Caramel Apple & Pumpkin Pie

Caramel Apple & Pumpkin Pie | ZoeBakes

 

Here is a twofer for those of us who love both apple and pumpkin pies. Both great flavors layered together in a flaky, rich crust. I used apples that kept their shape when I caramelized them, so they would add a bit of texture to the pie. Go with Granny Smith and Braeburn or a local apple that you know stays firm when cooked. These days all grocery stores have sugar pumpkins stacked up in the produce aisle, so you can roast your own. It is seriously easy and the taste is heavenly. Having said that, you can also use your favorite canned pumpkin puree.

I am about to give up some of my chef cred with this next statement, but I did a blind taste test of canned pumpkin and I was very surprised by my taste buds. Out of 5 different brands, the hands down winner was Libby’s. They are not paying me to say that, nor did they send me any product. Not only did Libby’s have the sweetest, most “pumpkin” tasting canned pumpkin, but when I looked at them all side by side, it was the most gorgeous color. It claims not to have any color added, in fact, it’s just 100% pumpkin, just like the organic versions. I won’t mention the other brands to avoid, but some were dull, yellow, tasted more like water and had a grainy texture, not good.  (more…)

Read More

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie | ZoeBakes 01

I had to bake this pie twice before I could get these few shots. Not because I was fighting with the winter light, lack there of, or because I just couldn’t work out the recipe, which happens. No, this was because I couldn’t keep my sons from eating it before I had a chance to photograph it. They know the drill…NEVER eat anything before mom takes pictures. They’ve grown up with this and consider it totally normal, even though it’s clearly not. But, this pie inspired a mutiny of the François kitchen etiquette. They said they couldn’t help themselves because Key Lime Pie is their favorite. The first pie came and went without a single picture. The second one I got these few, but when I realized the picture of the slice was out of focus and went to take another picture, the pie was gone. This time my kids had friends over to help them eat it, in case you think they ate two pies in as many days, by themselves. Do I bake a third pie just for another photo? Maybe. Actually, I think I’ll get the boys to make it this time.

I hope you enjoy it as much as they did! (more…)

Read More

The Salty Tart Pie Party

Pie Pop Up | ZoeBakes 22

My friend and rock star pastry chef, Michelle Gayer (The Salty Tart), is hosting pie pop-ups in Minneapolis for the whole month of November. To get one (or 3) of her pies, you need to show up at Hola Arepa on Monday afternoons from 3-7pm. Those are the official hours, but she’s been selling out in about an hour, so line up early if you want a pie. (Unfortunately, Hola Arepa is closed on Mondays, so you’ll have to go back the next day to sample their incredible menu and mighty fine cocktails.) Michelle came over to bake some pies with me so I could give you an idea of what she’s up to, but don’t go expecting to see these two on the menu, you just never know what mood she’ll be in and the pie selection will change to match her passing culinary fancy. To get more details you can follow Michelle’s pie Instagram feed.

Pie Pop Up | ZoeBakes 24

I have a lot to celebrate these days, in addition to these gorgeous pies (Michelle left them for me to devour). My latest book Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five came out a few weeks ago and I’ve been on book tour, I also just wrapped up a Craftsy video (the subject is very hush, hush, but I bet you can guess) and yesterday was my Birthday. To celebrate all of that I’ve paired up with my friends at Emile Henry to GIVE AWAY 5 gorgeous PIE PLATES for you. Just leave me a note about your favorite pie and you’ll be entered to win. Sorry, but it is only open to those in the USA.

Here are some more pictures of my afternoon of pie baking with Michelle. Got to love the blow torch and sugar dusting!  (more…)

Read More

Rhubarb Pie – The Joy of Watching my Son Bake

Rhubarb Pie | ZoeBakes

Today my oldest son graduated from 8th Grade. It struck me yesterday as no biggie, just another last day of school. Today, I find myself thinking about him in a new way. He’s not a small child anymore. This was made clear when I saw him accepting his 8th grade diploma and he was taller than all of his teachers. What, when did that happen? He’s a high schooler now, and that is just plain crazy. Up until this moment, he was still my little boy, just barely able to function on his own. Today I am faced with the fact that he is charging toward manhood at a dizzying pace. I’m trying to be ready, but really I’m not sure yet. The up-side to this realization is that now I’ll have him do more laundry, cleaning, cooking and all the things we adults live for.

Yesterday, when he was still a little boy in my mind (oh, who am I kidding, he’ll always be my little boy) we baked a pie together. It was a gift, made even sweeter by the events that followed today. He made the dough, a filling of rhubarb and cherries and he created the lattice. I sat back, trying not to take over, and just watched in amazement as he figured it all out. It was a thing of beauty to see him moving so confidently in the kitchen and the pie, well you can see for yourself, the kid has skill. I was in heaven. Today I am a mess of emotions and I’m so happy to have a piece of his pie to make me smile.

Happy Graduation to all you seniors and 8th graders!
(more…)

Read More

Lemon-Lavender Meringue Tarts (The difference between French, Swiss and Italian Meringues)

lemon meringue

These may seem a little upside down, we usually think of the meringue piled high above the lemon filling, not the other way around. This is a simpler twist on the classic, but all the same tangy-sweet allure. The best part is there is no crust to deal with, which makes them lighter and faster to make. The meringue shell is whipped until it is as light as air, spooned into little clouds and baked just until they are set, but still slightly soft in the middle. Once cooled they’re topped with lavender scented lemon curd. The tartness of the curd is always a perfect match for the sweet meringue, and a bit of lavender creates a gentle floral touch, without going overboard. It tastes like spring, which I am desperately in need of on this April day, when we’re anticipating a snow storm.

A brief meringue primer…because so many desserts call for them and it can be just a touch confusing which type to use. There are three different types of meringue, with three distinct characteristics and three countries laying claim to them:meringue tarts 01

1. The simplest is the French meringue, which is just egg whites with sugar sprinkled over them as you whip them to peaks. If consuming raw egg whites makes you nervous, the French meringue needs to be baked to make the egg whites perfectly safe and keeps them from deflating. There are also pasteurized eggs whites on the market that eliminate any fear, but I find they don’t whip up quite as well. It is the least stable and most likely to be over whipped, but the fastest and easiest to prepare of the three types. It helps to create a lofty, shiny French meringue by starting with room temperature egg whites.

2. The Swiss meringue is made by heating the egg whites and sugar together over a double boiler until all the sugar melts. This process cooks the eggs enough to make them edible without having to bake them and gives the meringue great strength. It CAN be baked (its what I used for these tartlettes) or used to make buttercream, mousse or toasted meringue topping.

3. An Italian meringue is the most stable of the three types, but also requires the most effort to create. A sugar syrup is heated to about 242°F on a candy thermometer and then very carefully poured over whipping egg whites. This creates a very stable meringue, which will hold up in a buttercream, toppings for pies and folded into mousses or Baked Alaska.

You could make these tart shells using any of the three techniques, and it may be interesting to try them each way. For this particular go of it, I chose a Swiss meringue and here’s how… (more…)

Read More

Apple Galette – Pie without a Dish

apple galette

This is a rustic French tart with a rather fanciful name, galette, but at the end of the day it is just a pie without a plate. It is simple to make and imperfection is part of its old world charm. No fancy fluting or lattice top crust to worry about and yet the flavor is just as wonderful. A galette can be made with any filling, but right now the apples are abundant and calling me. Since there are so many varieties of apples available, I like to use a few to create the filling. Some will turn to sauce (McIntosh), some will keep their shape (Prairie Spy), others will be sweet (HoneyCrisp) and some will be tart (Haralson). You can mix and match to suit your mood. The crust should be tender and flaky and just barely strong enough to hold up to the apples. It adds to the drama if some of the juices escape, which is why we bake on a sided baking sheet. (more…)

Read More