peach and blueberry deep-dish galette

IMG_6497Summer fruit pies are one of my favorite things.  When the fruit season is at its peak, freshly picked, ripe and juicy, fruits just about beg to be baked into a pie.   With a dozen peaches and a basket of blueberries in the house, I couldn’t resist the temptation and I baked a pie, a whole 9″ pie just for the two of us!

IMG_6494Of course, I also used homemade pie dough.  Before you start panicking, before you go on about how you just cannot roll out pie dough, let me tell you that you can, you absolutely can!!!  First, make the dough ahead of time and chill it for at least an hour.  Take it out of the fridge and let it soften until it is pliable but not sticky or squishy.  Now do you see all of the flour on my table?  That’s the secret, cool dough, lots of flour and short strokes with the rolling pin.  Lift the dough and turn it as you go, spread out more flour on the table if it sticks, don’t worry you can brush it off before you put it into a greased dish.  Make sure the circle of dough has an overhang of at least 2 inches to make the pleats like I have in the photo.  Start by taking one small section and folding it in over the fruit but leave the center open.  Section by section, fold the dough in towards the middle of the dish, creating the pleats until you get to the last section.  Lift the first pleat up and carefully tuck the last one into place and lay the first one back down.  Then brush it with some egg wash and sprinkle on some sugar before baking.

IMG_6507To get a deep, even color, just use one temperature in the oven.  Many recipes tell you to start high and drop it down low but I think one temperature is better.  It prevents that “OH I FORGOT TO TURN DOWN THE OVEN” disaster and also prevents uneven coloring.  My pies only bake at 350F.

IMG_6523For this pie, I chose peaches and blueberries but you could easily switch out the blueberries for raspberries or blackberries and if you are lucky to have rhubarb on hand, it would be lovely too!  Sweeten the pie according to taste but you will want at least half a cup of sugar, and if you use rhubarb, you will have to increase the sugar.


IMG_6531Peach-Blueberry Deep Dish Galette

1-1/4 pounds fresh peaches, 5-6 medium sized peaches

1 basket of blueberries

3/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 vanilla bean, scraped-seeds only

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

zest of 1 small lemon and 1 tablespoon lemon juice

pie dough for a two crust pie

1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon water

cinnamon sugar


IMG_6537 (1)Preheat the oven to 350.  Place the sugar, cornstarch, vanilla seeds, lemon zest and spices into a bowl and rub them together.  Peel and slice the peaches, you need a pound of them-the extra weight is for the skin and pits you remove.  Add the peaches and blueberries to the sugar with the lemon juice and toss them to coat them.  Place the rolled out pie dough into a greased 9″ pie plate.  Scrape the mixture into the pie crust and fold as directed above.  Place the pie plate on a sheet pan and bake until the juices are bubbling in the center and the crust is a deep caramel color, about 1 hour.  Allow it to cool for a few hours before cutting so the fruit can set up a bit.  We enjoyed it like this but a generous scoop of ice cream would also be nice!

tourte milanese; a tuesdays with dorie post

FullSizeRender (4)My husband and I found ourselves attending three different potluck dinners in a 10 day run and luckily for us, the most recent Tuesdays with Dorie recipes were perfect choices for a dinner party.  The Tourte Milanese from Baking with Julia is on the left while the Apple Kuchen from Baking Chez Moi is on the right.  We took these to a potluck party to celebrate the 5th anniversary of PECK, the Peninsula Chicken Keepers association.

The Tourte was not new to me; years ago, I made that recipe when it was featured in one of those best cookbook of the year annuals.  While I do not remember what book it was, I could never forget that tourte and thought about making one on many occasions.  For this tourte, I followed the recipe pretty closely.  My only changes were to use herbs fresh from the garden in the eggs, adding eggplant slices (also from the garden) and mushrooms to the spinach and a few convenience products.  The puff pastry was homemade and had been in the freezer for a while so it was time to get it out and put it to use.  To save some time, I used a bag of frozen spinach and a bottle of roasted peppers from Trader Joes.  If only we had something left to take a photo-I brought home an empty plate and the knowledge that I must make that again and when I do, it will not go any further than my own dining room table so that I can have more than just a little sliver…

The Apple Kuchen is actually a tart packed with apples and a cream custard.  To make it a little more fall like, I decided to combine apples and pears.  Ordinarily, I love an apple tart.  But this one, not so much; it just did not work for me.  My instincts told me to add spices but followed the recipe as written.  All of that fruit, the custard, the absence of starch in the filling-it added up to a wet filling that I just didn’t care for.  The majority of it was eaten at the potluck and I only brought home a small wedge and the knowledge that this recipe would not be on my “make it again list” any time soon.

To see how the other bakers did with the Tourte Milanese, visit the Tuesdays with Dorie website.

Rhubarb Crumb Tart: a Tuesdays with Dorie Rewind


Way back in August, the Tuesdays with Dorie group baked the Cherry Crumb Tart from Baking Chez Moi.  The recipe calls for a frangipane-like filling made with either almond or hazelnut flour, fresh red cherries and a topping of  cardamom scented struesel.  Put together, it is a perfect marriage of flavors, especially if you are lucky enough to find tart red cherries.  Unfortunately, by the time August rolls around, cherry season is done and while you may still find some dark sweet cherries, the tart red ones are impossible to locate.  Honestly, I have not had luck finding the tart ones fresh, even at the peak of season and my only option ends up being a canned product unless I want to spring for a mail order bulk purchase requiring overnight shipping.  More than once, I have found myself dreaming of a tree in my garden, laden with plump, juicy, tart red cherries.
IMG_4228Rather than letting the disappointment stop me, I chose to make the tart using rhubarb.  And yes, rhubarb is another plant that is out of season in August but luckily for me, I can find sliced rhubarb in the freezer section of the grocery store.  Because it is just the two of us here, I only made half of the recipe and it was enough to make three 4″ tarts.
IMG_4272Rhubarb is one of those foods that while subtle in flavor, it can pack a tart punch and add a huge amount of moisture making it a great substitute for the hard to find red cherries.  The rhubarb released its juices and blended with the almond filling to make a custard like filling.  As far as I am concerned, I can live with rhubarb standing in for the cherries, for now, at least until I get that tree planted in the garden…

Do yourself a favor, pick up a copy of Baking Chez Moi and bake along with us, or just bake from the book!  To see how the other bakers fared, check the original post from August or the rewind post.


two for tuesday; a tuesdays with dorie post

IMG_3948 Late again.  Things just seem to escape me and suddenly, I am chasing the bus down the street.  My husband was in Germany for a month and when he got back, we spent days trying to get caught up on all the things I could not do myself while he was gone.  Then of course, my job; after working a 10 hour shift in a kitchen that is 100+ degrees, baking at home has been the furthest thought from my mind.  Somehow, in the last few days, I managed to bake a cake and tarts so that I could get back in step with the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers.

The restaurant I work in was once owned by Marcel Desaulnier and when I saw that the White Chocolate Patty Cake was another of his recipes-he contributed several to Baking with Julia, I decided to give it a whirl.  It was easy enough to make but I think I whipped my egg whites a little too much because I ended up with a crust that fell away in shards.  Despite the over-whipped whites, the cake still had a nice, dense and creamy texture.  Since I was making this for just the two of us, I cut the recipe in half and baked the layers in 6 inch pans.  Rather than make the raspberry filling, I used some tart cherries in syrup and rhubarb that I had and made a thick puree.  The tart flavors of the cherries, rhubarb and the fresh raspberries worked nicely with the cake.  To see the round-up of all the participants, visit the Tuesdays with Dorie website.


It was nice to get back to the old routine of baking, styling and taking photos; if only I had more time…Found that  nifty cake plate on one of my trips to the thrift store-I think it is a candle holder but I like it as a cake plate much better.  My collection of stuff has gotten a little large and my husband wants me to start selling some of it off or give it away.  He isn’t keen on clutter, calls me a hoarder sometimes.  Maybe I should open a shop; opinions, anyone???

IMG_3962As much as I like cake, I think I like tart better.  What’s not to love about a tart topped with fresh fruit?  This is my version of the Apricot-Raspberry Tart from Baking Chez Moi.  A week ago, I picked up a box of peaches when I went to Trader Joe’s.  Ripe peaches sounded like a nice substitution for the apricots and I added a few dark cherries just for fun.  In the recipe, Dorie suggests an almond cream filling as an alternative to the lady fingers or cake crumbs and since I was in an almond mood, I added some almond extract to really give it an extra almond punch.   The dough recipe actually made six 4″ tart shells but I froze four of them for another day and just made two tarts and filled them with half of the recipe for the cream filling.  Even though the tarts were smaller than the recipe called for, the baking time was almost the same due to the cream filling which took a while to set in the oven.  We both enjoyed this one but then, you cannot go wrong with peaches and frangipan which is what this filling made me think of!

To see how the others made out, be sure to visit the Tuesdays with Dorie website!

pink grapefruit tart; a tuesdays with dorie post


While procrastinating, a favorite pastime of mine, I came across a list of what people were planning to give up for Lent.  My favorite answer on the list; winter.  Yes, I think giving up winter for Lent sounds like a great idea and as I sit here on my couch watching more snow fall and accumulate, I really cannot wait for winter to end!  Even so, there is one good thing to come from winter other than Christmas presents, it is actually peak season for citrus fruits.

Growing up, my mother would always treat us to grapefruits, usually white ones, and I can remember cutting them in half, pouring sugar over the top and eating the sections.  When I went out on my own, I found I preferred ruby red grapefruits to the white ones from my childhood but these days, I skip the sugar and just peel them and eat the segments.  Occasionally, I will pick up some juice but, I buy small quantities so that it does not go to waste.  However, taking those lovely fruits and making a cooked curd filled tart topped with yet more fresh grapefruit segments never really occurred to me.  After reading the recipe, I was rather skeptical that this would work for me.


Even though I read the recipe before starting on this tart, I was surprised by just how much time it took to come together.  The recipe calls for using a food processor to make the dough for the tart shell, my favorite method for tart and pie dough.  My other favorite tart/pie method; using coffee filters and marbles when prebaking the shell.  Believe it or not, coffee filters are really the best choice for the task.  Parchment paper becomes brittle when baked, creases in a piece of foil can cut the shell and break it and wax paper is covered in wax-who wants that in a tart shell?  Coffee filters are very strong; they hold the weight of wet coffee as water pours through it.  If you can get restaurant sized filters, you will only need one otherwise you will need to use about 4 of the 8-12 cup filters.  The butter in the tart shell will keep the filter from sticking to the dough but if the shell is frozen and allowed to thaw before baking, give the inside of the shell a spritz of spray.  Keep in mind that the flour you rolled the dough out with and any condensation that forms on the surface make a thin layer of paste that can glue the filter in place making it difficult to remove and you could either leave some of the filter behind or it could take sections of the crust with it.  So if you are worried, err on the side of caution and give it a spritz.

Then there is the question of marbles as pie weights.  Well let’s just call them a solution to a dilemma I had; I couldn’t justify using a bag of beans or rice once and then tossing them when I remembered I had a collection of glass marbles.  The marbles stepped up to the plate and I have been using them ever since.  They conduct heat pretty well, they do not shatter in the oven-at least mine haven’t in all the years I have used them as weights and they are easy to clean.  The only down side; marbles bounce.  Trust me, if you drop them, they will bounce a few times before disappearing and finally rolling down the basement stairs for the cat to play with…Yes, I have lost a few of my marbles over the years but, I still have enough to do the job.


The whole point of this post is the tart, so how did it taste?  Let’s just say that it is not my most favorite tart ever.  The use of two fillings may seem excessive but it is actually close to genius if you ask this pastry chef.  The lemon-almond filling serves to buffer the crust from the moisture of the grapefruit cremeux.  There is nothing worse than realizing that your crust is soggy and gummy from the filling!  The lemon-almond filling is almost like a frangipan and I toasted the almond flour to give it a little more flavor.  The grapefruit cremeux was extremely flavorful but I wonder if it could be made more like a curd and stiffer without the use of gelatin, something I do not enjoy working with-especially now that I do not have a microwave in my kitchen.  At first, I wondered about the addition of Campari; I was not sure of the actual flavor of it and decided to taste it and I suggest you learn from my experience and do not drink it straight.  However, I am now completely aware of why it is called “bitters” and I was shocked at how well it blended with the grapefruit flavor of the cremeux without making it bitter.

The final step is to slice up the fruit so that you have segments to work with.  Because the grapefruits are so juicy, they need to be laid out on paper towels and allowed to dry for a few hours.  The dry segments are arranged over the two fillings in the baked shell.  My fruits varied in color and I was hoping to make an ombre pattern over the top but had to settle for just two shades of pink.  All the components come together to give you a strong grapefruit flavor with creamy and sandy textures wrapped around the fresh fruit.  It was nice, but not my favorite.  Having seen a few photos of some of the other bakers tarts as they prepared them this past weekend, I thought the use of blood oranges or tangerines just for the top might have been better.  However, If I make this one again, I am thinking I might like to use fresh raspberries on top of the grapefruit cremeux.  

You can see the layers; the crisp tart shell, the softer and sandy lemon-almond filling, the creamy grapefruit cremeux and the fresh grapefruit segments.  The bright flavors of winter’s bounty will have to get us through the snowy weather and cold temperatures but let this be a warning to that rodent in Pennsylvania-your days are numbered…

IMG_3151To see how the other bakers fared with this recipe, be sure to visit the Tuesdays with Dorie website.  Want to bake with us?  Pick up the book and get to work!  We post the upcoming recipes on the website and you can bake some of the recipes or all of them-you decide.  Our only request, buy the book because we do not post the recipes.

cranberry crackle tart; a tuesdays with dorie post


Cranberries are a vital part of the holiday season for many Americans.  In my family, we cook them up into a sweet sauce flavored with oranges, vanilla bean and spices and the kids eat them by the bowl full.  It is one tradition that I really will miss this holiday season.  We relocated from Nashville to Williamsburg and our family group that gathered together each Thanksgiving and Christmas is now separated by nearly 700 miles.  Even so, I couldn’t resist buying a bag or two, or four of cranberries and had to find a tasty way to use so many fresh cranberries.  Thankfully, this recipe used more than half of a bag, and now I only have 3 and a half more bags in the fridge…

The recipe gives you some good options and I decided to test some of them out.  With two different dough recipes to choose from,  I decided to mix up a batch of the sweet tart dough and as I mixed it, I chose to follow the recipe suggested in the “Bonne Idee” sidebar; it gave the option of using a small portion nut flour in place of the all purpose flour called for in the recipe.  It was quick to mix up in the food processor but I really think the amount of dough it produces was about double what was needed to make the pie shell.  As a result, I formed a patty with the leftover dough and tucked it away in the freezer.

As a person who literally has rolled out hundreds of pie shells by hand, this dough was very pleasant to work with and I did not have any sticking or crumbling or tearing.  It was so easy to work with that I had the crust rolled and in the pan in a matter of minutes.  Where I had issues, the baking time.  When I read the instructions and saw 20 minutes at 400, I was skeptical, it seemed like a long time for such a high temp.  In hindsight, I wish I had listened to my inner voice.  My crust came out of the oven a little black around the edges.  Luckily, I had not trimmed it down by one-third as the recipe called for and had enough to trim away the burnt edges and still have a side crust.

The filling of a marshmallowy meringue was such a small amount that I had trouble mixing it in my 6qt kitchen aid bowl; it just wasn’t enough volume for the beater to really come in contact with it at first.  After a really long time, it finally came together.  Since I did not want to buy any jam-I have two dozen jars of homemade blackberry jelly in my pantry, I just used some of my own from the open jar in the fridge.

As the tart baked in the oven, it puffed and cracked and finally, it was a nice, light golden shade and had a few deep cracks across the top. Carefully, I removed the pan from the oven, closed the door and set it down to cool.  A quick glance at the clock, 11:12pm; we wouldn’t be tasting this pie tonight.  Off to bed, to sleep and to dream of crunchy, crackly meringue and tart pockets of ruby red berries…