Tuesday, December 6, 2016

6" Sampler Blocks: Not-Quite-Peaceful Hours

6" Sampler Block, Not-Quite-Peaceful Hours
Good morning, and Happy Tuesday!  My schedule is nutso these days, but I managed to finish this little sampler block last night that I'd been working on in odd 15-minute increments over the past week.  I'm calling this block Not-Quite-Peaceful Hours because I mistook it for the Farmer's Wife Peaceful Hours block when I was looking for that block in the EQ7 block library so I could preview fabric combinations. 

EQ7 Block Mockup
This is one of my favorite ways to use the EQ7 software, for virtual auditions of color, pattern and value before cutting into my real fabric.  Although you CAN scan and import all of your actual fabric into EQ7 for this purpose, I usually just find something similar that's already in the fabric stash library, as I did in the mockup above.

Peaceful and Not-Quite-Peaceful, Side by Side
As you can see, the blocks are very similar, but I think they are different enough that they can both go in the same sampler quilt.  I won't be setting them side by side in the final quilt layout.  The version on the right was a lot easier to piece because there were no angled/inset seams like there are in the Peaceful Hours block on the left.

I like the contrast in my Not-Quite-Peaceful block.  I also like that I combined fabrics that "don't go together": a Kaffe Fassett print in the center, the blue batik, solid white, and the thirties reproduction print with the off-white background that I used on the corners. 

That's all for today.  Busy, busy, busy...  I'm linking up with:


·       Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times www.patchworktimes.com

·       Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts http://www.cookingupquilts.com/

·       Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt http://lovelaughquilt.blogspot.com/

·       WIPs on Wednesday at Esther's Quilt Blog: http://estheraliu.blogspot.com

·       Moving it Forward at Em’s Scrap Bag: http://emsscrapbag.blogspot.com.au/


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Let's Bake Cinnamon-Molasses Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Crust!

Homemade Cinnamon-Molasses Pumpkin Pies with Pecan Crusts
So, THIS happened yesterday!  I ended up buying pies from Dean & DeLuca for Thanksgiving because I spent the entire day before Thanksgiving working on my stuffing, and I ran out of time to bake before I had to head to church for Thanksgiving Eve service.  The Dean & DeLuca pies were fine, I guess...  But they merely whetted my appetite for the REAL pumpkin pies, my favorite recipe gleaned from the pages of Bon Appetit magazine back in December of 1999.  I have been obsessing over this pie recipe ever since Thursday, and I had already purchased all of the ingredients before I admitted defeat and ran to D&D.  I figured, better late than never, and so I baked my pies yesterday.

Bon Appetit has a number of pumpkin pies available on their web site, but not this one, so I'm going to share it with you all today.  That's how much I love you.  You're welcome.  [Added bonus: by posting the recipe online, I will always be able to find it again if I ever misplace the original!]  And now, without further ado, I bring you the recipe for:

Cinnamon-Molasses Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Crust


Yield: two 9-inch pies, one for Mom and one for the rest of the family to share

Advance Preparation: Dough for crust can be prepared 3 days ahead & refrigerated, or 1 week ahead & frozen.  Let dough soften slightly at room temperature before using.  Bake pies the day ahead.

Key Ingredients, Ready to Go

 INGREDIENTS:

For Crust:
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
6 T packed light brown sugar
1 1/3 c. finely chopped pecans
1 tsp. salt
1 c. (2 sticks) chilled
unsalted butter, cut into ½” pieces
4 T (approximately)
ice water

For Filling:
2 ½ c. packed light brown sugar
¼ c. all purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground
allspice
½ tsp. ground ginger
TWO 15 oz. cans pure pumpkin
6 large eggs
2 T mild-flavored (light) molasses
1 ½ c.
heavy whipping cream


Quick note about the ingredients: I use Penzey's spices, which are so much fresher and stronger than the spices I can buy in the grocery store.  Sniff two jars of cinnamon side-by-side and you'll be sold.  There's a Penzey's store at The Arboretum shopping center in Charlotte, but if you don't have one near you it's totally worth ordering online.

As for the crust: I think the pecan crust is delicious, but you can use plain crust instead if you have nut allergies to contend with, or if you are in a time crunch and need to use the ready-to-bake grocery store pie crust pastry instead.  Just make sure you use a deep dish crust or it will overflow.  However, maybe you have no nut allergies in your family, maybe you have plenty of time and you LOVE pecans, but you are afraid of making pie crusts because you have failed miserably in the past?  Ah, do I have the gadget for YOU!  I am about to solve all of your pie crust problems for a mere $6.95 plus shipping and handling, and I don't do any of those affiliate links, either.  I am sharing this with you out of the goodness of my heart because it's the ONLY way I can make a pie crust without swearing like a pirate.  Allow me to introduce you to the 14" Pie Crust Bag from the King Arthur Flour Baker's Catalog:

14" Pie Crust Bag, available here from the King Arthur Flour Baker's Catalog
This is going to totally change your pie-baking life; I promise.  All you do is wipe your counter with a damp rag (the plastic bag will stick to the counter now instead of sliding around), unzip the bag all the way around, and sprinkle both halves lightly with flour... 

Meanwhile, back to our recipe:

For crust:


1.      Pulse pecans in food processor until they are finely ground but still have visible chunks.  Using electric mixer, mix flour, brown sugar, pecans and salt in large bowl until well blended.  Add butter and mix on low speed until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Cut in larger chunks of butter with a pastry knife.  Using fork, mix in enough ice water to bind the dough. 
2.      Transfer dough to a work surface & gather into a ball.  Divide in half.  Flatten each dough half into a disk; wrap each in plastic.  Chill 1 hour (or up to 3 days; OR freeze).  Let dough soften slightly at room temperature before using.
3.      Roll out each disk between 2 sheets of parchment (or in pie crust bags, see photos below*) to 12” round, about 1/8” thick.  Remove top sheet of parchment and invert each dough round into a 9” diameter glass pie plate.  Remove parchment and gently press dough in place.  Trim overhang to ¾”, turn under and crimp edge decoratively.  Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.

Disk of Dough Centered on One Half of the Pie Crust Bag
Bag Zippered Shut
Roll Crust Through Bag, With No Sticking, Sliding, or Cursing!
For a Perfect 12" Circle, Roll to 1" from Outer Zipper on 14" Pie Bag
Unzip the Pie Crust Bag and Carefully Peel Back the Top Half...
Ta-Da!  No Sticking!  Perfect!
At this point, it's easy to invert your glass pie dish in the center of the crust and carefully invert the whole thing, easing the pie crust into your pie pan.  You have a nearly perfect circle of pastry to work with because you rolled it out in a perfectly circular bag, and the bottom half of the bag gives you extra pastry support when you flip the whole shebang over, so there's no risk of tearing your pastry or having it fall apart all over your counter after all your hard work.

Woo-Hoo!!!

4.      Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°.  Line crusts with foil, fill with dried beans or ceramic pie weights, and bake pie crusts until golden at edge, about 15 minutes.  Remove foil and beans, and continue to bake until crusts are pale golden, piercing with fork if crusts bubble, about 5 minutes.  Cool completely on rack.

After Blind Baking, Crusts Cooling on the Stovetop While I Mix Up the Pie Filling
For filling:


1.      Reduce oven temperature to 350°.  Whisk first 6 ingredients together in large bowl to blend.  Whisk in pumpkin, eggs and molasses; then whisk in the cream.  Pour pumpkin mixture into crusts, dividing equally.


Pumpkin, Eggs and Molasses Added to Sugar Mixture
...Now We Whisk In the Heavy Cream...
...And the Pie Filling is Ready to Pour Into the Crusts
Ready to Bake!
...Finally In the Oven, Crust Edges Protected by Pie Crust Shields
The purpose of the pie crust shields is to prevent the edges of your pie crust from over-browning or, heaven forbid, outright burning during the long baking time.  I got my nonstick pie crust shield ages ago, don't remember from where, but I found similar ones for you guys on Amazon here.  I put the pie shields on when my pies go in the oven, and I don't remove them until a few minutes before I'm ready to take the pies out to the oven.


2.      Cover edges of pie crust with nonstick pie shields or strips of aluminum foil.  Place pies in oven and bake until sides are puffed and center is just set but still looks wet.  Begin checking after 50 minutes.  (The Bon Appetit recipe said the pies would be done after about 50 minutes, but in my experience they usually aren’t ready to come out until about an hour and 15 minutes of baking).  Cool completely.  (Can be prepared 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate).  Serve plain or with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Fresh From the Oven!
The photo above shows what the pies should look like when they are done baking and ready to come out of the oven.  See how the edges are puffy?  If you enlarge the photo you can see that the center of the pies still looks wet, but when I jiggle them I can see that the centers are indeed set, no longer liquid and sloshing around.  As the pies cool, that puffiness sinks down a little and then the finished pies look like this:

After Cooling, Ready to Enjoy
Oh, and you DO want to completely cool and refrigerate these pies before eating them.  Also, they are fabulous for breakfast.  :-)  Just sayin.'

Well, it's a rainy day in Charlotte today, but there's no more baking on today's agenda.  I need to spend some time learning the Second Soprano for the choruses and chorales in Bach's St. John's Passion, reviewing my Alto part for my upcoming Christmas caroling gigs, and maybe I can even squeak in a smidge of sewing before I have to pick Anders up from school and take him to his violin lesson.

Have a great day, everyone!


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