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Back to the Kitchen: Pies, Tarts, Cakes and Fabulous Dough

Posted By Karen Young On February 28, 2011 @ 1:02 am In Food,Recipes | No Comments

BY GWEN KENNEALLY

Could the weather be any crazier in Southern California? I read on many friend’s Facebook pages that it was snowing in Altadena, Burbank and parts of Hollywood! What is a girl to do on a chilly day? Why bake of course! Everything old is new and trendy now when it comes to cakes and desserts. I can get really creative with current “hot” ingredients, but these old favorites have stood the test of time.

84-year-old JoJo gave me her carrot cake recipe that she got from a friend’s mother who created it well before she was born. My mother has memories of eating the German Chocolate Cake when she was just a toddler. The Red Velvet Cake is from my friend Sonja Alarr’s mother, Emma, got this Red Velvet Cake recipe  from her mom in the thirties before the dessert’s current wild popularity. In the original recipe it says how many sticks of kindling to use in the wood stove. It also said to beat the frosting for 40 minutes by hand. Thanks to modern electric mixers it only takes a few minutes until your friends and family have a rich, delicious new and improved taste of history.

And what about pie? How many pie memories do we have! Here is the perfect basic crust. I like apples and pears this time of year, but it works with any fruit! Enjoy some time with your family and friends and bake something wonderful for them and with them.

Apple, Pear, Cranberry Pie

Emma Albrethsen’s Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake:

2 oz. red food coloring

2 tablespoons cocoa

1-cup buttermilk (add a little if the batter is too thick)

½ cup butter

1 ½ cup sugar

2 eggs

2-¼ cup flour

½ teaspoon salt

1-teaspoon vanilla

1-teaspoon vinegar

1-teaspoon baking soda

Pre heat the oven to 350. Make a paste of the food coloring, cocoa and about a tablespoon of the buttermilk. Set aside. Cream butter and sugar. Add the eggs and the color paste to the creamed mixture and beat well.

Sift the flour and salt together and add to the creamed mixture. Add the rest of the buttermilk and vanilla and beat well. Add the vinegar. Stir in the soda last. Beat well and bake for about 40 minutes.

Butter Cream Icing:

1-cup butter

1-teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons flour

1-cup milk

1-cup confectioners’ sugar

Gently heat the milk and flour, stirring constantly. Cook until thick, about 10 minutes. Cool the mixture in the refrigerator ‘til the bottom of the pan is cool to the touch.

Cream the butter and sugar until very fluffy. Add the vanilla to the creamed mixture. Then stirring slowly, add the milk mixture.

German Chocolate Cake

1/2-cup water

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1-teaspoon baking soda

1/4-teaspoon salt

2 cups sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

4 large eggs, separated

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1-cup buttermilk

1-cup semisweet chocolate chips

Bring water to a boil in small saucepan. Remove from heat Add chocolate chips and whisk until smooth. Cool.

Whisk flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until blended. Beat in yolks 1 at a time. Beat in chocolate mixture and vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk. Using clean dry beaters, beat whites in another large bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold into batter in 2 additions. Pour batter into a buttered 13 x 9 glass Pyrex pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool cake in pan on rack.

German Chocolate Frosting

1 1/2 cups half and half

1 1/2 cups sugar

3/4-cup butter

5 large egg yolks

1/4-teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup shredded coconut

1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

1/4-cup semisweet chocolate chips

Combine half and half, sugar, butter, egg yolks and vanilla in a heavy large saucepan. Whisk over medium-high heat until mixture simmers, thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, about 20 minutes. Mix in coconut and pecans. Spread warm frosting over cake. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Refrigerate until frosting sets, about 2 hours. (Best if made the day before.)

JoJo’s 24-Karat Cake

2 cups sifted flour

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking powder

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 cups sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups cooking oil

2 cups grated carrot

8 1/2-oz. crushed pineapple, drained

1 1/2 cup chopped nuts

To flour, add salt, baking soda, sugar and cinnamon. Mix. Add eggs and cooking oil and mix well. Add carrot, pineapple and nuts. Put in 9×13 greased and floured pan. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Frosting

Beat the following ingredients until smooth.

2-cup butter

8oZ cream cheese

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 pound powder sugar

Best Basic Crust

This recipe is based on my first cookbook, the fabulous Fannie Farmer, but I tweaked it a bit and have been back and forth. After many years this crust is consistently the best and most reliable. This crust can be used with all kinds of pies, tortes and even some bar cookies. The best way to cut in the shortening so that the fat is evenly distributed is to use a pastry blender. You can also hold two table knives in one hand to cut the shortening in. You want to do this quickly and handle the pastry as little as possible. To help you transfer the dough to your pie plate drape the pastry over your rolling pin. Carefully unroll pastry over the plate very gently as stretching the dough could make the pie shrink as it bakes. To keep edges from browning during baking cover with foil. This recipe makes 2 nine-inch pastries.

Best Basic Pie Pastry

3 cups all purpose flour

1/2-teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shortening

½ cup butter

Up to 8 tablespoons ice water

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Using a pastry blender cut the shortening into the flour until the pieces are the size of rice. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons water over part of the flour mixture and stir very gently with a fork, Push moistened dough to the side of the bowl. Repeat using 2 tablespoons of water (up to 8) until all the dough is moistened. Divide dough in half. Form each into a ball you can do this the evening before wrap in plastic. . This is enough for 1 nine-inch double-crusted pie or two baked pastry shells.

Double-Crusted Pies

On a lightly floured surface or pastry cloth roll dough into a twelve-inch circle. Allow the crust to hang over the plate about 1/4 of an inch for under and 1/2 inch for over. Prick the upper crust to allow steam to escape. Fit under crust into the pie plate, add filling then add the top crust. Press edges lightly together.

9-inch pastry shell

Taking one of the balls roll dough on a lightly floured surface or pastry cloth into a twelve-inch circle. Ease the pastry into a nine-inch pie plate, Trim to 1/2 inch beyond the pie pan and fold under the extra pastry. To flute the edges, place your thumb against the inside of the pastry and press the dough around your thumb with your other hand’s thumb and index finger. Prick the bottom all around where the bottom and the sides meet and all over the bottom and sides.

9 inch with Pastry Leaves

Taking one of the balls roll into 12-inch circle. Fit carefully into 9-inch pie plate reserving edges. Between wax paper roll trimmings to 1/8 inch thick. Remove top layer and using a sharp knife carefully cut out 2 by 3/4 inch pastry leaves. With a toothpick make veins. Mix one egg yolk with a tablespoon of water. Brush crust edge with egg mixture. Overlap and press leaves on the edge. Brush leaves with yolk mixture.

Tarts

Taking one of the balls, on a lightly floured surface or pastry cloth roll into a 10-inch circle. Gently place over the tart pan pressing up against the sides. Trim to 1/4 of an inch above the pan.

Apple Pie

2 nine-inch pie crusts

1-cup sugar

1-teaspoon ground nutmeg

1-teaspoon ground cinnamon

1-teaspoon ginger

Pinch of salt

8 medium sized apples (a medium apple = about 1 cup)

6 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Peel, core and slice the apples. Try to keep the size of the slices even. Mix sugar, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt in large bowl. Stir in apples. Pour into 9-inch pie plate sprayed with bakers joy. Dot with butter.

Cover with top crust and seal the edges. Cut slits in the top. Cover edge with 3-inch strip of aluminum foil to prevent too much browning. Remove foil during last 15 minutes of baking. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through slits

Apple, Pear and Cranberry Pie

2 nine-inch pie crusts

1-cup sugar

1-teaspoon ground nutmeg

1-teaspoon ground cinnamon

1-teaspoon ginger

Pinch of salt

4 medium sized apples

4 medium pears

2 cups cranberries

6 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Peel, core and slice the apples and the pears. Try to keep the size of the slices even. Coarsely chop the cranberries. Mix sugar, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt in large bowl. Stir in fruit. Pour into 9-inch pie plat sprayed with bakers joy. Dot with butter.

Cover with top crust and seal the edges. Cut slits in the top. Cover edge with 3-inch strip of aluminum foil to prevent too much browning. Remove foil during last 15 minutes of baking. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through slits

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