Posted by: thedirtybaker | August 8, 2012

Are blueberries still a superfood if they’re in a pie?

Or are they even more super then?

Martha Stewart’s recipe is actually for a Lattice-Top Blueberry Pie. I didn’t feel like dealing with the lattice top, so I went with the crumb topping* that I’ve been using on fruit pies for years.  I also added extra spices as usual – ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg go well with blueberries.  When I posted that I was making blueberry pie, Rebecca, who was about 8 months pregnant, screamed via Facebook and declared blueberry pie to be her all-time favorite pie.  I decided that the Pie Fairy would visit her.  The Pie Fairy also dropped off pie for friends who worked next door, while she was at it.

The Pie Fairy, who also serves as Cookie Fairy and Cake Fairy, rides her bike around Tucson and delivers delicious, Dirty Baker and Cinnamon Girl creations around town.  She’s very popular, though people outside of Tucson have been known to object to her limited delivery range.  She also looks remarkably like me!

Pie crust:  Use the crust recipe from the Apricot Galette recipe (Pâte Brisée).  After making the dough, halve it and put each half into plastic wrap. Flatten them both into disks and refrigerate or freeze for 1 hour or more.

For my version of the pie, just use one of the disks.  For Martha’s use both.


All purpose flour (for dusting)

Pâte Brisée

2 lbs (about 7 c.) fresh blueberries, picked over and rinsed.

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1/4 c. cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon.  (I’d recommend a lot more than that, along with some nutmeg and a little ginger)

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Lattice top:

1 large egg yolk, for egg wash

1 Tbsp. heavy cream for egg wash

Fine sanding sugar for sprinkling

Crumb Topping:

1/2 c. butter

1 c., 2 Tbsp. flour

3/4 c. granulated sugar


On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 disk of dough to a 13-inch round, about 1/8 inch thick.  Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate.

In a large bowl, toss together berries, sugar, cornstarch, spices, and lemon juice until combined.  Pour mixture into pie plate piling in center if necessary.

For lattice top:
On a lightly floured surface, roll out remaining disk of dough as above.  To make lattice, cut dough into ten 1-inch wide strips using a fluted pastry wheel.  Lightly brush edge of dough in pie plate with water.  Carefully arrange dough strips on top, weaving to form a lattice.  (Start at center strips and move out from there – probably best to look up the details online).  Trim dough to a 1-inch overhang.  Fold edges under as desired and crimp with a fork.  In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolks and cream for egg wash; brush on top of dough strips and edge of pie shell.  Generously sprinkle with sanding sugar.  Refrigerate or freeze pie until firm, about 30 min.  Preheat oven to 400°F.

For crumb topping:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix flour and sugar together in a medium bowl.  Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter .  When it’s somewhat mixed in, use your fingers and press the mixture through them, if you prefer to use your hands.  Pile on top of blueberries, patting it down a bit so the topping doesn’t roll off.

Transfer pie plate to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet, and bake until crust begins to brown, about 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350°F,.  Continue baking until crust is deep golden brown and juices bubble, 55 minutes more.  If crust browns too quickly, ten t pie with foil.  Transfer pie to a wire rack; let cool completely, at least 3 hours before serving.

*This is also called a struesel topping, but that’s harder to say.

Posted by: thedirtybaker | August 8, 2012

Apricot Galette

This was the second recipe that I made from the Martha Stewart Pies and Tarts book.  I’d made galettes twice in the past, with messy results.  The crusts split open; juice oozed out the sides and bubbled and messed up the presentation.  Fortunately, the galettes tasted good, so I was open to trying again. I sort of followed the recipe – except that I changed the major flavoring agent from plums to apricots, and added cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.

I brought it to game night at Sara’s, and it was a big hit.  I’m welcome to use that group as guinea pigs anytime!  I think I like it better with apricot than with plums, too, but use whatever’s ripe and delicious.  For an apple or pear galette, I’d recommend a lot more spices, and maybe some raisins in the filling.


Pâte Brisée:

2 c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. sugar

1 c. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/4-1/2 c. ice water.


2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/4 c. whole toasted almonds

5 Tbsp. sugar

cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger to taste

5-6 apricots (or plums), halved, pitted, and sliced 1/4-inch thick.  Keep sliced halves together.

1-2 Tbsp. heavy cream for brushing


For crust:

Pulse flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor (or whisk together by hand).  Add butter and pulse (or quickly cut in with a pastry blender or fingertips) until mixture resembles coarse meal, with some larger pieces remaining.  Drizzle 1/4 c. water over mixture.  Pulse (or mix with a fork) until mixture just begins to hold together.  If dough is too dry, add 1/4 c. more water, 1 Tbsp. at a time, and pulse (or mix with a fork).

Gather into a ball, wrap loosely in plastic, and press into a disk using a rolling-pin.  Refrigerate until firm, well wrapped in plastic, 1 hour or up to 1 day.  (Can be frozen up to 3 months, thaw in refrigerator before using.)

For galette:

Preheat oven to 350°F.  On a lightly floured piece of parchment, roll out dough into an approximate 16-inch oval, 1/4 inch thick.  Transfer dough (on parchment) to a large baking sheet.

Pulse almonds, 3 Tbsp. sugar, spices, and flour in a food processor until ground to a coarse meal.  Sprinkle almond mixture over dough.  With a spatula, transfer apricot slices to dough, spacing close together and leaving a 2-inch border; press lightly to fan out.  Fold edge of dough over fruit.  Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Brush dough with cream; sprinkle galette evenly with remaining 2 Tbsp. sugar.  Bake until crust is deep golden, and plums are juicy and bubbling, about 70 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely.

Posted by: thedirtybaker | August 7, 2012

Peach-Berry Tart

This was the first recipe I tried from Martha Stewart’s New Pies and Tarts (New York: Clark Pottery Publishers.  2011).  I give it a big YUM!  I’m not even sure if I shared this one.  Maybe with Marcy, but I think I might have eaten it all myself.  It has a part-cornmeal crust, and was pretty simple to make.  Martha says that this recipe “takes kindly to improvisation” (Stewart 2011: 18) (Yes, that was a proper in-text citation.  What of it?).  Any stone fruit would work instead of peaches, and apples probably would, too, though you’d want to peel those.


For the crust:

2/3 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 c. yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground

3 Tbsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

7 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces.  (I probably used the full half-cup stick)

1 lg. egg yolk

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the filling:

3 ripe peaches, pitted and sliced into 1/2-inch wedges

3/4 c. assorted fresh berries, such as raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries

5 Tbsp. sugar

cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground ginger to taste (not in official recipe, but I recommend them)


Make the crust: Preheat oven to 400°F.  In a food processor, pulse flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, butter, egg yolk, and vanilla until the dough just begins to come together.  Press dough evenly into the bottom and about 1 inch up the sides of an ungreased 8-inch springform pan or tart pan* with a removable bottom; set pan on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake until golden and slightly puffy, about 15 minutes.  Using an offset** spatula, gently flatten bottom of crust.  Reduce heat to 350°F.

Meanwhile, make the filling: In a medium bowl, toss together peaches, berries, sugar, and spices.

Arrange fruit in crust.  Bake until peaches are juicy and tender, 30-35 minutes more.  Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool slightly.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

*I tried to use the springform pan, but it was much harder.  Go with the tart pan.

** Just use something that will press down the crust – a spoon worked just fine.

Posted by: thedirtybaker | August 7, 2012

Martha, Martha, Martha…

First, to my friends named Martha, this isn’t about you.  Nor is it about my sister’s childhood friend, Martha.  Or Martha Washington.

My 12-year-old cousin is a very good baker.  Her mother posts pictures of her creations sometimes on Facebook, and I just start drooling.  She has mastered both baking and presentation (which is not my strong point).  But my cousin, The Fancy Baker (name withheld because she’s a kid) isn’t Martha either.  This is about THE Martha – Ms. Stewart herself.

To begin with, I’m not a Martha Stewart fan.  I’ve heard that her recipes are good, and I know people who worship her.  However, she has an army of people to prep her materials for shows, so I don’t necessarily believe that they’re as easy as she claims.  I don’t generally have a sous chef, let alone a group of them.

Mostly, I’m not into decoration.  I make foods that are delicious.  Some of them look good, some of them don’t. Martha is a decorator.  She’s turned “homemaking” into a labor of precisely coordinated linens, carpeting, foods, dishes, candles, flowers, hair ribbons, nail polish, drinks, orthodontia and pacemakers.  (That might be a slight exaggeration.)  On behalf of my homemaking friends, I think she sets the bar too high.  It doesn’t really matter if the plates and streamers at your kids’ parties are perfectly matched.  It doesn’t matter if the cookies are precisely iced.  And on a more personal level, her delivery makes the NPR hosts sound downright giddy.

But back to the Fancy Baker.  She makes creme brulee for fun.  She heard about my new pie pan and demanded that her mother get it for her.  And while I was there, she was in charge of the dessert for a 3-family dinner.  Did I mention that she’s 12?  Pretty impressive.

The two desserts she made came from a Martha Stewart Pies and Tarts cookbook.  They were delicious, and a lot of the recipes looked both good and reasonably easy.  I bought the cookbook, and I’ve used it several times.  Keep an eye on this space for more comments on the recipes, as I work my way through it slowly and deliciously.

Posted by: thedirtybaker | August 6, 2012

Limon Bars (For Trish)

This recipe posting is LONG overdue.  Trish asked me for this recipe last fall, and I’ve been meaning to post it for her.

I call them Limon Bars, pronounced “Lime-un,” not “Limón.” I’m not all international and fancy like that.  Well, maybe international, but not fancy.  The Whole Foods Market Cookbook  just called them Lemon-Lime Bars.  They’re good by any name, though, especially after adding more citrus-y flavor to them.

I suspect that I doubled or tripled the citrus zest when I made it.


2 1/4 c. flour, divided

1/2 c. powdered sugar

1 c. butter

4 eggs, beaten

2 c. granulated sugar

3 Tbsp. lemon juice (a bit more)

3 Tbsp. lime juice (a bit more)

1 tsp. vanilla or almond extract (optional)

1 tsp. grated lemon zest (double or triple this!)

1 tsp. grated lime zest (double or triple this!)

1 tsp. baking powder ( DON’T double or triple this!)

powdered sugar for dusting


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Sift (mix) 2 c. flour, about half of the doubled or tripled zest, and powdered sugar together.  Cut butter into the flour and sugar until the mixture looks like coarse meal.  Press it into a 13x9x2-inch pan.  Bake about 20 minutes or until lightly browned.  In a medium bowl, beat eggs, granulated sugar, lemon and lime juices and remaining zests for 1-2 minutes, until frothy.  Sift (does anyone actually sift?) 1/4 c. flour and baking powder together and stir it into egg mixture.  Pour the mixture over the baked crust and bake 20-25 minutes, or until set.  Remove the bars from oven and allow them to cool.  Sift additional powdered sugar over the top if you feel like it.

Makes 18 bars.

Posted by: thedirtybaker | August 6, 2012

Lemony Loafery

Do you really like super-lemony desserts?  Then you’ll like this with the glaze.  Do you like lemon, but only when it’s kind of understated?  Skip the glaze. Maybe add a frosting instead.  But you’re missing out, in my highly biased, lemon-loving opinion.

This recipe came from my sister, who had margarine as an ingredient, and probably soy milk, but I don’t advocate  such substitutions.  (Unlike my sisters, though, I don’t keep kosher, which makes butter-purism much easier.)  I’m posting it at Cathy’s request, because she’s being kind enough to bake a cake for a co-worker’s birthday.  To use a 9×13 or a bundt pan, double the recipe.


1/2 c. butter (not margarine.  Ick.)

1 c. sugar

2 eggs

1 lemon – grate rind and set juice aside

1/2 c. milk

1 1/2 c. flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 c. sugar (yes, this is in addition to the 1 c. above.  Read the directions.  Speaking of which….)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs and beat well.  Add grated lemon rind.  Sift dry ingredients (I haven’t sifted anything in years.  Don’t use flour with bugs in it, and mix the dry ingredients.  That’ll be fine.)  Add dry ingredients alternately with milk.  Bake in loaf pan for 1 hour.  For the topping, add 1/2 c. sugar to lemon juice and stir well.  When you take the cake out of the oven, leave it in pan and spoon (or gently pour) glaze over the cake.  Let it harden before you eat it. )

And on a totally different note, does anyone know how to stop wordpress from leaving a space between paragraphs.  The ingredient lists look wrong like this.  Thanks!

Posted by: thedirtybaker | August 5, 2012

The Good Results of Car Trouble

On Friday, I made *Black Bean Hummus – it’s delicious, healthy, and contains so much garlic that no vampire will come near me. MMMMMmmmmmmm…. garlic!    am aware that black bean hummus, white bean hummus, and any other hummus that contains beans other than chick peas is sacrilegious to purists of Middle Eastern Food.  It’s also delicious.  Take your purism and peddle it elsewhere, whilst I enjoy my garlicky mixture of chick peas and black beans!

Anyway, back to the point of this post.  Yesterday my car decided not to start, and I didn’t feel like riding my bike out to the store today, but I was out of bread.  Tragic, right?  So obviously, I had to bake my own bread.  I considered making pita, since it’s the traditional accompaniment; then I saw the recipe for Olive Oil Salt Bread in the Quick Breads section of Mark Bittman’s massive tome, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (2007, pp. 687-688.  Hoboken: Wiley Publishing, Inc.).

It has 5 ingredients.  It’s unbelievably easy to make.  I had to try it!

Here it is:


1/3 c. olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan

3 c. all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt, preferably course or sea salt, plus more for sprinkling

1 c. warm water (more or less)


Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease an 8-inch skillet or square baking pan with about a tablespoon of olive oil.  Put the flour, baking powder, and salt in a food processor and turn the machine on.  Pour through the feed tube first 1/3 c. of the olive oil, then most of the 1 c. of warm water.  Process for about 30 seconds, then remove the cover.  The Dough should be in a well-defined, barely sticky, easy-to-handle ball.  If it’s too dry, add the remaining water 1 Tbsp. at a time and process for 5-10 seconds after each addition.  If it’s too wet, which is unlikely, add a Tbsp. or two of flour and process briefly.

Put the dough into the prepared pan and press until it fits to the edges.  Flip it over and press again.  Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes; then remove the foil, sprinkle the top with a little coarse salt, and bake for another 20-25 minutes, until the top is golden and springs back when touched gently.  Cool in the pan a bit, then cut into wedges or squares and serve.

Makes 4-6 servings

Time: about 45 minutes, largely unattended.

I didn’t wait for the oven to be hot enough, and it ended up more crusty, less springy than it was probably supposed to.  I recommend this one, anyway!


Posted by: thedirtybaker | June 6, 2012

One Crumb-y Post

Karen lives in Holland, whence hails the Dutch Apple Pie that this crumb topping came from.  The apple mini-pie that I had in Amsterdam last summer while waiting for rain to stop was the best apple pie (and most like mine) that I’ve ever had from a bakery or restaurant.  I assume this crumb topping is as much German as Dutch, since it’s more technically called “streusel” (pronounced “stroosel” by English speakers and “stroysl” by German speakers) (The exception is my mother, who only speaks English, but insists on pronouncing it “stroysl”).  Anyway, Karen asked me for my crumb topping recipe, so here it is. (For a picture, look at the Apple-Rine pie posting.)

As long as I”m putting up the topping recipe, here’s the basic pie crust recipe, too.

Pie crust

1 c. flour

1/2 c. chilled butter (1 stick), in smallish pieces

1/4-1/2 tsp. salt if butter is unsalted

2-4 Tbsp. ice water

Mix the flour and salt (if using) and cut in the butter with a pastry cutter (or pulse in a food processor).  When the mixture resembles a coarse meal, add 2 Tbsp ice water.  Glomp it together (my mother’s term). Add more water if needed to hold it together.  Form it into a disk and chill for 1 hour up to a few days.  Sprinkle flour on the rolling surface, roll it out, and put it in the pie pan.  Patch as needed.

Crumb Topping

3/4 c. sugar

1 c. + 2 Tbsp. flour

1/2 c. chilled butter

Sift flour and sugar together.  Who am I kidding?  Mix them together with a fork, using an upwards motion. I haven’t sifted anything since I moved out of my mother’s house. cut in butter until crumbly. You might end up using your fingers to rub it together into crumbs.

In between:

5 or 6 large, tart apples

1/2 c. sugar

1 Tbsp  cinnamon (or more)

1 tsp. nutmeg (or more)

1/4 c. cornstarch or flour

Peel, core, and slice the apples. mix dry ingredients, and then add the apples to the dry ingredients. Pour it into the pie shell (in pie pan), top with crumb topping, and bake at 400 for 30 minutes or until apples are tender and crust and crumbs are browned.  If crumbs begin to get too brown, cover with fork. This also works well with peaches, nectarines, pears, etc.  For the stone fruits, mix some ginger in with the spices, but you don’t need to peel it.

Put whatever fruity filling fits your fancy in between the crust and the crumb, and enjoy!

Posted by: thedirtybaker | May 20, 2012

Ice Cream? It’s a Sure-bet.

Welcome to summer weather, friends, a.k.a. Ice Cream/ Sherbet weather.  Here in Tucson, it’s supposed to be 101° Fahrenheit today, and 106 or 107 tomorrow.  It’s time for a dirty baker to make something cold – thank goodness (or thank my brother and sister-in-law) for my ice cream maker!  I realized, when I started using it, that making good ice cream is more expensive than buying Ben & Jerry’s, and put it away for quite a while.  If it’s too expensive, not better than what I can buy cheaper, and not healthy, I have trouble justifying the ice cream. I used it a couple of times to make Chocolate Grand Marnier sorbet or vanilla ice cream for special occasions.  Then I saw this recipe in Cooking Light from June, 2006:

And this a bit later, when I needed something to do with blueberries.  (I have almost no self-restraint when it comes to blueberries).

Recently, I’ve been mixing up these recipes with whatever fruit I want to use up.  Strawberries were good, though they were milder than the blueberries, so I had to use more.  Almond meal, almond slices, and amaretto worked well.

I also tend to add alcohol to all the frozen treats I make.  I use amaretto with buttermilk, blueberry, and strawberry.  Sometimes I switch in grand marnier if it sounds better. I’ve also used bourbon in banana-peanut butter  ice cream, and rum in today’s version, with a pineapple, a mango, a bunch of toasted, unsweetened coconut (I’d skip this if I made it again) and tasted almonds.  It’s healthier than ice cream, and it’s delicious – if you have an ice cream maker, I highly recommend making this! And if not, consider getting one!

Posted by: thedirtybaker | May 19, 2012

Two-fer-one: The Apple-Rine Pie

I was making a pie to bring to a friend’s bbq.

I made a crust and chilled it. Then the big dilemma arose: Should I make an apple pie or a nectarine pie? They both sound good. I can’t decide!!!!

Split Decision Pie Pan to the rescue! I can do a half and half pie! (It’s the ideal pie pan for indecisive bakers.)

The pie crust has to be a bit thinner than usual to accommodate the divider. This is my standard pie crust: just flour, butter, a little bit of salt, and a bit of ice water.

Here’s the apple half. It definitely used less than half the apples that I would pile into a regular apple pie. I’ll have to do something with the sliced, spiced leftovers. Something delicious….

Half apple, half nectarine. Ready for a crumb topping!

The finished product looks pretty good!  And you can’t tell from the top that there’s a split in the middle.

We had to test out both sides, of course – and both were GOOD! Another successful treat from the Cinnamon Girl Bakery!

Ok, I’ll admit it – I wasn’t indecisive about this pie, and I planned the combination.  A friend sent me a link to that pie pan on Amazon.  I eventually bought it, and really wanted to try it out now that the semester is over.  It really was fantastic – I’ll have to try it with two kinds of chess pie, one of these days.

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »