Thursday, February 28, 2013

Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie on The Hairpin!

4 and 20 Blackbirds Pie: An illustrated History

Last month, for National Pie Day (not to be confused with International Pi(e) Day, coming in March), Elizabeth and I had a piece on one of my most favorite sites on the interwebs, The Hairpin! It's an illustrated history of the fabled "4 and 20 Blackbirds Pie" which appears in the Mother Goose rhyme Sing a Song of Sixpence. This piece, which features some of my mose favorite illustrations from Elizabeth yet (those blackbirds!), was also the reason that I made that rather odd Stargazy Quail Pie (so THAT explains it!). You can visit the original post on The Hairpin, and read all the lovely and funny (and spam, unfortunately) comments here, but it's also posted below (though sans comments), in case you don't want your web surfing experience to turn into a "diverting Hurley-Burley".

Though there are a few days that claim to be THE “Day of Pie”-- the U.S. House of Representatives recognized “Pi Day” on March 14th, and a second somewhat dubiously decreed “National Pie Day” on December 1st, according to the American Pie Council, today, January 23rd is the actual “National Pie Day.” It was probably chosen so that people have at least one thing to look forward to after the pie-promises of Thanksgiving and Christmas have faded, and you’re left cold and hungry in the depths of mid-winter.

In honor, of this, we present an illustrated investigation and recipe of the legendary 4 and 20 Blackbirds Pie.

We all know the nursery rhyme, Sing A Song of Sixpence, from the classic Mother Goose. This is the first verse of the rhyme as it first appeared in print in the mid-1700s.

Sing a Song of Sixpence,
A bag full of Rye,
Four and twenty
Naughty boys,
Bak’d in a Pye.

In its subsequent publication in 1780, these additional verses were added and the “naughty boys” were replaced by blackbirds.

When the pie was opened,
The birds began to sing;
Was not that a dainty dish,
To set before the king?

The king was in his counting-house,
Counting out his money;
The queen was in the parlor,
Eating bread and honey.

The maid was in the garden,
Hanging out the clothes;
There came a blackbird
And snapped off her nose.
Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie: An illustrated History by Emily Hilliard and Elizabeth Graeber
It’s entirely unclear how those twenty-four devious boys all turned themselves into blackbirds, but one cannot know the ways of the devil. We do know that somehow they managed to and are thus transformed for the rest of all history. Though “four and twenty” may seem a random number to us now, it is actually the most frequently appearing number in Mother Goose, representing, perhaps the 24 hours in a day, or a double dozen, 12 being a fabled number in religion and mythology. “A bag full [of Rye]” may have been an actual culinary measurement, like the teaspoon and tablespoon of today. And though there’s no rye mentioned, blackbirds inside a pie could be a reference to this recipe containing live birds, from the 1549 Italian cookbook Epulario or The Italian Banquet by Giovanni de Roselli, translated into English in 1598.

Make the coffin of a great Pie or pasty. in the bottome whereof make a hole as big as your fist, or bigger if you will. let the sides of the coffin be some what higher then ordinary Pie, which dome. put is full of flower and bake it, and being baked, open the hole in the bottome and take out the flower [flour]. then having a Pie of the bignesse of the hole in the bottome of the coffin aforesaid. you shal put it into the coffin, withall put into the said coffin round about the aforesaid pie as many small live birds as the empty coffin will hold besides the pie aforesaid. And this is to be done at such time as you send the Pie to the table, and set before the guests: where uncovering or cutting up the lid of the great Pie, all the Birds will flie out. which is to the delight and pleasure shew to the company and because they shall not bee altogether mocked, you shall cut open the small pie and in this sort tart you may make many others, the like you may do with a Tart.

This type of surprise pie, or coffin, as they were called, was likely actually made, being related to a genre of Medieval food called solteties, which used illusions in sugar (sound familiar?) and other stunts to impress guests. The live bird pie is later referred to in 1723 by John Nott, cook to the Duke of Bolton, as an antiquated practice with the aim that the birds in flight would extinguish the candles lighting the dining hall and create “a diverting Hurley-Burley amongst the Guests in the Dark”!

Though this sort of wild Hurley-Burley sounds like the makings for a perfect Saturday night, it may not currently be culturally acceptable to insert small life birds into desserts as aforesaid. In lieu of sending you on a wild pigeon chase, here are some ways you can put a bird on it in the modern day:
Illustrated Pie Bird by Elizabeth Graeber
-DO use a pie bird! A ceramic funnel, usually in the shape of a bird, which you insert in the middle of a pie to let steam and juices escape.
Illustrated paper cut-outs for pie
-DO create birds out of paper or modeling clay, attach them to skewers and insert them into the pie.
Illustrated decorated pie crust

-DO cut bird silhouettes out of paper and place them on the pie crust, then dust the entire crust with powdered sugar, letting only the bird shapes remain un-sugared.

-DO (If you dare) make a Stargazy Quail Pie! Recipe here. WARNING: Not for vegetarians or the faint of heart.

-DON’T mold blackbirds out of pie crust dough and bake them in the pie. You will end up with deranged Calvin and Hobbes snowmen-type figures (the 24 naughty boys return!) when the butter melts. Believe me, I’ve tried.

Sources: The Annotated Mother Goose by William Baring-Gould via the American Folklife Center

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Red & Golden Beet and Goat Cheese Tart

Red & Golden Beet and Goat Cheese Tart

Be still my beeting tart! I keep sitting down to write this post, and all I can think of are beet jokes. Are any of them actually good? Beets me. So, yeah, mostly they are all pretty bad. Really bad. Bad-good?

To investigate the merits of beet humor, I dredged up a relic from my past, when I worked in sustainable agriculture and education at the Intervale Center in Burlington, Vermont. As part of that job, I helped develop "Harvest of the Month Packets"-- educational materials for kids and families that focus on a different seasonal crop each month. Each booklet includes various activities and recipes, nutritional information and historical facts, and on the last page, there's always jokes. December's Beet Packet, as I am now reminded, features the obligatory music joke-- Q: Why did everyone dance to the vegetable band? A: Because it had a good beet! Badum ching. There's also a Shel Silverstein penned joke that ups the anty a bit, "What did the carrot say to the wheat? Lettuce rest, I'm feeling beet."

In leafing (get it?) through the pages, I also found a few things I forgot I once knew. For instance, the ancient Romans apparently ate beet greens for their medicinal properties, but consumption of the roots, which we most commonly eat today, was not popular until the 16th century. It seems that the Romans did not know that the beet root itself bears many health benefits. They're an excellent source of potassium, fiber, and folate, which is good for heart-health and contain betacyanin, which is a powerful cancer-fighting agent.

They're also viscerally beautiful, the red ones looking like little hearts, the yellow like fist-size medallions plucked from a pot of gold. Much like the Tri-color Potato, Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese & Rosemary Galette, this recipe, adapted from Martha Stewart, shows off the striking color variation of the vegetable. The beets' earthy flavor and sweetness that almost always takes you off guard, not matter how many times you've had them before, is complimented here by a smooth and creamy goat cheese and ricotta blend, and topped off with fresh herbs. The original recipe calls for thyme, but I think this would actually be better with dill--a fool-proof combination I learned from the Moosewood Cookbook's Russian Cabbage Borscht recipe from Molly Katzen. As you can tell, I'm no real beet poet, so on with the recipe...

Red & Golden Beet & Goat Cheese Tart

Red & Golden Beet and Goat Cheese Tart
Adapted from Martha Stewart's New Pies and Tarts

Makes 1 11-inch tart

Nothing-in-the-House pie crust, halved and sans sugar
1 1/2 lbs. red & golden beets
2 Tblsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
1 lb. fresh goat cheese, room temperature
1/2 c. (4 oz.) ricotta cheese
2 tsp. fresh thyme or dill, finely chopped, plus 1 tsp. whole leaves
1/2 c. fontina cheese, grated

For crust:
1. Prepare half of the Nothing-in-the-House pie crust as per the directions. Chill dough at least 1 hour before rolling out and fitting into a greased and floured 11-inch fluted tart pan. Pierce the bottom of the shell all over with a fork. Place the pan in the freezer for 30 minutes (you may want to start preparing the filling while the tart is chilling).

2. Line frozen tart shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake about 30 minutes, until crust is light golden brown. Remove pie weights and let cool.

For filling:
1. Rinse beets and toss with olive oil and 1 tsp. salt. Place in a baking dish and cover with parchment paper, then tightly with foil. Roast 45 minutes-1 hour until beets are tender. Remove from the oven and once cool, peel beets with a potato peeler or paring knife. Slice into thin rounds.

2. Raise oven temperature to 425 degrees F. In a medium bowl, stir together the goat cheese, ricotta, and chopped thyme or dill (I used thyme but I think dill would be better) until combined. Season with pepper to taste. Spread the cheese mixture on the bottom of the tart shell, all the way to the edges.

3. Arrange the beet slices in concentric circles over the cheese mixture, letting slices overlap slightly and alternative colors. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, fontina, and whole thyme or dill leaves. Drizzle the tart with olive oil. Bake until golden brown, approximately 25 minutes. Serve warm with a green salad.

Red & Golden Beet & Goat Cheese Tart

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Pi(e) Day in D.C. 2013

Washington, D.C. Pi(e) Day 2013 Flyer

It's about that time again... Pi(e) Day Time! Last year we had a wonderful celebration of the House of Representatives-decreed March 14th holiday at St. Stephen's Church benefiting Radio CPR. This year, we're switchin' things up a bit with a Pi(e) Day party at The Dunes to benefit Common Good City Farm, a community-based urban farm in D.C.

Pi(e) Day festivities will include a vast selection of sweet and savory pies donated by a team of home bakers (get in touch if you're interested in contributing), a Pi(e) Walk (walked in circumference of 2piR) where you can win a pie to take home, French pop and soul jams by DJ Dianamatic, live music, and a new addition this year of a full bar! There will also be copies of The Runcible Spoon and PIE. A Hand Drawn Almanac for sale. All of that for a donation of just $7. Find more details via the Facebook event here.

We're still compiling our menu, but the list is looking promising so far with an Aztec Chocolate Chess Pie, Nectarine, Mascarpone & Gingersnap Tart, and a Bourbon Bacon Pecan Pie. If that hasn't sold you, check out some photos, words and videos from Pi(e) Days past here.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Lemon-Hazelnut Tart

Lemon-Hazelnut Tart

There's a place in the Hudson Valley where I like to go. It's on the river, just down the road from Bard College-- a stretch of rolling land with a sprawling old house in various states of repair and disrepair. There's a barn full of giant paper mâché puppets, a medicine wheel in the garden, and a small organic farm with chickens and geese and a flower labyrinth where you can pick-your-own bouquet. It's a place for summer square dances, fall cider pressing parties, any-season friend rendez-vous, and is a little haven of refuge for me and many other friends.

Rokeby is the family home of my friends Marina and Louis, and the sometimes home of their family's relatives and friends, tenants and guests. You never quite know what or who you'll encounter there-- Icelandic experimental musicians, Greatful Dead spin-off band lyricists, Episcopagan ministers.

Despite this element of uncertainty (or perhaps because of it), it's a place where I feel at home, welcomed by Marina and Louis and whoever else is there to sit around the table, help pick beans on the farm, or take a twighlight walk to the river. It's always a special treat when my visit coincides with Marina's mother Rosalind's and her partner Dominick's. We make jokes around the big white farm table in the back kitchen, and have political discussions, a round of Madlibs or Bananagrams, and are treated to Dominick's delicious (and sometimes odd and gelatin-filled) British cooking. I always learn something after a chat with Rosalind, and I always laugh. She has a delightful sense of humor and is also one of the biggest proponents of my pie-making, always dropping not-so-subtle hints and suggesting flavors for what I might bake next and generously offering herself as a taste tester.

Lemon-Hazelnut Tart

Though I wasn't able to make it up to Rokeby for Rosalind's last birthday party, Marina signed her mother up for a Pie CSA as a gift, so though I couldn't be there, at least my pie could. Rosalind, like me, suffers from migraines, so abstains (not like me, though I probably should) from chocolate. Since I was shipping the share, I wanted to make something that could hold up in the mail and as it was for a birthday, I wanted something a little special. I settled on a Lemon-Hazelnut Tart adapted from Smith & Ratliff. I swapped out the corn syrup for brown rice syrup (Rosalind is a nutritionist, and I also try to avoid corn syrup when I can).

The recipe is just perfect. You can't really go wrong with hazelnuts, and the addition of lemon adds a tartness that nut pies are often missing. It also just blows open a whole new category of fruit and nut pies and tarts...I've already tried this with oranges instead of lemons, and you could really use any nut and citrus (or other fruit for that matter) combination. The recipe can also make 5-6 4-inch tartlets instead of a full 8-inch tart. I actually had some filling leftover and extra crust dough in the fridge, so I made a few for tasting purposes (see below).

Lemon-Hazelnut Tart

Lemon-Hazelnut Tart
Filling adapted from Smith & Ratliff, Crust adapted from Dorie Greenspan

For crust:
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp. salt  
9 Tblsp. unsalted butter, cold & cubed  
1 egg yolk

For filling:

6 Tblsp. unsalted butter, melted

2 large eggs

3/4 c. light brown sugar
, packed
1/2 c. brown rice syrup

1/4 c. lemon syrup (1 lemon + 1/2 c. sugar)

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. salt

1 Tblsp. flour

2 c. hazelnuts, toasted, peeled and chopped

For crust:
1. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the cubed butter and pulse to incorporate until the mixture resembles cornmeal and peas. Add the egg yolk and pulse until the dough begins to form together. 

2. Roll out the dough and pat it into your greased and floured tart pan. Freeze the tart shell for about 30 minutes while you prepare the filling. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. 

For filling:
1. First, prepare the lemon syrup by placing 1 c. water and 1/2 c. sugar in a medium saucepan and bringing to a boil over medium heat. Add 1 thinly sliced lemon, and let simmer for about 10 minutes until thick. Remove from heat and strain the syrup into a small bowl, reserving 7-8 of the lemon slices. Let cool.

2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl mix all the remaining ingredients, except for the hazelnuts. Spread the hazelnuts into the frozen tart shell and pour into the filling. Gently place the reserved lemon slices on top of the hazelnut filling.

3. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees F and bake tart until the crust is golden and the filling is set, about 1 hour. Let cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature.

Lemon-Hazelnut Tart

Friday, February 08, 2013

Grapefruit and Pepper Meringue Tartlets & A Practice Space

Grapefruit and Pepper Meringue Tartlets with Witchin' in the Kitchen

So what is it that I'm doing here, I sometimes wonder. Not what I'm doing here on Earth, but what am I doing here on the internet. Ha. I've always imagined myself as some type of luddite, resistant to and wary of digital technologies, and what's lost when things are no longer tacticle and tangible, mediated by screens. I've never stopped shooting film, I still don't have a smart phone, I quit Facebook the first three times I started, and some springtimes I go away to the woods for two months and unplug completely.

So what has happened? Here I am with a Facebook with multiple pages and groups, Twitter, a few Tumblrs (like this one and this one). And then there's this pie blog. Eight years in and I still shy away from the term "blogger." I stumbled upon it by accident, sort of. It was a way for far-away friends to keep in touch, to continue that connection that was initially made over pie in our Ann Arbor kitchens. It's since evolved, and become more of a solo project, and I keep going.

Grapefruit and Pepper Meringue Tartlets with Witchin' in the Kitchen

My friend Morgan says she thinks of her blog as a resume, a presentation of what you can do and what you've done. I like that and sometimes it's that for me. Other times, it feels like an ideal (though unpaid) job-- researching historical background or interviewing others, weaving in personal narrative, writing about something I love, while also getting to work with my hands to make something that actually exists in the world and that I can share with others. If my job could always have those elements, I would be quite content. And other times, I think it's just my own personal recipe catalog.

But another way I like to think about it is as a place for practice. Like a yoga practice, a music practice, or a sports practice-- something we do and maintain regularly, with a "better" goal but not necessarily an end goal. In thinking of it as a practice, it also allows a space for experimentation, for play. For becoming.  In a real sense, it gives me a space to practice my writing and research, photography, and baking. And it also gives me a space and a tool to connect.

Grapefruit and Pepper Meringue Tartlets with Witchin' in the Kitchen

One such connection was through Jess, of the blog Witchin' in the Kitchen. Though we had been meaning to meet for a while--I think we exchanged e-mails over a year ago--we didn't until recently, and the fact that we shared this interest in food and tradition and both had blogs propelled that. A few weekends ago, Jess came over to my kitchen, to work on a blog collaboration and take photos and just visit.

We ended up talking about a lot of these issues I mention above, wondering what a blog--food blogs, our blogs-- are for, what we present to the world and why. For me, and for Jess too, this raises challenging questions of how feminism aligns with our domestic pursuits, of how public voice meets private life (oversharing and undersharing), and how honesty meshes with curation. I started writing about some of this in grad school, for a project on feminism and women's food & lifestyle blogs, but the chat with Jess reminded me that I want to explore this more-- something I'd like to continue to do here in this "practice" space.

This writing too, was inspired by the comment thread that happened on Jess' very dear post on our afternoon in the kitchen together-- it seems that other women food bloggers and producers are thinking about these same issues and looking for conversation. That's exciting and inspiring and makes me realize that this medium itself is still quite new and evolving, and perhaps we'll eventually figure out how to more comfortably tackle these questions that seem difficult to understand and address now.

Alas, there's much more to be said about that in time. But for now, do go over to the Witchin' In the Kitchen post, read lovely Jess's words, and see her BEAUTIFUL photos that make my house and kitchen and tartlets look better than ever (you can also spot my aforementioned non-smart phone). There, and below, you can also get the recipe for these grapefruit and pepper meringue tartlets that are so patiently serving as a backdrop to my self-conscious blogger musings.

Grapefruit and Pepper Meringue Tartlets with Witchin' in the Kitchen

My friend Lora sent me this delightful recipe from French chef Rachel Khoo. Lora is a big fan of hers and her BBC Show "The Little Paris Kitchen"; she tried to go to Khoo's home kitchen when she was in Paris (she used to open it to guests), but she recently closed it because it became to popular. I haven't yet seen the show (perhaps it will catch on here like that other BBC show...), but these tartlets might just prompt me to do what it takes to find it here.

For what might seem to be a simple citrus meringue tartlet, this recipe is rather unique. I've never had a biscuit base quite like this in a tartlet--it's similar to shortbread cookie crust, and reminded me of corn muffins (though perhaps that was just because I made them in cupcake tins--there is no cornmeal in them). I absolutely LOVE the spice and grainy-ness that the pepper lends to the meringue, and I tried out a new technique of piping it onto the curd. I'm pretty sure Jess and I simultaneously squealed when it actually worked! 

Grapefruit and Pepper Meringue Tartlets
Adapted from Rachel Khoo

Makes about 6 small tartlets (I doubled this recipe when I made it)

For grapefruit curd:
Zest and 6 Tblsp. juice of 1 unwaxed grapefruit
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3 1/2 oz. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 heaping Tblsp. cornstarch
1 3/4 oz unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature

For biscuit base:
2 3/4 oz. unsalted butter, softened
2 3/4 oz. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
Zest of 1/2 lemon
2 large egg yolks
3 1/2 oz. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder

For Italian meringue:
3 1/2 oz. sugar
2 egg whites
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

For grapefruit curd:
1. Pour 6 Tblsp. grapefruit juice in a small saucepan and whisk together with zest, sugar, salt, and eggs over low heat. Whisk in the cornstarch, stirring continuously (this keeps the eggs from curdling).

2. Once the curd is thickened (Khoo says to the consistency of puréed tomatoes), remove it from heat and whisk in butter, one cube at a time. Pour curd into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, placing it directly on the surface of the curd. Refrigerate for at least an hour, preferably overnight.

For biscuit base:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and butter and flour 2x3 inch metal tart rings (I didn't have any that size so I used cupcake tins).

2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream together butter and sugar with the salt and lemon zest until fluffy and pale in color. Add egg yolks and continue beating.

3. Sift together the flour and baking powder, and add it to the butter mixture. Continue beating until the dough comes together in a smooth paste.

4. Here Khoo suggests piping the dough into the tart pans, but that didn't work for me (the dough was too thick and my pastry bag was a little wonky), so I scooped dough into the cupcake tins and created a little depression with the back of the spoon for the curd to sit. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden (they will resemble corn muffins in color). Remove biscuits from the tin/tart pans and let cool on a wire rack.

For the meringue:
1. Pour sugar into a saucepan with 1 fluid oz. water and place on high heat. Bring to about 244 degrees F, about 10 minutes. If you don't have a thermometer, you can test it by dropping a little bit of sugar syrup into a bowl of cold water--it will form a sticky ball when ready.

2. While sugar syrup is cooking, begin to beat the egg whites and salt with a mixer. Beat to a light froth, before soft peaks begin to form. When sugar syrup is done, drizzle it into the egg whites while beating. Add the pepper and continue to beat until the egg whites are glossy and stiff.

To assemble:
1. Place a scoop of curd on each biscuit. Scoop meringue into a pastry bag and pipe onto the curd decoratively. Place the biscuits under the broiler for about 1 minute (watch carefully!) until meringue is just slightly browned on the tips.

Grapefruit and Pepper Meringue Tartlets with Witchin' in the Kitchen

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Sweetie Pie: A Valentine's Day Party!

Sweetie Pie Valentine's Day Party at Treasury with Elizabeth Graeber, Washington, D.C.

We're having a party! Much like last year's Tart of Gold Party (how could we duplicate a name like that?) with Tarts by Tarts, Nothing-in-the-House will be teaming up with Treasury Vintage and a new addition-- Elizabeth Graeber to bring you Sweetie Pie, a Valentine's Day Party. It's going down on Wednesday, February 13th from 5-8pm at Treasury, located at 1843 14th St. NW in DC. There will be treats by Nothing-in-the-House, vintage treasures from Treasury, illustrated valentines by Elizabeth, complimentary drinks, and love in the air.

And perhaps you want some sweets for your sweet? At the party, you can also pick-up your made-to-order Valentine's Day pie which we're offering for the occasion! Selections include Orange-Hazelnut, Shaker Lemon, and Chocolate Coconut (there's a savory option too!) and are $32 each. You can get all the details and place your order here. Perhaps love is in the pear...tarte tatin?

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Oatmeal Cream Pies

Homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies

My family wasn't one for junk food. Sugary cereals were outlawed, "pop" (MIDWEST!) was reserved for Saturday "Star Trek and Pizza" nights and never with caffeine, and my brother and I were charged with the chore of making a salad to accompany every dinner. But occasionally my dad would buy us Little Debbie treats to put in our lunch boxes.

Nutty Bars, Zebra Cakes, Star Crunch, and the Oatmeal Cream (or as they spell it "Creme") Pie. Less flashy than its other relations, the oatmeal cream pie was somehow more nostalgic, even then. Perhaps because it seemed like something you could actually make at home, pulled from a classic simple red, white, and blue box, without the galaxy background or wacky fonts. 

Indeed, Oatmeal Creme Pies were the first recipe the Little Debbie company launched in 1960. The concept was new-- a "family pack" of treats, individually wrapped so they could be stuffed in pockets or thrown in lunch bags. The entire carton sold for 49 cents. This was novel, but the pie itself was familiar. Little Debbie didn't of course invent the oatmeal cream pie (though you might be able to credit them with the Star Crunch). It was already a common recipe, with Pennsylvania Dutch/Amish roots-- essentially a whoopie pie with oatmeal cakes (see here).

Homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies | Nothing in the House

I set out to make these for the nostalgia, as well as just a general desire to make something a little different for this space-- a pie, but not. I used pastry chef Stella Parks' recipe, which she claimed to be creepily accurate to the Little Debbie version. She was right--shockingly similar (though better). Hers calls for marshmallow cream, which is probably most accurate to Little Debbie; though on their website it's listed as simply "creme filling" it does contain egg whites. Not being much of a mallow fan, I opted for a simple buttercream, adapted here from Sally's Baking Addiction

I considered buying a box of Little Debbie's, just for comparison, but after tasting, I'm less inclined. My nostalgia pang was satiated, and replaced by a hunger for the homemade when all I want's just one more oatmeal pie.

Homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies | Nothing in the House
Oatmeal Cream Pies
Cookies from Stella Parks of BraveTart, buttercream from Sally's Baking Addiction

Makes about 2 dozen

For oatmeal cookies:
8 oz. all-purpose flour
4 oz. rolled oats
1/2 oz. cocoa powder
2 oz. dried apple rings
3 oz. unsalted butter
2 1/4 oz. safflower oil
7 oz. sugar
1 1/2 oz. molasses
3 oz. corn syrup
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. mace
1 large egg
1 oz. whole milk

For buttercream:
6 oz. unsalted butter
12 oz. confectioner's sugar
3 Tblsp. heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of kosher salt

For oatmeal cookies:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In the bowl of a food processor, mix flour, oats, cocoa, and apple rings. Process for 2 minutes until incorporated and no oat or apple pieces remain. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream butter with oil, sugar, molasses, corn syrup, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices until well incorporated, approximately 2 minutes. Add egg and beat one minute more.

4. Reducing speed to low, add all of the dry ingredients, then drizzle in the milk. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula, then mix 30 seconds more until combined.

5. Scoop dough onto the parchment-lined cookie sheet using a small (2 tsp.) cookie scoop. Level off each scoop with the side of the bowl so that the cookie size remains relatively consistent. Leave 1-2 inches between dough scoops, as the cookies will spread considerably in the oven.

6. Bake for about 8 minutes, or until cookies are puffed, set around the edges, but still quite soft. They will crisp once cooled, so make sure they are not overdone, particularly if you want to simulate a Little Debbie oatmeal cream pie! Let cool completely while you prepare the buttercream.

For buttercream:
1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream butter. Add the confectioner's sugar and mix on medium speed for about 1-2 minutes. Pour in heavy cream and vanilla extract, and beat on high 3-4 minutes until fluffy. Add pinch of salt to taste, and mix to incorporate, about 1-2 minutes more.

2. To assemble the cookies, use the 2 tsp. cookie scoop to scoop buttercream onto the bottom of an oatmeal cookie. Sandwich with another cookie and press to disperse the buttercream. Cookies are best eaten within 2 days (if they last that long).

Homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies | Nothing in the House

I made these for a little Nothing-in-the-House Baking Co. pop-up at the Daniel Bachman show at Red Onion Records two Sundays past. They were a top seller, perfect for nibbling while enjoying some driving fingerstyle guitar. Thanks to Josh and Alissa for hosting me (and keeping me plied with tea!), and to Daniel for playing and for being an ever-positive presence.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Gluten-Free Chocolate Coconut Pie

Gluten-Free Chocolate Coconut Pie | Nothing in the House

Just a simple little recipe here for a Friday evening. So simple, in fact, that it only contains four, that's right, 1-2-3-4 ingredients! If you were, though, feeling like a nut, you could turn this essentially Mounds Pie, into an Almond Joy, by adding a fifth ingredient of chopped almonds between the coconut crust and chocolate layer.

The recipe comes by way of Martha Stewart, and is featured in her New Pies and Tarts cookbook, which I got for Christmas. Everything in the book is just drool-worthy, from the Butterscotch Praline Cream Pie to the Persimmon Tartlets with Caramel Cream; I might just have to work my way through the entire book, pie by pie. But here's one for starters, and it just so happens to be naturally gluten-free! One of these days I will have to work on my gluten-free crust recipe (apologies, celiacs!), but for now, there's this, a coconut macaroon-like crust, with a rich chocolate ganache. And your choice on almonds-- sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Coconut Pie | Nothing in the House

Gluten-Free Chocolate Coconut Pie
Adapted from Martha Stewart's New Pies and Tarts

4 Tblsp. unsalted butter, softened
11 oz. (about 6 c.) sweetened shredded coconut
1 1/4 c. heavy cream
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao), chopped

For crust:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In the bowl of a standing mixer, mix butter and one-third of the coconut until the mixture begins to form a ball, about 1-2 minutes. Remove bowl from mixer and sprinkle in remaining coconut, combining with a wooden spoon.

2. Press coconut mixture into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate, forming to make a crust shape and leaving edges loose and fluffy. Place a foil ring or crust guard around the edge of the crust to prevent it from burning. Bake until center begins to brown, 10-15 minutes. Remove the foil, and bake 4-6 minutes more, until the edges are browned. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

For filling:
1. Place cream in a medium saucepan and bring just to a boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate chunks in a medium heat-proof bowl. Let sit, covered, for 10 minutes, then stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is completely combined and smooth.

2. Pour into the coconut crust, and refrigerate until set, for at least 1 hour and up to one day. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature.

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