Thursday, June 27, 2013

Daring Bakers! - Crack Pie

Sorry I've been kind of not here lately. There's a lot of personal real life stuff going on right now, and combined with increased responsibilities at the magazine and a part time job at the mini golf course, I haven't had as much time for baking. Don't get me wrong, I am really happy with my busy-ness, but I just need to figure out how to properly budget my time. 

Anyway, it's that magical time of the month...Daring Bakers! I almost lost it with happiness when I heard that I could make a crack pie for this challenge. I LOVE crack pie. It's another one of Christina Tosi's crazy concoctions, a spin off of Chess Pie. If you are not from the South (or maybe even if you are Southern, I dunno) you might be like, "What the heck is Chess Pie?" Well, back in the day, if there wasn't anything in the house, one might whip up a pie of eggs, butter, and sugar. Just pie. Say that with a thick Southern drawl. Jes' Pie. Chess Pie. There you go.

Crack Pie is called such is like crack. Figuratively. I assure you that I am not a hardened drug addict. After trying Crack Pie, you may find yourself jonesing, if you will, for a piece. You may hide it from other people. You may even need someone to hide it from you. Honestly, it's that good. Think I'm crazy? Try it and get back to me. I used the original Momofuku Milk Bar recipe, but here's an alternate version for those of you who, y'know, don't regularly keep freeze dried corn in their house.

Rachael from pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she had us whipping up delicious pies in our kitchens! Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies! There’s nothing like pie!

Crack Pie
from the Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook

For the pie:
1/4 c. unsalted butter, melted
1 recipe Oat Cookie (recipe follows)
1 tbsp. light brown sugar, tightly packed
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 recipe Crack Pie Filling (recipe follows)
confectioners’ sugar for dusting

For the Oat Cookie:
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1/3 c. light brown sugar, tightly packed
3 tbsp. white sugar, granulated
1 large egg yolk
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
1/8 tsp. baking powder
pinch baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

For the Crack Pie Filling:
1 c. unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 c. white sugar, granulated
3/4 c. light brown sugar, tightly packed
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 c. corn powder (corn powder is defined as freeze-dried corn, ground to a fine powder)
1/4 c. milk powder
3/4 c. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
8 large egg yolks

To prepare the Oat Cookie crust, preheat the oven to 350°. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes until fluffy and pale yellow in color. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula. On a lower speed, add the egg to incorporate. Increase the speed back up to a medium-high for 1 to 2 minutes until the sugar granules fully dissolve and the mixture is a pale white color. On a lower speed, add the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix 60-75 seconds until your dough comes together and all remnants of dry ingredients have incorporated. Your dough will still be a slightly fluffy, fatty mixture in comparison to your average cookie dough. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula.
Pam spray and line a quarter sheet pan with parchment or a Silpat. Plop the oat cookie dough in the center of the pan and with a spatula, spread it out until it is 1/4″ thick. The dough won’t end up covering the entire pan, this is okay. Bake the oat cookie for 15 minutes. Cool completely before using in the crack pie recipe.

To prepare the pie filling, mix the dry ingredients for the filling using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment on low speed. Be sure to keep your mixer on low speed during the entire process of preparing the filling; if you try to mix on any higher than a low speed, you will incorporate too much air in the following steps and your pie will not be dense and gooey – the essence of the crack pie. Add the melted butter to the mixer and paddle until all the dry ingredients are moist. Add the heavy cream and vanilla and mix until the white from the cream has completely disappeared into the mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the egg yolks to the mixer, paddling them in to the mixture just to combine. Be careful not to aerate the mixture. Use the filling immediately.
To assemble the pies, preheat the oven to 350°. Put the oat cookie, brown sugar and salt in the food processor and pulse it on and off until the cookie is broken down into a wet sand. (If you don’t have a food processor, you can fake it till you make it and crumble the oat cookie diligently with your hands.) Transfer the cookie crumbs to a bowl and, with your hands, knead the butter and ground cookie mixture until the contents of the bowl are moist enough to knead into a ball. If it is not moist enough to do so, gently melt an additional 1-1 1/2 tablespoons of butter and knead it into the oat crust mixture. Divide the oat crust evenly over 2- 10″ pie tins.

Using your fingers and the palm of your hand, press the oat cookie crust firmly into both 10-inch pie shells. Make sure the bottom and the walls of the pie shells are evenly covered. Use the pie shells immediately or, wrapped well in plastic, store the pie shells at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Place both pie shells on a sheet pan. Divide the crack pie filling evenly over both crusts (the filling should fill the crusts 3/4 way full) and bake at 350° for 15 minutes. During this time, the crack pie will still be very jiggly, but should become golden brown on top. At 15 minutes, open the oven door and reduce the baking temperature to 325°. Depending on your oven this will take 5-10 minutes – keep the pies in the oven during this process. When the oven temperature reads 325°, close the door and finish baking the pies for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, the pies should still be jiggly in the bull’s eye centers, but not in the outer center circle. If the pies are still too jiggly, leave them in the oven an additional 5 minutes.
Gently remove the baked pies from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool at room temperature. You can speed up the cooling process by transferring the pies to the fridge or freezer if you’re in a hurry. Freeze your pie for as little as 3 hours or up to overnight to condense the filling for a dense final product – the signature of a perfectly executed Crack Pie. Just before serving finish with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My Other Blog - Ricotta Scallion Scones

Hey guys! If you've been hanging around these parts for a while, you'll know that last year I did a summer blog series over at Fox Cities Magazine on taking advantage of fresh farmer's market produce. Well I'm at it again! Head on over there to check out my latest post. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


There re two kinds of bakers in this world: egg white bakers and egg yolk bakers. I am firmly planted in the yolk camp. Most of the time, I am of the opinion that egg white based desserts are too fussy, and I'd much prefer to make pudding or pastry cream than angel food cake. The only good thing about angel food cake is that you can compress a slice into a tiny ball and shove the whole thing in your mouth. 

The point is, I am often left with an overabundance of albumen that I just don't know what to do with. Thankfully, egg whites last a long time and can be frozen if you don't want to use them right away. I usually end up forgetting about them if I do that though...oops...

My buddies at OXO sent me some awesome egg tools around Easter that I hadn't gotten to use until now, since I was out of the country. This egg separator rocks my world. Never again do I have to worry about getting yolks in the whites!

So I have recently taken on a baking project that required NINE egg yolks (Oy vey. Wait a couple weeks and you'll see what I am talking about. What can I do with so many egg whites? Make a healthy omelette, I guess, if you're into that sort of thing. Or combine them with sugar, browned butter and almonds to make financiers. That's more my style.  The name of these little cakes comes from the fact that the traditional molds are rectangular, making them look like gold bars. I used tiny tart pans to make mine extra cute, but honestly, they were kind of a pain to get out of the mold and I kind of wish I had used mini muffin tins instead. Live and learn!

from Dorie Greenspan

1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces; 180 grams) unsalted butter
1 cup (200 grams) sugar
1 cup (100 grams) ground almonds
6 large egg whites
2/3 cup (90 grams) all-purpose flour

Put the butter in a small saucepan and bring it to the boil over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally.  Allow the butter to bubble away until it turns a deep brown, but don't turn your back on the pan - the difference between brown and black is measured in seconds.  Pull the pan from the heat and keep it in a warm place.
Mix the sugar and almonds together in a medium saucepan.  Stir in the egg whites, place the pan over low heat, and, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, heat the mixture until it is runny, slightly white and hot to the touch, about 2 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flour, then gradually mix in the melted butter.  Transfer the batter to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, pressing it against the surface of the batter to create an airtight seal, and chill for at least 1 hour.  (The batter can be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).  Butter 12 rectangular financier molds (these were tested in 3-3/4 x 2 x 5/8-inch [10 x 5 x 1-1/2-cm] rectangular molds that each hold 3 tablespoons), dust the interiors with flour and tap out the excess.  Place the molds on a baking sheet for easy transport. Or use whatever pan you have handy. Just make sure to grease them a lot.
Fill each mold almost to the top with batter.  Slide the molds into the oven and bake for about 13 minutes, or until the financiers are golden, crowned and springy to the touch.  If necessary, run a blunt knife between the cookies and the sides of the pans, then turn the cookies out of their molds and allow them to cool to room temperature right side up on cooling racks.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Bagel Bombs

There is nothing in the Midwest comparable to a New York bagel. If you disagree with me, I will argue until my throat is so sore I can no longer speak. And even then I will continue to hassle you with annoying texts. Just accept it. I have no idea what the magic ingredient is to making bagels so good. I've tried, and while they're tasty, they still don't have ne sais quoi (also, I have updated my bagel recipe since that blog post, and prefer to use this one now).

So maybe I don't have the magic New York bagel touch, but I can do my best with what I've got. Right? Right. So once again I turn to my beloved Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook. I may have a level 2 girl crush on Christina Tosi. If you don't understand that reference...that's perfectly fine, haha.

Do bagel bombs count as bagels? I like to think so, yes. Comprised of a very versatile "mother dough" that is stuffed with a scallion and bacon cream cheese filling and topped with everything bagel mix. Sounds downright delightful to me. But on the off chance any of you dear readers from the New York area are making a random stop in Wisconsin in the near future, please bring me a bagel. I will love you forever. 

Oh hey there, Instagram. It's been a while. 

Bagel Bombs
from the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook

  • Mother Dough (Recipe Below)
  • Bacon, Scallion Cream Cheese Plugs (Recipe Below)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp water
  • 1 recipe Everything Bagel Mix (Recipe Below)
  1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or a silpat.
  2. On a smooth, dry, lightly floured surface punch down the mother dough. Portion the dough into 8 equal sized pieces.
  3. Taking 1 portion of dough at a time, carefully stretch it to about 3 inches wide. Place one of the prepared cream cheese plugs in the middle of the dough, then fold the dough back up to surround the cream cheese completely. Roll the dough between your hands to try and smooth out the crevices. You want it to look like a dinner roll. Place the finished ball on the prepared cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and cream cheese.
  4. In a small bowl whisk together the egg and water. Brush generously over each one of the bagel bombs.
  5. Generously and evenly over the 8 bagel bombs, sprinkle the everything mix until it covers every inch but the bottoms.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 -30 minutes. They will brown up and eventually expel the cream cheese goo. Don’t worry when this happens – just shove the cream cheese back inside it’s respective bomb.
  7. They are best eaten immediately (slightly cooled as to not burn your tongue). If you do have some left over, wrap them individually in plastic and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Mother Dough
Makes enough for the bagel bomb recipes. It is half of the original recipe.
  • 275 g (1 3/4 cups) bread flour
  • 6 g (1/2 tbsp) salt
  • 1/2 tsp or 1/4 packet active dry yeast
  • Slightly above room temperature water – 2/3 to 3/4 cup
  • Oil
  1.  In the bowl of your stand mixer using the dough hook, stir together the flour, salt, yeast and 2/3 cup water until it is “a shaggy mass.”
  2. Attach the bowl and hook to your mixer and set to the lowest speed for 3 minutes.
  3. After the 3 minutes the dough should be smoother and 1 larger mass of dough. Continue kneading on the lowest speed for 4 minutes. After the 4 minutes it should bounce back when poked.
  4. Brush a bowl with a bit of oil, the dump the dough into it and turn it over in the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and store in warm, draft free place for at least 45 minutes. The dough should double in size. 
  5. Once it has doubled it is now ready to use. If you don’t want to use it that day, cover it very well in a container double it’s size and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. When you are ready to use it bring it back to room temp on the counter for 30 minutes.
Bacon, Scallion Cream Cheese Plugs

  • 1 3/4 oz bacon – 4 or 5 slices
  • 1 – 8 oz block cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Cook the bacon until dark and crunchy. You definitely want it crunchy for this so be a little patient! Reserve the bacon and bacon grease separately. 
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer using the beater attachment, mix the cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl. Mix in the cooled, reserved bacon fat until homogenous. Scrape down the bowl.
  3. Add the scallions, crumbled bacon, sugar and salt. Mix on medium speed for 1 or 2 minutes, or until fully incorporated.
  4. Scoop the mixture onto a lined cookie sheet. You want 8 equal sized lumps. Freeze until rock hard, 1 – 3 hours.
  5. Once frozen solid they are ready to use.
Everything Bagel Mix Ingredients:
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp black sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp poppy seeds
  • 1 tbsp dried onion
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  1. Mix everything together in a bowl and use when needed.
  2. Store in a covered container for up to 6 months.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Melon Pan

It's not been as difficult getting back into the swing of things as I thought it would be. I'll fallen into a pretty comfortable daily routine without experiencing much culture shock. I suppose it would be different if I had gone to a country where English wasn't the primary language. But still, I find myself really grateful for little things I had taken for granted before, like skim milk, chocolate chips, garbage disposals...ovens. 

 I've been trying to make bread as often as possible. I love, LOVE working with yeast, and it just wasn't very practical to do in Ireland often. Since melon pan has been on my baking list for a while, I thought I'd try and tackle it. Melon pan is Japanese in origin. It contains no melon, but the cross-hatching pattern on the top somewhat resembles rock melon/canteloupe.

I enjoy melon pan not only for it's delicious flavor and texture (a crispy cookie shell surround a soft bun!), but also for its cross-cultural nature. Similar to aebleskivers, variations on melon pan are popular in countries all over the world, and goes by many different names. You may encounter it in China under the name of pineapple bun or polo bun, or in Latin America as conchas or pan dolce.  My cross-hatchy marks kind of disappeared during baking (aw man!), but the ending result was still tasty and texturally pleasing.

Melon Pan
from Joe Pastry

Cookie Topping: 
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) softened butter
3.25 ounces (scant half cup) sugar
7.5 ounces (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Superfine sugar for dusting

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the beater, beat the butter and sugar until light in color. Meanwhile, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in one bowl and the egg, egg white and extract (if you have it) in another. Add the egg mixture in two additions, beating well and scraping the bowl as needed. Once the egg is incorporated, slowly add in the flour and beat on low until it’s incorporated. Roll the dough into a log and place it in the refrigerator, covered, for at least half an hour. Meanwhile, prepare the buns. You’ll need:

10.5 ounces (scant 2 cups) bread flour
1/4 ounces (1 tablespoon) milk powder (dry milk)
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1.25 ounces (3 tablespoons) sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces (3/4 cup) lukewarm water
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter (bring to room temperature)

Place all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle (beater). Stir to combine, then add the water. Continue to stir until all the ingredients are moistened, then switch to the dough hook and knead on medium until a ball forms, about three minutes. Add the softened butter and knead until it’s incorporated.
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and let rise about an hour until doubled (you’ll want to cover it with plastic wrap or towel to keep it from drying out). When the dough has risen, divide it into twelve equal portions and roll the pieces into balls. Cover them with a slightly moistened towel and let them sit about 10-15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, remove the cookie dough from refrigerator, and cut into 12 pieces (mine were each about 1.25 ounces). One at a time, roll them out between two layers of plastic wrap (thicker plastic is better. I cut a ziploc bag apart) to a diameter of about three inches. I took a saucepan and just pressed down on the ball with the bottom and it was about the right size. When you finish one, remove the top layer of plastic, place a ball of dough in the center and enclose it in the cookie dough (you’ll want to leave a small hole at the top, which will actually be the bottom, to allow for expansion). Invert the ball onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and carefully remove the plastic wrap.
With a sharp knife, score the cookie dough in a criss-cross pattern (or any pattern you like, really). Let the balls proof for another 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375. When the balls have swelled slightly, sprinkle superfine sugar all over them. Insert the pan into the oven and bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown.