Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Pecan Pie

I have always thought that pecan pies were too sweet, but then I tasted the pies Chris made for Thanksgiving this year using maple syrup and no corn syrup. They were very good. He used a recipe from The Best Recipe Cookbook by Cook's Illustrated magazine. I looked at other recipes and basically went with the recipe Chris used, but added a couple of ingredients from the recipe in the cookbook from Tartine Bakery. The taste was great and I wouldn't change the ingredients. The crust was somewhat soggy. The filling was pretty cool by the time I poured it into the crust and that may have been the problem. Best Recipe's recipe is the only one I have seen that uses a low temp (275) to bake the pie. It is hard to believe that other cookbooks I respect would have recipes that produce inferior pies and they all use higher temps. Tartine uses 350 and I think next time I will go with that. The directions I am giving are therefore based on the Tartine method, not Best Recipe's low temperature method.

Pecan Pie
3 lg eggs
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp bourbon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
finely grated orange zest (from about 1/2 a large orange)
2 cups chopped pecans
prebaked 9" pie shell

In a saucepan, combine sugar, maple syrup, bourbon, and salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 1 min. Take pan off heat, add the butter, and whisk as it melts. Let the mixture cool to room temp. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Add vanilla and eggs to cooled mixture and whisk to mix well. Stir in pecans and orange zest.
Bake until filling is just set, 40 to 60 mins. If the top is browning too quickly, cover with a piece of foil.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cinnamon-Nut Pull-Apart, a Moore Family Holiday Treat

This has been the Moore family traditional breakfast bread for Christmas and Easter. I love that I can assemble it the day before I need it and then bake it just before breakfast. The original recipe called for 1 cup of raisons but the raisin hater in my family made me leave them out.

Pull-Apart Coffee Cake
1 tblsp (1 package) active dry yeast (9 grams)
1/4 cup warm (110 degree) water (59 ml)
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 grams) salt
1/4 cup sugar (50 grams)
1/4 cup salad oil (59 ml)
3/4 cup warm (110º) milk (177.5 ml)
1 large egg
about 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (406 grams)
1/2 cup (1/4 lb) melted butter (113.5 grams)
Cinnamon-nut sugar (recipe follows)
Sprinkle yeast over warm water and let stand to soften, about 5 mins. Stir in salt, sugar, oil milk, and egg until blended. Stir in 3 1/4 cups of flour until smooth. Knead about 10 minutes, with a mixer or by hand, until smooth and elastic, adding flour as required to keep from sticking.
Divide dough into 3 equal portions, then cut each portion into 16 equal pieces. Shape into balls, roll in butter, then in cinnamon-nut sugar. Stagger balls, barely touching, in layers in greased 9- to 10-inch ring mold (angel food or bundt cake pan). Sprinkle with remaining nut sugar and drizzle with remaining butter.
Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place util puffy, about 45 mins. or chill 16 to 18 hours. Bake at 350 degrees until well browned, 30 to 35 mins.
Let cool in pan on a rack for at least 20 mins. or up to 3 hours. Run a knife between cake and pan side and then turn out onto plate.
Cinnamon-nut Sugar
Stir together 3/4 cup sugar (150 grams), 1 teaspoon (2.6 grams) ground cinnamon, and 1/2 cup (55 grams) finely chopped walnuts.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sunset's Best-Ever Gingerbread

Yesterday I went for a lovely ride down San Andreas with Sue and Betsy. As often happens the subject of food came up and I mentioned this gingerbread. It is easy, moist, light, keeps well, and is delicious. They asked me to put it on my blog so they could have the recipe and so here it is.

Best-ever Gingerbread
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1 cup salad oil
1 cup molasses
2 tsps baking soda
1 cup boiling water
2 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
2 eggs, well beaten
Grease 9x13 baking pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine sugar, salt, and spices in bowl. Stir in oil, then molasses, mixing well. Stir the soda into the boiling water and immediately stir into the mixture. Gradually blend in flour to prevent lumping. Then mix in the beaten eggs. Pour into pan and bake about 40 mins., until a toothpick comes out clean.