Posts filed under: ‘Pie‘

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I have a number of colleagues who are foodies and I spent a fair amount of my “water cooler” chat discussing sweets and baking endeavours.  Today I gave some tips about icing a cake, later on the security personelle and I discussed pies and puddings.  Lemon Meringue came up and I realized I’ve never made one!! Dare I admit?! A study of lemon merignue is soon to come.

In this conversation I found myself thinking of my grandmother who was a decorated pie maker, in fact when she passed away her banana cream pie was mentioned in her eulogy.  Her birthday is this month so a banana cream recipe is in our sweet future.

Around midnight as I left work and I popped into a grocery store that was open late I found myself shocked and elated to find rhubarb on display in the produce aisle.  I searched high and low for this red-celery-looking-tart veggie all summer with few results.  Some grocers even looked at me funny when I asked for it.  Its typically in season when strawberries are, in May and June (in New York).  The few times I found it in the blistering summer months my motivation to bake Strawberry Rhubarb Pie did not last far past my trip home, and sadly the rhubarb usually spoiled before I got up the energy to heat up my kitchen in 90 degree weather.

This rare find of Rhubarb sealed the day for me. Lets talk pie!

As I mentioned my rhubarb went bad a time or two before I got around to cooking it.  Then of course it dawned upon me that perhaps a hot summer day isn’t always a pie baking day. But you don’t have to sacrifice your rhubarb.  Chop it up and freeze it! The last strawberry rhubarb I made was at Thanksgiving.

Yeah I know- no one is jonesing for reminders of cold weather or Turkey naps as its finally feeling like spring is here.  There were so many pies at Thanksgiving that my father joked that each of us could have one to ourselves.

Sure fresh fruit is always preferred, but using frozen fruit doesn’t change any of your preparations in making the pie. By the way I really like the freezer bags that ziplock makes– you can suck the air out of the bag and lengthen the life of your goods in the freezer–saving them from freezer burn.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie


Rhurbarb, sliced

Strawberries, hulled and sliced (hulled means de-stemmed)

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 c cornstarch

1/4 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients.  If you are working with frozen fruit allow the fruit to thaw or warm over low heat before adding sugar and cornstarch.  Simmer all ingredients over low heat until thickened.  With frozen fruit you will be dealing with higher water content, so thickening might take a little longer. Remove from heat and refridgerate until ready to use.


This crust recipe came from SmittenKitchen and I absolutely love the recipe. Click that link because the pictures and instructions are GREAT!

2 and 1/2 c flour

1 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

2 sticks (8 oz) very cold unsalted butter, sliced into tablespoon sized pieces

1 c ice water

Add cubes to water and set aside.  Combine Flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl– the extra room is important for the mixing process.  Add butter and blend with your pastry blender– you can get these anywhere and if you want a blue ribbon in pie– you need one!  (I got a great one at Target that also included a pie server, and pastry wheel.

A key to a wonderfully flaky pie crust, as suggested at smitten kitchen is visible chunks of butter. By using a pastry blender you are layering the butter between thin sheets of flour– key to allowing the steam production (butter melts and emits steam that puffs the flour) rendering a flaky crust. Once the butter and flour are combined and appear to be almost chunky– the size of peas add water.

Switch the pastry blender out for a spatula and start to pour the ice water over the dough. You may need some additional water, though I found that the 1 cup was adequate. Fold with the spatula, then knead with your hands for a minute, no more. Once combined wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  This recipe makes enough for a double crust pie, or 2 single crust pies.  Its ideal to split the dough in two and wrap separately. Refridgerate for at least an hour prior to rolling out.  You can also freeze it if you are planning to use in the future.

Rolling the dough:  If you’d like to save on the mess factor feel free to lace two large sheets of plastic wrap on the counter and roll. I, however, don’t mind making a huge mess.  Flour your clean countertop.  Knead dough to warm slightly, making the dough easier to work with.

Shape into a circular mound.  Start by placing your rolling pin in the center of the dough.  Work evenly out to the top and bottom of the dough, then side to side.

I typically just pick the dough up and rotate it 90 degrees.  (roll top to bottom, then rotate 90 degrees, and  repeat.) This ensures that the dough isn’t sticking– re flour if you need to, and its not as awkward with your arms.  The dough will receed slightly as you roll it but be patient.

To determine if the dough is big enough to cover your pie plate. Set the plate (face down) lightly in the center of the dough to measure– there should be 2-3 inches around the perimeter of your pie plate.  Some folks fold the rolled dough in quaters then unfold in the plate, or you can lightly flour the top surface of the dough, then roll the dough around your rolling pin, unroll across the plate.

Work dough into corners of plate. Cut excess crust at pie plates edge (save and reuse in the future).  Patch any holes that might have torn.

Fold and pinch edges around pie plate. Use your index finger to push dough in between the knuckles of your index and middle finger on your opposite hand.  Fill with filling.

Roll second part of dough.  Thickness for both dough layers should be about a 1/6- 1/8 of an inch. I have misplaced my pastry wheel so instead I used a Wilton Ribbon Cutter and Embosser. It can be a little cumbersome to put together, but it allows you to cut 2 ribbons at once that are even and uniformly measured.  In this case I used the 3/4 inch embossers, with the crimped edge cutter. Make sure you stack enough spacers so that the spacers stop just past the inside piece.  Tighten washer and end cap.  The cutter should roll easily though its tight enough that the cutters and spacers don’t waiver. Use your index finger to press on the washer to steady the ribbon cutter as you roll.

Attach ribbons at the edge and weave ribbon pieces over and under one another.  *You can vary your lattic top appearance by weaving the lattice tightly together, or loosely apart, and of course you can cut the ribbons thicker or thinner.

Paint, using a  pastry brush, with and egg yolk and a tsp or 2 of water.

Bake at 350 for 60 minutes.  The pie is done when the filling begins to bubble. Its always a good idea to place a cookie sheet beneath a pie with a fruit filling so that any bubbling fruit does not bubble over and set off your fire alarm.


Add a comment April 6, 2011

A year in Review…

Wow its been awhile since I’ve posted!  I guess it doesn’t help to mention I had a great piping techinque to show for Mother’s Day (the basketweave) or that I wanted to pay tribute to my dad with his favorite cake for Fathers Day (yellow cake with chocolate frosting)  or that I had about 100 great things to say about strawberries, and had plans to do a whole piece about canning (May and June is starwberry picking season).  Well if you want to see some of the projects that have kept me from posting look in the galleries, as I’ve finally been able to update with some recent photos.

As August comes to an end and my thoughts instinctually turn to sharpened pencils and cozy fall clothes and new starts I realize that this blog is just about 1 year old, give or take a couple of days.  And I got to thinking about what I’ve accomplished, learned, and experienced in the last 365 and 1  quater days…

So here are some highlights: after starting this blog I …

1. Got this blog a spiffy new look. Which was not easy in terms of going back and forth with a designer.  But that designer turned into a good friend, who turned into a fabulous boyfriend, and the web design aint so shabby either.

2. Visited Florida, California, Texas, Rhode Island, and Vermont , some places I’ve been before, some not, all the same some good R and R.

3. Went to a couple of great live hockey games, including a Ranger Game on Valentines Day –I had great seats, even got to sneak some friends down from the bleeders to sit right in front of us. Saw Sean Avery get a great penalty shot, and me and my crew were on the Jumbo Tron.  This was all topped off by the rangers winning the game!!

4. I paid off my car…then I totalled my car, then I got a new car. Paid off the last of my credit cards! And put some cash in savings!

5. Taught over 500 people the fundamentals of cake decorating.  I’ve opened a second store as a Wilton Instructor.  Did some great private work working with large and small groups.  And I have some future demonstrations up my sleeve.

6. I’ve gotten over 20, 000 views on my Youtube channel and yes I will reshoot that annoying video where I say “uhm” apprx 65 times according to one veiwer.  In fact I plan to reshoot “how to make buttercream”, as well as add a video on “how to make italian meringue buttercream”, complete with better angles.

7. I  turned down a couple of jobs decorating including one position at a very famous bakery…with none other than the Cake Boss…sometimes opportunities just aren’t a fit. Began work in a new local bakery close by with lots of great people who allow me to experiment and let my imagination take me where ever it will!

8. Beefed up my portfolio.

9. Saw the yeah yeah yeahs in concert, began learning to sew, Hosted Thanksgiving, got braces 😦 , had a yard sale,  threw a dance party, began collaborating on an illustration project, finally finished all the Harry Potter books, learned some songs on the piano, and Began doing some research for a host of other cake eccentric projects I’ve got cooking (pun intended)…

10. And finally I adopted an adorable german shepard pup named Billie. (like Billie Holiday– shes a girl. See above.)

In the last couple of months my schedule has been bogged down with weddings, summer get-togethers, birthday parties and bridal showers and lots and lots of work. Balancing 3 jobs, private cake projects, and a new dog aint a piece of cake.  But right now I’m looking forward to the things I plan to fill my fall schedule with:

Sewing projects– some I plan to debut here on the Cake Eccentric

Some Continuing Ed classes at a local college– possibly including American Sign Language II– I love ASL

More Teaching!! I took off the month of August after limiting the amount I was teaching this summer.  I’ll be back starting this September with Flowers and Cake Design as well as 2 project classes: Tall Cakes– this is a one time 3 hours class for adults who have completed all the Wilton courses and are hoping for a little additonal training in tiered cakes.  I’m also hoping to add a fun kids class with a back to school theme. Click Current Class Schedule for the official dates and times.

So for a recipe…August is prime picking season for raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries.  Hit up those farmers market stands before it gets too cool.  My favorite farm stand is locate smack dab on the border for New York and Vermont. The smell of fresh, fruits and vegetables is absolutely intoxicating as you walk through the open air shopping.  I’m also a total sucker for the fresh baked pies.  Though kind of pricey they are totally delicious. Fruit of the Forest is my favorite light and mildly sweet, and traditional and hearty. The perfect dessert to usher us from Summer to Fall.

This recipe is from Desserts: A Collection of over 100 Essential Recipes by Parragon Publishing.


1 1/2 c blueberries

1 1/2c raspberries

1 1/2c blackberries

2/3 c sugar

Combine and simmer in a sauce pan over low heat for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.


1 1/2c flour

generous 1/4 ground hazelnuts also called hazelnut meal

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter cut into pieces plus more for greasing the pie dish

2/3 c sugar

4 tb milk

finely grated rind of one lemon

1 egg yolk beaten

Sift flour, then add hazelnuts.  Crumble butter in with your fingers or pastry mixer until mixture looks like bread crumbs. Add sugar and mix.  Then add 3 tb milk, egg yolk, grated lemon rind.  Once dough is uniform knead briefly on a lightly floured surface.  Wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll 2/3 dough and drape over grease 8″ pie dish.  Trim extra dough over edges.  Fill with berry mixture. Lightly dampen dough edge with water.  Roll remaining dough and place over pie pinching edge.  Make 2 slits in center of pie.  optional: use any ramaining dough to decorate pie top.  Roll and use decorative cookie cutter to create design.  Brush with remaining tablespoon of milk and bake at 375 for 40 minutes.

Serve with whipped cream or my favorite ice cream.

**The Fruit of the Forest at Patties Patch contain peaches and strawberries as well so feel free to go nuts.

1 comment September 1, 2010

The Best Pumpkin Pie Ever

Between hosting Thanksgiving and starting a new round of decorating classes this almost 2 weeks have gone by without a post!!  Speaking of classes the January schedule is out.

I found this recipe in a Martha Stewart Living magazine last year.  Since then I haven’t quite been able to locate it on her site so all the more reason to post.  It is I’ve been told my many who’ve eaten it…the best Pumpkin Pie EVER!!

Why?  Well this Pumpkin Pie recipe features one big difference, no pie crust.  Instead the crust is made from Baklava!!  And its soooo good.

One of the reasons its taken me so long to post this is that I’ve been working on an amendment to this recipe– Making miniture pumpkin bakalava pies, though I suppose that would render them tarts.  Its still a work in progress.  I was hoping for beginners luck on Thanksgiving.  They came out well enough, except that they wouldn’t come out of the baking sheet…too much sugar.  It did not, however, stop anyone on of my guest from picking up a spoon and scooping them out.

Caught red handed Itzy!

Heres the regular sized recipe

Walnut Oatmeal Streusel

3/4 c old fashioned oats

3 oz  finely chopped walnuts

7 tbsp flour

1/4 tsp salt

6 tbsp packed light brown sugar

3 tbsp unslated butter

2 tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine oats, walnuts, flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Melt butter in a sauce pan and whisk in honey.  Pour in oat mixture.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Spread streusel onto sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes, flipping occasionally.  Streusel will be golden brown. Let cool on a wrack.  Streusel stays good wrapped for up to 3 days.

Baklava Crust

1 c granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

17 sheets of phyllo

1 1/2 sticks butter melted,

Walnut Streusel

Working with phyllo dough can be a little difficult t.  Try to work fast so that the phyllo doesn’t dry out, but don’t make the mistake (like I did) by getting it wet with water…it just gets gummy. Covering what you aren’t using with a dry dish cloth can keep it from drying out.  Unroll phyllo from packaging.  Martha says to trim to the measurements of 8.5″x 13.5 ” I simply sliced off a column of phyllo about 4 inches wide and 10 inches tall.   A pastry cutter, or a pizza cutter works.

Combine sugar and cinnamon.  Brush phyllo with melted butter, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.  Add streusel to top half of phyllo.  Fold phyllo over top.  Brush with butter.  Place in pie dish.  Martha suggests folding corners beneath phyllo packet and scrunching to form a petal shape.  I simply placed mine against the edge, the ends standing a little taller than the dish.  Repeat, repeat, repeat.  The phyllo packets won’t reach the center of the dish and then out to the edge, so make sure to fill this center space with phyllo packets as well.  Martha says to weigh down the crust with a sheet of parchment paper and dried beans.  Then to cook for 10 minutes till crust is golden brown. Truth be told I totally skip this part when I make it.  But I wanted to stay true to the recipe, so you all at least have the option to skip it.

Pumpkin Filling

1 can ( 15 oz) solid packed pumpkin

1/2 c packed light brown sugar

1/4 honey

3 large eggs

1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk

1 tbsp cornstarch

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp coarse salt

1/4 tsp nutmeg ( freshly grated if you’ve got it)

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 tsp ground ginger

ground cloves

Combine all ingredients…That was easy! and pour over crust.  Bake at 350 for an hour.  Its suggested to tent the edges of crust with foil as the phyllo will brown quickly.  Let cool and serve with left over streusel and honey.

1 comment December 11, 2009

Chasing the Sunset

I love that time of the afternoon on a warm fall day when the sun begins to set. The waning rays of sunlight stretch so far across the horizon that they have a way of making everything: the grass, the trees, the changing leaves, look illuminated from the inside. Like the color saturation knob is turned up full blast right as the sun departs.

I found myself last year at this time of day in the middle of an apple orchard with my very favorite 4 year old, Aela. I had been feeling particularly down that week and for some months prior and I thought apple picking, fresh air and some fresh cider and donuts could easily bring me out of my slump. Though my companion that day was only 4 years old I recall one of my favorite memories of her in that orchard and her imparting a strange wisdom to me.

Once we had jumped off the back of the wagon that brought us to the trees I found it funny that Aela, wasn’t overly concerned with picking fruit. After a trip back and forth to the basket she was more content to find a nice shiney apple and sit next to me on the side of hill and look out across the brimming sunset. She talked to me then about what she wanted to be for Halloween. I assumed I’d hear about an anticipated princess or mermaid costume. She instead told me that she would be dressing up like God. Hmmm? I thought. Aela went on to tell me that she thought God was a girl (I assure this is her own belief and not her parents.), that she wore very pretty dresses, and that sometimes, though it was sad for us on Earth, this party dress clad diety called people to live with her in Heaven in her big beautiful house.

I liked how simply Aela described life, God, and that somehow in her short 4 years she already knew the importance of not picking as many apples as one could, but to instead sit and admire an orchard at sunset and appreciate a finely ripened fruit. I think we learn lessons all the time from all sorts of people whether or not we want to. So to celebrate the end of apple picking season, and to commence Thanksgiving week here is an apple pie recipe, to remind us all to take a slice of life and to slow down and enjoy the sweet things.

This recipe comes from The Taste of Home Cookbook, and was submitted by Mrs. Woodrow Taylor.

German Apple Pie


1 1/2 c flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 c shortening (somtimes I thrown in some butter with this

1 tsp vanilla extract

2-3 tbsp ice water

Combine flour and salt and cut shortening in with pastry blender.  Add vanilla and water.  Kneed with your hands once dough forms a ball.  Roll out to about an 1/8 ” thick.  Using a rolling mat will make rolling your crust to the proper circumference.  It also makes transferring your crust to a pie dish easier because you can just throw your arm underneath the mat and flip it into the dish.

Patch any rippsin your crust by pinching small pieces off the edge.  Pinch the edges of the crust to flute.


1 c sugar

1/4 c flour

2 tsp cinnamon

6 c Apples, peeled and sliced chunky 

1 c heavy whipping cream

Combine sugar flour and cinnamon.  Sprinkle a layer on the bottom of the crust, layer sliced apples.  Sprinkle sugar and repeat.

Drizzle heavy cream over pie.  Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 an bake for 50-60 minutes.  Apples should be tenders.  Cool on wire wrack, and store in the fridge.  

Its typically suggested that you use tart apples for apple pie.  Honestly I’ve made this pie countless times with sweet Macintosh apples, and this time in particular I used granny smith.  When I used sweeter apples I found any excuse to dig into a slice of pie.  With the granny smith I found I enjoyed the pie most with a scope of ice cream.  I think all dessert is better a la mode, but the tart apples were best complemented with a scoop of Butter Pecan.

This week will bring biscotti, and the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever had– from the master herself Martha Stewart.

Add a comment November 23, 2009

Up and Coming…

Here are some Posts you can look forward to this week:

Les Croissants— In honor of my halloween costume this year I’ve ben trying to attempt (and they have been several) to make great homemade Croissants.  This french pastry is no walk in the park.

ButterCream Fondant— I’m asked all the time if there are alternatives to the store bought fondant found in most craft stores.  Click on the Marshmellow recipe I posted last month or try this easy recipe for a shiney fondant.

Biscotti— I just recieved my advanced copy of Vegan Cookies Invade Your Jar.  I’ll go through a few traditional recipes and give you my review of some non-diary, no-egg options.

Apple Pie— Thanksgiving is in a few short weeks, and as the leaves continue to change and fall from the trees the Apple Picking season is ending soon.  Stay tuned for a great German Apple Pie recipe.

Pin Up CupCakes— A little recipe inspired by my favorite pin-up of all time–Marilyn Monroe.

Add a comment November 9, 2009

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The Cake Eccentric

Sugar, Frosting, and Fondant: an artistic exploration of Cake and other Sweets