Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pie Crust & Puff Pastry...and a Coffeecake

I started out ambitious this morning thinking of all the baking I'll do for the holidays.  It's rainy, blustery and there's just a week before Thanksgiving, not to mention the radio station I listen to is already playing Christmas music!

The first thing I did was mix up a coffeecake to take to a friend.  This is a quick recipe, but I thought it would make a nice snack this afternoon at her business.  My Mom taught me this tradition of bringing food gifts when you "went visiting."  At Christmas, especially, she did wonderful Stolen, Fruit Cakes, and Cookies for all the people she wanted to say thank you to.  I decided to try the Blueberry Jammy Bits along with sliced almonds, but like the cookies yesterday, this basic coffee cake allows you to exchange with what your favorite ingredients are.

Blueberry Jammy Bits & Almond Coffee Cake

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. almond extract
2 tsp. Vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. Vanilla powder (optional)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/3 cup Blueberry Jammy Bits (you could also use dried blueberries)

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. light Karo syrup
1 to 2 tsp. hot water

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Grease and flour a 10-cup bundt cake, 9-inch round cake pan, or a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
In the KitchenAid, using a paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time and continue to beat at medium speed, scraping the bowl often, until creamy.  Add the dry ingredients, alternatively with the sour cream.  Mix well.  

Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan; sprinkle half of the almonds and Blueberry Jammy Bits over the batter.  Spread with the remaining batter and sprinkle with the remaining almonds and Blueberry Jammy Bits.  Smooth with an off-set spatula.  Bake for 30-40 minutes (depending on the pan you use) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pan and cool completely.

Stir together all the glaze ingredients in a small bowl.  Drizzle over the cooled cake.
When the coffee cake went into the oven, I decided to make up pie dough to have in the freezer for the holidays.  For new viewers to the blog, this is a dough I made up in 1996 when I competed in an Apple Pie Contest in our town.  I won first place and I owe it to this fabulous dough...okay the apple filling was good too : )  I thought I'd share it again and show the steps.

Pie Dough
4 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cup butter-flavored shortening
1 egg
1/2 cup cold water
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
In the KitchenAid, using the paddle attachment, place all the dry ingredients into the bowl.  Mix briefly just to combine.  Cut the shortening into 1/2-inch chunks and while the mixer is running, add to the bowl.
It will resemble sand, with some lumps still present.  In a 1-cup glass measuring cup, add water, the egg, and the vinegar and whisk together.  Turn on the mixer and slowly add the "wet" ingredients.  Mix until well combined.  You will notice, this pie dough appears "stickier" but don't be concerned.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured bowl and knead into a roll.
 Cut the log in half, then, half again.  You will have four pieces.
 Form each section into a disk.
Wrap each disk in plastic wrap, then place into freezer bags.  I use a quart-size freezer bag and mark the date on the front of the bag.
I made up 8 disks today, six went into the freezer for later use.  This dough keeps well for 6 months in the freezer.

Lastly, I came across a recipe for Fast & Easy Puff Pastry on the King Arthur Flour website.  I love puff pastry, but it takes a little time to make and lots of time to set in the refrigerator.  However, if you've avoided making puff pastry and opted for the "packaged freezer" version, this will change your life.  It's great for making tarts, appetizer cheese straws, or a crust for your favorite fruit medley or pot-pie.

Fast & Easy Puff Pastry

1 1/2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup sour cream
In a large bowl, add the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Mix with a spoon. 
Add the butter and use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour mixture.

Mix in the sour cream and turn the dough out onto a floured surface.  Knead lightly.  Dust both sides and roll out to a 8 x 10-inch rectangle.   Fold dough, like an envelop into thirds.
Flip the dough over and turn it 90-degrees.  Roll again into a 8 x 10-inch rectangle.  Repeat the envelop fold into thirds.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill 30 minutes.  Yes, just 30 minutes!  You can freeze the dough for up to 2 months.  Defrost in the refrigerator overnight.  Roll the dough out in the desired shape for your recipe.  I plan on baking Pear~Cranberry tarts!
The key to being organized for holiday baking is doing things ahead.  I hope I've given you a start to impress your family, but more importantly, be part of the celebration and memories.  Enjoy! 


  1. I love your blog and I miss you. Even just seeing the pictures makes me feel all warm inside, grateful for what you give to the world.

  2. I hope you all are taking good care of each other and when this is all over...a big celebration at our home! Love you, xoxo

  3. Oh man. This stuff looks good. . . .Your pictures are always so great Susan.

  4. Just wait until tomorrow Birthday Guy!

  5. I am embarrassed to say although I bake lots I am intimidated by pies only because of the crust..till now that is. I am going to try out yours. I just have to ask does that say 1 and 3/4 cups of shortening? I don't want to assume it is 3/4.
    Thanks Susan. Have a great weekend

  6. Yes Tracy, it's one and three-quarters cup. I use the sticks for easy measurement. This is perfect pie crust; so flaky no matter how much you handle it. I guarantee it!

  7. Ok Susan, you recipe has me motivated to give dough another shot!

  8. I'll have to try this crust! Have not made one in a long time.
    The coffee cake looks divine...