It has been a while since I wrote a bog post. It is the month of December! The month of cookies, pies and everything baked! It is the month of appetizers, fun kitchen experiments, and lots of time together as a family in the kitchen and at home. It is the time to reflect on a year gone by, think of the positives, the negatives, and reflect on the goals for the upcoming year. It has been an extremely trying year for everyone, in different ways, but for every single person. There have been a lot of negatives, and lot of sad news. But on the other hand, it has given a lot of people the chance to be creative, to hone their skills and take charge of their lives, and divert in a positive way, that will benefit them and make the best of the situation that they are in. I have seen so many businesses spring up because they had to come up with innovative ways to make ends meet. Life in unfair, and this year has been a very realistic reflection of it.
For us personally, in the past 10 months, we have dealt with a lot, like many other families, who have two working parents, distance learning kids and no help at home, and no family around. It has been mega challenging, and we have basically been chugging along, taking each day as it comes. I am super thankful to have a job that in all the insanity, has kept me sane and busy, and super thankful for my family and kids who are responsible, to take their school work seriously and super thankful for a very supportive husband to be able to juggle a million things, because juggler is my middle name! 🙂 At one point before school started, I almost contemplated of going part time at my full time job, because I was just not sure how I would manage work and schooling with 2 kids at home. It all seemed impossible. But my kids have really stepped up, and have done a great job, in keeping up with school work and being responsible. I have to help with Math on a daily basis, but apart from Math, they have been getting As in all their subjects, which as a parent makes us very happy and that we are doing something right in making them independent. On top of that, to be writing a cookbook has been insane, but a passion project that I am so dear to call my own, and that it will be coming out Fall 2021! I will save the cookbook process/writing/research for another blog post.
Amongst all the pandemic madness, I have been so happy to see so many of my Instagram friends coming out with cookbooks, against all odds, despite the situation and keeping people happy with their wonderful creations, and challenging them to try things that they have never tried! I have 3 cookbooks that I have been eagerly waiting for:
Pie Style by Helen Nugent
Piometry by Lauren Ko
Baked to Order by Ruth Tam
I have been following them on Instagram for the longest time, and am so proud and happy for them, to have come out with their beautiful first cookbooks!
This blog post is dedicated to a recipe that I created from Pie Style, from Helen’s first cookbook! I have been following Helen for a while now, and from the very beginning, when I first shared her gorgeous pie on my stories, I have been mesmerized by her creations. She puts so much thought and intricacy in each of her wonder creations. Helen takes inspiration from nature around her, or scenes around her to create her gorgeous pies. She has made many pies for Food Network CA, and her Christmas pies are simply the best! There was an ugly sweater pie that she had made last year or two years ago, and that was just so beautiful and intricate with all the patterns, and designs on it, each item meticulously done! So when I heard she is coming out with a cookbook, I was so happy and ecstatic for her!
The book is available on Amazon, linked here. The book is divided by the following sections:
The Pie Doughs
Field and Forest Inspirations
Braid: Twist and Weave Patterns
Essential Pie Skills and Decorating Techniques.
I love how Helen has divided the chapters. And each chapter is dedicated to inspiration for a particular element. The description and details in each recipe are really well written. Each recipe has measurements in cups and grams, but to get the BEST RESULTS, I would HIGHLY SUGGEST using GRAMS. Have a small weighing scale at home. It is not expensive, and you can get guaranteed results for a particular recipe. The first chapter Pie Dough has different kinds of dough that are used in the book such as Everyday All-Butter Pie Dough, Flaky Butter-Shortening Pie Dough, Sweet Tart Dough etc. Each recipe explains how to make the designs, and all the instructions are very detailed so you can get a perfect pie and skills of Helen, in your creations as well! She helps you and walks you through the skills.
I love making pies. There is something so therapeutic and satisfying in the slow process of pies, and how each step is its own thing and it is a journey to get to the final destination, and enjoy the fruits of your labor. It is like an aha moment! I do not make them often enough, because I always feel, who will eat the pie? So unless there is an occasion or a party, I usually stick to making other kind of desserts. I love the whole braiding, decorating process that is involved in pie making. I love how the crust gets so flaky, and how it is kind of satisfying to eat the pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and some sauce drizzled on the top. It is an experience, that is meant to be savored and enjoyed.
PIE DOUGH and HOW I MADE IT:
The recipe I have here, uses the Everyday All-Butter Pie Dough. I made the Christmas Gift Apple-Blackberry Pie. I thought that this pie was so appropriate for this holiday season. I love how festive it looks, and adorable the decorations are and how it brought a smile to my face when I saw this pie. For the crust recipe, there is a recipe for 2 pie crusts, and 1 pie crust. Since the recipe I was making required 3 pie crusts, I combined the measurements and made the 3 pie crusts in one bowl itself rather than making it twice. So I got 3 discs out of the measurements that I put into the bowl. I did not use a food processor like the instructions mentioned. I was lazy to remove the food processor and clean it.
So I got a large bowl, and used just that one bowl to create the 3 discs of pie dough. I used a pastry cutter, that cuts through the cold butter, to make it into pea sized butter bits, so that you can get a wonderful flaky crust. The pastry cutter is a very useful tool that can be used for whisking the flours as well. I love how inexpensive it is and so useful. A tool that I have in my kitchen and love. The dough comes together very quickly. When the dough it in the fridge, I made the filling.
So I did not have enough blackberries for the pie, per the quantity mentioned, so I improvised and used raspberries in the pie. The color of the filling was such a pretty magenta and the taste of the filling was impeccable.
After I made the filling, I went on to rolling the first pie crust. I rolled it out such that I can line the 9 inch square tart tin that I had with the pie dough. I layered it and then I let it rest in the fridge, while I worked on the decorations NEXT.
DECORATIONS, and ASSEMBLY:
The decorations were so fun to put together. I followed Helen’s detailed instructions to create the decorations. For whatever I did not have, I improvised. I did not have star cutters, so I used the snowflake cutters that I had. If you do not have either, you can cut out your own stars, by using a sharp knife. For the ornaments, I did not little cutters, so I simply used a steel straw that I had, and used the end to make round indentations on the cute ornaments. For the leaves, I free formed it and again used a sharp knife and cold pie dough to make the leaf cut outs. For the holly leaves, I had a pie stamp for a holly leaf which made it a bit easier to stamp them out. I used quarter sheet pans to layer the decorations and put them in the freezer to set, while I worked on the 3rd pie crust.
The 3rd pie crust was simply rolling it out and then I started the assembly of the pie. Again I followed instructions provided in the book, and used the pie dough to cover up the filling. For the egg wash, I added a teaspoon of sugar, something I learnt in an intensive Lamination class that I had taken a while ago. The sugar helps to caramelize and give the crust a beautiful golden look. After egg wash of the pie dough covering, I started putting the decorations on. Once I was done the pie looked so very pretty! I did not feel like baking it off haha! I froze the pie dough, by first freezing it for an hour, and then covering it properly with plastic wrap twice, and putting it in the freezer.
I baked it off after 2 days, and I had to simply bake it for a bit longer since it was coming out straight from the freezer.
We enjoyed the pie for Thanksgiving, with vanilla bean ice cream and freshly made caramel sauce – courtesy of moi! The Pie was so damn delicious and the dough was so very flaky!! We LOVED OUR DESSERT and there was silence for a good 5 minutes, no talking, everyone immersed in their bowls, enjoying the blissful experience! We ate it over the next 2 days and everyone of us was happy we got to have pie even after thanksgiving!
I wanted to emphasis that the design stayed intact! It is very important to keep the pie cold when putting it into the oven for the designs to stay intact!
For more wonderful designs, and inspirations, you MUST buy Helen’s gorgeous cookbook, it is one for keeps and such a wonderful collection of recipes! Congratulations HELEN! You can even get more recipes from her blog here!
Hope you have a wonderful holiday season this December. It will be small, it will not be the same, but we all must look at the positives and make memories with what we have, so that this year goes down as the year when we were the most appreciative of what we have, and learn to live in whatever circumstance and path God threw in front of us.