Currently viewing the tag: "pie"


It took me a long time to feel confident making pies. I never actually made one until my late twenties, as they had seemed so daunting and time consuming; so much work for something that had such a high percentage of not turning out right. My first attempt actually was incredible: I made a perfect apple pie. The crust was flaky and golden brown, the filling perfectly cooked, with apples soft but not mushy. I remember bringing it to my Grandma’s house, and she raved and raved about it (she may have mentioned it was better than the pie my mom made) and I’m pretty sure she ate the rest of it for dinner that night. Brimming with confidence, I made another pie the next day: same recipe, same apples, same kitchen equipment, and alas, it was a total disaster.

I’ve discovered I often have beginners luck with baking, only to completely mess up whatever I am making the next time I go to bake it. I think it’s the grace of the kitchen gods: they know of my love and need for baking, but also my lack of patience and follow through. I’m notorious on giving up on something if I don’t get it right away. They let me succeed once, giving me false confidence of my abilities, and then the next several times I just can’t get it right. I know I can make a pie, and make it well, but now I have to work for it. This then triggers my OCD and anxiety (both of which I’ve been diagnosed with), and now I cannot rest until I get it right again. It’s actually maddening, but after weeks and months of testing a recipe, I walk away pleased with my outcome, and confident about sharing it with others. It’s rather a daunting process (I should have just gone to pastry school?) but I’ve always learn best from my mistakes, and also repeating something over and over until I really understand it.

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It’s my favorite time of year: THE HOLIDAYS! The snow is snowing, the bells are jingling, and there is a constant buzz of excitement everywhere. The 10 year old in me still tends to get caught up in all the buzz; often forgetting to focus on the present, and enjoying each moment with gratitude. Often the Christmas season is about what we get, instead of what we give. The older I get, the more I let go of the getting aspect, and am working on teaching my littles the same. It’s a work in progress.

One thing that helps me in this regard is baking. I look for pastries with multiple steps that require some focus, and I find that the act of concentrating on a specific task not only helps me slow everything down, but also opens up an important door – the door that cares about the quality of my soul. I find myself thinking through things that often get pushed aside in the rush of life. Pie is one of these solaces; while it is a slice of self-care, it also is the best way to share. My family alone can’t (well, shouldn’t) eat an entire pie, so sharing some is a great way to interact with family, friends, and neighbors. It’s the perfect way to give.

I’ve teamed up with Land O’Lakes for a few posts over the rest of the year. I’ve been a big fan of their butter for years; I love how my baked goods turn out with it, and as they are a Minnesota-based company, it seemed like a natural fit. I often use their butter in my baking, and find the flavor to be heads and shoulders above other grocery store brands. The pie crust for this apple crème fraîche pie was made with Land O Lakes® Unsalted Butter, and as usual, it was a hit. The crust was tender and flaky, and held up well to the gigantic pile of apples placed upon it. My children declared it their favorite pie, ever, which is saying something.

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” – Epicurus

Sources: Copper Sauce Pan by Mauviel || Fine Mesh Strainer by Rösle

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peach-apple-cherry pie
‘Have you been online yet?’ my husband asks from the couch. It’s 8:45 am, and I am searching the kitchen for breakfast. Most mornings, upon waking, I reach for my phone next to me on my nightstand, and check all the icons chirping at me like hungry baby birds. Email, facebook, instagram, twitter, usually in that order. I despise the impulse, but I’m too tired to stop my arm from reaching, and its become a daily habit. Summer vacation is upon us, however, and I’ve set new goals for myself. Wear a small gray arm band to record my daily steps. Read books at night before bed instead of falling asleep to the internet. Eat a healthy breakfast, then go ahead and see what the world brings.

So I hadn’t heard the news. ‘No,’ I replied. ‘Something bad?’  He handed me his phone with a stony face, and I knew instantly. Another shooting. I felt the pit in my stomach, the one that has been there since Columbine, that grew into something fierce after Sandy Hook. The one that triggered my anxiety the last day of school, just two days ago, the one that made me whisper as my kids left for the day: ‘Please, please, one more day. Let them come home to me.’


peach-apple-cherry pie

peach-apple-cherry pie

peach-apple-cherry pie

peach-apple-cherry pie

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coffee pudding | the vanilla bean blog

coconut coffee pudding  | the vanilla bean blog
I haven’t baked a lot with coconut milk, but find myself looking to it more and more for various reasons. I have many friends with food allergies or dietary restrictions and most of them are able to consume coconut milk, so I find it’s a good substitute for milk and/or cream in recipes. Also, sometimes I just need a break from all the dairy in my diet, and have found soy and almond milk to not be very compatible with my body. So coconut milk it is.

Andre Prost reached out to me a few weeks ago and sent me a box of coconut milk to bake with. I was eager to give it a try, and found it to be a great addition to my kitchen. It is rich, creamy, and flavorful, and is a great substitution (or addition) to any recipe. I also appreciate that it is found in the baking section of the grocery store, as I tend to spend most of my time in that aisle anyway.

You can make quite a few things with a whole box of coconut milk. I wanted to make sure I loved it before I wrote about it, and I’m happy to report I found it to be a great product.
coconut cream pie | the vanilla bean blog
My first recipe with the coconut milk was a coconut cream pie, straight from Andre Prost’s website (where Pam has come up with some really great recipes!). I swapped bananas for some chocolate pastry cream I had in my fridge from cookbook testing. It was creamy and dreamy and very indulgent.
coconut coffee cream | the vanilla bean blog
Next I made Nicole’s Vanilla Bean Coconut Creamer, which was delicious, and went along perfectly with my afternoon coffee and Jessica’s new book.
Coffee Pudding | the vanilla bean blog
Laura’s Coconut Coffee Pudding was also on the list (topped with Tara’s magic candied cacao nibs), which was voted a family favorite. My daughter was enamored with it, although I had to cut her off because of all the coffee.
coconut chocolate muffins | the vanilla bean blog
Coconut muffins were also a hit, and I snuck in some chocolate again.
coconut milk | the vanilla bean blog
On the to-do list: coconut sweetened condensed milk sounds fabulous. I think it might also work in my no-churn ice cream recipes, which I’m excited to experiment with. Pancakes are also going to be made soon, as well as coconut brioche.

So, if you have been thinking about baking with coconut milk, don’t be afraid to try! There are so many things you can make with it. (Have a favorite recipe? Leave it below! I’d love to see it.)
coconut pie | the vanilla bean blog
This post is sponsored by Andre Prost. All opinions are my own.

peach crumble pie | the vanilla bean blog
peach crumble pie | the vanilla bean blog
Years ago, after completing college and moving back in with my parents for a spell, I would pick my Grandma up once a week and take her out shopping. She was close to 90 and could no longer drive, but was always eager to get out of the house and buy her own groceries and necessities. One of her favorite haunts was a neighborhood department store that she insisted on stopping by, and she would push her cart around the aisles aimlessly, happy to be out and about. This particular store didn’t have much for me to look at, but I would always wander over to the kitchen section and browse around until Grandma was ready to leave. I remember falling in love with one particular item: a glass cake stand with a heavy domed lid. Every week I would go back and debate purchasing it, but I had just graduated college without much in my bank account. So each time I would pass it by, dreaming of the cakes I could make to fill it.

That August I celebrated my 25th birthday, and there it was wrapped up so pretty: the cake stand I had been coveting. My parents gave it to me that birthday, but I’m pretty sure they were tipped off by my Grandma, who couldn’t help but notice me eying it each week. Almost twelve years later I still own the glass domed top to the stand, but the bottom chipped after I dropped it one sad evening. Over the years I’ve collected a few more stands, and use them frequently. But not just for cakes: for muffins and scones and cookies and fruit, also. I love having one perched on my counter; an interactive display of sugary goodness to brighten the day.
peach crumble pie | the vanilla bean blog
peach crumble pie | the vanilla bean blog
peach crumble pie | the vanilla bean blog
peach crumble pie | the vanilla bean blog
Last week the folks at Martha Stewart asked if they could send me a cake stand (pictured in the post here) from the Martha Stewart Collection (exclusively at Macy’s) and I could hardly say no. That very first cake stand was a Martha Stewart stand, and I had loved it dearly for years. I’m looking forward to all the birthdays, anniversaries, and get-togethers this new piece will be a part of.
peach crumble pie | the vanilla bean blog
(and, although I was given the stand, all my opinions here are my own).

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rhubarb-blueberry-apple pie | the vanilla bean blog
Last week I received my copy of The Homemade Flour Cookbook by Erin Alderson in the mail. I’ve been a fan of Erin’s site Naturally Ella for a long time, and last September had the pleasure of meeting her (and photographing her wedding). Erin is a hardworking, go-getting woman, and one of the most generous souls here in blogland. I’ve been terribly excited about her book.

The premise of the book is exploring ‘the different ways to grind flour including electric and non-electric grinders, food processors, blenders, and even coffee grinders, making it easy for any do-it-yourself homemaker to have fresh flour whenever needed.’ The flours range from barley and einkorn, to gluten-free grains like quinoa and corn, and even legumes: chickpeas, lentils, and beans all are used. Erin explains the different ways to grind them, and has a vast array of recipes for all kinds of eaters.

I had a pile of rhubarb in our garden, and a pint of blueberries that were on their way out, so Erin’s Whole Wheat Rhubarb Pie immediately jumped out at me. It’s a jem, and one I will look forward to making each summer.
rhubarb-blueberry-apple pie | the vanilla bean blog
(Also, A few things:)
Jennifer Causey and Yossy Arefi made this lovely video on the pie making process: Raspberry Rhubarb Pie.

Sara had her baby. I can’t get over these gorgeous and amazing photographs.

A little documentary by Flight of the Conchords. Don’t know how I missed this!

I love this song by PHOX.

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway! You could win a copy of Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book, a year subscription to Pure Green Magazine, a bottle of Lavender Extract from Hatchery, or a copy of The New Artisan Bread in Five

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A few weeks ago Hannah from Honey & Jam commented on Twitter that she could ‘really use a piece of pie right about now.’ I had just made a pie; it was sitting proud and pretty on my kitchen counter, and so I tweeted back, wishing I could send her over a slice. Stephanie from Desserts For Breakfast and Beth from Local Milk also chimed in, and we all wished for a pie date. So we decided to come as close as we could, creating a virtual pie party for today. And so, here it is, at my house.
I open the door to my home and the smell of warm peaches filter past, spilling off the front porch into the cool, crisp air. You were thinking I’d do pears, or apples, but I tell you I couldn’t resist that last crate of peaches at the co-op, and that I was missing my dear Grandma Ethel, who made the tastiest peach pie this side of the Mississippi. You sit down while Ella Fitzgerald sings soft and sweet, and I fill your cup full of deep, dark coffee while your foot taps along to the music. We talk slowly at first, with purposeful questions, but soon we pick up speed, feeling comfortable glimpsing into other worlds. We eat together, our tiny jar pies disappearing quickly, the sweet peaches giving us all one more day of summer to hold on to. Little hands and eyes peek over the table, shyly wanting to meet everyone, and also hoping for tiny pies of their own. They are given what they’ve asked for, with smiles all around. We move on to topics of food, and cookbooks, while exclaiming frequently how amazing this modern world is, how we are all sitting here together, each of us from so far away. There is a break, our spoons rattle and clang around our jars, our cups are stained black but empty. Ms. Fitzgerald is now whispering, lamenting so quietly that our time is up, we must move on, get back. And so, the door opens and closes again. I pick up the jars, and spoons, and cups and bring them to the sink. Drifting, dreaming in an azure mood I sing along with Ella. Stardust gleaming, through my solitude. There is one pie left, forgotten on the counter. I put the jar in the fridge, thinking of how tomorrow, somehow, I will eat it alone, yet still be near {just a click away!} to so many good souls.
{For these jar pies I used Deb’s Peach Pie recipe. My Grandma made a killer pie, but sadly never passed the recipe on. These little lovlies turned out great, but I had forgotten to use Cook’s Illustrated’s wonderful tip of placing the pies on a preheated baking sheet, so the bottom crust ended up being a bit soggy. Next time, next time.

Also, stay tuned for pie posts from the lovely ladies at Local Milk, Desserts for Breakfast, and Honey & Jam. I can’t wait to come over.}

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Somehow it creeps up, every year, and I’m just not ready for it. Like Linus I try to catch a glimpse of the Great Pumpkin, but it whizzes past me, leaving my head spinning and my pants a bit too tight. We have three celebrations with three different branches of family, and while I feel the warm glow around me, the memories all melt together in a single blur. There was a bonfire, and games. Three different takes on turkey. Lots of new, precious babies to hold. Miles Davis kept us relaxed while Ms. Ella Fitzgerald swung in some Christmas cheer. There were walks and hand holding. There were tears. Little ones discovered the dessert table. Older ones crept out for cigarette breaks. Stars twinkled above us, family dynamics swirled around us. Oh, right. And there was french silk pie.
I’m pretty sure this pie doesn’t need me to make a case for it. Unless, of course, you are wondering if it could possibly be better than the one sold in ever-so-famous pie shops. I will reassure you: it is. The crust is thin and golden and crisp, a perfect little bed for the rich dreamy chocolate filling. It is world stopping good – worth every second spent over the stove, beating and beating the filling into being. It is a sincere smile from my long holiday weekend; a moment of sweet silence in the beautiful chaos.