Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Lemon Poppyseed + Triple Berry Hand Pies

After years of self-reflection, I can finally answer what my favorite food is.

It's not chocolate, it's not smoked salmon, it's not Honey Bunches of Oats. (But those are all worthy choices.)

No, after 20+ years of gobbling down all of the above, I've finally put my finger on just what it is that will always top my list:

Bread filled with stuff.

Okay, yes, it's a broad "favorite," but I'll defend it. Perogies, potstickers, dumplings, chicken and cheese wrapped in puff pastry (my perennial childhood request), anything wrapped in puff pastry, cheese danishes, etc. etc. etc., all of which are some of the best foods on the planet, and which bring us to: hand pies.

Poppyseed and turbinado, ready for their close-up.

I'm also a firm believer that hand pies are the new cupcake - or at least I pray they are. I will take flaky layers of pastry enveloping gooey, tart fruit any day over dried-out cake and cloyingly sweet frosting.

So, who's up for a pie? These hand-held treats are perfect as a pop-tart upgrade for breakfast or warmed up with ice cream for dessert. And if you have a sweeter tooth than mine, a little powdered sugar icing would be lovely drizzled over the top!

Lemon Poppyseed + Triple Berry Hand Pies
makes 8-10 handheld pies
Recipe adapted from Baker by Nature

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp cold plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 tsp lemon zest

  • 2 cups mixed berries (I used blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries), fresh or frozen
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • 1 large egg
  • Turbinado sugar

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar. Using two forks or a pastry blender, cut in butter until it's about pea-sized.

With a spatula, mix in Greek yogurt, poppy seeds, and lemon zest. Dough will be shaggy.

Dump dough onto a floured counter and knead a couples times until it comes together. You can add a tablespoon of yogurt or flour if it's much too dry or wet to handle.

With a floured rolling pin, roll into a rectangle approximately 12" long. Fold into thirds (like a letter), then turn the other way and roll it out again. Fold into thirds again, roll out, and then fold into thirds one last time. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 30-45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Combine all ingredients (berries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and vanilla) in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring and mashing berries with a wooden spoon, until the berries have partially broken down and the filling has thickened, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature (filling will continue to thicken as it cools).

Preheat oven to 425F.

Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out to 1/8" thick into a rectangle. With a pizza slicer or sharp knife, trim edges, then cut into 16 small rectangles (mine were about 2"x3").

Drop a tablespoon of berry filling onto the middle of 8 of the rectangles. Cut a vent in the remaining 8 - I made an X with a knife, but you could also use a small cookie cutter to make a cute shape.

Combine beaten egg with a tablespoon of water; brush some of this egg wash around the exposed edges of the filled rectangles. Top each one with a pastry you cut a vent out of, then use a fork to seal the edges.

(I was able to make 10 total filled pies - I rolled out the scraps I cut to even the edges and cut four more rectangles from them.)

Brush sealed pies with the remaining egg wash, then top with a bit of turbinado sugar.

Transfer pies to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, until beginning to brown. (I baked mine in 2 batches to avoid over-crowding.)

Let cool for 10 minutes, then serve slightly warm or save for later! They really are delicious hot or cold.
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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Fig, Lemon & Oat Muffins

With the arrival of (a very welcome) summer, finding the time to bake little whosits and whatsits to snack on becomes harder. When temperatures rise, who wants to sweat in front of a hot oven, when we could be sipping iced coffees out on the balcony? I begin to save baking for "occasions" - birthday cakes are a necessity, but morning muffins for two start to seem like a winter extravagance.

Not to wish ourselves back into The Winter from Hell, but a girl can start to miss a warm muffin and hot cup of coffee under a soft blanket. Luckily (silver lining here), June has brought drizzle, wind, and sub-50 degree temps, aka the perfect excuse to bake my breakfast and grab the French press.

On this particular morning, I was searching for a way to use up a carton of dried mission figs. I considered a coffee cake or loaf, but I was far too impatient for something that would take over 40 minutes to bake. So, of course, muffins! And what would balance the sweet, sticky figs but fresh lemon zest?

So off I went, chopping my figs and zesting my lemons, when I eyed my (gigantic) tupperware of homemade almond granola. Why couldn't the granola get in on this? It made the perfect crunchy topping! (If you happen to have some granola on hand, use it as is! But I've modified the recipe below assuming you don't, by quickly mixing together some almonds, oats, and brown sugar.)

Here's to a couple more chilly mornings to enjoy a freshly baked breakfast.

Fig, Lemon & Oat Muffins
makes 12 muffins
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup dried figs, chopped
  • 1/3 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 2 Tbsp sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In another bowl, combine eggs, yogurt, oil, milk, and lemon zest. With a spatula or wooden spoon, mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chopped figs.

Fill muffin tins 2/3 full with batter.

In a small bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, almonds, and oats. Sprinkle oat mixture evenly over muffin batter.

Bake for 18-22 minutes, until just starting to brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
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