Category Archives: Pies and Tarts

Blueberry Galette 

Can’t believe summer is half-way through already ! I have been really busy, driving the kids around to different activities, keeping them occupied. If you are a parent, you would know, summer is actually busier than school days ! But they are having so much fun…..swimming, trampoline park, bowling, sleep over…..Although I am exhausted at the end of the day, seeing their happy faces makes it all worth it. Hey, kids are supposed to sleep in, play lots and eat lots during the summer, right ? With all the activities, meal times for us may not always be as regular and as healthy as I’d like. To balance that out, I make sure I stock lots of fruits at home. Luckily my kids are not picky eaters and love the summer fruits…blueberries, cherries, watermelon, peaches, etc.  And of course I use them to make desserts, like this blueberry galette. It’s basically a rustic blueberry pie and you don’t need to worry about making the crust neat and tidy. It makes a perfect summer dessert with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream !

Makes one galette

For the crust 

  • 90 g unsalted butter (cut into small pieces and chilled)
  • 100 mL ice-cold water
  • 200 g cake and pastry flour, sifted
  • 15 g granulated sugar
  • 2.5 g salt

For the filling 

  • 200 g fresh blueberries 
  • 30 g granulated sugar 
  • 7.5 mL lemon juice 
  • Zest of 1/2 small lemon 
  • 7.5 g cornstarch 
  • 10 g graham cracker crumbs 
  1. To make the crust, combine flour,sugar and salt
  2. Rub in chilled butter with hands until resemble coarse crumbs, there should be pea-sized lumps of butter
  3. Add cold water and mix until dough just starting to form
  4. Transfer to a lightly floured surface, and press dough together (Do not knead)
  5. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight (I actually doubled the amount of ingredients and kept half of the dough in the freezer for later) 
  6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375°F 
  7. Gently mix blueberries with sugar,lemon juice, lemon zest and cornstarch 
  8. Let sit for about 10 minutes 
  9. Roll dough out to about 0.5 cm in thickness 
  10. Sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs in the middle leaving about 5 cm from the edge, the crumbs help to prevent a soggy crust 
  11. Spoon filling on top  
  12. Fold and pleat edges over part of the filling
  13. Brush edges with water and sprinkle with vanilla sugar or granulated sugar 
  14. Bake for about 60 minutes until golden and filling is bubbling (you can cover it with aluminium foil for the last 15 to 20 minutes to prevent crust from getting too brown)
  15. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream 

Strawberry Hand Pies

I am a home baker, so besides the couple of pastry classes that I have attended, I have never really had any formal training. When I just started baking as a teenager, pie is something that I felt very tricky and difficult to make and I would never be able to do it. To me, making pie was not “as easy as pie” ! But, as I became more experienced, I realized it is actually not that hard. I had a few failures, but it wasn’t a “mission impossible”.  So, gathering my failures and tips from my classes, I have learned a few things: 

  1. Making hand pies or mini pies to start if you haven’t made pies before. The dough is the same, but it’s easier to roll and to control the baking time. And I think it’s more fun ! 
  2. Use very cold butter. I put the cut butter and in the freezer for about 15 minutes before using.
  3. There should be small lumps of cold butter in the dough. So rubbing in the butter by hands would be better than pulsing with a food processor as you will have larger lumps. In the oven, the butter melts creating pockets, the moisture in the butter evaporates, expanding those pockets, hence flaky crust. 
  4. Do not knead the dough, just press it together. The lumps of butter that you want for flakiness will melt if you handle the dough too much.
  5. Let the dough rest in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight before baking.  This allows the butter to firm up and the gluten to relax, which makes rolling easier. 

I hope these tips will help if making pies is on your list ! Once you manage the crust, there are so many possibilities….all the berries, apples, peaches, pears….Mmmmmm, yummy ! 

Makes about 8-10 hand pies

For the pie dough

  • 180 g unsalted butter (cut into small pieces and chilled)
  • 200 mL ice-cold water
  • 400 g cake and pastry flour, sifted
  • 30 g granulated sugar
  • 5 g salt

You will also need 1 egg for brushing top of pies and more sugar for sprinkling 

  1. Combine flour,sugar and salt
  2. Rub in chilled butter with hands until resemble coarse crumbs, there should be pea-sized lumps of butter
  3. Add cold water and mix until dough just starting to form
  4. Transfer to a lightly floured surface, and press dough together (Do not knead)
  5. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight

For the strawberry filling

  • 500 g fresh strawberries (wash, hull and cut into halves or quarters)
  • 60 g granulated sugar
  • 15 g cornstarch
  1. Coat strawberries with sugar and cornstarch
  2. Cook over medium heat until soft and jam-like
  3. Cool to room temperature 

To assemble the pie

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to about 0.5 cm thickness (If the dough is too hard, let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes)
  3. Cut into 8 cm x 8 cm squares (dough scraps can be reused, but try to press them back together instead of kneading, and reuse as little times as possible)
  4. Place bottom squares on a baking tray lined with parchment paper
  5. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of strawberry filling in the middle
  6. Brush egg wash around edges of top squares, and place over bottom squares (egg wash sides down)
  7. Press edges to seal then press down with fork
  8. Cut a small opening on top of pies to let air out during baking
  9. Brush top with egg wash and sprinkle with vanilla sugar or granulated sugar
  10. Bake for about 30 minutes, then cover top with a foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes
  11. Serve warm

 

 

Coconut Cream Tarts

Coconut is such a versatile fruit.  You can pretty much make use of every parts of the fruit, even the husk can be used to make flowering pots or carpets !  Coconut milk and oil are extracted from its meat and are widely used in many cuisines.  I love coconut milk. It matches really well with many ingredients, sweet or savoury. This was originally a pastry cream recipe. I substituted some of the milk with coconut milk. The shredded coconut gave the tarts extra texture and the lime zest just brighten everything up.  Don’t throw away the leftover tart shell trimmings. They make great butter cookies. Just gather the trimmings to form a dough, roll it out to 1/8 inch in thickness, cut with cookie cutters and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350°F !  It’s nice when no food is wasted ! 

Makes about three 4 inch tarts 

For the tart shells

  • 120 g cold unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
  • 75 g granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 180 g cake and pastry flour, sifted
  1. Mix together cold butter and sugar using a wooden spoon until no more lumps
  2. Add egg yolk, mix until blended
  3. Add flour all at once, mix with the wooden spoon, then transfer onto a table or counter and gently knead dough together (just work until ingredients are mixed in)
  4. Wrap with plastic wrap, refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours or overnight
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350ºF
  6. Knead dough until pliable
  7. Roll dough out to about 1/8 inch in thickness on a floured surface, dock with a fork
  8. Place inside slightly greased tart molds, trim off excess dough 
  9. Bake for about 12 minutes till golden, let coolBaked Tart Shells

For the coconut cream

  • 400 mL canned coconut milk 
  • 100 mL milk 
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 75 g granulated sugar 
  • 40 g cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut 
  • Zest of 1/2 lime 
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  1. Mix coconut milk and milk together until smooth 
  2. In a bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and 1/2 cup of the milk mixture together until no more lumps
  3. Heat remaining milk in a pot over medium heat until just boiled
  4. Whisk 1/2 of boiled milk slowly into egg mixture to temper, then pour everything back into the pot
  5. Heat until just starting to bubble and thicken, whisking constantly
  6. Remove from heat, mix in shredded coconut, lime zest and vanilla extract, let cool
  7. Spoon coconut cream into baked tart shell, spread evenly with a spatula, dust with icing sugar 
  8. You can keep them in the fridge for 2-3 daysCoconut Cream Tarts

Chocolate Pistachio Tart

As a mom, my kids are always my priorities. But sometimes I feel it’s necessary to do something for myself….in order to keep my sanity ! So I made this dessert just for me ! It’s loaded with chocolate with a bit of crunch and saltiness from the pistachios. Did you know that pistachios are called the “happy nuts” in Chinese? Their partially opened shells look like a smile. They are an excellent source of vitamin B, fibre, potassium, magnesium and many more. No wonder I felt fantastic after eating them! 

Makes about three to four 4-inch tarts

For the chocolate tart

  • 120 g unsalted butter (cold)
  • 75 g granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 170 g cake and pastry flour (sifted)
  • 10 g unsweetened cocoa powder (sifted)

For the filling

  • 2 ounces dark chocolate (finely chopped)
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (finely chopped)
  • 4 ounces whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 30 g salted pistachios (shells removed)
  1. Mix together cold butter and sugar using a wooden spoon until no more lumps
  2. Add egg yolk, mix until blended
  3. Add flour and cocoa powder, mix with the wooden spoon, then transfer onto a table or counter and gently press dough together (just work until ingredients are mixed in)
  4. Wrap with plastic wrap, refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours or overnight
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350ºF
  6. Knead dough until pliable
  7. Roll dough out to about 1/8 inch in thickness on a floured surface, dock with a fork
  8. Place inside slightly greased tart molds, trim off excess dough (dough scraps can be re-roll, but only do it once or twice or it may crack)
  9. Bake for about 12 minutes till golden, let cool
  10. For the filling, crush pistachios into small pieces
  11. Heat whipping cream in a non-stick pot over medium heat until starting to bubble
  12. Pour cream over chopped chocolate, let stand for 1 minute
  13. Add vanilla extract, stir until smooth
  14. Mix in half of the crushed pistachios
  15. Pour into baked tart shells, sprinkle remaining pistachios on top 
  16. Let cool then put in refrigerator until set

Chocolate Pistachio Tart

 

Original chocolate tart shell recipe by Chef Marco Ropke at the Vancouver Pastry Training Centre 

 

Cherry Puff Tarts

Cherry is another fruit that we love to eat in the summer. My parents used to have 2 giant cherries at their old house. I still remember my brother and I would pick as much as we could before the birds get to them. There would be so much cherries that we would fill almost every single basket and bucket in the house….Oh, how I miss those good times.  My folks have moved and we no longer have our own cherry trees, but I can make these yummy tarts for them instead !
I always keep a box of puff pastry in the freezer. It’s really handy if you need to make something quick, both sweet and savory. I yet to try making my own puff pastry…. Well, it’s on my list! 🙂

Makes about 10-12 tarts

  • 200 g pitted fresh cherries
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 box puff pastry (about 400 g)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • vanilla sugar or granulated sugar for sprinkling
  • Icing sugar for dusting
  1. To prepare the fillings, heat cherries, 3 tablespoons of sugar and lemon juice in a non-stick pot over medium heat
  2. Turn heat down to low when liquid starts to bubble
  3. Cook until cherries softened, set aside to cool
  4. To make the puff pastry, preheat oven to 350°F
  5. Roll out pastry on a floured surface to about 1/8 inch in thickness
  6. Cut with a round cookie cutter into circles, about 2-3 inches in diameter
  7. Place half the number of circles on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper
  8. Dork with a fork, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with granulated or vanilla sugar 
  9. Cut out the centres of the other circles using a smaller cookie cutter, (or a bottle cap would work too) to form rings
  10. Place rings on top of the circles
  11. Brush ring tops with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar (You can collect all the dough scrapes and re-roll, but only do it once, otherwise it will lose its puffiness)
  12. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden, let cool
  13. Spoon in cherry fillings, dust with icing sugar and serve immediately

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Strawberry Vanilla Cream Tart

Strawberries ! One of our family favourites !  My son can “chomp down” (that’s his words) a bowl in no time! They taste good, look pretty and you can use them in many ways.  I always wish I have a bigger yard and more time so I can grow my own. Luckily, we have a few local farms close to our neighbourhood, and we can get fresh strawberries very easily.  I love the U-picks that they have in the early summer too ! It’s a great activity for both adults and kids.   

Makes about three to four 4-inch tarts

For the tart shell

  • 120 g cold unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
  • 75 g granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 180 g cake and pastry flour, sifted

For the fillings

    • 450 g (about 1 lb) fresh strawberries
    • 500 mL milk (preferably full fat, but 2 % works too)
    • 2 egg yolks
    • 75 g granulated sugar
    • 40 g cornstarch
    • 1/2 to 1 vanilla bean
    • icing sugar for dusting

To make the tart shells

  1. Mix together cold butter and sugar using a wooden spoon until no more lumps
  2. Add egg yolk, mix until blended
  3. Add flour all at once, mix with the wooden spoon, then transfer onto a table or counter and gently knead dough together (just work until ingredients are mixed in)
  4. Wrap with plastic wrap, refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours or overnight
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350ºF
  6. Knead dough until pliable
  7. Roll dough out to about 1/8 inch in thickness on a floured surface, dock with a fork
  8. Place inside slightly greased tart molds, trim off excess dough (dough scraps can be re-roll, but may crack, so only re-roll once or twice)
  9. Bake for about 12 minutes till golden, let cool

To make the vanilla cream fillings

    1. Whisk egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and 1/2 cup of milk together until no more lumps
    2. Cut vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape seeds out of bean pod, do not throw away bean pod
    3. In a pot, heat remaining milk, vanilla beans and the pod over medium heat until just boiled
    4. Whisk 1/2 of boiled milk slowly into egg mixture to temper, then pour everything back into the pot
    5. Heat until just starting to bubble and thicken, whisking constantly
    6. Remove from heat, take out vanilla pod and let cool

When ready to serve, pipe or spoon vanilla cream into baked tart shell, top with fresh strawberries and icing sugar

Original tart shell and vanilla cream recipe by Chef Marco Ropke at the Vancouver Pastry Training Centre 

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This is my first ever collaborative post, how exciting ! The Canadian Food Creatives collaboration are featuring fresh strawberries this month ! Be sure to check out the links below for other great recipes. They can also be found on social media using the hashtag #CDNFoodCreatives . Many thanks to Amanda Saxby at The Cinnamon Scrolls for hosting.

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Vanilla Cream Pastry Puffs

This is a dessert that has been in my mind ever since I took the pastry course in September. The original recipe uses a choux pastry.  I used a store-bought puff pastry instead. The textures of the two pastries are quite different, but they both go really well with the vanilla cream. 

Makes about 8 puffs

For the vanilla cream

  • 500 mL milk (preferably full fat, but 2 % works too)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 to 1 vanilla bean
  1. Whisk egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and 1/2 cup of milk together until no more lumps
  2. Cut vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape seeds out of bean pod, do not throw away bean pod
  3. In a pot, heat remaining milk, vanilla beans and the pod over medium heat until just boiled
  4. Whisk 1/2 of boiled milk slowly into egg mixture to temper, then pour everything back into the pot
  5. Heat until just starting to bubble, whisking constantly
  6. Take pot off the heat, remove vanilla pod 
  7. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool

To make the pastry puffs

  • 1 box frozen puff pastry (two 10 inch x 10 inch sheets), thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 -2 tablespoons granulated sugar or vanilla sugar 
  • Icing sugar and fruits for toppings
  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF
  2. Spread two sheets of pastry flat on a floured surface separately (if your pastry comes in a block, cut and row into 2 sheets of about 1/8 inch in thickness)  
  3. Brush one sheet with egg wash, then sprinkle evenly with granulated or  vanilla sugar
  4. Place the other sheet on top, pressing gently
  5. Cut with a round cookie cutter into circles, about 2 -3 inches in diameter
  6. Prick a few times with a fork in the middle, so they won’t puff up too much
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden
  8. Let cool, then gently cut puffs in half horizontally
  9. Spoon or pipe vanilla cream in the middle
  10. Top with icing sugar and fruits

 

Original recipe of vanilla cream by Chef Marco Ropke at Vancouver Pastry Training Centre