Tag Archives: baking

Christmas Quilted Pastry

More Quilted Pastry! My son loves these. Filling: organic heavy cream, arrowroot powder, ground walnuts, anise, cinnamon, turbinado sugar, organic cherries. A little pre-Christmas spice to get us in the holiday mood. For a holiday we don't celebrate!

For the original Quilted Pastry post, click here.  For the laminated pie dough recipe used in this cookie, click here.

I have been buying produce from the discount carts at Ward's lately. You can tell I am in Florida because everything is pre-packaged. What is up with that, I have no idea. But it occurs at epidemic proportions. Anyway, these organic cherries were massively reduced. They weren't firm for eating but they weren't squishy rotten either. Just a little imperfect here and there. No matter. Baked fruit is forgiving. Cherries, thank you for accepting my apology.

I had leftover pie dough from when I made the pumpkin pie for The Client*. Organic whole wheat pastry flour and organic butter pretty much sum up the ingredients here. For my own family, I rolled it out using organic white spelt.

*By the way, this blog has been graced by The Client’s own remarks! He loved the pie. Thought you should know.



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Recipe : Eggless Pumpkin Pie

Eggless Pumpkin Pie. For The Client. All organic food rules apply.


The Client is back! Not permanently back in my life, but back from some international travel. A few days ago he Facebooked me from India asking if I could have a pumpkin pie ready for him on the 10th, since he missed Thanksgiving. Of course, all The Client’s food rules applied: all organic, whole wheat, sucanat, no soy, no aluminum. As if I would forget!

I am indiscriminately loading pie pics to this post. Since the pie was for sale, there was no slicing it up for the camera. Nevertheless, I will give you whatever I’ve got, including the recipe.



*Laminated Pie Crust Recipe (click here)

The first thing to do is begin the pie dough. even if you are not laminating your pie dough, it is a good idea to make your dough and stick it in the fridge so it is cold when you are rolling it out. The pie dough can even be made a couple of days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. Leftover dough can be frozen for later use.


1 pie pumpkin

1/2 c arrowroot powder

1 cup heavy whipping  cream

2 cups sucanat

big pinch o’ salt

1 tablespoon butter

2 tspn ground cinnamon

1/2 tspn nutmeg

1/2 tspn ground ginger

pinch o’ cloves

1/2 tspn cardamom


1) Wash outside of pumpkin, removing any stickers. Slice in half, bake at 400 on a cookie sheet for about an hour or until a knife easily pierces pumpkin.

2) Remove pumpkin from oven, cool, remove seeds and strings. Much easier to do after pumpkin is cooked than before. Baking of pumpkin can be done hours or even as much as a day ahead of time

3) Preheat oven to 400. Combine in bowl or food processor the scooped out pumpkin and all the other ingredients.

4) Roll out pie dough and press into pie plate.

5) Pour mixture into pie plate, evenly spreading.

6) Put pie in oven. Reduce heat to 350. Bake for one hour. Remove from oven to cool.

7) Serve pie once cooled.

Love my Ikea pie plate!

In the past I’ve baked my pies in a 9″ pyrex pie plate, a new skool Jadeite pie plate and in a Fiestaware pie plate. They are all rather deep dishy. But on a recent voyage to the Swedish Embassy, aka Ikea, I purchased the 11″ SMARTA pie plate for seven dollars and seven dollars ONLY (plus tax). It is more quichey and I have no idea how easily the pie scoops out since I left the honor of cutting to The Client, but I love that it is not as deep. Seems like a more even bake. Next time I get my passport stamped at Ikea, I am definitely picking up a few more of these. The simple white design is perfect for food photographing and the priset är rätt! Also, I’m seriously thinking of stockpiling them for thrifty gifts.

Don’t feel like you can’t repeat pumpkin pie for your Christmas dessert table. As long as they are selling fresh pumpkins in the store, the season is right for this pie!


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Quilted Pastry Bars

Better than pop tarts...

While a French pastry chef I am not, a fridge of leftover this n’ thats inspired me to come up with something a little different, a little divine, a little buttery and a lot perfect. This delicate pastry is subtle and sweet, flaky and fabulous, rich and relishable. I didn’t write up any recipe, but I will surely revisit this in the future, as it was such a hit with the family. Eggless dairy and full vegan recipes to come!

Another use for my leftover laminated pie dough. I generously floured the work surface and the dough and rolled and rolled and rolled. I actually don't think I will be using the pasta maker much anymore, aside for cutting noodles. And entertaining the kids.

More leftovers. I combined half a brick of cream cheese with the cranberry relish leftover from Thanksgiving, nut/spice mixture leftover from baklava + a couple of tablespoons of turbinado and arrowroot powder. Looks frighteningly similar to the pink fluff they used to serve out at lunch in grade school.

The technique I envisioned was the same exact way I make my ravioli. This prompted me to do a Google search for "Ravioli Dolci"--sweet ravioli. Yes, it's out there. But I don't really like the sound of it and honestly, what I had in mind wasn't exactly what Google Image was turning up.

After I spread the filling thinly on one half of the dough, I folded the dough over and got out my ravioli rolling pin. That. I. Love.

As simple as that.

For some reason this strikes me as a very Scandinavian pastry. Finnish? Swedish? I guess it is the fact that I photogged it on a plate from Ikea.

If I was a bit more motivated, I may have gotten up to get my pastry roller. But I am weighted down by this baby, so I just used my dough cutter to break the solid sheet into bars. After baking in the oven at 350 for about 18 minutes, they were nicely golden and crisp. After cooling, I sprinkled with powdered sugar. Obviously. The quilted pastry bars (see, now doesn't that sound all Nordic?) were in puffs of 6 but my daughter had me cut off individual squares for her own eating pleasure.


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Baklava Made from Homemade Spelt Phyllo Dough

Remember the laminated pie dough? Yes, well, there was leftover dough so I promptly wrapped and froze it. I let it thaw in my fridge overnite and today thought I would try my hands at making my own phyllo dough. Especially after my husband looked at me like I was a loon. Ahem.


Initially, I thought to use the pasta maker. The dough was very delicate going through the machine. There was no way I was able to crank it past the 4 setting. The dough just got all wholly and a mess.

This was a lucky roll through 5. As Kate Moss said, "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels." Okay, I think she used the word skinny, but who cares about Kate Moss anyway.

Eventually, I abandoned the pasta maker and just went for rolling it out by hand. Lots and lots of flour was needed to keep the delicate dough from tearing. Flour, roll, flip, repeat. I ended up with papery thin, translucent dough--pretty similar to store bought.

Here are my layers of buttered dough laid out in the baking dish. The filling is ground almonds, cinnamon, cardamom and sucanat.

I baked the baklava for about 40 minutes at 350, until crisp and golden.

Syrup was made from orange juice, water, turbinado sugar and honey. The baklava needs alone time to soak up the syrup overnite, but I took pictures today because, well, tomorrow I am moving on to cooking other things. So...spelt flour baklava looks good enough to me.


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Artisan Bread for Bumbling Fools

A bit of a spoiler putting this gorgeous round loaf at the front of the post, but seeing is believing.

My BFF Padi is becoming famous for her mastery of the 5 minute no-knead artisan bread loaf. I particularly fancy her baguettes. We had a little telepathic love moment yesterday when she whipped up a batch of vegan cranberry shortbread bars whilst I (yes, she’s British) got hot and steamy over some easier than your mama (okay, that was just wrong) artisan bread.

Let’s take a look at what I did. First step, mix your dough! It is best to mix the dough *at least* 12 hours before you plan to bake. However, as I find with pizza crust, the longer you let the scant amount of yeast in your dough ferment, the more flavorful and chewier your finished product will be.

Here is the recipe I used for the bread. Yes, the flour is white.

Easy Artisan Bread

5 cups bread flour/hi-gluten flour

1 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons salt

3/4 teaspoon yeast

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups room-temperature water

*This makes a very wet dough that is difficult to work with! Keep some extra flour on hand for mixing in so that your hands don’t turn into an abominable dough monster. If you have a stand mixer, use that to mix it up real good. If not, incorporate the ingredients all together  with your paws.
*Put the dough in a floured bowl and cover. Set to rise in a warm room for about an hour.  Make sure dough is well wrapped (you can put in a plastic container or cover a bowl with saran). Stick in fridge over nite or for a few days.
*On day you are set to bake, remove from fridge and allow to rise in a warm room for a few hours.
*Everything else you need to know is below the next pic.


Inside the Oven: I preheated the oven on broil with a soapstone tile that I use as a pizza stone and my dutch oven on the bottom rack. After an hour of preheating, I placed the bread dough I had rising on a sheet of parchment inside the dutch oven (parchment included). I then sprayed the top of the bread with Braggs Liquid Aminos and sprinkled sesame seeds on top. Then I carefully pulled up a corner of the parchment and dumped about a half cup of water into the cooker. Steam shot up and I carefully replaced the lid, transferring the cooker back to the oven. Reducing the heat to 475 degrees and turning on my convection for optimal air circulation, I returned in 35-40 minutes to remove the cooker from the oven.

I was happily shocked when I removed the lid (carefully since I am an idiot prone to burns, forgetting that things are skin-threateningly hot). The loaf was beautiful!

The outer crust was rough and flaky. The taste of the Braggs was not at all distinguishable yet I know the spritzing did the bread good.

But what about the inside? I was in love when I cut into this bread. Gainesville bakeries, eat your doughy hearts out!

On a bread high, I decided to give homemade mozzarella a try. It wasn't until I put the milk up that I remembered that my candy thermometer broke. Can anyone recommend one that is not total crap? Anyway, feeling confident I went ahead, hoping I could feel out the required temps needed for cheese making. Talk about hoping against hope. I guess I brought the milk to 90 too quickly, or warmed it past 90. It started to curdle (had citric acid in it). I added the vegetable rennet and carried on. The curd firmed up, but was not firm enough. Something was wrong and Stacia wasn't here to council me through it! The whey was not clear enough, that I know. But was I doomed from my initial heat up? I aborted the mission, undertaken with too much bravado and whimsy, and simply hung my curds in a cheese cloth (cloth diaper, actually), cutting my losses. I squeezed out the way, brayed the curds, kneading in salt and dried Italian herbs, rolled into a log and sliced. Unfortunately, the resulting cheese was too good and I ate a huge sandwich of the stuff--the delicious bread, creamy cheese and utterly flavorless roma tomatoes--despite having no real fire of hunger. Ahhhh, it was good.

Within a few hours, most of the bread was eaten by my kids and I. By the time my husband got home from work, all that was left was a tiny wedge. No worries. It's so easy to make. Tomorrow I will mix a few batches of dough. Some to bake, some to freeze. Just a few weeks left until our 6 pound bun comes out of the oven!


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A Mostly Vegan Thanksgiving

Fresh Cranberry Relish Garnished w/ Lime Zest

Absolutely simple to make, this no-cook prep brings a burst of freshness and color to the holiday table.

I had leftover dough from my won ton experiment. The combination of semolina and rice flour was very pliable but a bit delicate.

I combined the leftover won ton seitan/spinach/ginger mixture with freshly cooked potatoes and spices to create a samosa filling.


This unusually smooth samosa was rolled by my daughter using the semolina/rice flour dough (we made a second batch of dough that was all white flour). When you see them all fried up, this one stands out as a smooth beauty!

I lay my samosas out on parchment paper because I have a very terrible track record of having things stick. I really love parchment paper. And yes, I wash and re-use it.

Samosas--traditional Indian food for Thanksgiving. These took the place of mashed potatoes at our holiday table.

Our hostess, Padi, made these ridiculously good vegan sticky buns. She has perfected the art of buns.

Padi's husband Braj is also excellent in the kitchen. He cooked at a Govinda's restaurant in New Zealand and now he makes his friends delicious things, like this vegan pot pie, whenever the occasion merits.

Adi Gopi brought along the roasted carrots (I know they were made by her because they appeared on the buffet in a FiestaWare bowl). Padi made the roasted root veggies--parsnips being her very favorite and very British signature tuber.

The gorgeous auburn haired hostess, Ms. Padi Sutherland, nurse, student and mom extraordinaire, master of no-knead artisan bread recipes and a damn nice person. Here she is holding a platter of green beans, brought by Adi Gopi (notice the FiestaWare!).

Also on the menu that night: Marmite (England version) based gravy,  vegan turkey roast, 3 pumpkin pies, cranberry shortbread bars, peanut butter cookies and  full dairy whipped cream. Did I miss anything?


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Vegan Cranberry Shortbread Bars : Recipe

Thanksgiving Dessert : Cranberry Shortbread Bars

I was so enchanted by yesterday’s post on The Kitchn for Cranberry Curd Bars that I *had to* attempt a veganized version. Check out that post and just try to tell me those pictures are not magical. Makes me want to dance The Nutcracker or something. Great dessert for Thanksgiving, even better for Christmas.

The challenge though would be the 8 eggs in the recipe. When you get into numbers like that, you just have to know that what you come up with is going to be a variation on a theme and not an exact replica.

*I used too much shortbread, so I am halving my recipe here, which is coincidentally super similar to The Kitchn recipe.

*I didn’t do the jelly technique for the cranberry like the original recipe. Too time consuming for an 8 month pregnant mom of 2 and to be honest, I could use the fiber.

*Have you seen the price of walnuts lately? Ridiculous. Used to be one of the cheaper nuts, now it is way high. I don’t know if this is a seasonal hike or what, but I used almonds and my shortbread is no worse for the crunch.

*Coconut oil. I would have used Earth Balance Buttery Sticks but I only buy it for specific projects and I did that this weekend and now it is all gone. This is not the first time I’ve used coconut oil for vegan baking (cookies and pie crusts) and it works just fine in my opinion. And, I think if you buy it in larger quantities, it is most likely cheaper than the Buttery Sticks. But it doesn’t taste buttery, so your call.

*I don’t refrigerate the crust before baking. What’s that about anyway?

Okay. On to the specifics.

9 x 13 baking pan (I love parchment paper but didn’t use any with this recipe)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

1 c flour
1 c ground nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, etc.)
1/2 c coconut oil
1 tspn lemon juice
1/2 tspn salt

Combine in food processor (make sure nuts ground first). Press into baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.

While the crust is in the oven, make your cranberry topping, which will not be like curd.

3 cups fresh cranberries, minced in food processor
1 cup sugar
2 TBSP lemon juice
pinch salt
1/4 tspn cardamon
1/2 tspn cinnamon
1 can (13.6 oz) coconut milk
1/4 cup arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)

Combine ingredients in a wide bottomed pot with tallish sides. Cook over medium heat, whisking more frequently as cooking progresses–approximately 15 minutes total. Cooking is done when cranberry concoction is bubbling, spitting at you and pulling away from bottom of pan.

When shortbread is done baking in oven, gently spread cranberry mixture on top. Return to oven for approximately 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven, cool. When cooled, refrigerate and then cut.

Garnish with powdered sugar, which will melt into cranberry, creating sweet glaze.

To be cut...


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