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I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I’m a lazy pie maker. I don’t strive for perfection, or elaborately styled tops (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but more ease – of both assembly and eating. I do get a lot of satisfaction out of a proper crimped double crust pie, but I make galettes more often. Because they’re not as deep they bake more quickly and are easier to eat out of hand, which makes them ideal breakfast pastries and perfect for afternoon snacking.

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I’ve been getting a lot of requests for this pavlova recipe – it’s one I’ve been making for years, and I often teach it in classes and use it as a base recipe for other pavlovas, but this is my go-to, with lemon curd made out of the egg yolks you’ll have left after you make the meringue. It’s perfect – you need something sweet-tart to go with the crunchy-chewy-marshmallowy meringue and creamy-sweet whipped cream. Pavlova truly is the ultimate dessert. This makes a relatively small one, but you could scale it up – I often double the recipe (6 egg whites + 1 1/2 cups sugar) to make a larger pavlova, or two, or one large and a bunch of small ones, or just straight-up meringues. It’s a very versatile formula. And if you’re at all nervous about the meringue turning out, or if it doesn’t look perfect (who cares though!), you could bash it up and layer it in glasses or a trifleContinue reading

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I make a lot of galettes – which sound fancy, but are really free form pies you assemble and bake on a sheet without needing to trim or crimp – and in the fall and winter, they’re often apple ones. Sometimes, I spread some jam onto the bottom of the crust before I pile on the apples, but a couple weeks ago I had a jar of mincemeat on the counter and inspiration struck. It turned out to be a very good idea. I adore mincemeat – a thick sort of preserve of fresh and dried fruits, citrus, brown sugar, booze (if you want it) and spices you can simmer on the stovetop until your house smells fantastic (it only takes 20 minutes, really) or buy in the jar without shame. (The smell of a jar of Robertson’s all-fruit mincemeat reminds me so much of my grandma, I nearly tear up when I take off the lid.) You don’t need suet (which is beef fat)Continue reading

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I’ve made two blackberry-plum friands in the past three days, and eaten 1 3/4 of them myself, with a spoon, straight out of the baking dish. A friand is a dense, chewy almond cake, this version studded with juicy fruit, from Ottolenghi’s Simple- I had it out for a virtual book club, and when I got home from picking up a farmers’ market box (from the Bridgeland Farmers’ Market), which had plums and blackberries bigger than my thumb in it, I took it as a sign.

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Late summer is the best time for baked fruit desserts like cobblers and crisps, but one of my favourites is the lesser-known pandowdy – sort of a cross between a crisp and a pie, with a pastry lid on top, but none underneath. It’s infinitely easier to assemble than pie, with no need to stress over removing a clean slice, and let’s face it – the golden top is the best part of the pastry anyway. Best yet, you can streamline the process by using frozen puff. I made a video earlier this summer as part of the Redpath Baking School summer session.

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It’s that time- Saskatoons are ready for picking on shrubs along my street, at the dog park and along the riverbank… as always, I find myself rooting around for an empty coffee cup or other vessel to fill as I walk. I rarely manage to pick enough for pie, but almost always find enough for a batch of tarts-these are simple, made by simmering berries, sugar and cornstarch and spooning the mixture into pre-baked tart shells. Blueberries work just as well if you want to combine the two, or in case you don’t have access to saskatoons wherever you are.

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I’m a sucker for anything topped with torched meringue, but my preference is ice cream, baked Alaska-style. (Yes, this is essentially a baked Alaska.. though B.A. is typically frozen in a bowl, so it’s dome-shaped, like this.) Ice cream “cake” was my birthday cake of choice as a kid.. because really, the scoop of ice cream beside the cake is always the best part. If you’re making it yourself, layered ice cream negates the need to turn on the oven, or even follow a recipe—it’s ideal for the baking intimidated. You don’t require a specific cake pan size (or a cake pan at all, really), and an ice cream “cake” can be made in advance and stashed away in the freezer for days, weeks or even months— until you’re ready to finish it with a simple cooked meringue, which is easy to work with and finish with swirls and flourishes.

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Ice cream cake was my birthday “cake” of choice growing up, and still it’s funny how people get excited over an ice cream cake or pie – I made a few last summer for my latest cookbook, and each time, everyone was thrilled. And yet they’re as easy as it gets – I enlisted my five year old grand-niece to help assemble one, scooping soft ice cream in alternating flavours into a cookie crust, and sprinkling chopped chocolate bars and mini peanut butter cups in between. As it firmed up in the freezer we made a batch of ganache – warmed cream and chocolate that tastes like a smooth melted truffle – to pour overtop. It was a blast, everyone was thrilled, and we didn’t even need to turn on the oven.

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A very wise person with obvious taste over on Twitter had the brilliant idea to make a butter tart pie yesterday, and so naturally I had to drop everything and make one immediately. I know they exist… I don’t think it’s a new idea, though I seem to recall rejecting the idea of a butter tart that wasn’t an actual tart, believing its texture and subtle runniness might be disturbed in pie form – that somehow the ratio of pastry to filling would be thrown off. I was wrong.

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