Monday, November 12, 2012

Pumpkin Pie

I luv all things pumpkins. My kids do too. But when it comes to a pumpkin pie, we always find ourselves eating only the fillings and skipping the crusts. I wonder what was the point of me slaving over homemade pie crust if we weren't gonna eat it.

Last month, I finally had the time to flip through Cuisine At Home magazines. There was a pumpkin pie recipe BUT with graham cracker crust. Why didn't I think of that? I asked Brek if he wanted a pumpkin pie for breakfast, and he said, "Yes." (No need to wonder. My kids are allowed to eat desserts for breakfast only if I make them myself. I sometimes added the good stuff. Shhh... don't tell them that.)

I thought it would be easier for me to pack Brek's breakfast pumpkin pie if I baked them in a cupcake liner. So I gave this recipe a test drive. The pumpkin pie turned out really tasty... not too sweet. Brek agreed. The pumpkin pie in a cupcake liner was also easy for him to eat. A few days later, my friend came for a visit and stayed for dinner. I gave one for her to try. The first thing she said was "This is so pretty." Then she kept repeating, "This is really good, Nora." I packed her two more pies to take home. I also made a pumpkin pie smoothie for breakfast by adding these pumpkin pies with yogurt and milk... no sugar added. They were pumpkineelicious.

Pumpkin Pies
adapted from Cuisine At Home's Pumpkin Pie
makes 12 cupcake-sized pumpkin pies

Prep work
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Line a 12 standard cupcake pan with foil cupcake liners. Set aside.
For the crust
     4 oz honey graham crackers (New Morning)
     1 Tablespoon (0.5 oz) granulated sugar
     2 Tablespoons (2 oz) unsalted butter, melted (Kerygold)

  1. Place the graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until crumbly. (Or crumble the graham crackers by hands.)
  2. Add sugar and melted butter.
  3. Pulse a few times to blend.
  4. Divide the crumbs evenly among the cupcake liners, about one tablespoon for each cup.
  5. Using the back of a spoon, press the crumb to pack it to the bottom of the cupcake liner.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Then set aside to cool.
For the filling
     2 large eggs (Eggland's Best)
     1/2 cup (3 oz) vanilla granulated sugar (homemade)
     1/2 cup (7 oz) pumpkin puree (Luby's)
     1/2 cup (4 oz) sour cream (Daisy)
     3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
     1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
     1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar.
  2. Add the pumpkin puree and sour cream. Whisk until smooth.
  3. Add all of the spices into the batter and mix until combine.
  4. Using a small scooper, place the filling into each cupcake liner.
  5. Bake until a tooth pick inserted in the middle of the filling comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.
  6. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the whipped cream topping
     3/4 cup (6 oz) heavy whipping cream
     1/3 cup vanilla granulated sugar (homemade)

  1. In a large bowl, using a hand mixture, whip the heavy whipping cream and sugar until stiff peaks form.
  2. Frost each pumpkin pie with the whipped cream.
  3. Place the pumpkin pies in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Allergy info: My pumpkin pie is free from or can be made without corn, legumes (soy), nuts, and fish. If you are super sensitive to corn, use silicone cupcake liners as these foil cupcake liners may not be corn free.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Endless Possibility of a Pizza Dough

Would you believe that all commercial breads have some sort of corn ingredients in them? After a year of no bread in my diet, I decided that my 2011 New Year's resolution would be "to master the art of bread making".

I started with reading a lot of bread making cookbooks. The one that I found most useful was Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. If you are new to bread making, read this cookbook first. Their techniques and instructions are super easy to follow. No fuss. No intimidation.

Since then, I've tried baking bread from many bread recipes. For this pizza dough recipe, I adapted from Amy's Bread. Her techniques are very old school, which translates to authentic yumminess. Everything is made by hands. After I tried her techniques, I decided to take a few short cuts. No differences except less time consuming.

I usually make this pizza dough in the morning (around 9am). Then I leave it to rise at a room temperature until it is time for me to make the pizza (around 4pm). For best result, I use a kitchen scale to measure the wet and dry ingredients. Make a note of room temperature. Bread dough will rise faster in the summer than in the winter. Learn to make this pizza dough and the possibility of making something savory and something sweeter are endless. 

UPDATED (Dec12, 2015): I made some changes to this pizza dough recipe with easy short cuts.

Pizza Dough
adapted from Amy's Bread,
makes 3 (16 inch) round pizzas
1 1/4 cups (11 oz.) warm water (105° to 115°F)
1 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast (Red Star)
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
3 3/4 cups (15 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
  1. In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast and sugar over a cup of warm water. Stir until dissolved. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes, depending on a room temperature.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
  3. Add the yeast mixture to the flour and be sure to scrap all the yeast out of the cup.
  4. Stir until a soft dough is formed.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a silicon baking mat and knead until smooth and elastic, about 2 to 4 minutes.
    Note: Here are two tips that will save your sanity. (1)
    Be careful not to add too much flour during kneading, or the dough will end up dry. (2) Use the silicon baking mat instead of your hands to knead the dough. This way your hands are free from sticky dough. (see picture above)
  6. Shape the dough into a ball.
  7. Add olive oil in the same large bowl.
  8. Place the dough in a bowl and coat it with olive oil.
  9. Cover the bowl with a towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours, depending on the room temperature.
  10. Punch down the dough and knead briefly to remove air bubbles.
  11. This pizza dough is ready for you to make pizza, focaccia, baguettes, french bread, or desserts.
To make a 16 inch round pizza
  1. Place a large baking sheet in the oven.
  2. Preheat the oven 400°F to 440°F. NOTE: The higher the oven temperature, the faster the pizza will bake. Keep in mind that some baking sheets can tolerant up to 440°F. If using baking stone, turn the oven temperature to 500°F. The pizza will bake on a pizza stone within 8 minutes.
  3. Line a parchment paper on a no rims baking sheet (or a pizza peeler).
  4. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts.
  5. Place one of the dough on the no rims baking sheet lined parchment paper.
  6. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a 16 inch round shape.
    Note: Don't fuss with perfecting the roundness of the dough. As long as the dough is roll out to your liked thickness, the pizza will cook evenly and will taste great.
  7. Brush the dough with pizza sauce.
    : Too much sauce will make a soaky pizza. Use pastry brush to distribute sauce evenly on the dough.
  8. Add cheeses and toppings to your liking amount. 
  9. Drizzle the whole pizza with olive oil, especially around the edge. (optional)
  10. Once the oven is ready, wait for 5 minutes for the baking sheet that is in the oven to become really hot. Then slide the pizza dough onto the baking sheet that is in the oven.
  11. Bake until the crust is golden. Note: Use the following (electric) oven temperature and timer.
    or 400°F, bake the pizza for 15 to 20 minutes.... For 440°F, bake the pizza for 12 to 15 minutes.... For 500°F, bake the pizza for 8 minutes
  12. Remove the pizza from the oven and cut into slices. Enjoy them while they are hot.
    TIP: Use the cookie cutters to cut the pizza into fun shapes. Check out the pizza bones I made for Brek's lunchbox.
Suggestions for sauces and toppings:
Pizza toppings: cooked and crumbled sausages, cooked and sliced bacon, green or black olives, fresh basil, fresh sliced peppers, leftover cooked meat (chicken or fish), fresh asparagus (any size), manchego (sheep’s milk cheese), mozzarella (fresh mozzarella buffalo’s milk cheese or Organic Valley).

Allergy Info: This pizza dough is free from or can be made without dairy, eggs, corn, legumes (soy), nuts, and fish. Choose toppings based on your food allergy diet. Make sure to get strip of three packets Red Star Yeast, with only yeast as an ingredient listed.