Sugar Pie Honey Bunch.

Today’s class was all about sweeteners!  Since a large majority of baking involves sweets, we focused today’s baking on – PIES!  I’ve never been much of a home baker, other than the occasional batch of cookies or muffins.  So making pies was totally new to me, and a great learning experience. 

The first “pie” we made was a quiche lorraine.  I let my partner pick out whatever he wanted for the quiche because I was prepping for our next project.  He decided to go with a savory Italian flavor profile…


We filled our pre-cooked (using the beans yesterday!) pie dough with a mixture of eggs, red pepper flakes, oregano, thyme, spinach, onions, roasted red peppers, and parmesan cheese. 


And after about 25 minutes baking in the oven, we had this…


These flavors were really good – very salty from the parmesan!  At home I make a lot of frittatas, but I never use a crust or dough because it adds so many extra calories.  Plus I think the filling is always the best part!


While my partner made the quiche, I worked on project #2 – DUTCH APPLE PIE!  Believe it or not, this was my first pie ever – it only took 28 years!  I got all my ingredients scaled and prepped – granny smith apples, golden raisins, pastry flour, granulated sugar, butter, and cinnamon.


I rolled out some of the extra pie dough we mixed yesterday, and shaped it into a pie tin.  I love the pretty fluted edges!


And then I arranged my pie filling inside the crust – so many apples!  My teacher said not to worry about how much filling I had since the apples would cook down a lot when it baked.  This stuff looked good enough to eat raw!


The last step was making the streusel topping for the pie.  After I mixed the butter, flour, and sugar, I noticed the Chef’s Notes at the bottom of the page…


OATMEAL is one option I will always take!


I added 4 oz. of quick oats to the streusel and loaded it onto the pie.


Forty five minutes of baking later, our browned and beautiful gooey pie was ready to come out of the oven! 


Sadly, we ran out of time today to actually eat these, but Chef promised we would be able to have them for breakfast tomorrow – oh my!  Hopefully I’ll be able to show you pictures of the inside of the pie tomorrow – I can’t wait to see how it turned out. 

Our third and final project for the day was a definite first for me – we made pastry cream!  I was really intimidated by this because it’s sort of like making hollandaise sauce – lots of furious whipping and whipping in order to thicken to a custard-like consistency, and if you don’t do it fast enough your cream will turn into a pile of gross lumps.  Good thing I’ve been doing so much weight lifting – I whisked and whisked my heart out, and my arms were burning…


I ended up with a perfectly delicious pastry cream to fill into a very lop-sided pre-cooked pie dough, creating a lovely cream pie.  Tomorrow we are making chantilly cream and finishing these pies, so this is another to-be-continued project…


Today was a really fun baking day – all things I think I could re-create in my own kitchen.  I had a reader ask about whether or not the things we’re doing are applicable to home cooking.  I think to some extent they are, but it really depends on the recipe, and how much time and energy you are willing to invest.  Of course anything can be done at home, but some of the ingredients we use in class would probably be expensive and highly perishable for a home cook – things like compressed yeast, dehydrated milk solids, and pastry and specialty flours.  If you were willing to invest in the specialty ingredients, you could absolutely make these things at home. 

While we do have fancy equipment at school, most of that is to just cut down on time and manual labor, since we are trying to do so much in small windows of time.  If you love baking, and have the patience to pour into the perfect baguettes or croissants (which I don’t!), then it is definitely possible.  And speaking of croissants, the finished product – tomorrow!

And now – a question to YOU, fabulous readers.  I am writing a paper for this class on VEGAN BAKING.  I am doing research and consulting cookbooks, but like I said, baking is not really my thing.  What do you vegan bakers use as substitutions for things like eggs, butter, milk, etc.?  (For the paper, the substitutions have to be specific to baking, not just vegan cooking.)  Any good tips or tricks?  I also need a vegan baking RECIPE – anyone have a good one?