Black and Blueberry Pie

Ripe, juicy blackberries and plump, local blueberries sweeten up this classic summer pie.  Each slice is overflowing with berries surrounded by an all-butter, flakey crust.

Blackberry and Blueberry Pie Recipe

I had so much fun making this Apricot Raspberry Pie last month that I had to turn around and make another.  Thanks to a generous donation from the BC Blueberry Council last week, I knew exactly what I was going to try next, the Black and Blueberry Pie from Four and Twenty Blackbirds

Blackberry and Blueberry Pie Recipe
Blackberry and Blueberry Pie Recipe

When I tell you how excited about my newfound love for pie is, I am not joking.  After the success of my lattice adventure and first all-butter crust experience, I quickly went out and bought the Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve been pretty enamoured by the Elsen sisters and their pie journey.  I know I am like 3 years late to the party, but I’ve gone as far as to question my entire being and wondering why I don’t have a sister to start a pie shop with, toyed with the idea of opening my own (then quickly remembered what it was like to run a cake shop), but most accurately, I have drooled over each and every one of their recipes. 

The photos in the book are absolutely gorgeous – not too trendy or overly styled - and the anecdotes make you feel like you are hanging out in their Brooklyn kitchen.  In fact, the next time I make it back to NYC, you bet it will be on the top of my list of places to eat.  No, Four and Twenty Blackbirds is not super new or anything, but I have fallen behind on all the hip, new places to dine in New York.  In my ripe old age of 32, I’ve completely fallen out of touch.  Even here in Vancouver, I can’t hardly keep up with the ever-changing food scene – not that could wait for a table with a toddler even if I knew where to go. 

Back in the day, my mom and I spent each of my college spring breaks in NYC bakery hopping and seeing the most current Broadway show.  I’m talking about a time where people were still discovering that the a line-up in the West Village led to delicious Magnolia’s Bakery cupcakes and the hottest ticket in town was for the original cast of “Wicked.”  I would have already scouted out the newest bakery or cake shop to check out and booked tickets to the latest shows before the winter quarter was over.  And as soon as I was done with finals, we would take the red-eye Jet Blue flight to NYC.  We would spend our mornings shopping or brunching at Sarabeth’s before sliding into our orchestra seats to see the amazing dancers of “Movin’ Out” or snag a last-minute ticket to “Rent,” because “Rent” live was always a good idea.  We would tour the art galleries uptown, then head back to Canal Street to barter over handbags.  Always a city girl at heart, I felt hip, cool, and totally "alive" (although using those words probably means that I wasn’t, lol).

Blackberry and Blueberry Pie Recipe
Blackberry and Blueberry Pie Recipe

To say I was lucky is a total understatement.   I was always grateful for our trips, but looking back now, I bet I didn’t know just how good I had it.  Of course the time spent together bonding was priceless, and for my mom, it meant her daughter wasn’t off partying somewhere else during spring break, but those years were truly unforgettable.

I wouldn’t say I took those trips to NYC for granted, but sometimes I wish I could go back to experience each moment to its fullest.  I won’t be hopping on any red-eyes any time soon, yet I yearn for just a few days to eat my way around the city.  I know I sound ridiculous, but I’ve totally missed out on the rise of pastry phenomena like Momofuko Milk Bar, Dominique Ansel, and Four and Twenty and as a dessert blogger I feel that it is my duty to go, lol.   Even before Everett was born, I wish we had made it for one last girls trip...  

Lucky for people like me or anyone else that is in a point in their lives where they are a bit more anchored down with their families, careers, etc, there are fabulous cookbooks that make you feel like you are part of the experience.  I bet a pie made by the hands of the Elsen girls themselves tastes 10X better; at least I can still try my hand at one of their recipes in my own home across the continent.  Now if only we could get a version of "Hamilton" broadcast to all of use that can’t hop over to NYC in the near future, then I’d be a little more content “stuck” on the west coast, hehe.

Blackberry and Blueberry Pie Recipe

Black and Blueberry 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, 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.  For the braided top, repeat step 5.  Using a ruler and a paring knife, cut 18 strips, about a 1/2-inch wide.  Braid in groups of three and place on a baking sheet or cutting board and place in the refrigerator, along with any leftover dough.

8.  Meanwhile, make the filling (recipe to follow).

9.  Fill the chilled pie crust with the filling (fruit and juices).  Remove the braids from the refrigerator and place on top of the filling. Allow for some excess dough on the end of each strip, then trim.

10.  Fold all of the excess dough around the edges under itself and crimp using your thumb and index finger (see NOTES).

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.

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.

Blackberry and Blueberry Pie Recipe

Black and Blueberry Filling
adapted from the Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book

4 cups fresh blueberries
2 cups fresh blackberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl.  Allow to macerate for about 15 minutes before pouring into the chilled pie shell.

Blackberry and Blueberry Pie Recipe

Baker’s Notes
      I hardly ever make pie, so I didn’t have a go-to pie crust recipe on hand.  I relied on this all-butter crust from my pie-making pal Michelle of Hummingbird High.  Be sure to check out her post all about pie for more information.

      Speaking of great pie tips, check out Adrianna’s pie post on A Cozy Kitchen.

      When in doubt, keep that butter COLD!!  Be sure to refrigerate the pie dough between each step.  Keep the butter cold will help prevent the baked crust from shrinking.  Don’t quote me on this, but cold butter should also make for a more flakey crust as it helps keeps gluten formation in the flour to a minimum (please forgive me, as I may have just made that up…).

      Feel free to adjust the amount of sugar in the filling slightly to adapt to the ripeness of the fruit.

      Allow the pie to cool completely before slicing.  Like, really.  Multiple hours (at least 2 to 4 hours).

-    For this particular pie, I folded the excess crust from around the edges up and IN towards the center.  After watching pie videos on Erin McDowell's Instagram, I noticed she folds excess dough UNDER before crimping.  So much prettier!

A big THANK YOU to the BC Blueberry Council for their generation donation of fresh, local berries!

Passion Fruit Popsicles with mascarpone and vanilla bean

Creamy, dreamy with a punch of tangy passion fruit.  These frozen pops are elevated with luscious mascarpone cream and vanilla bean simple syrup.  The swirls of passion fruit curd bring a taste of the tropics home to wherever you are staying this summer!

Frozen Passion Fruit Pops for popsicle week.

It's that time of year again.... It's #POPSICLEWEEK!   What better way to officially kick off summer!?

Popsicle Week is not only a time to eat delicious frozen pops, but it is also about community.  At least it is for me.  Hundreds (are there that many of us this year?) of food and dessert bloggers from around the globe dedicate a week to popsicles – each incorporating their own personalities and putting a unique twist on an original recipe.  In a world where I spend most of my days isolated at home either in front of a computer screen alone or just hanging with my toddler, popsicle week is always a great reminder of the amazing blogger community that I am blessed to be a part of. 

Passion Fruit Popsicles for popsicle week!

Starting in 2013, for a while I thought I was late to the blogging game.  Others before me had been writing, posting, and forming online friendships for 5, 8, even 10 years, and at first I felt a bit like an outsider.  I sat silently in front of my keyword board for months, but then started to reach out to others.  And you know what?  The more I engaged with others, the more they engaged back!  Funny how that works, hehe.

After a few months of living in Vancouver, I met up with the amazing Lyndsay of Coco Cake Land.  Finally, a “real life” blogger friend!  An awesome, generous (with her kindness, wit, and bloggy knowledge) one at that and a true reminder that behind all the pretty pictures and recipes there are real, living people who make, create, and are trying to share and be heard just like me.  In fact, it was Lyndsay who invited me to Popsicle Week 2014, and the rest is history….

But really, I am so lucky to have been able to e-meet so many other talented, generous food bloggers out there.  How you ask?  Just by saying “hello,” and starting the conversation.  I really must say that food bloggers (and I am sure other types of bloggers, too) are some of the kindest, most supportive people out there.  I felt this by the outpour of encouragement and enthusiasm when my book was released and the Online Release Party that I hosted.  Much more casually, I love how I can just tweet at a blogger pal about last minute pie advice and get prompt, real-life experience feedback.  So fun!

Passion Fruit Popsicles for popsicle week!

Be sure to check out ALL the blogger pops this week for Popsicle Week 2016!  BIG thanks to Billy for rounding us all up for another year of frozen fun =)

Passion Fruit Popsicle (non)Recipe
4 parts plain yogurt, strained
2 parts mascarpone, softened
vanilla bean simple syrup, to taste
1 to 2 parts passion fruit curd

Place a mesh strainer over a mixing bowl and line it with a couple paper towels.  Add in plain yogurt (about 1 to 2 cups) and let the liquids strain out for about 4 hours (or overnight) in the refrigerator.  Once strained, discard the liquid and place the thickened yogurt in the bowl.

Meanwhile, place ¼ cup sugar and ¼ cup water in a small saucepan.  Add the seeds of half a vanilla bean (and the pod) and heat over medium-high.  Once the mixture begins to simmer, lower the heat and allow the syrup to thicken for 8 to 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.  Discard the vanilla bean pod.

Mix the softened mascarpone into the strained yogurt.  Sweeten the mixture with the cooled vanilla bean simple syrup (about 2 to 4 tablespoons).

Fold in the passion fruit curd and adjust according to taste – adding more curd or simple syrup as desired.

Pour the mixture into popsicle molds and freeze. 

To make six pops, start with about 2 cups yogurt, 1 cup mascarpone, and ¾ cup passion fruit curd.  Mold capacity will vary, hence the recipe written in ratios.
 

As a side note, if you have ever commented or emailed me and never received anything back, I am so sorry!  I try my best to respond to all comments and questions, but some slip through the cracks.  Feel free to say “hello” anytime! 

 

NOTES
The yogurt mixture and the curd freeze and thaw at different rates.  The more combined the mixtures are, the more enjoyable the pops are to eat.  If left to freeze with pockets of curds (instead of swirled it), the messier and drippier they tend to be as the curd melts.

Passion Fruit Popsicles

My DREAM 32nd Birthday Feast

Hi all!  Tomorrow is my 32nd birthday.  In my head, I still think it’s 2012 and I am about 26 (even though I was 28 in 2012).  I honestly don’t know where time goes, but then I look at what I’ve done lately (baby, book, moving to Canada) and remember.  For those reasons and a few others, I don’t really mind being another year older.   While being an adult comes with its own responsibilities, there are certainly some perks, too.  As an adult, you kinda get to do whatever you want (to an extent, of course).  And for my 32nd birthday, all I really want is to go strawberry picking with my little family and eat delicious food.

Instead of talking about my hopes and dreams or reflecting on this past year, I am going to go back to that “delicious food” part.  I thought it would be fun to share all of my current cravings and favorite foods (maybe just fun for me, but I think you all might find it at least somewhat interesting).  Wouldn’t it be cool do this every year and compare?  No?  Just me??

Vanilla bean cake with pink vanilla frosting and sprinkles.

So here it is:  My DREAM 32nd Birthday Party Menu!

Drinks:  These days, if I am going to have anything other than coffee or sparkling water then it will probably come in a wine glass.  I’ll take a cold beer when appropriate, but usually a glass of house red is where it’s at.  Boring?  Oh well…. I don’t really like the taste of hard alcohol, so it’s got to be an exceptional cocktail (which do exist), but most of the time I am not willing to take that risk and usually stick with wine.  For my birthday, I’ll kindly take a fizzy glass of sparkling rosé =)


Apetizers:  This epic mezzi platter is what my dreams are made of!  Give me all the hummus, please.  I could probably devour it, along side this modern crudité, before the main course even arrives.  Also this – more hummus!  But please don’t forget the burrata.

If there is still room, then I’ll take one of these goat cheese and tomato toasts with balsamic redaction.


Sides/Salads: I know we are little late to hop of bandwagon here, but Brett and I have really been diggin’ the kale cesar lately.  I’ve also been making an amazing grainy mustard and lemon roasted potato dish that I adapted from the new Love and Lemons cookbook.  I add extra garlic and it is wonderfully tangy.

Also, any sort of roasted veggie with a spicy or herby yogurt or tahini drizzle.


Mains:  I would describe my own cooking style as a Mediterranean-Californian fusion.  But when it comes to eating and comfort food, I am the hugest pasta-lover you will ever find.  My favorite dish is the Bucatini all’Amatriciana down the street at Tavola - a hearty, rich red sauce with bacon over hollow spaghetti-like noodles. 

The Cali girl in me will always crave tacos, and these chipotle pulled pork tacos sound like they were made for me.

Lastly, the lamb hushwie from Nuba, with extra pickled red cabbage, is always a winner in my eyes.


Dessert:  I’ve been drooling over Yossy’s simple strawberry tart that I keep seeing pop up everywhere and must try it asap!

No to be too arrogant or anything, but my Baked Alaska ice cream pie just might be the frozen treat of the summer.

Baked Alaska Ice Cream Pie

Cake: Notice how “Cake” is in it’s own separate category from “Dessert?”  That was no accident.  Cake should ALWAYS stand on its own, hehe.

This London Fog Cake has quickly become the top recipe from my book.  Not only is it a favorite of mine, but this is the cake that I’ve received the most love and praise.  I’m not sure what people love most: the Earl Grey buttercream or the salted caramel sauce?  Probably both =)

London Fog Cake with classic chocolate cake, earl grey buttercream, and salted caramel sauce.

 

My blog birthday and my real birthday just happen to share the same month.  I am off to work on a new cake to celebrate both.  I’ll try to post it in a couple weeks.  Happy Friday!

The Best Devil's Food Chocolate Cupcakes + Food Writing

Fluffy and tender yet deeply chocolatey, these Devil's Food Cupcakes are truly sinful.  The fudge frosting swirls and sprinkles are the quintessential 'icing on the cake' for these all-occasion treats.

The Best Devil's Food Chocolate Cupcake Recipe with fluffy fudge frosting.

Now that my book is out, I’ve been really trying to focus on improving my overall cooking, recipe development, photography, and food writing.  It’s time to hone in on my photography style, create crystal-clear, workable recipes, and really find my voice.  Story telling has never been my strongest suite, but I yearn to improve upon my food writing.

(Not so) strangely, I've really noticed that actually the more I write the more comfortable and creative I seem to get with the writing process.  I recently considered looking for and enrolling into a food writing course.  I found the perfect online course aptly titled “Food Writing” as part of UBC’s continuing education program.  However, the course syllabise mostly consisted of tasks that I already do professionally – how to write a recipe, basic food photography tips, how to write a query/book proposal, etc.  And by no means do I think I am better than this course, I just don’t think it was made for me (just a few years ago I would have been all over this!!).  For me, I think it mostly comes down to "read, write, read, write - repeat" until I find my voice.

The Best Devil's Food Chocolate Cupcake Recipe with fluffy fudge frosting.
The Best Devil's Food Chocolate Cupcake Recipe with fluffy fudge frosting.

I was at Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks over the weekend for a cake tasting/demonstration and book signing for "Layered" (side note – this shop is every cookbook lover’s dream!!).  There was signage on the wall announcing that Dianne Jacob was coming to town later this month.  I had heard about the latest edition of her book “Will Write for Food” a little while back, but I was too caught up in editing my own book to give it much thought.  Now that I have more time to dive in, I must say that Dianne Jacob is a rock star!  I have yet to read the book, but her blog offers a wealth of knowledge for anyone with a food blog or freelance food writing career.  Even though I already wrote my book, I know that I have so much more to learn from her and how the industry in continually changing.  I can’t wait to hear her talk in a few weeks at Books to Cooks!

Speaking of Books to Cooks, I finally picked up the Fall/Winter 2015 issue of Cherry Bombe Magazine.  My dear cake pal, Lyndsay of Coco Cake Land was featured in the issue and I had to buy a copy to keep for when she is (even more) famous one day!  The issue was titled Eat My Words.  I have yet to read the entire issue, but there are some amazing articles covering cookbook, food, and recipe writing from professionals like Ruth Reichl and Melissa Clark.  How perfect for where I am in my writing phase, right?!

One article in particular that I found informative was a piece noting Food and Wine’s Tina Ujlaki’s top 10 tips for writing a (great) recipe.  Some of the tips seem obvious, like make sure to write down and accurately measure your ingredients, but her practices would surely improve accuracy and work-flow.  My favorite was her tip to note sensory clues (color, smell, texture) instead of just going off the oven timer.   Her last tip was not to overpromise and underdeliver – more specifically, stop using things like “best ever” or other click-bait tactics and let the headnotes talk about the origin of the recipe and why someone should make it.  I mostly agree with this statement, but like most everything, there are exceptions.

The Best Devil's Food Chocolate Cupcake Recipe with fluffy fudge frosting.
The Best Devil's Food Chocolate Cupcake Recipe with fluffy fudge frosting.

I don’t use definitive terms like “best” and “ever” very often, but it’s true.  These cupcakes are the best.  Like “no need to look any further for a different chocolate cake recipe ever” kind of good - and rightfully so, as I was on a quest to develop such a recipe.   I didn’t have a signature cake that mom made for my birthday each year or a special cupcake recipe that I requested on repeat, but if I did, this would be the one.  An American hallmark turned into individual cupcakes, these guys are the ambassadors of birthdays, office parties, potlucks, and backyard bashes.

Sorry Tina, but without a doubt, these are The Best Chocolate Devil’s Food Cupcakes ever.  Extra moist and superior in deep chocolate flavor, this is the kind of recipe you store, covered in batter splatters, in an heirloom tin for your future grandchildren – even though you’ll probably make it so often that you’ll eventually commit the steps and ingredients to memory.

It must be clear that when I say “best” I don’t necessarily mean simple.  However, just because the recipe isn’t as quick an easy as my other one-bowl chocolate cake recipe, don’t be confused into thinking this recipe is difficult.  While I totally see the appeal of throwing all the ingredients in at once and getting it over with and there are whole businesses committed to such convenience (dump cakes and boxed mixes, I’m looking at you), but sometimes you gotta put in the extra work for the superior taste and texture.  I’m only talking a couple extra steps and few more dirty dishes – don’t worry.

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact difference between a Devil’s Food Cake and a regular chocolate cake, but I find that typically a Devil’s Food Cake is made with butter instead of oil and has the addition of coffee or instant espresso powder to bring out the chocolate flavor.  Older recipes call for unsweetened, melted chocolate squares, but many of today’s recipes opt for the convenience of cocoa powder – which incidentally has a more intense chocolate flavor. 

Opposite of an airy Angel Food Cake in both name and flavor, Devil’s Food Cake also gets its name from a sometimes slightly reddish tint (think red velvet cake), due to the alkalizing effect that the baking soda has on natural (not Dutch process) cocoa powder.

The Best Devil's Food Chocolate Cupcake Recipe with fluffy fudge frosting.

Notes
–  Mixing the cocoa powder with boiling water first allows the chocolate flavors to bloom and intensify instead of adding it in with the other dry ingredients.
–  For the butter, make sure it is extra soft.  Since we are not relying on the cream of butter and sugar for lift and airiness (that’s what the baking powder is for here), I just popped it in the microwave for a few seconds until it was almost melty.
–  I used a full-fat coconut milk for extra flavor and tenderness, but any milk should do.
–  I used jumbo cupcake liners and made about 16 cupcakes.  I bet the recipe would yield about 20 to 24 using standard liners.  Adjust bake time accordingly.
–  I prefer my fudge frosting to be very soft (but still spreadable).  When mixing, the frosting should create a well in the center of the mixing bowl instead of clinging to the paddle.  The sprinkles should be able to stick easily and not fall off immediately (if so, the frosting is a bit dry and crusts too quickly).

 

The Best Devil’s Food Cupcake Recipe
4 ounces dark chocolate (about 70%), chopped
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ¼ cup boing water
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon instant espresso
1 cup unsalted butter, very soft – slightly melty (see Notes)
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
3 large eggs
½ cup milk (see Notes)

1.     Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cupcake pan and set aside.

2.     Combine the chopped chocolate, cocoa powder, and boiling water together.  Stir to combine and set aside.

3.     Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.

4.     Using an electric mixer, combine the super soft butter with the sugars.  Mix for a couple minutes until thoroughly combined.

5.     Add the vanilla, almond, and eggs – one at a time, making sure each in incorporated before adding in the next.  Stop mixing and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

6.     With the mixer on low, stream in the chocolate mixture until combined.

7.     Slowly add in half of the dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Stream in the milk.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.

8.     Add in the remaining dry ingredients and mix until combined.

9.     Evenly divide the batter into the cupcake pans and bake until done, about 22 to 24 minutes (see Notes).

10. Let cool on a cooling rack before frosting.

 

Fudge Frosting Recipe
1 ½ cups unsalted butter, softened
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon espresso powder
about 5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 5 tablespoons very hot water

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter until soft and smooth.  Gradually add in the remaining ingredients.  Mix until soft and silky, yet not runny.  Adjust the sugar and water until your desired consistency is reached.