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Baking Minute: dessert week with the Canadian Baking Show

This week was dessert week on the Great Canadian Baking Show – and that meant pies, tarts, and meringue. By the end of the 45 minutes I had this intense craving for something super sweet.

The first challenge was to make an elegant pie or tart. The word “elegant” was key in this challenge as the judges expected dainty presentation. Most bakers used the “blind bake” method for their crusts, where they cook it prior to putting the filling inside to ensure the bottom doesn’t get soggy. I had never heard of this method, and will definitely try it the next time I make a pie.

The bakers really put their all into these desserts. Linda Longson from High River, Alberta, made a beautifully decadent raspberry chocolate pie that captured the audience and made the judges’ mouth water. “I want to dive into that pie,” Bruno Feldeisen said, and rightly so. The pie was decorated with white chocolate curls.

Every pie showcased a little bit of the baker’s personality. There was a pie representing the northern lights, a rustic apple pie, a mile-high lemon meringue, and a pi pie (that turned out to be more of an ode to chaos theory – poor messy James).

The best part of this challenge was watching the bakers. Linda, who I can only assume is a speedy baker as she is always hanging around helping others, points out that Terri Thompson’s pie crust is starting to rise. “You may want to poke some holes in your crust Terri, it’s starting to rise,” she says. In no other baking show, at least that I have witnessed, has a competitor been so kind to another. Her piece of advice probably saved Terri’s pie from disaster.

The technical challenge was a fondant fancy. This involved a dozen equally-sized sponge cakes with jam in the middle. The icing was a cream fondant that had to be evenly spread on the top and four corners of the cake. Bakers had to top it off with a small flower. This challenge was particularly difficult, and many bakers had a hard time with the icing. The icing can’t be spread, so it must be drizzled on top so that it overflows down the sides. But, if you don’t have enough or you have too much, it can cause a mess. The bakers did well enough, at least when compared to last week’s disastrous Montreal Bagel.

The showstopper challenge was a pavlova, a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. This meringue is then topped with a whipped cream and fruit. It’s a tricky dessert because the meringue can crack, especially if there isn’t enough time to cool the base before applying the cream. There were quite a few excellent pavlovas. My personal favourite was that of James D’Entremont from Halifax. He may have struggled with the first few challenges, but his pavlova had beautiful swirls in it and was beautifully decorated with blueberries and a sugared berry leaf. I was also impressed with Verdana’s yogurt whipped cream.

At the end of the show, the bakers sat side by side, holding hands as the hosts revealed the names of the star baker, and the person leaving the competition. The star baker of the episode was Linda, while Corey Shefman from Toronto, Ont. was sent home following a few mishaps with his pastry and meringue.

What was your favourite baking minute? Let us know in the comments below!

Recipe: mouth-watering eggplant and cheese pie

Eggplant and Cheese Pie

Sometime people crave something a bit lighter for a delicious summer dinner, or maybe you are interested in a vegetarian alternative to a delicious cheese bake. The eggplant and cheese pie is the perfect meal with just the right amount of ingredients that make this meal rich, yet simple to prepare and enjoy for you and your family.

Ingredients:

• 2 small eggplants, peeled and diced
• 1 cup of shredded cheese of your choice (a smoked cheese like gouda adds a burst of flavour)
• 3 eggs
• 3 tbsp milk
• 1 medium yellow onion
• 1 glove garlic, crushed
• 1 package phyllo pastry
• ½ tsp salt
• olive oil
• ½ tsp black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Celsius

1. Using a 25 cm quiche dish, gently layer sheets of phyllo pastry, ranging from 3-5 sheets, depending on the desired thickness of the crust. Brush each layered sheet with a small amount of olive oil

2. Wash the diced eggplant with salt and leave to soak for ten minutes, then rinse with cold water and dry thoroughly.

3. In a large skillet, heat up some olive oil, lightly brown the onion, garlic and add the eggplant, toss on medium heat for five minutes and sprinkle with black pepper.

4. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs with milk and whisk lightly

5. Add your sautéed eggplant to the quiche dish and distribute evenly, pour the egg mixture and then generously add the shredded cheese

6. Place uncovered on the top rack of your oven for 20-25 minutes

Once completed, slightly leave to cool and serve your delicious and cheesy eggplant pie. Enjoy with a serving of fresh cherry tomatoes or even a lightly tossed garden salad. If you would like to make this meal even richer, feel free to add other vegetables or even plump tomatoes to add a colourful and delicious burst to your meal. Enjoy!

Oh My! Homemade vegan banana pudding pie!

Sugary cravings are only normal around Christmas time and as a vegan, there are many delicious dessert options with hidden health benefits to choose from. This week, I craved a classic banana pudding pie.

I decided I wanted to use a cookie crust with a banana pudding to suit my own taste buds. Here’s the recipe:

Cookie Crust:

  • A box of white Oreo cookies
  • 3 tbsp. vegan earth balance butter

I purchased a box of white Oreo cookies (which are vegan!) and blended them with vegan butter until they were the consistency of sand granules. Then press them into a pie shell container until even. Refrigerate for one hour while making the rest of the pie.

Blending white oreo cookies with earth balance butter to create a pie crust. By Kaeleigh Phillips.
Blending white oreo cookies with earth balance butter to create a pie crust. By Kaeleigh Phillips.

Banana pudding pie mixture:

  • 4 ripe mashed ripe banana (about 4 bananas)
  • 2 cups of almond milk
  • 1/8 tsp salt and tumeric
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 1/2 tbsp coconut butter or buttery spread
  • 1/2 cup almond milk of choice
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Mash four bananas together in a bowl and add the almond milk, salt, turmeric, maple syrup and coconut butter and blend together. Once blended, warm up and add cornstarch and additional almond milk and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir with a whisk consistently for two minutes while the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and cool.

Heating up the banana mixture with cornstarch. By Kaeleigh Phillips
Heating up the banana mixture with cornstarch. By Kaeleigh Phillips

Once cool, pour on top of the cookie crust and refrigerate for two to three hours until it is solid. Enjoy!

Vegan desserts use top-quality ingredients and that usually makes it takes a bit more authentic than the typical pudding pies you see in stores.  Try adding a bit of flax seed and vanilla protein powder for a hidden nutrient kicks (especially if feeding to kids).

What kind of pie would you like to see Women’s Post make? Let us know in the comments below.

 

vegan-banana-pie