Shoo-Fly Pie For the Win.

shoo fly pie4

I recently made a Shoo-Fly Pie for the first time. I had never made one before, and really didn’t even know where to begin, so I started with a basic recipe I found online, here. I did, however make one key change — I made my pie shell from scratch (find the recipe at the end of this post). After making the dough, rolling it, cutting it, and placing it into the pie pan, I began crafting the pie innards. I poured the mix into the crust, and it was so THIN I assumed I must have done something wrong.

not so shoo-re of this pie.

not so shoo-re of this pie.

I had come this far, and there was no turning back now. So I went ahead and sprinkled the crumbles on top, popped it in the oven, and hoped for the best. I opened the door to this:

if it looks like a pie....

if it looks like a pie….

In all appearances, one could assume this was a mighty fine pie. But I hadn’t tasted it yet, and wouldn’t actually be tasting it until dinner at my parents’ house. It smelled great, so that was another plus for this dessert-to-be.

I packed it up, put it in the car (and by put it in the car, I mean forced my fiancé to hold it precariously in his lap for the entire ride) and headed off to my parents’, hoping all the way that it didn’t suck.

it's a pie in a box.

it’s a pie in a box.

After what seemed like an eternity, the time of coffee and dessert finally arrived. I removed the pie from it’s protective vessel (i.e., the box) and placed it gingerly in the center of the table. Based on looks alone, my mom offered up the “fancy” dessert plates for serving. I went ahead and cut the first slice.

piece out.

piece out.

After we each had a piece in front of us, we simultaneously took the plunge. “We’re all in this together,” I thought, “in delicious bliss or nauseating horror.”

Delicious bliss, it was. The pie was a shoo-in all along! 😉


As promised (of course I didn’t forget!), here’s the recipe for my from-scratch pie dough, if you’d like to give it a whirl.

Pie Dough.

What you’ll need:

10 oz flour

7 oz shortening

3 oz cold water

1 tsp salt

1/2 oz sugar

What you’ll do:

Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Cut in the shortening, until the mixture is the consistency of cornmeal. In a separate small bowl, dissolve the salt and sugar in the water. Add the water to the flour mixture, and mix gently by hand, until everything is combined. Do not overwork the dough! Roll the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least two hours before using. When it’s ready, remove the dough, roll it out until it’s 1/4″ thick, and cut a large enough circle to cover the bottom and sides of a 9″ aluminum pie (which is what I used). Bake as directed in the pie recipe. You should have extra dough for more pies!

Go Team Pizza!

pizza slice

I was off yesterday (I love having Monday off – just saying), so in between laundry, yoga, and cleaning, I decided to make pizza dough. I hadn’t make pizza at home in a long time – probably not since pastry school, I reckon. So I thought I’d give it whirl. I used my favorite recipe from bread making class (which was also my favorite class). I had all the ingredients on hand luckily, including dry yeast. So, I made the dough, and put it aside to let it proof for about an hour, while I (reluctantly) finished my chores. When I came back to check on it, it had risen rather nicely.

perfectly proofed.

perfectly proofed.

At this point, my boyfriend arrived home, and I shared with him the joy of the proofed pizza dough. We had a (slightly heated) debate about what to put on top, and it was at that point I realized I wasn’t very good at making sauce, while he apparently was. So, while he made the sauce, I rolled the dough onto the pizza stone.

just roll with it.

just roll with it.

We always have an assortment of cheese in the house, but we really didn’t have any traditional pizza topping cheese. We did have a whole wheel of mild cheddar. So, he shredded some up, we put it in the oven, and then hovered around, hoping for the best.

pretty as a pizza.

pretty as a pizza.

It looked real nice. That was a good start. But how would it taste? I let him do the honors of slicing it. We each took a piece, and proceeded to chow down.

a little slice of love.

a little slice of love.

We ate the entire thing – the two of us. Let’s just say the teamwork paid off. And all we had to do was add one extra ingredient that we always have around the house – love.

Next time, we’ll share it, I promise. 😉



Recipe Monday Night: Pumpkin Mousse Cake.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe…mostly because I haven’t been creating any new ones lately. Sure, I’ve been baking my nights away as usual; however I’d been mostly doing things I’ve baked previously, with maybe a slight variation, but nothing I felt was worthy of its own dedicated recipe post on the blog. Until tonight. Over the weekend, I decided to create a pumpkin mousse cake. The blueprint in my mind was a one layer brown sugar-based vanilla cake with cinnamon chips, sliced into three thin layers, with two layers of pumpkin mousse in between, and topped with a very light pumpkin butter cream. And lo and behold, the finished product was exactly that. I had recipes that I created already for the cake and the buttercream to work off of, but I needed a good recipe for the mousse. I found one here that I liked very much, and made some modifications, as you’ll see below. Anyway, the cake was a hit, and would certainly be the perfect topper to any warm meal on a cool fall night.

top that.

Pumpkin Mousse Cake.

What you’ll need for the Mousse:

15 oz  pumpkin puree

1 cup half and half

3/4 cups granulated sugar

3/4 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups chilled heavy cream

What you’ll do for the mousse:

In a medium saucepan, stir together the pumpkin, half and half, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, over medium heat. The mixture will soon start to “pop” – as soon as it does, start stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. If you walk away and let it keep “popping,” you will wind up with spots of pumpkin everywhere. Trust me on this. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Let the mix cool for about 20 minutes, then chill for about an hour. Whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks. Fold 1/3 of the chilled pumpkin mix into the cream, mixing until streaky. Fold in the remaining 2/3, until well blended. Refrigerate until ready to use.


What you’ll need for the cake:

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon oil

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 cup AP flour

1/2 cup half and half

1/3 cup pumpkin puree

2 cups cinnamon chips

What you’ll do for the cake:

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Mix sugar, egg, oil and pumpkin in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Add to egg mixture, alternately with the half and half. Fold in the cinnamon chips. Grease an 8″ round, and bake for about 18-22 minutes, or until cake pulls away from sides of pan, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

totally baked.

What you’ll need for the pumpkin buttercream:

8 oz butter (room temperature)

2 tablespoons pumpkin puree

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups confectioners sugar

1 tablespoon half and half

What you’ll do for the buttercream:

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the butter, pumpkin, cinnamon and vanilla until light and fluffy. Blend in 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar at a time. Add the milk, mix well.

what lies beneath.

To assemble the cake, slice the cake itself into three thin horizontal layers. Place one on a cake board, top with about 1/2″ layer of pumpkin mousse. Place the second layer of cake on top, and add another 1/2″ layer of pumpkin mousse. Place the third layer on top (make sure this layer has the smoothest top, as it will be the one that gets iced). Fill in any gaps around the side with mousse, smoothing as you go. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes before icing the cake. Ice it with the pumpkin buttercream, and add a border of cinnamon chips. Keep cake refrigerated until ready to serve.

Random Recipe Wednesday: Chocolate Bread.

Last week, I made chocolate bread for the first time. It turned out terrible. I vowed to tweak the recipe and try again, until I got it right (see A Loathful Loaf). Well, it only took a second try – I could tell as the dough was mixing that this was going to be 1000 times better.

that’s a good lookin’ dough ball.

It looked better, smelled better, felt better, and most importantly tasted better. Mission accomplished – ladies and gentlemen, we have bread. Chocolate Bread.

thank you, bread!

Please note: as I mentioned in my previous post, the recipe I based this off of was from a UK website (you can see the original here), thus all the measurements are in grams and liters. Most baking scales default to grams anyway. Also, as you’ll see, it calls for caster sugar. I actually purchased a small bag while still in the UK, because I’ve yet to find it in the states, but I’m sure it can be ordered online – or just give it a try with regular sugar – baking is all about experimenting! And finally, regarding the instant dry yeast – I used one 7g packet of Dr. Oetker’s Yeast Levure. It’s sold in many higher-end American supermarkets in packs of three.

Chocolate Bread.

What you’ll need:

500g all-purpose flour

10g salt

50g caster sugar

90g cocoa powder

1 packet (7g) instant dry yeast

50g butter (room temperature)

50g sweetened dark chocolate (melted)

100 ml half and half

200 ml water

What you’ll do:

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, caster sugar, cocoa powder and instant dry yeast. Add the butter, melted chocolate, half and half, and water. Mix for 2 minutes on low speed with the dough hook attachment. Scrape the bottom of the bowl, and mix on medium speed for 5 minutes – the dough should pull away from the sides and form a ball.  On a floured surface, knead the dough for about 5 minutes. Shape into a ball, and return to the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough ferment for 1 hour.  Remove the dough from the bowl, knead for 2-3 minutes, reshape it into a ball, and place it on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Cover the dough ball with plastic wrap, and let it proof for 1 hour. Preheat the over to 200 C (about 400 F). Uncover the dough, slice a cross in the top, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Enjoy! (And make sure to try it with some peanut butter).

Recipe Sunday: Chocolate Cupcakes

Finding the perfect cupcake recipe can be tricky. When I first started really getting into scratch baking, I soon realized that many of the cupcake recipes I attempted did not turn out as light, round, and “poofy” as the old box cakes. At one point, I even baked a batch that completely caved in on itself.

That was the last straw. It was time to take matters into my own hands. Utilizing the knowledge I was amassing in pastry school, particularly regarding how ingredients worked and what purpose each served (I always loved Chemistry, even as a kid), I decided to go out on a limb, and write my own chocolate cupcake recipe.

I will admit, it was not an immediate success. The first batch, although it did not cave in on itself entirely, did not “poof” – the cupcakes remained virtually flat, and some even sagged a little bit in the middle. I tweaked, and tried again. The second batch was better – no sagging at all, but still no real “poofing” either. I threw the recipe in the trash and went to bed. I gave up.

I really wish I could say that it came to me in a dream, because that would make for a really cool story, and they’d be like, magical cupcakes, however it didn’t. I woke up the next morning, and I was laying in bed quietly, savoring it up until the last possible second, when it hit me – I knew what I had to do to fix the cupcakes. I ran downstairs, and dug the recipe out of the trash (THAT was fun). I made my notes before I forgot, and when I got home from work that night, I tried the recipe, one more time.

Success. I’ve been using it ever since. And now you can too!

Dreamy Chocolate Cupcakes

What you’ll need:

1 3/4 Cups Sugar

2 Cups AP Flour

3/4 Cups Cocoa Powder

1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda

1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

1 tsp Salt

3 Eggs

1/2 Cup Heavy Cream

1/2 Cup Water

1/2 Cup Canola Oil

2 tsp Vanilla

What you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add the eggs, then the milk. Add the oil and vanilla. Pour into cupcake cups (fill 1/2 to 3/4 – depending on how big you want them). Bake for 15-18 minutes. Yields 20-24 moist and chocolatey cupcakes.

Ice them however you like:

With chocolate icing…

I triple chocolate dare you.

With cinnamon vanilla buttercream…

a little bit of cinnamon in my life.

Or, serve them completely naked.

i was talking about the cupcakes, obviously.

the cookie of your dreams.

I once ruined a batch of chocolate chip cookies by using too much salt. Instead of 1 teaspoon, I used 1 ounce, which, in case you don’t know how many teaspoons are in ounce, was 6 times too much. It was partially the recipe’s fault – everything was in weight except for the salt, so I just kept weighing. They turned out like tiny little cookie balls, and tasted…well, salty. In my defense, I actually liked the way they tasted, once I knew what I was in for. However, others had much less positive reactions, including my mom, who said “you didn’t make those chocolate chip cookies – they were terrible!” At least she assumed I didn’t actually create such a cookie castastrophe.

Alas, this did not kill me (or anyone else, thankfully), so obviously it made me stronger. I vowed two things from that day forth:

1. mind the salt

2. create the cookie of my dreams

I tried again. the cookies were decent. They tasted good, but they were too flat. But I found that people don’t really care as much about flatness compared to saltiness. When it comes to the chocolate chip cookie, people expect what they’ve come to know and love – the less adventurous you are, the better. You see, the CCC has become a symbol of tradition; it reminds people of things they don’t get to enjoy much of anymore: eating desserts, spending time with their mother, relaxing by the fire, watching Sesame Street, whatever.

the monster is in.

A wise man once said, the third time’s the charm. And by jove, he was right.

dreams do come true.

Because I’m such a nice person, I’ll even share the formula, which, I’ll have you know, I created myself, based on the Baker’s Percentage. Who would’a thunk those old chefs actually knew what they were doing.

Jeanine’s Dream Cookie.

5 oz.   shortening

8 oz.   sugar

.25 oz.  salt

3 oz. (about 2)  eggs

.25 oz.  vanilla (use the real stuff, not the cheapo crap, please)

10 oz.  flour

.25 oz.  baking soda

10 oz. chocolate chips

bake at 375 for 7 minutes.

I think you can figure out how to mix the stuff yourself. I’m not THAT nice. Call me salty, but leave my cookies out of it.

bread winner.

I love bread. I could live on it alone if I happened to be trapped on a bread-making deserted island where they worshiped at the altar of gluten and preached the 12 steps of bread production.  I’ve been eating bread for years, enjoying its many types and varieties with spreads, on sandwiches, or even in its true naked form.  what I did not discover until very recently was how much I also loved baking it. I’ve baked many things in recent years, but I’ve shied away from breads of any kind, for fear that they were, frankly, out of my league. 

my very own works of bread.

Obviously, they were not.

But it was daunting, and it actually took a formal education for me to feel comfortable dabbling in the art of bread making. I refuse to buy a bread machine – that’s just cheating. Bread has been produced BY HAND for more years than everyone you know put together has lived, so if you decide to become a bread artiste, do yourself a favor and actually learn how to make the stuff.

you can do it!

It’s really not scary at all – in fact, many breads are super easy, once you get the hang of it. and dough is just fun. you get to knead it, punch it, watch it grow, punch it some more, shape it….its like Play-Doh for adults – but it tastes better. (oh come on, every kid ate Play-Doh, it’s nothing to be ashamed of.)

So anyway, what I’m trying to say is if you love bread, than don’t be afraid to share that love with the world. You’re a winner and people like you, gosh darn it. But they’ll like you even more if you give them bread. 😉

the best thing since...sliced bread.

naked cupcakes.

So for quite some time now (at least two years, I’d say), I’ve been in search of the perfect cupcake recipe. I’ve tried many – some with much success and others…we’ll they didn’t taste bad but a cupcake that collapsed in on itself is not something I want leaving my kitchen, period. Last summer, I began a formal education in baking/pastry. I went into it with the idea that I would exit as an amazing cake decorator, creating artistic masterpieces that were the confectionery equivalents of a Michelangelo or a Rembrandt.

But that has all changed. After I had my very first class, I had an epiphany – it’s not the art of baking that excites me  – it’s the science. What reacts with what to make each dessert they way it is. What happens if you add more of X or remove some of Y, and most importantly –  how to problem-solve. I thrive on problem-solving – at work, at home, in relationships – if there’s no problem for me to solve, I’m bored and want no part of it. Enter the chocolate cupcake.

I really wanted a recipe that was, above everything else, moist. I’m not down with a dry cake. That’s the sign of someone who either doesn’t know what they’re doing, or the cake is old. Either way, it’s just bad. After trying many recipes using many different ingredients, I found that recipes using oil yielded the results I was most closely looking for. But I still hadn’t quite achieved cupcake nirvana. Two weeks ago, I found a recipe that appeared to be perfect, upon first glance. I decided to give it a shot.

As I began preparing the ingredients, what jumped out at me was the fact that this recipe called for more sugar than flour. Now, in cakes, that can be possible and the structure can still be maintained, if the remaining ingredients are scaled accordingly. Being the first time I had attempted this recipe, I assumed this had been accounted for, and proceeded as is.

It was a major flop. They went straight to DVD, baby. I took them out of the oven, they looked done. I set them on the counter, and within a minute, they completely and utterly collapsed. it was like there was no structure whatsoever! I had only baked half the batter, just in case of something like this, so I added a little more flour to the second half, and baked them. The result was better, but there was still some sinkage. sigh. Cupcake: fail.

Don’t get me wrong, these puppies tasted great. The ingredients themselves were all fresh, and mixed together, formed a quite yummy batter. It just couldn’t perform (that’s what she said). In a fit of disgust and frustration, I threw the recipe in the trash, and turned the cupcakes into cake balls (I never waste cake that tastes good).

The next morning, I woke up and was laying in bed, and I started thinking about the recipe and what may have gone wrong. The sugar was too much, the flour wasn’t enough, maybe it could have used more eggs…that’s it! I will use this crappy recipe to create the perfect cupcake! I will adjust ingredients, one at a time, until enlightenment is achieved. I ran downstairs, dug the recipe out of the trash, and frantically began jotting down notes and proposed changes in a mad-scientist-like frenzy.  Once I restructured the recipe to my liking, I executed it with steady hands and hopeful heart. 

It was the longest 15-18 minutes of my life. Finally the timer went off. I grabbed my Ove Glove (Best. invention. Ever.) and ran to the oven, opened the door, pulled out the tray and….


 A perfect cupcake needs no icing. However, if you are an icing fiend (like myself), a little dab will do ya.

..and then some.

A nod to nog.

Today it snowed. I am not a fan – I’m definitely a summer person. I often wish I could organize a “mass move” and have everyone I know and love pack up and move to a milder climate. While I wait for that day to come, I use these snow days in the meantime to test out new recipes.

Today I made an egg nog pie. Granted, this was no “small indulgence.” It’s a grandiose gluttonous gorge-fest. But damn, is it worth it.

I made the crust from scratch, and I finally got to break in  my brand new (woo-hoo!) food processor.  I made the rest of the pie from scratch as well, right down to whipped cream.

Why, might you ask, am I writing about something that is the exact opposite of what I’ve been preaching? Well, it’s obvious, really. The beauty of the small indulgence is that if you opt for them enough times, you can enjoy a big ‘ole rich ginormous piece of heavenly egg nog pie,  without feeling like Fatty McBloaterson afterwards.  So go ahead, indulge. You deserve it.

eat me.