This year’s occurrence of the geeky new tradition, Pi Day, coincided with a rare snow day in the Northeastern U.S. and I had an unlikely opportunity to throw myself into a little baking to celebrate.
Cherry Pi’s – As individual, hand pies with a pate brisee crust, which I admit I completely underappreciated before now.
Fancy Meat Pi – This one uses my favorite, old fancy game pie mold. As with other times, I used a challah dough instead of the traditional, boiled water crust due to the spouse’s preference. This one has a chicken stew inside. I think any future instances will include a gravy on the side (per my preference, at least) – or at least more of a robust moat than the puddle that appears in this picture.
Posted in Fruit, Holidays, Other Desserts, Pastry, Savory, Themed
Tagged fancy meat pie, fancy pie, Geek, Holidays, meat pie, Pastry, pi, pi day
This weekend presented me with a low-pressure opportunity to try some creative things that were new to me.
Some were spectacular, visual failures, and others turned out relatively acceptable.
I did learn a lot of things along the way, though, so it was still time well spent.
Relatively Acceptable (It’s always fun when your baking project is staring at you…)
If I want to pipe softer edges and points, I should probably try a French meringue instead of a Swiss meringue next time, though sometimes that can be mitigated post-piping by a clean, damp finger (which was how the bunny tails wound up rounded instead of spiky).
- I totally want to do more ganache.
- Ganache or chocolate frosting. The flavor difference is too negligible/nuanced to be worth the time to make two different things.
- Raspberry jam (hot) coating a chocolate cake before ganache/frosting? Yes, please!
- Always have a back-up plan. – OK, I already knew this, but this weekend totally reinforced that for me.
F@&% it. I’ll just make brownies.
It was getting late in the evening, the night before I’d committed to “bake something” (well, yeah…) for a little brunch with friends the next day. I can’t well recall what had kept me busy all day, but it was something, legitimate, that sapped my energy and left me reaching for an easy fallback after tucking the little ones into bed.
Once committed, I found myself starting to rise to the occasion when I made the pivotal realization that, just because I’d chosen brownies, that didn’t mean I was locked into the traditional, plain rectangle. Soon after that came the admission that brownies seem dressier with frosting, but that I would, personally, have a lot more fun whipping up an Italian meringue than making a buttercream.
A solid plan started to take shape.
Some guesswork landed me the three, graduated pans that seemed to best fit the (luckily forgiving) recipe.
I wanted to capture a toasted coconut marshmallow flavor and texture, so I popped each layer for few minutes under the broiler as I assembled it – though I goofed by not accounting well enough for the ever increasing height. (A torch got me back on track.)
A bit of a sugar bomb, but at least a pretty one…
I got to have some fun making a cake themed around a Nerf birthday party.
I struggled on a creative direction, but decided to go more traditional.
In my renewed adventures with yeast, I got to try out something that’s been intriguing me from a cook book I’ve had for a few years.
It was described as an Algerian bread for Shabbat, though some quick, additional web searching indicated it’s often an Easter bread as well. If you’re looking for something just a little different from the norm for either occasion (though still eggy and sweet like the old stand-bys) this might just be the thing for you.
Since it has a bit of orange zest in it, it reminded me of a light panettone. The recipe indicates filling it with jam is “optional”… Snerf.
While the shape isn’t terribly difficult to make (a flattened orb, where kitchen shears make quick work of the cuts around the perimeter), it manages to really stand out on the buffet.
Without realizing it then, it was the first time in recent memory that I’d made a bread by hand from the beginning (without any early assistance from my bread machine, or even a mixer) and it still came out great.
The hole I’d created when I added the jam opened back up during baking (I swear it was totally closed when I put it in), but even like that it managed to look pretty nifty.