Rachael from pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she had us whipping up delicious sweet pies in our kitchens! Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies! Rachael shared four delicious treats to choose from: 1) The Momofuku Milk Bar’s (in)famous Crack Pie, 2) a rich, smooth and utterly indulgent French Chocolate and caramel tart and two slightly healthier but no less scrumptious options, 3) an Italian Crostata di Marmellata and 4) a traditional Grandma-style Double crust apple pie.

A thick, chewy crust filled with an outrageously sweet gooey filling, the crack pies a wicked sugar-rush. What Bon Appetit says about Crack Pie: “Anyone who has taken a bite of this Milk Bar best seller immediately knows the reason for the sassy name. Once you start eating this rich, salty-sweet pie with its oat cookie crust, you won’t be able to stop.”

CRACK PIE

Ingredients:

For  the Oat Cookie Crust

9 tablespoons (1 stick + 1 tbsp) (135 ml) (4½ oz) (125g) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided

5 1/2 tablespoons (85 ml)(2½ oz) (70 gm) (packed) light brown sugar, divided

2 tablespoons (30 ml) (30 gm) (1 oz) white sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (210 ml) (80 gm) (2¾ oz) old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup (120 ml) (2½ oz) (70 gm) all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon (2/3 gm) baking powder

1/8 teaspoon (2/3 gm) baking soda

1/4 teaspoon (1½ gm) salt

For the Filling

3/4 cup (160 ml) (170 gm) (6 oz) white sugar

1/2 cup (packed) (120 ml) (100 gm) (3½ oz) light brown sugar

1 tablespoon (15 ml) (8 gm) (¼ oz) dry milk powder

1/4 teaspoon (1½ gm) salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) (120mlk) (4 oz) (115gm) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly

6 1/2 tablespoons (100ml) heavy whipping cream

4 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Powdered sugar for dusting

Method:

  • For the oat cookie crust, position rack in center of oven and preheat to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
  • Line a 13x9x2 inch metal baking pan with parchment paper. Lightly spray or butter a 9 inch/22cm diameter pie dish.

  • Combine 6 tbs (85 g) softened butter, 4 tbs (50 g) brown sugar and the white sugar in medium bowl.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and beat until pale and fluffy, about 1 minute.

  • Add oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and beat until well blended, about 1 minute.
  • Dump oat mixture into prepared baking pan and press out evenly to edges of pan. Bake until light golden, 18 minutes.

  • Transfer baking pan to wire rack. Cool cookie completely, about an hour. Crumble the cookie a into large bowl with fingers.
  • There should be no identifiable cookie pieces remaining. Add remaining 3 tbs (45 g) butter and 1-1/2 tbs (20 g) brown sugar.

  • Rub in with your fingertips until the mixture is moist and sticks together when pressed between your fingers.
  • Transfer cookie crust mixture to pie dish. Using your fingers, press mixture evenly onto bottom and up sides of pie dish.

  • It should reach about 1 inch/2.5cm up the sides. If your pie dish is shallow, place it on a baking sheet in case of overflow.
  • Prior to preparing the filling, position rack in center of oven and preheat to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.

  • Whisk both sugars, milk powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add melted butter and whisk until blended.
  • Add cream, then egg yolks and vanilla and whisk until well blended. Pour filling into crust and spread out evenly.

  • Bake 30 minutes (filling may begin to bubble up). Reduce oven temperature to 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3.
  • Continue to bake until filling is brown on top and set around edges but center still jiggles slightly, about 20 minutes longer.

  • Cool pie completely in pie dish on wire rack. Chill uncovered overnight. Sift powdered sugar lightly over top of pie. Serves 12.
  • The crack pie will keep well in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap, for 5 days. It can be frozen for upto one month.

Chocolate and caramel tart brings together two favourite sweet flavours, but the pie itself is not overbearingly sweet. It is, however, rich and smooth and amazingly good! A buttery crust, a layer of creamy caramel and a layer of rich chocolate mousse. Swoon!

CHOCOLATE & CARAMEL TART

Ingredients:

For the Pâte Sablée

1 large egg yolk

5 tablespoons (75 ml) (70 gm) (2½ oz) granulated or powdered sugar

1¾ cups (420 ml) (250 gm) (8¾ oz) all-purpose flour

9 tablespoons (1 stick + 1 tablespoon) (125 gm) (4 ½ oz) cold butter, diced

4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (50 ml) cold water

For the Caramel

7 tablespoons (105 ml) (100 gm) (3½ oz) granulated sugar

7 tablespoons (100ml) whole cream, hot

For the Chocolate Mousse

2 large eggs

7 tablespoons (100ml) whole milk

1/3 cup (80 ml) (75 gm) (2½ oz) powdered sugar (optional)

13 tablespoons (200ml) whole cream

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons (280 ml) (200 gm) (7 oz) dark chocolate, broken into pieces

Method:

  • Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4. Lightly grease a 9″/24cm or 10″/26cm fluted tart pan.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk and sugar together with a teaspoon of the water until pale and fluffy. Set aside.
  • Sift the flour and salt together into a mound on a work surface. Scatter the diced butter over the top of the flour.

  • Quickly toss the butter in the flour so it’s all coated, then, using your fingers, rub it in until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Keep repeating the operation until it has the consistency of sand. Gather the flour mixture and make a well in the center.
  • Pour the egg mixture and the rest of the water into the well. Working quickly, incorporate the wet ingredients into the flour.

  • First work with your fingertips then with a bench scraper until just mixed but not brought together.
  • Gently gather dough together into a rough ball between your palms. If it stays together, it is sufficiently moist.
  • If it doesn’t stay together, add a touch more water and repeat the process. Now work using the palm of your hand.

  • Push the dough away from you to smear it across the work surface, gather up and repeat until it comes together into a ball.
  • Lightly flour your work surface and lightly roll the dough out to about 3mm thick in a circle to fit your pan.
  • Press the dough gently into the pan, prick all over the bottom with a fork. Line the tart pan with baking paper.

  • Fill with dry beans or pie weights. Bake until set, around 9 minutes. Remove weights and paper and bake another 6 minutes.
  • Allow to cool completely in pan. For the caramel, spread sugar evenly across the bottom of a heavy-based saucepan.
  • Heat over a medium-low heat without stirring until the sugar starts to melt and becomes liquid around the edges.

  • It should turn into a deep amber color, a few minutes depending on how high the heat is. Remove from heat.
  • Very slowly and carefully pour all (100ml) of the hot cream into the caramel, stirring continuously until it stops bubbling.
  • Set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs together with the milk and powdered sugar for the chocolate mousse.

  • In a small heavy-based saucepan, bring all (200ml) of the cream to a boil. Remove cream from heat and add chocolate.
  • Stir until the chocolate has melted completely and the mixture is smooth. Let it cool for a few minutes.
  • Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg and milk mixture and stir gently with a spatula to obtain a smooth cream.

  • Spread the cooled caramel in the bottom of the cooked tart shell. Gently pour the chocolate cream over.
  • Place the tart into the hot oven and bake for 30 minutes, until the filling has set but is still wobbly in the center.
  • Remove the tart from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before cutting into thin wedges. Serves 8.

Crostate are a traditional Italian sweet treat, most often filled with jam, preserved or fresh fruit, or nut-based fillings such as almond or hazelnut paste, or they can be filled with pastry cream, citrus curd or numerous other delights. The recipe chosen by Rachael for this challenge is a simple Crostata di marmellata, filled with home-made strawberry preserves.

CROSTATA DI MARMELLATA

Ingredients:

For the Filling

3-1/3 cups (800 ml) 500 gm strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered

250 gm 2:1 gelling sugar (or 1-2 cups white sugar + pectin according to manufacturer’s quantities)

2 tablespoons (45 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the Pasta Frolla/Basic Italian Pie Pastry

2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm) (5-1/3 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/3 cup (80 ml) (75 gm) (2-2/3 oz) sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract

grated zest of 1 medium lemon

1-2/3 cups (400 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour

Pinch of salt

For the Glaze

¼ cup (60 ml) (75 gm) (2-2/3 oz) apricot jam

1-2 teaspoons (5-10 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice

Method:

  • Start by preparing the filling. Stir strawberries, gelling sugar and lemon juice in a heavy-based saucepan.
  • Heat slowly over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. When strawberries release their juice, bring mixture to a boil.
  • Allow to boil for the time given in the gelling sugar/pectin manufacturer’s directions until done.

  • Cool to room temperature. Filling can be made ahead and refrigerated, covered, for up to a week until needed.
  • For the pastry, use a paddle attachment on a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer or whisk.
  • Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, for 2 to 5 minutes. Add egg, vanilla and lemon zest, one at a time.

  • Mix thoroughly after each addition. Add the flour and salt and mix until the dough comes together but remains soft.
  • Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour. Lightly grease a shallow 9″/24cm metal pie dish.
  • On either a piece of parchment or a lightly floured surface, roll 2/3 of the dough out to a circle to generously line the pie dish.

  • Transfer the dough to the pie dish, press in gently and roll the edges to form a good surface for attaching the lattice later.
  • Prick all over the bottom with a fork. Refrigerate the dough-lined pie dish for 30 minutes to reduce shrinkage during baking.
  • Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4. Line pastry with parchment paper.

  • Fill with dry beans or pie weights. Bake until set, around 15 minutes. Remove weights and parchment and allow to cool.
  • If using a springform pie dish, remove the side of the pan. Preheat oven to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6.
  • Roll the remaining dough to fit the pie dish and cut it into roughly half inch/1.5cm-wide strips.

  • Spread the filling over the par-baked crust. Arrange the strips of dough in a lattice over the filling.
  • Trim as needed and lightly pinch the ends onto the rolled edge of the bottom crust.
  • Place pie dish on a baking sheet and place in center of oven. Bake until lattice is golden, around 20 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, prepare the glaze. Heat jam and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil.
  • Strain through a fine mesh sieve if it’s chunky. While glaze and pie are both still warm, brush over lattice crust.
  • Crostata di marmellata will keep well in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap, for 5 days, although the crust will soften.

Double crust apple pie is a true classic throughout many parts of the world. With a light flaky crust encasing a luscious warmly spiced filling, it’s a pie that really needs no further introduction.

DOUBLE CRUST APPLE PIE

Ingredients:

For the Flaky Pastry

2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm) (5-1/3 oz) unsalted butter

1¾ cups (420 ml) (250 gm) (8-2/3 oz) all-purpose flour

2 teaspoon (10 ml) (10 gm) (1/3 oz) sugar

1/4 teaspoon (1½ gm) salt

3-8 tablespoons (45-120 ml) cold water

For the Filling

1 – 1½ kg (2¼ to 3-1/3 pounds) apples (depending on the depth of your pie dish)

1 cup (240 ml) (200 gm) (7 oz) light brown sugar, lightly packed (more or less to taste)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

pinch of ground cloves, nutmeg and/or ginger (optional)

1 – 2 teaspoons (5-10 ml) (5-10 gm) white sugar for sprinkling (optional)

For the Glaze

1 egg beaten with 1/2 teaspoon water, or 1 tablespoon milk

Method:

  • For the flaky pastry, weigh out the correct amount of butter, wrap in foil and freeze for at least 30 minutes.
  • Sift flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl. Using a box grater, grate the frozen butter directly over the flour.
  • Hold the butter by the foil to avoid warming it up too much and work as quickly as possible.

  • Using a table fork, toss the grated butter in the flour until it is all evenly coated.
  • Alternatively, finely chop the butter and rub in with your fingertips, working quickly to avoid warming it.
  • Sprinkle 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of cold water over the mixture and mix together with the fork.

  • Add more water, spoon by spoon, as needed. The finished dough should be moist and starting to come together.
  • Finish by using your hands to quickly bring the dough together into a ball. Just press, don’t knead.
  • Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to hot 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7.

  • Lightly grease a deep 9″/24cm ceramic or metal pie dish. Take or weigh out 2/3 of the pastry dough.
  • Roll out to fit pie dish, right up to the rim. Line the pie dish with it, prick all over the bottom with a fork and set aside.
  • Peel, quarter and core the apples. Slice them into thin or thick pieces depending on how chunky you want the filling to be.

  • Place in a medium bowl and sprinkle the brown sugar, cinnamon, ground cloves, nutmeg and ginger over apples.
  • Toss well to coat. Pack the apples tightly into the lined pie dish. Roll out the remaining pastry dough to fit over apples.
  • With a wet finger, moisten the edge of the pastry in the dish. Place the dough lid on the pie and press edges together.

  • Trim the edges as necessary and crimp the seam closed with your fingers or the back of a fork.
  • With a pair of kitchen scissors, cut three vents in the top of the dough. Decorate with pastry trimmings.
  • Glaze the top of the pie with a beaten egg or milk, then sprinkle the top with a little white sugar.

  • Place pie dish on a baking sheet and put it into the center of the oven. Bake for 20 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 and bake the pie for a further 30 minutes.
  • The top should be light golden brown. Serve hot, warm or cold with whipped cream. Makes 8 servings.

Daring Bakers June 2013 Challenge

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