Archive for the ‘Pies/Tarts’ Category


Or is it a finger in every pie? I’m not sure and who cares because these hand pies are outrageously delicious!

The host for the June Daring Bakers Challenge is Rachael from Pizzarossa and she asked everyone to roll out the crust and bake some pie. I urge you all to go visit her site for some wonderful pie ideas. The crack pie (from Milk Bar fame) is really a winner, but it should be called fat pie since that is what happens when you can’t stop yourself from eating it. |I really love baking pie and had a lot of grand ideas of all the pies I would make this month. Except that life got in the way. I was baking croissants like crazy for a school function and have been baking a lot of vegan food for a close friend. I then developed a nasty sinus infection which was accompanied by a headache that wouldn’t stop. And the flood (and state of emergency). So I had to let a few things slide. Like Pie. I think I will make a plan to bake a pie once a week this summer. There are a lot of recipes out there to try , and to invent.  In particular, I own a book called “Farm Journal’s complete pie book” published in 1965 which contains 700 pie recipes that I would love to tackle. Maybe not all 700 but a few at least…. So on the pie (s) I did bake.  Luscious Saskatoon berry hand pies. DSC_2733

Never heard of a Saskatoon berry? Neither did I until I moved to western Canada. They are similar to a blueberry but with a little huckleberry flavor thrown in. Not too sweet and very fleshy too (where a blueberry is more squishy). I love them because when you cook them they still hold their individual shape instead of popping and turning into one big mass. I had to empty out my freezer last week and found some hand picked Saskatoon berries (courtesy of my friend Heidi) from last fall. Oh, the excitement. If you are lucky enough to find frozen Saskatoon berries at the market, buy them!  Fresh or frozen blueberries would work just as great. You know what? ANY fruit would work great in this recipe.

Okay, so what’s the big deal about pie anyway? Well, it’s all in the crust. Which is why so many people are afraid to make it. A bad crust is well, bad, but a great crust is heaven. My advice? try a few different recipes until you find the one that you are comfortable with and then make it a bunch of times. All of sudden pie dough is really simple to make and to handle. The best tip of all? Have everything cold. It makes the whole process so much easier. Now, there are MANY dough recipes out there. Really flaky pie crust is achieved using lard or shortening while a rich pate brisee is made using all butter. A good medium is using half shortening and half butter. Whatever you are using cut it up into small pieces and place in the freezer for about 30 minutes first. Remember, cold. I personally like to use ice cold vodka instead of water in my dough. I believe it makes a better crust (along with a little vinegar). Pie dough comes in all shapes and sizes though; crushed cookies mixed with butter, oil based dough, cheese based, coconut, chocolate, meringue, pretzel crumbs, crushed cereal…. you get the idea. Any special equipment? While a food processor makes the entire process take just about 1 minute, a pastry cutter works great too. Two butter knives work just as well, it just takes a little while longer to cut the fat into the flour. Pie dough also freezes quite nicely, so when you make some it’s not a bad idea to prepare some extra and wrap well to place in the freezer for a later use.  I remember my mom always taking the scraps of pie dough and smearing them with butter and cinnamon sugar to bake off in the oven as a treat for us kids. Memories… like the corners of my mind….

This particular pie dough is made with flour,  butter, sour cream and a touch of baking powder. No liquid. The “letter folding” technique when you roll out the dough also makes such a tender, high and flaky pastry. It really is divine. Bake On!!

Pastry Dough

  • 2 cups (8.8 oz/ 241 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (16 tablespoons/8 oz /227 g) cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup(4 oz/ 113 g) cold sour cream


  • 2 Cups (8 oz/227g) Saskatoon berries, fresh or frozen (or blueberries/blackberry/raspberry)
  • 1/4 Cup (1 3/4 oz/50g ) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant tapioca (or cornstarch or instant clear- gel)
  • 3 teaspoons lemon juice

* 1 egg (beaten) and some sanding sugar for the topping . This step is optional but the egg wash gives the pastry a lovely golden color when baked. The sprinkling of sugar is purely decorative but a nice touch.


Make the pastry dough:

Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add the butter, working it  to make a coarse mixture. Leave most of the butter in large, pea-sized pieces. If using a processor use the pulse button to cut the butter in (The somewhat large pieces of cold butter will create steam when it goes in the oven which makes for a flaky pastry).DSC_2717 Stir in the sour cream. The dough will be crumbly. Don’t panic. . Turn it out onto a floured work surface, and bring it together with a few quick kneads.

Roll it into an 8″ x 10″ rectangle. Dust both sides of the dough with flour, and starting with a shorter end, fold it in three like a business letter. Flip the dough over, give it a 90° turn on your work surface, and roll it again into an 8″ x 10″ rectangle. Fold it in three again.

Wrap the dough, and chill for at least 30 minutes before using.



Make the filling:

Place all the ingredients in a small pan set over medium heat. Cook until the mixture starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Pour into a clean bowl and let cool to room temperature.


Preheat the oven to 425°F; place a rack on the middle shelf. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Take the dough our of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes so it is easier to handle. Roll the dough into a 14″ x 14″ square.  Cut out sixteen 3 1/2″ squares.DSC_2729

 Divide the filling among eight of the squares, using about a heaping tablespoon for each. Brush some of the beaten egg along the edges of each filled square. Cut a little vent into the each of the remaining eight squares so that steam can escape while baking. Top each filled square with a vented square, and press firmly  along the edges with the tines of a fork  to seal.  Transfer the pies to a parchment lined baking sheet. Place into the refrigerator for 15 minutes before baking.  Brush the top of each pie with the remaining beaten egg, and sprinkle with sparkling sugar.


 Bake the pies for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cool for at least 20 minutes before serving or you will scald the roof of your mouth. Enjoy!



This amazing recipe is from King Arthur Flour. Can I tell you how much I would love to work in their test kitchen….


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National Pie Day

Since today is national pie day, I thought I would get in the spirit and bake a little pie. I mean that literally. A 9 inch pie is just too much for just us without company coming over, so I made 12 mini pies so we could give some away. With a pie crust in the freezer (see, things like this do come in handy), and a regular muffin tin, this was quite quick to put together.  If you don’t have a large, round cutter, you can flip a small bowl over and use that as your template. The crust should only come halfway up the sides of the muffin cup, unless you want a very deep dish pie.

So, do you part and bake a pie today… or at least eat one. Bake On!

Chocolate Banana Coconut Pie

Makes one 9 inch pie or 12 small pies

You will need one recipe for flaky pie dough. (you will need 1/2 this recipe)

Chocolate Ganache:

3/4 Cup (6 oz) heavy cream
6 Ounces Bittersweet chocolate
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until almost boiling and then pour over the chocolate. Let this sit for 3 minutes. Whisk together until smooth and creamy (this will take less than a minute), then stir in the extracts until well blended. Set aside to set up for 30 minutes (my pie crust was thawing during this time).

*Preheat your oven to 350F*


1/4 Cup (2 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 Cup (4 oz) dark brown sugar
1/2 Cup (4 oz) granulated sugar
1/2 Cup (4 oz) whole milk
2 small, very ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 1/2 Cups (6 oz) sweetened shredded coconut

Beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the egg, milk ,mashed bananas, and vanilla and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. It will look slightly curdled- don’t worry. Stir in the coconut. Set aside.


Roll out you pie to 1/8 inch thickness and cut out twelve 4 inch circles. Press each circle into a muffin space so it is evenly and firmly in the bottom well. It will be halfway up the sides.

Drop a tablespoon’s worth of the chocolate ganache into each little pie shell.

Cover with a very large spoonful (about 1/4 cup) of the coconut filling. When you use up all of the filling, each of your little pie shells will be very full. That is what you want; the filling will settle as it bakes.

Place in your preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes . Let cool completely. Run a sharp knife around the edges to loosen before taking them out of the pan.

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