Patriotic Blueberry Pie

What's red, white, blue and delicious all over? Why, blueberry pie in a red dish!

We love pie in our family. Mix fruit with buttery, crispy dough and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and we're pretty stoked. But, sometimes I've got to mix it up - even if all that means is altering the expected shape. I've read a bit about slab pies lately and the idea of more crust really appeals but for this one I just used a regular-sized crust recipe (thanks, once again, to Allison Kave!) and baked it in a square dish. The recipe will work for one double-crust round 9" pie, as it should!

Of course, if you don't have a red dish to bake in, you could add a handful of raspberries or strawberries to make this a patriotic dessert. Or skip the color palette and simply dig in!

Happy Independence Day to you and yours!



Blueberry Pie

Crust (from Allison Kave's First Prize Pies)
1 C butter, cold and cubed
1/2 C milk
1 T apple cider vinegar
3 C flour
1 T cornstarch
3 T sugar
1-1/2 t kosher salt

4 C blueberries, washed and air-dried
1/4 C sugar
1/4 C flour
1 T lemon juice 
(Just place this all in a bowl and toss to coat the fruit. Set aside.)

1. Place the flour, cornstarch, sugar and salt into your food processor (or a bowl) and pulse several times to mix (or whisk until blended).
2. Add the butter and pulse about 5 times until the mixture is coarse but dry (if using a pastry blender or knives, chop away until you reach the same basic consistency).
3. With the motor running, quickly add in the milk and vinegar and only process until the mixture comes together - like 2-4 seconds. (If doing this in a bowl, pour wet ingreds in and mix by hand until it comes together). 
4. Divide the dough in half, form into round circles, press into discs and refrigerate, covered at least one hour.
5. Preheat your oven to 425.
6. Roll the discs into circles one at a time. Place one in the bottom of a buttered pie diss and poke with a fork 3-4 times. Drop in the fruit and place the second crust over top. Slice a couple of slits into the top crust to allow steam to escape. Oh, and you could brush on one T milk and sprinkle a little turbinado or muscado sugar on top for effect.
7. Place onto a baking sheet and put into the oven at 425 for 15 minutes.
8. After 15 minutes, turn the oven down to 350 and continue to bake for 30 minutes more.
9. Remove your glorious pie from the oven and let it cool on the counter for an hour. Dollop with ice cream, whipped cream or whatever else you like and enjoy!

Dad's Favorite Sour Cream Coffee Cake

So... what is everyone doing for Father's Day? Here's my idea: I make a cake so delicious, the scent of cinnamon and butter wafting through the house, that after my husband gobbles a slice or two, he kind of... forgets it's Father's Day. Maybe he floats around, offers to take the kid out and give me a little time on my own. Perhaps while they're out he's dreaming of what else I might bake up for him and it fills his heart with joy that I make these love-filled treats for myself him. While I, loving wife that I am, get a pedicure - or, better, a massage - putting myself in the best mood possible. Because what better gift is there to a man on Father's Day than a fun-loving, super-sharp kid and a happy wife? I think NOTHING. 

If I make this cake, I have a shot at getting that alone time. And, you do, too. It's not the least labor-intensive breakfast, but it's not the most, either. If your family is like mine, they'll eat this for breakfast, lunch and or dinner. Best of all, they'll feel the love with every buttery-crumbly-brown-sugary bite. 

Enjoy on Father's Day or any day. And, sincerely, THANK YOU to all the dads out there for all the blood, sweat and tears they give our families every single day. You guys are amazing and we couldn't do it without you. 

Now, go spend time with your kiddos, dammit!



Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Serves 8

1 C chopped, toasted walnuts
3/4 C whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 C dark brown sugar
1/2 C granulated sugar
2 T cinnamon
2 T unsalted butter, cold

1. Mix flour, sugar, 1/4 C brown sugar and cinnamon and process or whisk until combined. Set aside 1-1/4 C of this nutless streusel mixture to place in the center of the cake. 
2. Add the butter, toasted walnuts and remaining brown sugar and process or blend until you've got a bowl of pea-sized bits. Set aside while you assemble the cake.

3/4 C butter, cubed
4 eggs
1-1/2 C sour cream
1 T vanilla
2-1/4 C flour
1-1/4 C sugar
1 T baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t sea salt
1. Preheat your oven to 350 and butter a 10" springform pan. If you don't have a springform pan, just make sure you line your pan with parchment and then butter over that. Also make sure the sides are at least 2" high or else your cake will spill over. 

2. Combine the eggs, 1C sour cream and vanilla. Set aside. 

3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt until blended. Add the butter and 1/2 C sour cream and mix until crumbly. Increase the speed for 30 seconds to combine more thoroughly. 

4. After scraping down the sides of your bowl, slowly drizzle the egg/sour cream/vanilla mixture until it's mixed in. Then, scrape the bowl again. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and beat for one minute. The batter will lighten and fluff up. 

5. Pour about 3 C batter into your pan and smooth the surface with your spoon or spatula. 

6. Sprinkle the nutless streusel over the batter. 

7. Gently pour the remaining batter into your pan and sprinkle the nut-streusel over top. 

8. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched. Cool 2 hours and slice to serve. 

Strawberries and Cream Cake

“Assumptions are dangerous things to make, and like all dangerous things to make -- bombs, for instance, or strawberry shortcake -- if you make even the tiniest mistake you can find yourself in terrible trouble. "― Lemony Snicket, The Austere Academy

I might not go that far, but I will say that the first cake I made for this post was a disaster. Thus, the quote seemed fitting. I had tried to make a very large shortcake (lots of butter, less sugar) to no avail. The darned thing cracked in a million places and, frankly, was just too rich with all that cream on top. One thing I am, though, is tenacious and so I resolved to try this strawberries and cream cake thing again.

Besides, shortcakes are a dime a dozen. You can buy them in the supermarket in packets that are usually placed directly next to the berries. I wanted a cake cake. Something we could cut into and serve like a proper celebration sweet. This, I discovered, is not all that easy when one is using whipped cream! The trick, I found, was to fortify the cream with mascarpone (or cream cheese) and to make a cake I like all on its own. After the overgrown shortcake incident, it seemed fitting to use my favorite yellow cake recipe and build on that. From there, I knew I'd be okay because this buttermilk-based cake is so foolproof, I'm pretty sure my 5 year old could make it to great success.

The cake is delicious and the berries needed very little of anything. The cream came out lovely and not too sweet. The best part is the the result is pretty much a spring/summer explosion in the mouth. If you're looking to silence your crowd, look no further. 

In some ways, this cake is what my baking journey is all about. Finding trustworthy recipes that home cooks like myself can make successfully and then tweaking them to suit my - and your - fancy. I hope you make this one, add whatever suits your fancy to it and then tell me all about it in the comments!



Strawberries and Cream Cake

Buttermilk Cake
Makes three 8" layers

1 C butter, at room temp
1-3/4 C sugar
3 C cake flour
3 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
4 large eggs, at room temp
2 t vanilla (or vanilla bean paste or the seeds from one vanilla bean)
1 C buttermilk (I used lowfat with great results)
Oven to 350. Butter and flour three 8" cake pans and set them aside. 
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and then lightly whisk them together to blend. 
In your stand mixer (or a separate bowl), cream the butter on its own first until it's fluffy and lighter in color than when you started. Then, with the mixer running, slowly pour in the sugar and beat 3-5 minutes more, until the mixture is almost white and very pillowy.Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating them fully and scraping the sides of your bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat quickly. 
Alternating in 3 separate turns, add the flour and mix fully, then buttermilk and mix fully and so on.
Pour the batter into your pans, evenly distributing (as best you can) and bake for 18-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cakes cool fully - at least 2 hours at room temp or 45 minutes in the freezer.

Mascarpone Whipped Cream
Makes enough to fill 3 layers
8 oz. Mascarpone (or cream) cheese, cold (fridge temp is fine)
1/2 C white sugar
1 t vanilla
2 C heavy whipping cream, very cold

In your stand mixer with the whip attachment, whip the mascarpone or cream cheese with the sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. With the mixer running on low, slowly drizzle the cream onto the cheese mixture. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. Gradually turn the mixer to high and whip the cream and cheese for 2-4 minutes or until stiff peaks stand in the cream when you run a spatula through it. It should be quite firm, like buttercream. If it's not, whip it some more until it is!

Sweet Spring Strawberries
1 qt. strawberries, washed and sliced
1/4 C sugar
1 t lemon juice from a fresh lemon

Gently toss all ingredients and leave covered in your bowl on the counter for 2 hours. The berries will macerate in the sugar and form a liquid. 

Building Your Cake

1. Place one layer of cake on a plate. Spread a thick layer of cream and a big spoonful of berries (if you have a slotted spoon, that's great because the more juice on the top, the more dramatic the cake looks). 
2. Repeat. 
3. For the third layer, do the same thing, but gently pour any remaining strawberry juice evenly over the top just before serving. It'll make nice waterfalls around your cake and add to the pretty!

If you have time, refrigerate the whole thing for 30-40 minutes before serving. If not, slice with the sharpest knife you've got.