Saturday, July 24, 2010

Classic Sour Cherry Pie with Lattice Crust

I love cherries, I think they are my favorite taste of summer. Growing up in Trinidad, we had a myriad of fruits available however there were only certain fruits that I loved and still do such as mangoes, pineapples and watermelons. We do have cherries but they are different variety to what we get here in France (and even the US when I lived there) , they are more on the tangy side but so very delicious. I think the last time that I ate cherries in Trinidad was at my grandmother's house. It seems like yesterday but in reality it was over 20 years ago, I'm sure if I were to eat them again they would not be able to compare with that memory that I have.

A few years ago 2008 to be more precise I bought  a copy of Bon Appétit from W.H. Smith on rue de Rivoli , its one of my favorite magazines and I buy it whenever I see it. I had seen this Cherry Pie recipe in there (its the cover recipe) and would longly stare at it. For some reason I did not make any of the dishes featured in that magazine that year nor the next. This year however I'm slowly working my way through the magazine and on Bastille day I decided that I was going to tackle this recipe and make my first ever pastry crust.

Classic Sour Cherry Pie with Lattice Crust

The recipe calls for pitted cherries, the tips section of the recipe had a great tip for people like me that do not own (gasp) a cherry pitter. What's the secret tool ? Chopsticks ! That's right, you use the widest end of the chopsticks and push through the center of the cherry, the seed will pop right out! The drawback is that there may be a certain amount of cherry juice that splatters everywhere but once you get the hang of it this happens less. The great thing about this is that the hubby can get involved and help to speed up the process by using the other chopstick. I just saved myself about 20 euros.

I made the recipe pretty much as is, the only difference was that I did not use sour cherries so I used a little more lemon juice and decreased the amount of the sugar that was called for.

The verdict: Wow ! I was really pleased with the way this turned out, the crust was just right, light and flaky. The filling was the perfect combination of flavors and the cherries were the stars of the show.

My hubby even said that the crust resembled that of his grandmothers can't get any more praise that that :) I plan on playing around with this crusts with other fillings, we have an overabundance of nectarines right now so .....

Classic Sour Cherry Pie with Lattice Crust   Bon Appétit | June 2008
Yield: Makes 8 servings
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 tablespoons (or more) ice water
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 cups whole pitted sour cherries or dark sweet cherries (about 2 pounds whole unpitted cherries)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (if using sour cherries) or 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (if using dark sweet cherries)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon (about) milk
Vanilla ice cream

For crust:
Whisk flour, sugar, and salt in large bowl to blend. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until small pea-size clumps form. Add 5 tablespoons ice water; mix lightly with fork until dough holds together when small pieces are pressed between fingertips, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough together; divide into 2 pieces. Form each piece into ball, then flatten into disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Do ahead Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Let dough soften slightly before rolling out.

For filling:
Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 425°F. Whisk 1 cup sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Stir in cherries, lemon juice, and vanilla; set aside.
Roll out 1 dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch glass pie dish. Trim dough overhang to 1/2 inch. Roll out second dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Using large knife or pastry wheel with fluted edge, cut ten 3/4-inch-wide strips from dough round. Transfer filling to dough-lined dish, mounding slightly in center. Dot with butter. Arrange dough strips atop filling, forming lattice; trim dough strip overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold bottom crust up over ends of strips and crimp edges to seal. Brush lattice crust (not edges) with milk. Sprinkle lattice with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.
Place pie on rimmed baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Bake pie until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown, covering edges with foil collar if browning too quickly, about 1 hour longer. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely. Cut into wedges and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Bon Appétit 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Double Chocolate Cupcakes

White chocolate cupcakes with a dark chocolate frosting AND a surprise inside !
Now that's some serious expectations for a cupcake !

White chocolate raspberry cupcakes with chocolate frosting

For some reason on Bastille day (July 14th) this year I was in a baking mood and decided that not only would I make cupcakes but that I would also make  a Cherry pie (can you guess what the next post will be on?) in addition to dinner that night. Did we really need all these temptations hanging around the house - No , not really my hips certainly don't BUT I had plans for the cupcakes so that was not the issue.

For those that follow the blog, you probably know by now that I'm a big fan of Rose Levy's Beranbaum 'The Cake Bible', I have yet to try a recipe and be disappointed by it. Granted thanks to her I am now meticulous about my baking. This time I decided to try out her recipe for a White Butter Cake, the difference here is that the butter is cut in half to traditional butter cakes but that the fat content would come from the white chocolate and it was this that would give the texture to the cake. Skeptical ? I was, but decided that what did I have to loose right ?

Delicious !!! The cake has a velvety crumb and the cocoa butter in the cake give it that rich taste but its definitely more 'sturdy' than the White Velvet Cake . The next question was what do I pair this with ? I'll be really honest here, for the Paris Cupcake Camp I made Martha Stewart's Dark Chocolate Frosting and had at least 3 cups remaining. The instructions in her book said that the remaining frosting could be frozen for a month. The only instructions was that it needed to come to room temperature before and then a quick mix to incorporate all the ingredients. I was impressed, the defrosted frosting had kept its taste and sheen from the day it was made. It made making cupcakes that much easier. Normally I'm an advocate of making everything the same day to guarantee that freshness but I could not see myself throwing away all this frosting.

I know, you want to know the surprise. Raspberries ! My hubby on my son's request bought raspberries from the market and we had an entire box remaining. For family members reading this, no Alex still does not eat fruit but we keep calling his bluff. Alex loves confiture, so I thought that I would insert a raspberry into each cupcake and if he should ask I could always say it was confiture. No, the 4 year old caught on to me and refused to eat it. However it provided an excellent contrast to the cake and frosting.

A lemon butter cream would also be delicious on these cupcakes maybe with a lemon curd filling.....making a mental note of this.

White chocolate rasberry cupcakes with chocolate frosting

So what happened to the cupcakes ? I took them to work the next day , gave some to our kids nanny and we kept one or two around.

White Chocolate Whisper Cake
Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible
Printer Friendly Version 

Makes 24 cupcakes

6 ozs or 170 grams fine quality White Chocolate
4 1/2 or 135 grams egg whites
8.5 ozs or 242 grams milk
1 1/2 teaspoons or 6grams vanilla
3 cups or 300 grams sifted cake flour
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons  or 240 grams  sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons or 22 grams baking powder
3/4 tsp or 3 grams salt
9 tablespoons or 128 grams unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350F or 176C
  1. In a double boiler melt the chocolate over hot (not simmering) water, stirring frequently. Remove from the water.
  2. In a medium bowl lightly combine the egg whites, 1/4 cup milk and vanilla
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend.
  4. Add the butter and remaining 3/4 milk.
  5. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.
  6. Increase to medium speed (high if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides.
  7. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure.
  8. Scrape down the sides.
  9. Add the melted chocolate and beat to incorporate
  10. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. The pans should be about half ful.
  11. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes unil a tester inserted near the center comes out clean.

Dark Chocolate Frosting adapted from Martha Stewart “Cupcakes”

Makes about 5 cups
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon boiling water
  • 2 1/4 cups (4 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pounds best-quality semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled


  1. Combine cocoa and the boiling water, stirring until cocoa has dissolved. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, confectioners' sugar, and salt until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low.
  2. Add melted and cooled chocolate, beating until combined and scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  3. Beat in the cocoa mixture.
  4. If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 5 days, or frozen up to 1 month, in an airtight container.
  5. Before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again.

Bon Appétit

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cioppino !

It seems that of lately my posts start with an apology on the time lapse between posts, and this one is no different. I am often in awe of fellow bloggers ability to keep blogs lively on a weekly basis, I remind myself that I work 40hrs a week, have two kids under 4 and a family life so its normal if weeks go by without any sign of life, but that does not always ease my anxiety.

Like any good film, there is a behind the scenes shot, blogs are mentally prepared, photos are taken and then ... well then I wait until close to midnight when the guilt is to big to bear and I start typing. For example this particular dish was made in June almost a month to this post.

This particular dish Cioppino originated in San Francisco more precisely in the North Beach area in the late 1800s by Italian fishermen. What goes into a Cioppino ? Well basically whatever is fresh that particular day and is most often a combination of crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, fish etc. The seafood are cooked in a tomato/wine broth and served with hot buttered bread.


This dish has been playing in my mind for years now, and I've never really gotten around to making it. So when we decided to celebrate my father in law's birthday I thought that this was the perfect occasion to try it out.  The weekend we made this, the weather here in Paris was HOT, but as its a light stew where the seafood is the the star we decided to go ahead. It was actually a perfect choice, everyone took their time eating the seafood and the broth just kept everything moist. A good chilled white wine enhanced the meal.

For the stew I used, Scallops, Prawns, Gambas and Cod. The idea is that you use the freshest of seafoods which means that this stew will evolve each time that you make it. For the fish the preference is to use a firm white fish that will not disintegrate during the cooking process. I served this with toasted slices of baguettes rubbed with a garlic clove.

Cioppino   Gourmet | March 2002

San Francisco–Style Seafood Stew
Yield: Makes 6 servings
Active Time: 45 min
Total Time: 1 1/2 hr
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 Turkish bay leaf or 1/2 California bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1 (28- to 32-ounces) can whole plum tomatoes, drained, reserving juice, and chopped
1 cup bottled clam juice
1 cup chicken broth
1 (1-pound) king crab leg, thawed if frozen
18 small (2-inch) hard-shelled clams (1 1/2 pound) such as little necks, scrubbed
1 pound skinless red snapper or halibut fillets, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound large shrimp (16 to 20), shelled (tails and bottom segment of shells left intact) and deveined
3/4 pound sea scallops, tough muscle removed from side of each if necessary
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
Garnish: shredded fresh basil leaves and small whole leaves
 Cook garlic, onions, bay leaf, oregano, and red pepper flakes with salt and pepper in oil in an 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring, until onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in bell pepper and tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and boil until reduced by about half, 5 to 6 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice, clam juice, and broth and simmer, covered, 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
While stew is simmering, hack crab leg through shell into 2- to 3-inch pieces with a large heavy knife. Add crab pieces and clams to stew and simmer, covered, until clams just open, 5 to 10 minutes, checking every minute after 5 minutes and transferring opened clams to a bowl with tongs or a slotted spoon. (Discard any unopened clams after 10 minutes.) Lightly season fish fillets, shrimp, and scallops with salt and add to stew, then simmer, covered, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf, then return clams to pot and gently stir in parsley and basil.

Bon Appétit 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cupcake Camp Paris 2010

Oui, oui Cupcake Camp Paris 2010 and what is it ? It's an ad-hoc gathering to people to share and eat cupcakes in an open environment. For the first time this year, it was held in Paris this past Sunday more precisely at Bistrot Vivienne in the 2nd arrondisment and was hosted by Cat Beurnier aka Little Miss Cupcake and Bryan from Where is Bryan? & Merce and the Muse

There were over 50 bakers (amateurs and professionals) who made more than 1600 cupcakes for more than 200 people - are you impressed? The event lasted about 4 hours and there was not a cupcake remaining. I have to say that it was the first time that I've seen an event like this. People lined up, yes lined up outside the bistro to pay their 10€ (all proceeds went to the charity Rebuilding Haiti Now) for the right to access the venue, have a drink and savor the cupcakes. I should say that Sunday the weather was glorious and any Parisienne would tell you that on a day like that you flock to the park, a terrace but not indoors to a bistrot - that alone should say something.

The cupcakes were out of this world, sadly I only got to taste one cupcake as the crowds were just to thick to battle through, but it was a feast for my eyes to see all the beautiful cupcakes. I've often said that I'm by no means a professional baker and this even just proved it !  For the day I chose to make three varieties :

Margarita Cupcakes
Margarita Cupcakes

Chocolate Passion
Double Fudge Chocolate with Chocolate Frosting

Red, White & Blue
Red, White & Blue

It was definitely a memorable experience and though I did not get to meet up with many fellow bloggers on the day, its been great getting to know them via their blogs and photos of the day. I did not get to take pics as the fans were swarming over the cakes, but I will leave you with some of the shots taken by my fellow bakers.

Stay tuned for Cupcake Camp 2011 !

And we're off !- From  IslandGirl4ever2

From IslandGirl4ever2

Mes patriotic red velvet cupcakes surprise!
From: Josephine L

From IslandGirl4ever2

And last but not least, my three biggest fans all on the same picture (not all facing the camera) :) Special thanks to my hubby for spending part of our 7th wedding anniversary at the event ! - Thank you Mary a/k/a LadyMissMBA for this photo.