A little nibble and I knew it should be crumbled asap. So addictive that it might not have lasted otherwise.

Crack Pies Momofuku Most pictures of the pie online are like ugly duckling pies so I knew there was nothing fancy in the looks department. I did manage to make rustic little versions though. I loved them … plain, simple, whimsical, sweet, chewy, quintessentially Momofuku.

The pie i

Crack Pies Momofuku It’s a simple pie. A little mix here and there and it’s ready for the oven. A few changes? Yes of course. I didn’t have milk powder so added a spoon of cocoa instead. Also a scraped vanilla bean because I feared eggy aromas from the 4 yolks. And as always, low fat cream instead of whipping cream. Everything worked beautifully!

Crack Pies Momofuku I wasn’t sure the little pies would leave the tins happily the next day, but they obliged sweetly after a little prodding. So here are my little crack pies, ones I absolutely loved making. I waited for the babies to be ‘delivered‘ with a baited breath. This was one of my more fun DB challenges as I had dreamt of making Crack Pie for long. I wish I had more time, but then I’ve made many pies before.

Pies Some of my favourites pies on PAB are Cherry Phyllo Pie {with home made phyllo}, Mixed Berry & Cherry Pie, Mango Quark Cheesecake Pie, Perfect Pumpkin Pie, Tropical Cream Pie, Fresh Cherry Quark Cheesecake Pie, Christmas Fruit Mince Pies and Apple Brown Sugar Meringue Pies.

Thank you Rachael for offering us the delicious Life of Pie. I loved the challenge, especially that you chose Crack Pie as one of the four. Thank you as always Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice for hosting this fab kitchen!! Do stop by here to dig into more sweet pies!

[print_this]Recipe: Crack Pie
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Summary: Crack Pie … sweet indulgence. This is Momofukus trademark pie, a classic as craveable as the name implies, one that guarantees an instant sugar high. For once, this is just pure decadence in a sweet sort of way.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes {plus an overnight chill}

  • Oat Cookie Crust
  • 9 tablespoons (125g) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided (6 & 3 tbsp; 85gm & 40gm)
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons (70 gm) (packed) light brown sugar, divided (50 gm & 20 gm)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 gm) white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (80 gm) old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup (70 gm) all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Filling
  • 3/4 cup (170 gm) white sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) (100 gm) brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (8 gm) cocoa {or dry milk powder}
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (115gm) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons (100ml) low fat cream
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 vanilla bean scraped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar for dusting


  1. Oat Cookie Crust
  2. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to moderate 180°C. Line a 13x9x2 inch/33x22x5cm metal baking pan with parchment (baking) paper. Lightly spray or butter 8 3″ mini removable base pie dishes {or a 9 inch/22cm diameter glass or ceramic pie dish}.
  3. Combine 6 tablespoons (85 gm) of the softened butter, 4 tablespoons (50 gm) of the brown sugar and the white sugar in medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add egg and beat until pale and fluffy, about 1 minute.
  5. Add oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and beat until well blended, about 1 minute.
  6. Dump oat mixture into prepared baking pan and press out evenly to edges of pan.
  7. Bake until light golden, 18 minutes. Transfer baking pan to wire rack and cool cookie completely, about an hour.
  8. Using your fingertips, crumble the cookie a into large bowl – there should be no identifiable pieces of cookie remaining. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons (45 gm) butter and 1-1/2 tablespoons (20 gm) brown sugar. Rub in with your fingertips until the mixture is moist and sticks together when pressed between your fingers.
  9. Transfer cookie crust mixture to pie dish. Using your fingers, press mixture evenly onto bottom and up sides of pie dish (about 1 inch/2.5cm up the sides if your pie dish is deep). If your pie dish is shallow, place it on a baking sheet in case of overflow.
  10. Filling
  11. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to moderate 180°C. If possible, use bottom-only heat, or the filling may brown too quickly.
  12. Whisk both sugars, cocoa {or milk powder if using}, and salt together in a medium bowl.
  13. Add melted butter and whisk until blended.
  14. Add cream, then egg yolks and vanilla and whisk until well blended.
  15. Pour filling into crust.
  16. Bake 20 minutes {30 for 1 big pie}. (filling may begin to bubble up). Reduce oven temperature to 160°C. Continue to bake until filling is brown on top and set around edges but center still jiggles slightly, about 20 minutes longer.
  17. Cool pie completely in pie dish on wire rack. Chill uncovered overnight.
  18. Sift powdered sugar lightly over top of pie. Cut pie into thin wedges and serve cold.


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“Cake is happiness! If you know the way of the cake, you know the way of happiness! If you have a cake in front of you, you should not look any further for joy!”
C. JoyBell C.

Swedish Prinsesstårta, princess cupcakes Swedish Prinsesstårta Cupcakes … the best BEST cake we’ve eaten of late. Perfect balance of flavours, moist, flavourful, addictive good, non chocolate … PERFECT! It’s been a while since I enjoyed a Daring Bakers challenge so immensely. Everything was good about it. I have to admit that I veered off the basic recipe … but need to blame the treacherous North Indian summer for that!!

Swedish Prinsesstårta, princess cupcakes Come May and I got a very excited call from local DB Ruchira. “Guess what the challenge is? A Princess Cake! Wheee… I love it!I was equally thrilled. A Princess cake is junior teens most favourite cake of all time. Years ago I did a recipe testing for Helene of Tartlette which included a Bavarian cream. That was a princess cake of sorts.

Swedish Prinsesstårta, princess cupcakes To date, it’s been the best ever cake for the kidlet. He repeatedly tells me how good ‘that Bavarian cream‘ was! Talk about love for food and good taste. Everything Helene does has the midas touch. The months challenge was partly inspired by her recipe.

Swedish Prinsesstårta, princess cupcakes

Korena of Korena in the Kitchen was our May Daring Bakers’ host and she delighted us with this beautiful Swedish Prinsesstårta!

Swedish Prinsesstårta, princess cupcakes

A little research revealed that the original recipe was created in the 1930s by a Swedish home economics teacher named Jenny Åkerström, who taught the three Swedish princesses of the time. She published a series of four cookbooks called “The Princess Cookbooks” and in one of the editions, there was a recipe for “Grön Tårta” (green cake). One story is that this later became known as “princess cake” (prinsesstårta) because the three princesses are said to have loved it so much. 

Another story is that Ms. Åkerström actually created three very elaborate “princess cake” recipes – a different one for each princess – and that the current version is a simplified combination of all three. That explains the princess connection, but the reason for the cake being green still seems to be a mystery. 

I got to the challenge very very late. It was the 25th already. And the weather? Hot as hot can be, threatening to get worse by the minute! It was 46C at 6pm day before. Fry the eggs on the sidewalk hot, maybe bake the poor princess there too! Plans for a Princess cake were rapidly demolished. Swedish Prinsesstårta, princess cupcakes Yet I am very nostalgic about the Daring Bakers, a journey that has been long and fruitful. I have been with them for 5 years maybe, and it’s the only baking group I have continued with. I owe them most of what I’ve learnt. The journeys been full of ultimate highs, and a few heartbreaks too; entirely memorable.

Swedish Prinsesstårta, princess cupcakes Besides, the challenge this month was not just one of being a ‘baker‘. Bakers as you know double up quite often as patisserie chefs too. A finger in every pie, and so on! It was a test of skills at many different levels. I had to make something. That came by way of these sweet Princess Cupcakes that I’ve had bookmarked for years! {I baked the cupcakes the previous evening and completed them at the crack of dawn. You can find a few grainy pictures taken in a hurry to guide you through}

Swedish Prinsesstårta, princess cupcakes The components are quite the same. There is cake, pastry cream, whipped cream, jam and marzipan. A petite version in this blistering heat which hitting 48C is much easier to handle.  I had some balsamic cherries from the two ingredient dark chocolate mousse. Cherries make life a lot more worthwhile. 

Swedish Prinsesstårta, princess cupcakes The Swedish Prinsesstårta Cupcakes turned out excellent. The cupcakes are layered about the same way as you would a Swedish Prinsesstårta. In 20 minutes, spared of a power cut, I was past stage one. Cupcakes done! While they baked, the pastry cream was stirred in the Thermomix. 7 minutes to perfect pastry cream!

Swedish Prinsesstårta, princess cupcakes I made the pastry cream a little thicker as it’s so hot. I didn’t get to the marzipan though I have made it several times in the past. It was far too hot to attempt marzipan from scratch. A special gift from my dear friend and Daring Baker Finla came to my rescue. She sent me marzipan with a truckload of stuff a few months ago. I use it very sparingly and was thrilled to have some on hand for the princess cupcakes.

Swedish Prinsesstårta, princess cupcakes This was the best part! Such fun dressing the little ones up. I did the flowers and leaves out of trimmings and it reminded me of my first and only fondant cake, the Tea Rose Fondant Cake, I made a while ago. The cupcakes were patched together on fast track as everything threatened to melt. The end result isn’t as neat as I would have liked it to be, but the marzipan was going too soft.

Thank you Korena was such a beautiful and eye opening challenge. I intend to make the priginal Swedish Prinsesstårta once the weather gets cooler.  Thank you as always Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice for hosting this fab kitchen!! Do stop by here and check out some more royalty!



Recipe: Swedish Prinsesstårta Cupcakes  your picture

Summary: Swedish Prinsesstårta Cupcakes… the best BEST cake we’ve eaten of late. Perfect balance of flavours, moist, flavourful, addictive good, non chocolate … PERFECT! Recipe adapted from The Cookie Shop. Makes 5 cupcakes

Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes Ingredients:

  • Vanilla Cupcakes {can be made up to 2 days ahead}
  • 100g all purpose flour
  • 85g sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 50g – room temp. and cut in pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 80g milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • Pastry Cream {can be made 1 day ahead. Only less than half quantity needed}
  • 200ml low fat/single cream
  • 50ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • 50g sugar
  • 12g cornstarch
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 20g butter
  • Filling
  • 1/2  recipe pastry cream
  • 200ml low fat cream chilled
  • 1-2 tsp sugar
  • Rum syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 teaspoon rum
  • For assembling
  • 5 vanilla cupcakes
  • 1/2 cup pastry cream
  • sugar syrup
  • low fat cream, chilled
  • 1/2 cup balsamic cherries {1/2 portion chopped fine}
  • 300g marzipan approx
  • food coloring
  • confectioners sugar


  1. Vanilla cupcakes
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line 5 cups of a muffin pan, or 5 individual muffin tins with paper liners.
  3. Place milk, egg and 1/2 scraped vanilla bean in a small bowl. Whisk to mix with fork.
  4. Place flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in bowl of electric mixer and pulse to mix.
  5. Add the butter pieces to the flour mixture and process briefly until it resembles coarse meal {the larger pieces should be the size of peas}.
  6. With the processor on medium speed, add the milk mixture in three additions, and beat only until incorporated.
  7. Distribute the batter evenly in the prepared tins.  Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the cupcakes.
  8. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before proceeding with the assembling.
  9. Pastry cream
  10. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat milk and cream just until it simmers.
  11. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and sugar until light and fluffy. Add cornstarch and continue whisking until smooth.

  12. Slowly pour the hot milk/cream mixture into the egg mixture. Whisk until completely smooth and free of lumps. Return the mixture to the saucepan, and place over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly, and cook for another 2 minutes, or until it thickens. Remove from heat and add the butter, whisking well to incorporate.

  13. Thermomix : Place all ingredients in bowl of TM. Pulse at speed 6 to mix for 10 seconds. Then cook at speed 4, 90 C for 9 minutes.

  14. Remove the pastry cream to a bowl. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  15. Syrup
  16. Place water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and add the rum if using. Let cool completely before using or refrigerating.
  17. Marzipan
  18. Divide the marzipan into 5 portions.
  19. Mix the marzipan with the 4 different coloring and knead until the color is uniform. Leave one natural off-white. If it gets sticky, sprinkle a little confectioner’s sugar. Wrap with plastic.
  20. Assembling
  21. Cut off the domed tops of the cupcakes, and peel off thee liners.
  22. Invert cakes and cut into 3 layers.
  23. Whisk the cream and sugar until soft peaks form.
  24. Brush the layers with sugar syrup.
  25. Over removable bottoms of tartlet tins, start assembling the cupcake layers.
  26. first, a very thin layer of chopped balsamic cherries {or jam/preserve}
  27. over the jam, a teaspoon whipped cream;
  28. cake + syrup;
  29. a teaspoon of pastry cream;
  30. last layer of cake + syrup;
  31. Place a few cherries on top to help build the ‘dome’ if you like.
  32. Whip the remaining cream with the remaining pastry cream.
  33. Cover the whole cupcake with whipped pastry cream, trying to make the rounder the top you can. Refrigerate while you complete the next.
  34. Over a working surface, sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar, roll out the marzipan.
  35. Put the rolled out marzipan over the cake making sure to cover the entire cake and cardboard. When finished, some marzipan should drape onto the work surface all around the cupcake. There will be folds on the sides. To remove them lift the outside edge of the marzipan with a hand on either side of a fold and, without tearing or stretching, gently pull the marzipan out and down until the fold disappears. {It was too hot for me to attempt this}. Trim any extra marzipan and reserve for flowers etc.
  36. Stamp out flowers, leaves and stems from the trimmed marzipan and place on cupcakes.
  37. Sift a little confectioner’s sugar over the cakes and transfer to the serving dishes or cake stand.
  38. Note: These are best eaten the same day they are assembled.


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“If you don’t let technology help you, if you resist good ideas, you condemn yourself to dinosaurhood.”
Yann Martel, Life of Pi

Strawberry Pie ... & a pie bird A Strawberry Pie and a Pie Bird. Strange how good things happen at the same time. Around the week that the Life of Pi won an Oscar, the folk from Zansaar sent me something very interesting … a beautiful aubergine stoneware baking dish with an intriguing creature inside. They call it a Pie Bird!

Strawberry Pie ... & a pie bird Have you heard of one?  To be honest, I had no clue that such a charming creature actually existed. Google enlightened! From whimsical banter from when we used to chime “Four & twenty black birds baked in a pie” as toddlers, to Alton Brown who wholeheartedly endorses the pie bird, it seems to be quite a handy bakers tool. Many ardent pie bakers swear by it.

pie birdWhat might a pie bird be? It’s a little hollow contraption made of ceramic, that helps keep a pie base from getting soggy. It also prevents it from boiling over, sometimes even saving a pie from dramatically exploding!

A pie bird, pie vent, pie whistle, pie funnel, or pie chimney is a hollow ceramic device, originating in Europe, shaped like a funnel, chimney, or upstretched bird with open beak. Funnel-style steam vents have been placed in the center of fruit and meat pies during cooking since Victorian times; bird shapes came later.

Strawberry Pie ... & a pie bird Pie funnels were used to prevent pie filling from boiling up and leaking through the crust by allowing steam to escape from inside the pie. They also supported the pastry crust in the center of the pie, so that it did not sag in the middle, and are occasionally known as “crustholders”. Older ovens had more problems with uniform heating, and the pie bird prevented boil-over in pie cooking.

Strawberry Pie ... & a pie bird Fancy my delight when I received it as also the beautiful aubergine pie dish from the Mason Cash collection. It’s a handy dish to bake a classic apple pie, or maybe a chicken / vegetable pie. The high quality stoneware dish has a wide lip that  makes it ideal for pie crusts while the stoneware construction ensures that it heats evenly.

Strawberry Pie ... & a pie bird I enjoyed ‘playing with it’. It gave me much food for thought, Life of Pi and pie bird quotes flying through my head. You see, at the same time, the younger teen was doing a film review on the Life of P. There was plenty of Pi / Pie happening!

Strawberry Pie ... & a pie bird I wanted to make an apple pie but I had my last stash of red luscious strawberries from the recent Pune trip. I thought a strawberry pie just might work. It did and the pie baked up beautifully. Once completely cool, it stepped out of the dish gingerly with no trouble at all. It’s a good size baking dish for a meal for two, or maybe part of a meal for four.

Strawberry Pie ... & a pie bird I was in a hurry to slice the pie so the juices ‘leaked’ a bit. It sliced just fine a while later! The dough is a normal short crust that I substituted with a little cornmeal. Cornmeal works really well in all my galettes. This was my first double crust pie. It worked great. A classic American apple pie served with vanilla ice cream seems likely in the future!

Strawberry plum galetteI had some leftover dough, and about 1/2 a cup of left over filling. Could I just let it sit? Of course I couldn’t. The leftovers made a neat little galette which included one left over plum from an earlier baking project. The galette was crisp and full of fruity goodness. A drizzle of unsweetened single cream … delicieux!

Strawberry Pie ... & a pie bird

[print_this]Recipe: Strawberry Pie
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SummaryA fruity and delicious strawberry pie. A great way to use fruit in season.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour plus cooling time

  • Pastry
  • 160g plain flour
  • 40g cornmeal {makki ka aata}
  • pinch salt
  • 100g unsalted butter, frozen, grated
  • 2-3 tbsp of ice water {as required}
  • Filling
  • 500g frozen strawberries {or fresh}
  • 35g cornflour
  • 25g plain flour
  • 200g vanilla sugar {decrease if fruit is very sweet}
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 25g pistachios, chopped {few slivered}
  • 1tbsp apricot jam, melted
  • Single cream for brushing over {and serving}
  • Vanilla sugar


  1. Pastry
  2. Place the plain flour, cornmeal and salt in bowl of food processor and pulse briefly to mix.
  3. Add the frozen butter and pulse again for a few seconds until you get a breadcrumb like mix.
  4. Add the water 1 tbsp at a time, until the dough comes together when you pinch it between your fingers. {You might need more than 3 tbsp as the absorption property of flours differs across brands, regions etc}
  5. Turn out push together to form a tight ball. Divide into two, flatten into disks, wrap in clingwrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Filling
  7. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  8. Place the ingredients in a large bowl and toss well together. {If your strawberries are really sweet, then add about 1/4 cup less sugar. Taste and adjust if required}. Let stand for 15 minutes.
  9. Assemble
  10. Take one disk of chilled dough, and roll out to line the baking dish. Gently transfer to dish, crimp or ruffle the edges if you like, else trim them to fit the edge. Brush the base with apricot jam. 
  11. Place the pie bird in the centre of the pastry.
  12. Turn the fruit into a sieve to remove any released juices {if you have the time, you can reduce the juices in a pan over low heat and add them back to the fruit}. Ladle into the pie dish around the bird.
  13. Roll the second disk of pastry to cover the top, cut out a 1 1/2 – 2″ circle and gently place over the pie bird.
  14. Seal the edges of the pie with the tines of a fork. Use some left over dough to make leaves etc for the top if you like.
  15. Brush the top with single cream, sprinkle over with vanilla sugar and slivered pistachios if you like.
  16. Bake at 200C for 25 minutes, and then at 180C for 25-30 minutes more until the crust is golden brown.
  17. Note: Tent the top or cover the edges with foil if the crust is becoming too brown.
  18. Let it cool completely before trying to turn out of baking dish. Slice only once completely cool, 3-4 hours after baking.


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