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Classic Apple Pie with Ultra-Flaky Pie Crust

July 7, 2014

Classic Apple Pie (1) | Espresso and CreamUpdate: We went in for another scan on Thursday before the long weekend and got some strange news. Things on our ultrasound looked very normal, pretty much a 180-degree change from our scan on Monday. The doctor and the ultrasound tech didn’t know what to make of it all, so I’m chalking it up to God. Sound good? We’ve been told to still expect miscarriage, but that we now have a legit reason to hope. So we’ve been playing a very strange waiting game until Wednesday, and your continued prayers would be much appreciated.

I hope you all had a wonderful Fourth of July weekend! Joe and I spent a lot of time working on the house, in the yard, and even painted our office, a room that I’ve intentionally left out of the E&C house tour because I’ve disliked it so much. We’re a long way from revealing the final product on the blog, but I’ll be sharing some sneak peaks Instagram as we pull the room together.

A few weeks back I made a pie and I would be lying if I said the crust was anything worth eating. Truth be told, it was horrible. Sometimes pie crust is hard and scary, isn’t it? Well, I was determined to have success the second time around because that first attempt was just haunting me. With a new sense of resolve, I went back the the kitchen to make another pie crust for a classic apple pie. The result was amazing, if I do say so myself. It was flaky and tender and perfect enough to bring over to Joe and his friends, who needed a break from painting a house on a hot day.

Classic Apple Pie (2) | Espresso and CreamI based my pie crust on one of my favorite recipes from Sherry Yard in her fabulous baking book, Desserts by the Yard. Over the years I’ve made great pie crusts and horrible pie crusts. And I think that if I had to recap what makes success versus failure, it would be in the way the liquid is incorporated into the dry ingredients. Sometimes I’m feeling impatient and I dump the water in rather quickly, in two or three additions. The problem with doing this is that the water doesn’t get evenly incorporated into the flour mixture and I end up needing to add more water than the recipe calls for.

But when I’m patient, adding just a drop or two at a time and constantly using a fork to stir the flour mixture as I add water, that’s when I have the most success, when the magic of tender, flaky pie crust happens. So give yourself a few extra minutes to incorporate your liquids into your dry ingredients and you’ll be blessed with the end product.

Classic Apple Pie with Ultra-Flaky Pie Crust
Serves: 12
  • PIE CRUST INGREDIENTS (for 2 crust pie)
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup ice water
  • 6 cups thinly sliced Granny Smith apples (peeled and cored)
  • 6 cups thinly sliced Golden Delicious apples (peeled and cored)
  • 1⅓ cups granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  1. To make Pie Crust: In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt until well combined. Break up the shortening into small pieces and add the shortening to the flour mixture. Cut the butter into small pieces. Add the butter to the flour mixture, too. Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter and shortening into the flour mixture until the butter and shortening are the size of peas.
  2. Gradually add the ice water (1 spoonful at a time) to the flour mixture, using a fork to mix the water into the flour mixture as you add spoonfuls of water. This is key, slowly adding the water. It ensures that you get the flour mixture evenly hydrated without having to add too much water.
  3. Divide dough into two portions and gently press into rounds. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  4. Roll one of the dough rounds out onto a floured surface to form the bottom crust. Press crust into the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate.
  5. In a very large bowl, combine the apples, sugar, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Stir until well combined. Pour mixture into crust-lined pie plate. (There will be a lot of apple mixture since it bakes down and loses volume.)
  6. Roll out second dough round onto floured surface. Top pie filling with second crust. Roll edges of pie crust together to seal. If desired, crimp edges. Cut two to three slits on top of pie crust for steam to escape.
  7. Heat oven to 375F. Place a metal baking sheet under pie plate to catch any excess liquid. Brush top of pie with the milk. Sprinkle with the 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake 55 to 65 minutes or until crust is deep golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool at least 1 hour. Cut into slices to serve.



Apple-Berry Pie

April 1, 2013


Hello, friends! I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend celebrating Christ’s resurrection with family. Joe and I enjoyed a long weekend together and spent time with my mom and Joe’s family, including his brother, Jason, and Jason’s wife, Ali, who made the long trek up here from Kansas City. Of course, we like to think that they came to visit us, but I think that the real pull had something to do with our identical twin nieces, Mckinley and Emersyn, who were born three weeks ago. I’ve shared a few photos on Instagram over the last few weeks, but I think this is the first photo of the girls that I’ve shared on Espresso and Cream. We couldn’t be more excited for Amber and Jake!



And since I don’t have any idea how to transition from adorable babies to delicious pie, I’m just going to move right along and tell you that I made a pie this weekend for Easter dinner. As you probably already know, Joe and I had pie at our wedding in place of the more traditional cake. I created the recipes and my co-worker, Holly, made the pies on our big day. I shared the Cran-Raspberry Pie recipe right before our wedding but with the craziness of the wedding, I completely forgot to share the second pie, Apple-Berry.

My brother-in-law, Jake, has been asking for me to make the apple-berry version for a while now, so the pie served as my contribution to our family meal. I hate to say “best ever” because I’m always afraid I’ll find another dish I like better, but this pie really is quite delicious. It’s sweet and tart and the crust is incredibly buttery and flaky. It’s hardly health food, but in my book there is always a time and a place for fruit pie.

Apple-Berry Pie
I love this pie. Can I say it again? I love it. Probably because it combines my two favorite types of pie: berry and apple. Makes sense, doesn’t it? But seriously, I love the sweetness of the apples paired with the tang of the berries makes it, in my opinion, the perfect pie. Also, there isn’t a huge amount of sugar in the filling, just a 1/2 cup. But I don’t think you need any more than that.
Makes 8 to 12 servings
I used this pastry recipe, which is my go-to recipe for pie pastry from Sherry Yard’s book, Dessert by the Yard
*4 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4-inch thick
*10 oz. fresh mixed berries (blackberries, raspberries and/or blueberries) or frozen and thawed mixed berries
*1/2 cup sugar
*2 tablespoons cornstarch
*1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*2 tablespoons milk
*2 tablespoons granulated sugar

*Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray. Prepare pie crust as directed and refrigerate or freeze according to directions. To speed the process up, sometimes I freeze the dough for 30 minutes instead of refrigerate for the full length of time specified.
*Roll one of the dough discs out. Place one of the pie crusts into the prepared pie plate. In a large bowl, combine the apples and berries. In a smaller bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt. Toss fruit with the sugar mixture until evenly combined. Pour into pie crust. Top with second pie crust. Turn ends under and crimp edges as desired. Cut a small steam hole at the top of the pie crust or prick several times with a fork to allow steam to escape. Brush with the milk and sprinkle crust with the sugar.
*Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until crust is deep golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool at least 1 hour.

Happy baking!

No-Roll Pie Dough

May 11, 2011

Good morning and happy Wednesday, friends!

I want to introduce you to someone. Her name is Alice, and she is as sweet and real as they come. Her blog, Savory Sweet Life, is packed with family-friendly recipes and tempting goodies. But what really caught my eye a few months back was the pie dough recipe Alice shared.

Well, it wasn’t so much the recipe itself but the concept. A no-roll pie dough? Did such a thing really exist all these years? And was it possible that for all these years I could have been making pie shells without all the grief of rolling and fluting? It appears so.

Of course for a fancy, finished feel, rolling dough still has its place, but for everyday, this method has become my go-to.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been testing out pie dough recipes, looking for a favorite. When I opened up the June issue of Martha Stewart Living, I knew I had a winner. Her Pate Brisee, the French version of pie dough, was chock full of butter – a great sign of you’re looking for light, flaky crust. And when it came out of the oven it didn’t disappoint!

Pate Brisee
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, June 2011

*2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
*1 teaspoon salt
*1 teaspoon sugar
*2 sticks butter, cold and cut into cubes
*1/4 to 1/3 cup ice cold water

*In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.
*With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
*With your hands, press pie dough into a lightly-greased pie plate, working to be sure the dough is pressed into an even layer of thickness on the bottom and up the sides of the plate. Bake per recipe instructions.

Happy Baking!

Homemade Pop Tarts

April 30, 2010

I really, truly want to think of something beautiful and eloquent to write about these homemade pop tarts because boy are they deserving of everything good I could write. But the only thing that I can think of, having just finished eating one, is OH MY GOSH. This, my friends, is what a toaster pastry was intended to taste like before it turned into the processed, flavorless, under-filled brick you have come to know as a pop tart.

I have stumbled across a couple different recipes for homemade toaster pastry over the past couple weeks and immediately thought it was a fun and innovative take on breakfast. And when the flawless Deb of The Smitten Kitchen posted a similar recipe on her site I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist. So if you were to have stopped by my apartment around 11:30 last night, you would have found me, covered in flour, fully immersed in pastry dough making.

In the past I’ve been frustrated with pastry dough. It has always made me feel inadequate and insecure about my baking ability because I didn’t feel it was flaky, buttery, or delicious enough. My mom, who growing up served as one of my best, and toughest, critics held the bar pretty darn high when it came to an acceptable pastry crust, always comparing it to her mother’s pie crust. If you met my grandmother and had a piece of one of her pies, you would know how high of a bar we are talking. So it’s really no surprise I felt bad about my own pastry skills. Until now.

Throughout this whole pastry making process, I was convinced it wasn’t actually worth the effort but boy was I wrong. These things are seriously amazing – this coming from a girl who doesn’t even like pop tarts and hasn’t eaten one in over 10 years. They are yummy, and charming in the familiar-yet-different way. I can already imagine making them on weekends when I want to make breakfast a little (or a lot) more special.

Homemade Pop Tarts
Adapted from Deb via The Smitten Kitchen

*2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
*1 tablespoon sugar
*1 teaspoon salt
*1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pats
*1 large egg
*3 tablespoons milk

*1 additional large egg (to brush on pastry)

*1 recipe Jam Filling (below)

*1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (not the natural variety)

*1 cup powdered sugar and 1/4 cup milk stirred together for glaze

Jam Filling
1/2 cup raspberry preserves stirred together with 1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch


Make the dough

Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Work in the butter with your fingers, pastry blender or food processor until pea-sized lumps of butter are still visible, and the mixture holds together when you squeeze it. If you’ve used a food processor, transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Whisk the first egg and milk together and stir them into the dough, mixing just until everything is cohesive, kneading briefly on a well-floured counter if necessary.

Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a smooth rectangle, about 3×5 inches. You can roll this out immediately or wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate for up to 2 days. (I refrigerated overnight and found that the dough was still a bit crumbly so I put the dough back into the food processor after refrigerating and pulsed it 6-8 times, then formed it into a rectangle and rolled it out. Worked like a dream and the pastry was still oh so flaky!)

Assemble the tarts: If the dough has been chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to soften and become workable, about 15 to 30 minutes. Place one piece on a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick, large enough that you can trim it to an even 9″ x 12″. [You can use a 9″ x 13″ pan, laid on top, as guidance.] Repeat with the second piece of dough. Set trimmings aside. Cut each piece of dough into thirds – you’ll form nine 3″ x 4″ rectangles.

Beat the additional egg and brush it over the entire surface of the first dough. Place a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter into the center of each rectangle followed by a teaspoon of the jam mixture, keeping a bare 1/2-inch perimeter around it. Place a second rectangle of dough atop the first, using your fingertips to press firmly around the pocket of filling, sealing the dough well on all sides. Press the tines of a fork all around the edge of the rectangle. Repeat with remaining tarts.

Gently place the tarts on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick the top of each tart multiple times with a fork; you want to make sure steam can escape. Refrigerate the tarts (they don’t need to be covered) for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F. Bake them for 20 to 25 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Spoon a tablespoon of powdered sugar glaze on top of hot pastries. Cool in pan on rack.

Happy Baking!


White Chocolate Cream Puffs

March 20, 2010

Looking back at my childhood, I think my mom was preparing me for a career in food. I may not have eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich until 7th grade and have yet to try gravy, but I did frequently experience the joy of biting into a freshly baked sourdough roll or sitting down to a dinner of homemade beef stew and biscuits. And while other parents may have run to the bakery on occasion, my mom whipped up a batch of cream puffs.

I can still remember the way the wooden spoon swirled the dough around in the pan and the magic of pulling the cream puffs out of the oven – transformed from spoonfuls of dough into hollow puffs perfect for filling with rich cream. They are the kind of dessert that makes you wonder why you would ever buy another cream filled doughnut again.

White Chocolate Cream Puffs
Adapted from Mango Cream Puffs | Bon Appétit, May 2006
*1 cup whole milk
*1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*3/4 cup all purpose flour
*4 large eggs
*2 large egg yolks

*1 cup heavy cream
*1 tsp. vanilla extract
*1 cup white chocolate chips
*1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

For puffs:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Bring milk, butter, and salt to boil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until butter melts. Add flour all at once. Reduce heat to medium and stir with wooden spoon until dough forms ball and some batter films bottom of pan thickly, about 4 minutes. Transfer dough to medium bowl and cool 5 minutes. Using electric mixer, beat in eggs and yolks 1 at a time.

Drop dough by generous tablespoonfuls 3 inches apart onto baking sheets, making about 12 puffs.

Bake puffs 15 minutes. Reverse sheets and bake puffs until deep golden, about 10 minutes longer. Make small slit in side of each puff. Return to oven, turn off heat, and let dry 15 minutes. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

For cream:

While puffs cool, make cream. Melt the white chocolate chips until smooth. Add the oil to the white chocolate and stir until well combined. Allow the chocolate to cool slightly (just slightly above room temperature). Combine cream and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on high speed for 1-2 minutes. With the mixer running, slowly pour the white chocolate mixture into the cream. Beat until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble, with a small sharp knife, cut the cream puffs in half horizontally. Spoon cream by heaping tablespoons in between the layers. Drizzle with caramel sauce or chocolate sauce, if desired.

Happy Baking!