Winter Chocolate Peppermint Cake + GIVEAWAY!

Inside a glittery exterior, rich chocolate cake layers are filled with a whipped white chocolate peppermint ganache before being frosting in a luscious vanilla bean buttercream.

Classic chocolate cake with whipped white chocolate peppermint ganache and vanilla bean buttercream.
Classic chocolate cake with whipped white chocolate peppermint ganache and vanilla bean buttercream.

Snowflakes, waltzing flowers, Spanish chocolate, and a mouse king all enter a bar… Okay, so I’ve never been very good with jokes.  If you don’t already know what these things have in common, let me tell you.  I’m talking about The Nutcracker!

Within hearing the first few bars of the overture in Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, I am instantly flooded with all the feels.  After dancing The Nutcracker a half-dozen times and having seen it performed more times than I can count, I can sing along to the entire score.  The music is as truly magical as the costumes, sets and, of course, the choreography.  Ranking in my Top 3 of Christmas traditions is The Nutcracker.  My mom and I are going on Thursday and I can hardly wait!

Classic chocolate cake with whipped white chocolate peppermint ganache and vanilla bean buttercream.
Classic chocolate cake with whipped white chocolate peppermint ganache and vanilla bean buttercream.
Classic chocolate cake with whipped white chocolate peppermint ganache and vanilla bean buttercream.

I was lucky to grow up with an amazing ballet company in my hometown and the opportunity to see live performances regularly.  The Nutcracker is always a favorite among children, myself included.  Like most companies, The Sacramento Ballet casts hundreds of children to participate in their annual production.  It really is quite an amazing tradition. Each winter, we would get dressed-up and head down to Downtown Sacramento to check out the Christmas decorations at the Capital and see the ballet.  I would later join the cast of the Sacramento Ballet’s The Nutcracker as an angel when I was in high school, but it was when I was about 10 years old that I danced in my first Nutcracker.  It was magical.

The first time I danced in The Nutcracker I was part of the chorus during the Waltz of the Flowers.  I believe I was in the 5th grade.  Earlier that fall, I switched community dance studios to one where they put on their own production of The Nutcracker.  It wasn’t the huge, professional production that I was used to seeing, but for what it was, it was pretty good.  I sewed ribbons on my shoes (or rather my mom did) and donned my purple tulle skirt in anticipation.  Over the next few years, I would later dance the rolls of “Party Girl,” “Marzipan,” “Ribbon Candy,” “Spanish Chocolate,” and my very favorite, “Snowflake.”

As a kid, the Divertissements was always my favorite part.  Spanish chocolate, Arabian coffee, Chinese tea, The Russian Trepak, Dance of the Reed-Pipes (marzipan), and Mother Ginger (and her children) would each perform in their respective styles, music, and costuming.  I think it was every kid’s favorite.  And the Sugar Plum Fairy, of course.  As I grew older, my taste began to change.  I began to appreciate the different pieces of music.  Where when I was younger the battle scene was my least favorite, but the quick allegro became intriguing and fascinating to me as an adult.  Today, the snow scene is by far my favorite.  I’m not even talking about the pretty Snow Queen.  I mean the flurry that is the snowflakes. 

The snowflakes of a Nutcracker performance show just how strong the corps de ballet can be.  Of course the principal dancers have skill and grace above nearly every other human on this planet, but let us not overlook the strength, talent, and dedication it takes to be a part of the chorus.  In this scene in particular, they are required to perform effortlessly and uniformly at what seems like 386 different tempos.  Their waltzes across the dance floor create snowflake-like patterns on the stage as the music builds and builds into a full-own snowstorm.  And in most cases, it will even snow on stage!  Meaning, these incredible athletes are performing with lightening-speed footwork in point shoes on top of fake snow.  Seriously people!!!  It’s an incredible sight.  At the end of each snow scene I am usually teary-eyed not only because it is the close of Act 1 (meaning the whole thing is almost over), but also because of the pure artistry, talent, and athleticism of the dancers.

Classic chocolate cake with whipped white chocolate peppermint ganache and vanilla bean buttercream.
Classic chocolate cake with whipped white chocolate peppermint ganache and vanilla bean buttercream.
Classic chocolate cake with whipped white chocolate peppermint ganache and vanilla bean buttercream.

Speaking of snow, what about this cake?!?!  At first glance, the crystal-like sanding sugar glitters about in its own gorgeous way.  Inside, rich chocolate cake layers are filled with a whipped white chocolate peppermint ganache before being frosting in a vanilla bean buttercream. Seriously, guys.  How amazing does that sound?!?!  This chocolate mint cake can be found in my book, Layered.  I’ve always been a fan of mint and chocolate together, and I thrilled that others have been equally excited about the combination.

Today, I will be sharing the recipe straight from the book in partnership with Rodelle.  I’ve been using their products for years, including the time I spent recipe testing for the book. Their premium cocoa powders are so lush and rich.  I can truly taste the difference in my chocolate cake recipes!  Real vanilla bean is a game changer, and their beans and extracts bring my baking to a new level.  I’ve used several of their products in this cake alone, and now you can to!  Enter to win a signed copy of Layered as well as baking bundle from Rodelle today!

Head down to the bottom of the post for rules and entry.

Classic chocolate cake with whipped white chocolate peppermint ganache and vanilla bean buttercream.

Winter Chocolate Mint Cake
From Layered cookbook

Whipped Fresh Mint White Chocolate Ganache
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup lightly packed fresh mint
7 ounces (by weight) white chocolate, chopped
¼ to ½ teaspoon pure peppermint extract (optional)

In a saucepan, slowly bring the cream to a simmer over medium heat.  Meanwhile, gently muddle the mint.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the mint.

Let it steep for about 10 minutes.  Keeping the mint with the cream, transfer the mixture to a container and refrigerate for about 2 hours.

Strain the cream through a mesh sieve and discard the mint.  Measure out 90 ml (3 liquid ounces) cream and place it back in the saucepan.  Slowly bring the cream back up to a simmer.

Meanwhile, place the white chocolate in a heat-safe bowl.

Once the cream is hot, pour over the chocolate.  Let stand for 30 seconds, then whisk until smooth.  Set aside for about 2 hours until completely cool and thickened.

In the bowl of a stand mixed fitter with the whisk attachement (or using an hand-mixer), whip the ganche until light, fluffy, and pale in color.  Add the peppermint extract and whisk to combine.

Do not over-mix or the ganache may split or become grainy.


Classic Chocolate Cake
1 ¾ cup + 2 tabelspoons all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup grapeseed or canola oil
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
2 large eggs
¾ cup buttermilk
1 cup hot coffee (may sub hot water)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour three 6-inch baking pans and set aside.

Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the oil and sugar.  While mixing on medium-low speed, add in the extracts and eggs, one at a time.

In alternating batches start and ending with the dry ingredients, gradually mix in the dry ingredients and the buttermilk.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

With the mixer on low, stream in the hot coffee and mix just until combined.

Evenly distribute the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 25 to 28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack 10 to 20 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.

Vanilla Mint Buttercream
1 small recipe Swiss meringue buttercream
seeds of ½ vanilla bean
¾ teaspoon peppermint extract, or to taste

Add in the vanilla bean and peppermint.  Mix until smooth.


Assembly
1 cup white sanding sugar
Fresh rosemary (optional)

Chocolate Bourbon Marble Cake + GIVEAWAY!

Swirls of chocolate and brown sugar bourbon buttercream sandwiched between layers of decadent chocolate cake and surprise pecan crunch filling!

Chocolate Bourbon Marble Cake with pecan crunch.

’Tis the season, folks!  The holidays have officially arrived.  I could not be more thankful and thrilled to be celebrating this cherished time of year with my little family and close friends.  

This past month has been sort of a whirl-wind of Christmas baking, toddler entertaining, winter colds, and lots of rain.  When not sick with this horrendous cough, I’ve been baking up a storm for the holidays and chasing around my curious little Everett non-stop..  Life has been happy, crazy, exhausting, but extremely full these days.  And it’s only just begun!

Chocolate Bourbon Marble Cake with pecan crunch.
Chocolate Bourbon Marble Cake with pecan crunch.
Chocolate Bourbon Marble Cake with pecan crunch.

I know it’s cliché, but Christmas truly is my most favorite time of year.  The one good thing about Canadian Thanksgiving being in October is that we get to start celebrating Christmas right after Halloween.  Our tree is up, baking well under way, and I’ve been listing to holiday tunes for a month now.  This year is going to be particularly special for a few reasons: we get to witness the magic of Christmas from the perspective of a toddler, we get to fly home in time for Christmas Eve this year (which just might actually be my favorite day), and we have so much to thankful for.

I’m sure I’ll be writing about twinkly lights, Everett’s first encounter with Santa, catching snowflakes, etc before the 25th, but today I just want to give thanks.  I am a bit late for Thanksgiving, but it is still the season of giving, so please accept a big THANK YOU from me to you!  It’s been such an incredible year!  For each and every one of you that has supported me and my book, baked and shared your own cake creations, voted for ‘Layered’ in the Good Reads awards, and/or left a sweet, supportive comment, please know how much I appreciate you.  People have emailed and tagged photos of their “Layered inspired” cakes for weddings, birthdays, showers, and more.  There are even a few of you who are baking their way through my book!!  I have never been so honoured to be a small part of your special days. 

I’ve hosted a few giveaways this fall (and I still have another coming up in December), but this time I am only opening up the giveaway for those who have already purchased their own copy of ‘Layered.’  Again, I can’t thank you all enough for your tremendous amount of support, and this is just a small way I can show my gratitude.  Surely you already have a copy, but why not have another to give as a gift this holiday season?!  Or at least this is my intention.  Just another way to spread and share the cake love!!

So how does this work?  For a chance to win a signed copy of ‘Layered’ in time for the holidays, post and tag a photo on Instagram using the hashtags #LayeredCookBook and #LayeredHoliday.  Feel free to post your own Layered-inspired cake, the book itself in your own home or kitchen, or any other photo that indicates that you own and (hopefully) love ‘Layered.’  Only photos posted November 29th to December 3rd may qualify.  If you've already posted a Layered cake pic, please re-post during the specified time frame.  If you have a private account, please message me directly.  At the end of the week, I will round up all of the entries and select a winner at random.  US and Canadian residents only.  The winner’s photo will then be re-posted on my Instagram!

Chocolate Bourbon Marble Cake with pecan crunch.
Chocolate Bourbon Marble Cake with pecan crunch.

In the meantime, please enjoy this Chocolate Bourbon Marbled Cake that I created for The Cake Blog.  Deep into winter and stormy weather season, I find myself searching for foods of comfort and decadence. And with the holidays approaching at lightening speed, traditional flavors float up to the top of my baking “to-do” list. This cake started out as a pecan pie. After a few unexpected twists and turns, it evolved into this nearly sinful Chocolate Bourbon Marbled Cake with a pecan crunch. Don’t you just love a happy accident?

Here’s a bit more of what I have to say about this absurdly decadent and unapologetically indulgent cake combination: 

If you are a bourbon fan or not, this chocolatey cake is both familiar in its flavor pairing but special enough for any upcoming holiday celebration. This deeply fudgey cake comes together easily on the stovetop before being baked and drowned in a boozy simple syrup. Finely chopped toasted pecans get folded into the filling for a bit of texture and nuttiness. But the buttercream – now that’s the star here. Using brown sugar immediately elevates this meringue-based buttercream and brings about an almost caramel flavour that is perfect for this time of year. A big glug of bourbon and real vanilla bean seeds takes it to the next level. For the marbled effect, simply reserve a bit of the buttercream and mix with a teaspoon or so of cocoa powder then randomly swipe it around a nearly smooth buttercream cake just before finishing it off. A couple final spins on the cake turntable at the very end, and the colors will marble and swirl before your eyes!
— Tessa Huff for The Cake Blog
Chocolate Bourbon Marble Cake with pecan crunch.

Find the recipe on The Cake Blog

Matcha Chocolate Cake + GIVEAWAY!

Alternating layers of matcha 'green tea' and chocolate cake with creamy matcha white chocolate ganache filling from "Layered: Baking, Building and Styling Spectacular Cakes."

Matcha Chocolate Cake from "Layered: Baking, Building and Styling Spectacular Cakes."

Nine year ago exactly, I traveled to Tokyo for the first time.  It was November and we spent American Thanksgiving dining at the New York Grill up on the 52nd floor of the Park Hyatt Hotel (you know – the restaurant from Lost in Translation).  Besides this seemingly American meal (although absent of stuffing and canned cranberry sauce), I’ll remember that trip mostly for all the amazing and new foods I got to try.  In fact, it was this trip that first introduced me to the wonderful world of matcha!

Matcha Chocolate Cake from "Layered: Baking, Building and Styling Spectacular Cakes."
Matcha Chocolate Cake from "Layered: Baking, Building and Styling Spectacular Cakes."

Prior to my first trip to Asia, I had the privilege of traveling internationally to various parts of Europe, North America, and even Australia.  I’ve always loved exploring new cities, trying out new foods, seeking out cool desserts, and absorbing the different cultures.  Thousands of miles away from home, I was able to navigate around these other cities easily since most people still spoke English and I could sometimes even figure out dinner menus on my own.  But landing in Tokyo was much different.  The lights!  The crowds!  I could not make out not one word on the signs and it took us about 45 minutes just to leave the train station, but stepping out into Shibayu Crossing was one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever experienced!

After a few days, afternoon tea in London and even grabbing a pint at a beer garden in Munich feels some-what familiar, but nothing compares to eating ramen in a tiny restaurant off of a random side-street of one of the busiest intersections in the world or being totally fascinated by the noodle-like substances that topped nearly all of the desserts in Tokyo.  As a first-time visitor, I found the city very hard to navigate.  It is not set up as a grid like a lot of other large cities and I could barely translate any street signs.  Around each corner held a new surprise!

I still have dreams about the best gyozo I ever ate in Harajuko.  I’ve been trying to find a taiyaki fish cake that tastes better than red bean paste-filled ones from the street cart near Shinjuku, but I haven’t yet.  And those noodle-like things on desserts?  Those were sweet chestnut-paste noodles!  Strangely enough, I even had my first Donut Plant donut in Tokyo.  But it was probably the tin of matcha powder that I took home to try out that made the biggest contribution to my culinary journey.

Matcha Chocolate Cake from "Layered: Baking, Building and Styling Spectacular Cakes."
Matcha Chocolate Cake from "Layered: Baking, Building and Styling Spectacular Cakes."
I went to Tokyo right around the time I seriously got into pastry as a full-time profession. I was continuously on the lookout for inspiration and new recipe ideas. Japanese dessert are in a category of their own, and I was excited to incorporate some of the concepts I saw into my own baking. Up until this point, I was fairly familiar with green teas. But matcha – that was new. Even though I could not make out one singe bit of the instructions, I bough a tin of matcha powder to take home and experiment with. A couple years later, I created this Matcha Chocolate Cake and the most delicious, creamy Matcha Ganache.
— Layered: Baking, Building and Styling Spectacular Cakes
Matcha Chocolate Cake from "Layered: Baking, Building and Styling Spectacular Cakes."
Matcha Chocolate Cake from "Layered: Baking, Building and Styling Spectacular Cakes."
Matcha Chocolate Cake from "Layered: Baking, Building and Styling Spectacular Cakes."

I can't jet back to Tokyo every time I need a matcha refill, and I expect that you can either.  Thankfully, I've teamed up with Aiya America for an awesome giveaway!  Enter to win some of their premium matcha tea powder AND a signed copy of my book, Layered.  Entry form below recipe.

 

Matcha Chocolate Cake
From Layered: Baking, Building and Styling Spectacular Cakes 

Matcha Cake
1 ½ cups cake flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons matcha powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, or 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
¾ cup whole milk

 

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two 6-inch cake pans and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium until smooth.  Add the sugar and mix until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add the oil and mix until combined.

With the mixer on low, add in the vanilla, almond, eggs, and egg yolk – one at a time.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.

With the mixer on low, add in half of the dry ingredients.  Stream in the milk and mix until combined.  Add in the rest of the dry ingredients and mix on medium-low for no more than 30 seconds or until everything in incorporated.

Evenly distribute the batter between the two pans.  Bake for 24 to 27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.

Recipe may be doubled and baked in three 8-inch pans.  Bake time may vary.

 

Classic Chocolate Cake
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cocoa powder
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup canola or grapeseed oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
¾ cup whole milk
½ cup hot coffee or hot water

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two 6-inch cake pans and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the oil and sugar together until combined

With the mixer on low, add in the vanilla, almond, egg, and egg yolk – one at a time.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.

With the mixer on low, add in half of the dry ingredients.  Stream in the milk and mix until combined.  Add in the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Stream in the hot coffee and mix until the batter is smooth.

Evenly distribute the batter between the two pans.  Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.

Recipe may be doubled and baked in three 8-inch pans.  Bake time may vary.



Matcha Ganache
12 ounces white chocolate, chopped (by weight)
½ cup (120ml) heavy cream
1 teaspoon matcha powder

Place the chocolate in a heat-safe container and set aside.

Place the cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Slowly bring the cream to a simmer.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the matcha.

Pour the cream mixture over the chopped chocolate.  Let sit 30 seconds, then whisk until smooth and the chocolate has melted.

Allow to completely cool and thicken until ready to use.  When done, the ganache should be spreadable. 

To speed things up, the ganache may be refrigerated, but remember to stir often or it will harden.  If made in advanced, gently reheat in the microwave until a spreadable consistency.

 

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
3 large eggs whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
gel food (optional)

 

In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the egg whites and sugar.  Whisk briefly by hand until combined.

Fill a saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler.  Stirring intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it reaches 150 to 160 on a candy thermometer.

Once hot, carefully return the mixer bowl to the stand mixer.  Fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg white mixture on high until stiff peaks, about 8 minutes.  When done, the outside of the mixer bowl should return to room temperature.

Stop the mixer and swap the paddle for the whisk.  With the mixer on low, add in the vanilla and butter, a couple tablespoons at a time.  Once all of the butter has been added, turn the mixer up to medium-high and mix until smooth.  If the mixture looks curdled, just keep mixing until it is smooth (this could take up to about 5 minutes).  If it appears soupy, place the mixer bowl in the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes, then mix until smooth.  Tint with gel food coloring, if desired.

 

Recipe may be doubled to frost and decorate a larger cake.

 

Assembly
Once the cakes are completely cooled, trim the tops so that they are level.  Alternating between matcha and chocolate cakes, spread on 1/3 of the ganache between each layer.

For the star pattern, simply pipe rows of stars using a #21 tip all over a thinly frosted cake.

This giveaway is now closed.  Congrats to Maria Crystalia! 

This post has been sponsored by Aiya America.  Thank you for supporting the brands that make Style Sweet CA possible!

Butterscotch Vanilla Pear Pie

A butterscotch-filled, vanilla-specked pear pie topped with an all-butter lattice crust and flaky sea salt.

Butterscotch Pear Pie

As I put Everett down for his afternoon nap, I am still trying to make sense of the current state of our nation.  The road to clarity is currently covered in debris after last night’s election and the many shattered hearts that resulted.  I don’t talk much about politics, but I don’t want to be naïve or breeze over the situation either.  I don’t talk much about politics because I tend to get jaded pretty quickly and I don’t like to invite that kind of negativity into my day to day.  But in the aftermath of a very controversial and confusing election, I am still trying to put the pieces back together and understand how we all got to this point.

Part of me wants to flood my social media with puppies, cakes, smiling faces and positive thoughts, yadda yadda.  Another part wants to hide from the news and be thankful of our move to Canada nearly 4 years ago – even though almost all of my friends/family are American and US politics greatly effects us up here too.  Instead, I will continue on with my day's agenda of raising a respectful toddler, because what other choice do I really have? 

Butterscotch Vanilla Pear Pie
Butterscotch Vanilla Pear Pie

I come from a very diverse household made up of parents from different races, class systems and cultures.  I’ve seen and heard what it’s like to be a struggling minority subject to racism and injustice.  I’ve also seen what it’s like to be well-educated, white, and wealthy.  Both sides work their asses off, so who’s to say one is more deserving than the other?  For me, I grew up in mostly-white, upper-middle class suburbia.  I know I am very privileged, but I’ve continued to work hard and to not take any of it for granted.  I thank my parents for teaching me core family values, how to treat others with respect, how to keep an open mind, yet how to question everything.  I’ve seen the best in people and the worst.  I’ve been subject to tragedy and experienced terrorism first-hand.  In the end, the only thing we can control is our own behaviours and how we react to situations that are beyond us.

Hate is black and white, but there is also so much grey-area to consider before making snap judgments and creating opinions about one another.  I’m not talking about just what party somebody voted for yesterday, but in life in general. Instead, let’s simply lead by example.  “Role model” isn’t necessarily synonymous with President, or rather it's proven that it doesn't have to be for the time being, but that shouldn’t keep us from raising our own children with respect and teaching them right from wrong.  We have a lot of work at home to do if we want to create a better environment for future generations, but I know we can do it.

I will do my best to raise a creative yet critical thinker in Everett that is equally kind and respectful as he is strong.  I would like to tell him to always keep dreaming and that love conquers all, but sometimes it’s hard work and perseverance that’s needed for change.  But how do we keep their innocent hearts tender while trying to toughen them up for the cruel world?  I don’t really know. However, I do know that I will continue to teach him to share with ALL of the other children at the library as we did this morning, encourage him to be creative and “draw” (his new favorite activity) while I sneak in lessons about numbers and letters and discipline when he tries to take the crayons to the walls, and show forgiveness when he gets in fights with our pup, Remy.  He’s not yet 2 years old, so I know we both have a lot of learning ahead of us, but we’ve got to start somewhere. 

For me, I will continue to be an attentive mother/wife/daughter/sister and then dive into work when I am “off-duty,” be a respectful neighbour, chat it up with my checkers at Whole Foods (sometimes the only adult conversation I have all day), give our spare change to the man on the corner that always says “Hi, Tiny!” whenever Ev walks by, try to get to church on Sunday and then feel guilty when we stay home to watch football instead, live a purposeful life without fear of repercussion, and choose to edit photos instead of tackling the mound of dirty dishes/laundry because I am far from perfect, too.  And at the end of the day, I will make pie because pie is always a good idea.

Butterscotch Vanilla Pear Pie
Butterscotch Vanilla Pear Pie
Butterscotch Vanilla Pear Pie
Butterscotch Vanilla Pear Pie

Butterscotch Vanilla Pear Pie

All-Butter Crust
adapted from Hummingbird High
2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup + 2 tablespoons very cold butter, diced
½ cup cold water
¼ cup ice
1 tablespoon apple cider or white vinegar
1 egg
splash milk
turbinado sugar and flaky sea salt, for sprinkling

1.  In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and sugar.  Place the ice in the water and set aside.

2.  Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter or by hand, rubbing the pieces of butter between your thumb, index, and middle fingers.  Once the pieces are no longer lager than about a peanut, begin to flatten the pieces of butter in sheets between your palms.  Be careful not to over-work the butter or let it get too warm.

3.  Working with only a couple tablespoons at a time, add in about 6 to 8 tablespoons of the water along with the vinegar.  Stir together using a wooden spoon or even just a clean hand in the bowl.  The dough should appear fairly shaggy and not sticky.  Once you can squeeze a few pieces together and they hold, the dough is done being mixed.  Do not over-mix.

4.  Divide the dough into half and shape each piece into a disk.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours, or overnight (preferably).

5. Once ready, bring one disc out of the refrigerator and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.  Liberally flour the work surface and begin to roll out the dough, working from the center out – rotating the dough after each roll.  Roll the dough until about ¼ inch thick and about 12 to 13 inches in diameter. 

6.  Gently roll the dough around the rolling pin and transfer to a 8 or 9 inch pie tin.  Fit the dough into the bottom of the tin and up the sides, allowing for about an inch of overhang.  Trim with kitchen sheers and place back in the refrigerator.

7.  Meanwhile, make the pear filling (recipe to follow).
8.  For the lattice top, repeat step 5 Using a ruler and pastry wheel or sharp paring knife, cut dough into 1 to 2-inch wide strips. The centre strips should be slightly longer than the diameter of the pie pan. You’ll need about 6 to 10 strips to create the lattice top, depending on desired width and spacing in between.  Place the strips on a baking sheet and chill in the refrigerator.

9.  Fill the chilled pie crust by layering in the pear slices fairly tightly, leaving the juices behind.  Top with about ¾ cup butterscotch sauce (recipe to follow).

10.  Weave the strips together to create a lattice pattern over the top of the butterscotch, trying not to get too much butterscotch on the top of the pie.  Fold the bottom layer of dough up and over the top of the lattice.  Pinch to seal.  Crimp the edges together using the tines of a fork and dock the crust to the pan.

12.  Return the pie back to refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

13.  Just before heading into the over, create an egg wash by whisking together a whole egg and a splash of milk.  Brush the egg wash over the entire top of the crust and sprinkle with turbinado sugar and salt flakes.

14.  Place pie on a baking sheet and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown.  If the top begins to brown too quickly, cover with foil.

15.  Allow the baked pie to completely cool before slicing and serving.

For a step-by-step lattice tutorial, check out my post on Food Network!

Pear Filling
1 medium apple, thinly sliced
5 to 6 medium pears, thinly sliced pears (about 4 to 5 cups of fruit total)
juice of one lemon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped out

Peel and core the fruit. Add the lemon juice to a large bowl. Thinly slice the fruit into about 1/8-inch pieces and place them in the bowl. Toss with the lemon juice and granulated sugar. Add in the flour, cornstarch, vanilla bean seeds and a pinch of salt. Gently stir to coat. Set aside.

 

Butterscotch Sauce
¼ cup unsalted butter
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped out (save ½ for pie filling)
1 tablespoon scotch (optional)
½ teaspoon salt

In a heavy-bottom saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Stir in the sugars and continuously stir with a wooden spoon for 5 minutes, or until sugar melts and no longer looks like wet sand.

Remove the pan from the heat.  While whisking, carefully pour in the cream.  Lower the heat to low, and return the pan back to the stove.  Simmer and whisk continuously for 8 minutes.

Remove from the heat and pour the butterscotch into a heat-safe container.  After it cools for about 10 minutes, stir in the vanilla, scotch, and salt.  Continue to cool until thickened.  Butterscotch may be made in advanced and stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.  Gently re-heat so that it is fluid but not hot before use.