Peach Hand Pies

Peach Hand Pies

I am beginning to think I will never catch up on these posts! The problem was that I made a bunch of recipes before going away in September and had planned on having them come up “delayed” while I was away but as things seem to go, I got busy before leaving and never had time to prepare the posts. So instead of being on top of things and posting the delicious spicy fall flavours, I am putting together a post from when the peaches were perfect in BC. With the Okanagan getting the summer heat for peaches, we get excellent ones at the end of August and into September. Oh and I do realize that I could just not post everything that I bake BUT these were a lot of work and I feel like I need to put it out there that I tried something with pie crust!

The pastry wasn’t all that straighforward either. Not only did I have to make the pastry (Pâte Brisée), but I also had to roll it (obviously) and cut it into shapes to use for hand pies. And that all involved at least three trips to the fridge for the dough! Also, I had to poach the peaches. So what I am suggesting is that this recipe is a bit more work than say chocolate chip cookies… In saying that, they are pretty tasty and I was happy with the final product, even if it wasn’t all that pretty! I just want to remind you though, I have never made my own pie crust so I shouldn’t have expected perfection!

Poached Peaches

The recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts cookbook (originally for Apricot Hand Pies)

  • 2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • peel from 1 lemon, in long strips without the pith (I suggest using a vegetable peeler or very sharp knife for this)
  • 1 piece of fresh ginger, about 1/2 inch long, peeled
  • 4 cardamom pods, cracked, or 4 whole cloves, or 1 cinnamon stick (this is what I had)
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, halved and seeds scraped
  • 6 peaches, halved and peeled (see below note)
Note: the best way to peel peaches is to first boil a pot of water. Put the peaches in the boiling water for 1 minute and immediately take them out and put them into a bowl of ice cold water. Allow to sit for about a minute to cool. The skin will then easily slide right off of the peaches. I basically just rub the side and it will tear somewhere and then use that to peel off all of the skin.

To peel easily: First boil the peaches for about 1 min.

Then dump the hot peaches into a bowl of ice water - you can see that the skin will start to peel on its own even!

  1. Bring the water, sugar, lemon peel, ginger, cardamom/clove/cinnamon, and vanilla bean seeds to a boil in a saucepan. Cook until sugar dissolves and then reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered until liquid has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add peaches to pan. Cover peaches with parchment paper and add some weight to hold it down (I used a lid for a smaller pot). Simmer until peaches start to soften, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Store in the fridge in the poaching liquid until you are ready to use.

Prepare your poaching liquid

Poach the peaches! Cover them with parchment and hold it down... get creative!

Pastry

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
  1. One of the disks ready for rolling!

    Place flour, salt and sugar in bowl and whisk together.

  2. Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender quickly (you can do this in a food processor too) until the mixture has a coarse crumb. Drizzle 1/4 cup of water over the mixture and work with the blender (or in the food processor). The dough should just start to hold together. If it doesn’t add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  3. Divide dough in half and place on two sheets of plastic wrap. Gather the plastic wrap around the dough loosely and press into a disk (may need a rolling pin). Refridgerate until firm – 1 hour to 1 day.

Assembly of Hand Pies

  1. Rolled and Cut

    On a floured surface, roll out 1 disk of dough until it is about 1/8 of an inch thick. Now you can do it one of two ways, depending on how you want your hand pies: either cut out 3-inch rounds or cut out 4-inch rounds. If you do the 3 inch ones, you will place 1/4 of a peach (that is half of a half) between two rounds whereas if you do the bigger round, you can place it on one side of the round of dough and wrap the other side over the top. Don’t do this yet, just prepare the rounds. Place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet and refrigerate or freeze until firm (about 30 minutes).

  2. Prebaked: note the two different styles and the slits in the tops.

    Remove the peaches from the liquid and using paper towels, blot the peaches and then cut the halves in half. Place 1/4 in the center or on the side of a round (see previous step) and cover with the other half or the other side of the dough. Press edges together to seal. I found that the peach liquid was enough to hold this but if you need to, you can brush with water. Refrigerate about 30 minutes.

  3. Preheat oven to 425°F. Using a sharp knife, cut slits in the tops of the pies. Brush with water or milk and sprinkle with sugar (I used turbinado). Bake for 15 min and then reduce heat to 350°F. Continue baking until the pastry is golden brown, about 15-20 min more. Transfer pies to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Finished and cooling... nicely browned

Here's one I took a bite out of! The pastry wasn't perfect but it was somewhat flaky!

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Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Raspberry Curd and Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Fluffy Cake Batter!

I must start this post with a confession. I completely forgot to take a picture of the completed cake. It may have been partly due to the fact that I iced it when it was way too hot (yes, it was awhile ago that I made this and I keep blogging other things instead of catching up) and it was therefore not very pretty but I should have at least made sure to get a picture of inside the cake so you could see how pretty it looked to have the delicious raspberry curd layered between the fluffy lemon poppy seed cake. And then you could also see the fun flecks of vanilla bean in the buttercream. Instead you will have to picture it in your head! I have the pics of the building the “dam” to hold the curd in, and I have pictures of how I used the 2nd “layer” as a separate cake that I just piled high with raspberry curd & no buttercream but that is it. Oh well. This will have to do!

The important thing is actually how good it tasted anyways! The lemon was perfectly fluffy & lemony without being over powerful and the raspberry complimented it perfectly. And the buttercream had the sweetness to contrast with the sour of both the lemon and the raspberry. And more importantly, my friend’s lemon poppy seed obsession was quelled for a few days! We often have seminars at work that serve muffins and I have many coworkers that are seriously addicted to the lemon poppy seed muffin. Myself, I am quite loyal to the blueberry bran muffins but I understand that the lemon poppy seed ones are amazing. So for my friend’s birthday, I figured I had to make this cake!

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

  • Beaten egg whites!

    2 1/3 cup flour

  • 2 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablepoons of lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  1. Grease cake pans: either one 13×9″ or two 8×8″ or two 9×9″ (I did one 9×9″ and one 7″ round and took them to separate parties that did not require big cakes!) Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds) in a medium bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until stiff.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter, sugar, lemon extract and lemon zest until light and fluffy (4-5 minutes).
  5. With the beaters on low add 1/4 cup of the milk, then half of the dry ingredients, the rest of the milk, and finally the rest of the dry ingredients.
  6. Fold 1/4 of the egg whites carefully. Next, fold in half of the remaining egg whites. And finally the rest.
  7. Bake 24-26 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool on rack at least 15 minutes before removing from pan(s) to cooling rack.

Beautiful, delicious raspberries!

Raspberry Curd

Note: As mentioned above, I made this cake for a birthday and took the other “layer” to another party. For the second layer I made raspberry curd in the same way I made strawberry curd previously and it turned out almost as good.  Either one will work well – just depends if you want to use up those 5 yolks you just separated from the 5 egg whites above!

  • Bubblin' Curd! Let it thicken.

    8 Tablespoons of butter

  • 12 oz (1 pkg) raspberries
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add everything else while stirring.
  2. Mash the berries and continue to cook (stirring frequently) until thick, about 10 minutes.
  3. Strain into a heatproof bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
  4. Stir in 2-3 tsp of lemon juice.

Straining the raspberry curd

Vanilla Bean Buttercream

  • 1 cup butter, room temp
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 2-4 tablespoons of cream or milk
  1. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter for 5 minutes on medium speed. The butter will become pale and creamy.
  2. Add the sugar, 1/2 cup at a time while the mixer is on low. Add vanilla and then enough cream until desired consistency is reached.

    Prepping for the 2nd layer: build a dam and fill with the curd

  3. Beat on medium for 5 minutes.
Assembly:
  1. Slice cake layer in half.
  2. Pipe a “dam” of buttercream around the edge of the layer. Add the raspberry curd to the centre and spread out evenly.
  3. Cover with next layer of cake. Repeat if you are using two layers for a tall cake.
  4. Cover entire cake with the rest of the buttercream & decorate as desired.

The 2nd cake with just cake and curd! No icing...


Cinnamon Caramel Blondies

Cinnamon Caramel Blondies: you need to make these!

Two things I have to admit: I don’t think I have ever made blondies before and although this recipe looked good, I was surprised by just how incredibly amazing it was!

I don’t know why I haven’t made blondies before, it isn’t that they don’t interest me, it is just that… well I am a big chocolate fan and blondies are just brownies without the chocolate! So really, in my world, although they keep that great chewy texture of brownies, they take out the best part. Except these ones, they add two of my favourite other flavours in instead! Cinnamon & caramel. I love them both. Almost as much as chocolate. And almost as much as peanut butter (which may be ranked above chocolate, or maybe they are tied?) Anyways, point is that I loved the idea of these blondies when I saw the recipe on one of the blogs I follow – The Baker Chick and had to make them at the first opportunity!

Cinnamon + Caramel: two amazing ingredients!

Also, it wasn’t that I thought these wouldn’t be good, I just didn’t think they could be as absolutely delicious as I wanted them to be! I mean cinnamon & caramel are so great but would the recipe be the perfection that I seeked? Well in this case, YES!! These were even better than I expected. And whereas I normally am fairly modest about my baking and let the taster decide when I take something somewhere, I raved on and on when I took these! And the reason I am posting this recipe right now is that I promised a couple people the recipe right away!

So if you need to make something and want it to be good, make these. Or if you just want to make something delicious to eat all to yourself, make these (although I don’t recommend eating a 9×13 pan of them to yourself!)

Cinnamon Caramel Blondies

  • 2 2/3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 14 oz bag of caramels, unwrapped (used these but I found them in the States and can’t get them in Canada. If you can’t get these, just get a regular bag and unwrap them all yourself)
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  1. Bottom layer + caramel

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch pan.

  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer (or a regular bowl & use hand beaters), beat butter and brown sugar on medium until light and fluffy – about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla. Beat well to mix.
  4. With the mixer on low, add in the flour slowly until just combined. It is quite a thick batter.
  5. Spread half of the dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  6. In a saucepan, heat the caramels and cream over medium high heat until smooth and melted.
  7. Pour the caramel over the batter.
  8. Distribute the remaining batter evenly over the caramel. I put small clumps spread throughout and then used clean hands to press it down evenly over the caramel (be careful it is hot!) It is ok to have areas that aren’t totally covered.
  9. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and then sprinkle evenly over the batter.
  10. Bake 25-30 min or until the surface is firm but still springy. Cool completely before cutting.

Seriously, look at those layers of caramel! So incredibly good!