Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Fresh Strawberry Pie

I think that the summer strawberries in England must be the best in the world. They aren't the biggest, but they are the sweetest and juiciest strawberries. I love using them in desserts throughout the summer to make the most of them at their best. I made this pie for our 4th of July celebration (I know, I'm very late posting!!). Everyone loved it-be sure to make this with summer strawberries before the season is over!!

Strawberry Pie

For the pie crust:
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
8 Tbsp (4oz) cold butter, cut into small pieces
3 Tbsp very cold water

For the filling:
4 pints (3lbs.) fresh strawberries, rinsed and dried, hulled
3/4 cup jam sugar*
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 baked 9-inch pie shell

For the whipped cream:
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 Tbsp sugar

*Please note, I have used jam sugar in place of normal sugar and Sure-Jell in Annie's recipe. We don't have Sure-Jell in England, so I thought this would be a good substitute-it worked really well, and I lengthened the amount of boiling time slightly to account for the different ingredient.

To make the pastry, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Rub in the butter pieves until the misture resembles coarse sand and the largest butter pieces are no bigger than peas. Add cold water and mix until the dough just comes together. You may require extra water.

Roll the pie dough into a circle, and line a 9-inch pie dish with it. Trim and crimp the edges. Refrigerate for 30mins. Preheat oven to 375*F. Line the chilled pie with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Bake until dough no longer looks wet, about 20mins. Remove the weights and parchment paper adn continue to bake 10mins more until the crust is lightly golden. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

For the filling, select 6oz misshapen berries, halving the large ones. This should be about 1 1/2 cups. In a food processor, blend into a smooth puree. You should have about 3/4 cup of puree.

In a medium saucepan, combine teh sugar and pureed strawberries. Gently warm until the sugar is completely dissolved. Then bring up to a rolling boil. Boil for 4-5mins, scraping bottom and sides of pan constantly. It should be starting to set. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in lemon juice. Cool to room temperature.

Pick over the remaining berries and measure out 2lbs of attractive ones. Halve extra-large berries. Add the berries to the bowl of jam and fold gently with a spatula until the berries were evenly coated. Scoop the berries into the pie shell, piling into a mound. If any cut sides face up, face them down. Referigerate the pie until chilled, about 2 hrs. Serve immediately and within 5hrs.

Make the whipped cream just before serving. Whip the cream and sugar on medium speed until small bubbles form (30 seconds). Increase to high speed and beat until medium peaks form. Serve wedges of the pie with whipped cream.

Recipes adapted from Williams-Sonoma and Annie's Eats

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Strawberry Cupcakes

This weekend we celebrated my friend's birthday. It has become a tradition for me to bake whatever my friends request for their birthdays. So, this weekend my friend requested something fruity. I really wanted to make some kind of cupcakes because it feels like ages since I have. So, I decided on strawberry cupcakes. After some time spent on food blogs, I chose this recipe and I'm glad that I did!

The cakes were really moist and the strawberry pieces in them really gave them a great texture and flavour! The strawberry meringue buttercream frosting was ok....but not my favourite. I had never made SMBC before and I was excited to try this out! I knew that this frosting would be really rich and creamy and not too sweet. But, I wasn't prepared for just how rich and creamy it would be! It was so silky smooth. After trying this frosting recipe, I think I prefer a normal buttercream. This one just wasn't sweet enough for me (and I don't like ultra sweet frostings). But, my friends loved these cupcakes and said that they preferred this frosting over a normal buttercream....I guess it's just down to personal preference!

Strawberry Cupcakes
Makes about 18 cupcakes


For the cupcakes:
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups chopped strawberries

For the Frosting:
1/2 cups fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled and coarsely chopped
4 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350*F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a medium bowl. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until combined. Add buttermilk, oil and vanilla and beat until combined. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in chopped strawberries.

Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full with batter. Bake for 20 mins or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the frosting: Place the strawberries in a food processor or blender. Purree until completely smooth. Combine the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160*F and the sugar has dissolved.

Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 10 mins (the bowl should be cool to the touch.)

Reduce the speen to medium and add the butter, 2 Tbsp at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated. If the frosting curdles, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again (3-5 mins or longer). Change to the beater attachment and beat for about 2 mins, until frosting is smooth and creamy. Blend in the strawberry puree until smooth and completely incorporated.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a frosting tip. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

Cupcake recipe adapted from Annie's Eats. Frosting recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes.