Sunday, February 2, 2014

Blueberry Bread 

     I don't know why I'm on a blueberry kick - well, it's been a couple of years, which is more than a kick.  They are by far, my current favorite fruit.  I want blueberries in my fruit smoothies, in my yogurt, in my fruit salad, and in my breakfast breads.  I've been saving this Blueberry Coffee Cake recipe (from Southern Living magazine) to try when I had the yogurt and blueberries on hand.  It seems to be chock full of blueberries and that almond sugar crunchy goodness on top looks too good to be true.

     Feeling the need to bake something and finding myself with blueberries AND yogurt, I stirred this cake up.  All went well and as planned in the recipe except that I baked it 40 minutes instead of the 25-30 minutes called for.  It is a beautiful moist cake filled with blueberries and topped with almonds, sugar and more blueberries.  I'll definitely copy this to the "make again" file.  I think it would be good with bananas and coconut, too - my two other go to fruit of the moment.  

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Crimpin' Pie Crust

My Mother always made her own pie crust.  Always.  To bring a store bought crust into the house was sacrilege.  My Mom also did what she called, "recreational baking."  Yep, I inherited the gene.  I know what it's like to leave butter out softening "just in case" the urge to bake strikes.

When I was 10-ish, my Mother began my education of pie crust making and baking.  It took on a life of its own and stepped up a notch or two one summer of peach pies when I was 15 - (more about that later).  Mom's pie dough recipe is simple:

Pie Dough 
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup Crisco shortening
3-4 tbls cold water

There are secrets to it as there are to many of the great recipes.  Mom was always a stickler for the details and would leave out the tricks just to see if I could figure it out on my own.  (Remind me to tell you about the lemon cake.)  It took me 20 plus years to get the full technique for making a pie crust from my Mom.  I was not the only one who felt the frustration.  Memory serves me of a time when I went to visit my sister in law who was baking a pie for Mom's birthday.  She had 4 pie shells in various states of completion scattered throughout her kitchen - none of them fit to serve the Queen of Pastry.  My sister in law was reduced to a babbling mess.

Part of the beauty of a handmade pie shell is the crimped edge.  I have never been able to achieve the pretty even crimp like that of my Mother's.  My daughter, though, has it down pat and a nephew can turn out a pretty crimped edge on pottery.  Mine is "backwards" somehow.  I can, however, bake a blind pie shell that would make Martha Stewart envious.  All without pie weights.

Pie weights. Pie weights?  Who has time for pie weights, or dried beans?  My Mom never used them.  She would stand close by the oven and whenever the pie crust would bubble up, she'd stick it with a fork to release the stem and flatten the bubble.  I can't tell you how many times I was assigned the duty of pie shell monitoring.  I guess I learned something.

Now, when I need a blind pie crust, I use my Mom's recipe and all of her little tricks and bake one from scratch.  Invoking a bit of her baker's spirit with each crimp and poke.