Baking | Momofuku Milk Bar’s (in)famous Crack Pie … how the cookie crumbled with the Daring Bakers

“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!

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Baking | Swedish Prinsesstårta Cupcakes … Daring Bakers serve up royally delicious cakes!

“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!

 

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Baking | The Life of Pi …. err…Pie Bird & A Strawberry Pie

“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

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