Baking With Dorie Greenspan: Pie, brownies and more

Dorie Greenspan’s Blueberry Pie.
Jul 16, 2015

Beloved cookbook author Dorie Greenspan ("Baking Chez Moi," "Baking: From My Home To Yours," "Around My French Table" and more) answers your questions about baking, her "Everyday Dorie" column and everything else she's cooking.
This week's column: The secret to a blueberry pie that will not weep
This week's recipe: Dorie Greenspan’s Blueberry Pie

Hello and thanks for stopping by.  

I love that summer cooking and baking is in full swing.  Every night the scent of a something grilling wafts through the air in my neck of the woods (and I am in the woods)  and the farmers markets are getting better and better.

What are you cooking?  Baking?  What's on your mind?

I made macarons using the recipe you provided a couple of weeks ago. They weren't perfect (feet were a little short, bottoms a little brown), but for a first try, I'm pretty pleased with myself. In fact, they probably would've been perfect had I not been impatient (I didn't exactly age the egg whites, and they were a little chillier than room temp). I ended up using a lemon curd as filling, just because I had some lemons that needed to be used. Thanks a million--I'll keep your recipe on hand for sure!!

RECIPE: Parisian Macarons

Merci for letting me know who it went and hooray for success!

Even pros end up with uneven feet now and then:)

The temperature of the egg whites is really important - they shouldn't be chilly.  I think the aging is less important if you've bought eggs from the supermarket.

Keep going and again, thanks for the report-back.

I've been making sourdough from the same started for more than 25 years, and love the taste. I really like the fresh loaves, but because of time constraints, I usually make 2-3 loaves and freeze all but one. Is there a way to freeze extra dough loaves before baking so all I have to do is thaw one, let it rise, and bake?

I've never done this, so I don't know the 'real' answer, but it makes sense to me that you can do this.  I know that some people freezer their starters, so that's one element that we don't have to worry about.  It's certainly worth a try the next time you bake.  Freeze a loaf (it will continue to rise a bit in the freezer), thaw, rise, bake and come back and tell me how it went.  Good luck!

Hi Dorie! Thanks for your help. I would like to adapt an apple pie recipe that I love to take advantage of the delicious peaches I just picked up from a farm stand. I'd like to make two versions; one all-peach and one peach/apple combo. My questions are, how would you modify the ingredients to account for the differences in sweetness, etc., and in your opinion, would an apple/peach combo work? (I.e. in terms of flavor, texture in regards to cooking time, and other factors). I appreciate your input! Here's the recipe, if that helps.

Lucky you to have great peaches - I'm still waiting for our farmstand peaches to be truly ripe and sweet.

I have my doubts about the apples and peaches living happily together in one pie.  Their textures are so different, the peaches are so much juicier and I don't know that they'd bake together in the same time.  I'd go for all peach.  Enjoy the peaches while they're around and then, when the season is over, go back to our old friends, apples.

Hi Dorie, love your column and chat! When I make peach pie, I usually use "old-fashioned" freestone peaches. But when I mix the peach slices with flour (or tapioca), sugar, seasonings, I end up with too much juice and the bottom crust is soggy. I've tried using more flour or tapioca, but that doesn't taste good. I've tried mixing the peaches and into the oven at the speed of light, but they still exude too much juice. I tried boiling the juices down, but then I get a caramelized flavor, which is very good, but not the fresh peach flavor I want. Can you offer any advice? Do I let the juices form and then strain the peaches? Help!

You're on the right track when you suggest straining the juices.  Mix the peaches with the sugar and flour and whatever else you add and then let them sit in the bowl until they start to give up juice and you've got some syrup.  When you put the peaches into the pie, keep back some of the juice.  How much is the iffy question and it's hard to say.  Try using just half of the juice.

Also, you can sprinkle the bottom crust with unseasoned bread crumbs or some stale cake crumbs before you put the peaches in and they'll absorb some of the delicious juice.

Final idea, and not exactly what you're looking for, but ... Make an open-faced pie, maybe with a crumb topping.  Do that and you can pre-bake the pie crust, brush it with egg white when it comes out of the oven - a little raincoat for the crust - and carry on.

I wanted to report back that your Mixed Berry Crisp recipe was a hit at a recent event. It was a little hard to tell how runny the juice would be and I may not have used enough cornstarch; even so, the flavor was delicious, nobody minded the extra juice (great with vanilla ice cream!) and I LOVED the mix of crunchy and soft crumble. That was an easy tip that did not take much additional time.

Mixed Berry Crisp

RECIPE: Mixed Berry Crisp

I'm so glad the Mixed Berry Crisp was a hit at your house!  Thank you for writing to tell me.

And I'm also glad that you did that little bake-some-ahead trick for extra crunch.  I love that.

I usually add a little something to thicken fruit juices in pies and crisps, but when there's extra juice, I'm never unhappy.  Like you, I think it's great to have more juice to go with the ice cream or whipped cream.

I consider myself an ok cook, and can definitely follow a recipe. But pie crusts is the bane of my existence. Any foolproof recommendations. Granted, I don't have a cool baking slab but I do have granite countertops and a Cooks' Illustrated-approved rolling pin (french kind?). I am willing to go as slow as possible and put the dough back in the fridge if it gets too warm. My issue is usually that it starts to fall apart or is a misshapen mess. Thanks!

Rolling pie crusts can do everyone in - and it used to do me, but not anymore.

Take a look at my column and recipe from this week - the one for Blueberry Pie.  It's got the instructions for the technique that changed my pie-life: I roll the dough between parchment as soon as it's made.  It makes dough-rolling dreamy-easy.

This week's column: The secret to a blueberry pie that will not weep
This week's recipe: Dorie Greenspan’s Blueberry Pie

Hi Dorie! I would like to try making cake pops/balls/truffles. I know I'm late to the party. I like the idea of a bite size portion, but they tend to be soooo rich. Do you know of any recipes that don't involve adding a ton of icing to the crumbled cake? Thanks in advance.

I'm almost embarrassed to say this, but I've only made cake pops once and then I stuck the cake together with dark chocolate ganache and cream cheese (kinda like icing, I guess).

Here are a couple of recipes for doughnut truffles that use Nutella and jam for binders. 

Blueberry-Lime Doughnut Truffles

RECIPE: Blueberry-Lime Doughnut Truffles

Nutella Doughnut Truffles

RECIPE: Nutella Doughnut Truffles

You could have been writing about me yesterday regarding years of failures with pie crusts. My failure is always at the moment of rolling. Either the dough is too cold and it breaks into a thousand crumbs, or it is too warm and sticks everywhere, then tears. Any special advice?

My advice and it changed my life, is to roll the dough between parchment paper as soon as it's made.  You don't have to worry about it being too hard or too soft, it just kinda is.  It's the easiest way I've found to stop the frustration you're talking about.

The instructions for this life-changer are in my column and the recipe for Blueberry Pie.

You can do it! You really can!

This week's column: The secret to a blueberry pie that will not weep
This week's recipe: Dorie Greenspan’s Blueberry Pie

Dorie Greenspan’s Blueberry Pie

I'd like to bring over a treat to friends who just had a baby - but I'm short on time and would love to cut out using my mixer, if possible. I've thought of brownies - any other quick, one-bowl baked goods that new parents might appreciate?

The French Yogurt Cake is my go-to one-bowl no-mixer everyone-loves-it recipe.  I make it as a loaf cake - so easy. 

Congrats to the new parents.

RECIPE: French Yogurt Cake

Do you have a favorite lemon bar recipe?

Here's a recipe for lemon bars with raspberries and Meyer lemons.  If you'd like you can make the bars with regular lemons and skip the berries.  They're good every which way:

Dorie Greenspan's Raspberry and Meyer Lemon Squares

RECIPE: Dorie Greenspan's Raspberry and Meyer Lemon Squares

I recently began making sourdough english muffins, and they are so much better than you can buy. We add some whole wheat, and do about two dozen at a time. They freeze well and cover breakfast for us for a long time! I didn't even know they were grilled rather than baked when we got started. Good for sandwiches too, when you make them about three inches or a little more in diameter.

Your English Muffins sound delicious!  I bet that the whole wheat flour and sour dough really up the flavor.

I just learned that a much beloved family member has a serious problem and cannot eat milk/dairy food. She is not pleased about giving up cheese and good pastry (sweet and savory). Do you have any suggestions for something fabulous that I can bake for her?

Oh, this is a tough adjustment for anyone to make, but it's lovely that you want to bake for her.

If she can eat egg whites, there are wonderful things that you can do with meringue.  The beautiful Dacquoise, a nut meringue cake, is made without dairy.  Ditto French macarons and regular double-o macaroons.  

 

I have a bunch of peaches from last year that I'd like to use, but don't know how. Any suggestions for these? Thanks!

There's always jam, of course.

But why not make a delicious crisp with them?  You can use the recipe for Mixed Berry Crisp and sub the peaches or mix peaches and berries.

Because the peaches have been frozen, they might be a little watery.  I'd defrost them, mix them with the sugar etc. and then, when you've got some syrup in the bowl, eyeball it.  If it looks like the peaches are swimming in rather then just moisten by the liquid, spoon some off.  Here's the thing about a crisp: You can't go wrong.  Extra syrup is not tragic.

RECIPE: Mixed Berry Crisp

Why not try something like the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day people technique, with dough left in the fridge for a week and baked in small sizes? Their dough isn't sourdough, but I bet it could be adapted. Hmm. I think I'll try it and see.

This is a great suggestion - thanks for chiming in.

Do you ever make meat pies, or Cornish-pasty type pies? If you do, do you have any favorites?

This seems to be my day for confessions: I've only rarely made meat pies and then it was a chicken-pot pie.

My favorite not-a-meat-pie-but-a-cousin-in-a-way recipe is for Hachis Parmentier - chopped/cubed meat and good things under a crust of potatoes.  Think Shepherd's Pie.

You could certainly put that filling in a crust - actually, it would be great in a crust.

I love the Chicken Parmentier that I did for my Everyday Dorie column.  

Chicken Parmentier

RECIPE: Chicken Parmentier

And I also like the Hachis Parmentier from my book Around My French Table 

Hachis Parmentier

RECIPE: Hachis Parmentier

Dorie, I found an old blog post that mentioned you in regard to oven-roasted tomatoes, but the link to your piece was dead. What is your preferred oven-roasted tomato recipe? And how can we preserve them for the long haul into cold weather?

Sorry about the blog problem - some of my older recipes were lost in a blog change-over.

I cut the tomatoes, put them cut side up on a line baking sheet, brush them lightly with olive oil, sprinkle them with salt and pepper and scatter over herbs and slivers of garlic.  I roast them in a very low oven, 225 degrees F, for about 3 hours, or until they're a little dry looking and shriveled.

I usually use them right away or pack them in a jar, fill the jar with olive oil and refrigerate for up to about 2 weeks.

For longer storage, you could can them or they might be fine frozen - freeze them on a sheet pan and then pack them airtight when they're frozen.  I haven't tried this, but I think it will work.  Try it on a small batch first.

I love baking, but one thing I cannot master is making homemade brownies. I recently tried making Katherine Hepburn's recipe and it came out too oily. Did I use too much butter, wrong cocoa? Do you have any tricks or advice for great homemade brownies? I'd like to make them for a birthday this weekend but don't want to bake another failure.

Hmmm, it's hard for me to know what might have gone wrong with the recipe.

Here's my recipe for a Classic Brownie.  Mine is not made with cocoa, but with bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate. If you like, it you can use it as the base for playing around and adding things like macerated raisins or dried cranberries or apricot; espresso powder; spices; chopped chocolate.

One trick: Use cold eggs!

Let me know how they work for you and Happy Birthday weekend!

Brownies

RECIPE: Dorie Greenspan's Classic Brownies

Did you ever make any progress or discoveries on the English Pea Cake that Rose's Luxury makes? My spring peas are done for the season, but I'll be planting a fall crop soon!

We contacted Aaron Silverman.  You can send an email to food@washpost.com in case we hear back.

 

Is regular and Greek yogurt interchangeable for recipes?

I've been using them interchangeably with no problems.

I splurged on two new expensive kitchen electronics - waffle maker and a rice maker. I want to get my money's worth out of them so they aren't each a one-trick-pony. Any fun ideas or favorite recipes to maximize the number of foods I can cook in them respectively?

I don't have a rice maker, but I have several waffle makers (I wrote a waffle cookbook years ago) and nothing makes people happier than seeing it out on the counter and ready to go - who doesn't love waffles!

Almost anything can be waffled - and there's a new book called "Will It Waffle" that proves it.

French Toast in the waffle iron is a revelation.  Mashed potatoes are all crust - the best.  Sandwiches in the waffle iron are great, especially grilled cheese.  Savory waffles are terrific - you can put just a little batter on the iron and get minis, so cute for nibbles.

Whatever you do, don't store it in the back of the cupboard - that's the surest way to make any tool a one-trick pony.  Enjoy!

Here's one unique recipe for the waffle iron.

Smoked Salmon Waffles With Wasabi Yogurt

RECIPE: Smoked Salmon Waffles With Wasabi Yogurt

 

Is double-acting baking powder different from regular baking powder? I see it is in the French Yogurt Cake recipe.

It's not a dumb question.

I think most baking powders are double-acting these days.  They usually say double-acting somewhere on the label.

My inlaws brought us about 20 lbs of fresh blueberries last year that they had picked and I probably still have 8 lbs in the freezer. Any suggestions for using those for your blueberry pie? I'm betting I can convince my hubby to make some ice cream to complement the pie.

Blueberry Pie + Blueberry Ice Cream = Heaven

Just keep an eye on the syrup that you get when you sugar the berries.  Frozen berries can have extra liquid.  If it looks like a lot, just spoon some off before putting the berries and their syrup into the crust.

Enjoy!

What a terrific chat - thanks!

Next chat is July 29 - a Wednesday (note the temporary change) - at 1 pm, just after Free Range.

Have a delicious couple of weeks and I'm looking forward to seeing you back here.

 

In This Chat
Dorie Greenspan
Dorie Greenspan is the award-winning author of 11 cookbooks, the most recent of which is "Baking Chez Moi." Read more on her Web site, doriegreenspan.com, and follow her on Twitter: @doriegreenspan.
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