Cooking Adventures Pt. 8: Thanksgiving X, the Bakening Pt. 2

On with the long ramble about baking, Fool-the-eye cherry pie is a pie filled with cranberries instead of cherry. It’s from an old wizard of Oz cookbook I received for christmas one year. This was the first pie I baked from scratch and has become a staple at all the holiday parties. The recipe is two parts, a simple pie crust and the filling. The recipe require you to mix together shortening and flour with your fingers and I remember being nervous about that the first time. This recipe also drives home how much sugar is really in pies. The recipe calls for 1 tsp butter, a tiny bit of almond extract, 3/4 cup of fresh cranberries cut in half (I frequently up this with no problems.) a little flour, and a ton of sugar. The sugar always covers up the cranberries and it looks ridiculous. How it all turns into yummy filling is a magic I don’t fully understand.

The banana creme pie was…. interesting. The recipe called for pre-made pie crusts and I didn’t argue that. The ones I got needed to be baked but that wasn’t a problem. The first proper step in the recipe was putting milk, cornstarch, sugar and salt in a big pan and stirring over medium high heat until thickened. I was sitting there stirring it for what felt like ages when all the sudden it happened. Everything turned from sugary milk to a pudding like consistency almost. After that I had to reduce the heat and cook it for 2 more minutes, then take it off the heat.

The next step was to put a little of the hot mixture into some eggs I’d already lightly beaten. I remembered this from a good eats episode so I kind of knew what the recipe wanted and that went smoothly, I think it’s called tempering the eggs? I know it’s supposed to ensure the eggs mix into the sauce instead of just cooking in it. Then the whole thing got gently boiled and cooked for another two minutes. That was the worst of the work. Then I just had to take it off the heat and stir in some butter and vanilla. I’m not sure why the next step is to put plastic wrap on the surface of the filling and refrigerate it. If I had to guess the plastic wrap prevents a skin from forming probably. I was afraid it would melt to the pot but it came off fine later.

After 30 minutes it was assembly time. I poured half of the filling into the pie crust, realized that sure was an awful lot of filling, then layered on what now seemed like an awful lot of bananas, and then poured more of the filling on top until I was afraid it would overflow and stopped. There was filling left which I “disposed of” and only one step left.

I tried freshly whipping cream for this. I realize my folly now and will use spray whip cream until I have mastered the proper whipping procedure. It was runny and looked really messy on top of an already overflowing pie. Fortunately other than a bit of whipped cream escaping the pie remained intact up into it was sliced and promptly fell into a delicious mess.

Lessons learned: Next year, maybe do 2 pies and split the filling so it’s less full. Also put pie in freezer for a bit before dinner so it’s not so crumbly. It tasted great though.

The last dessert I made was no-bake Cheesecake truffles. It’s just a basic cheesecake filling, but you chill it until firm, roll it into balls, dip the balls in graham cracker crumbs, and drizzle baking chocolate on top.

These would not firm up in the freezer. The recipe said 30 minutes or so, I spent 2 hours freezing it for a bit, then testing if I could roll it into balls. I don’t know if I was doing something wrong or they expect you to get most of it stuck to your hands. They were tasty but if I make them again I’ll start them way earlier and let them freeze while I bake something else. At least I didn’t need the oven for them.

One last note, having a stand mixer now made this whole adventure possible. I would never have attempted so much baking (even with 3 days off that week) if I had to stand there constantly mixing everything. Being able to go sit down for a few minutes made all the difference.


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