Lessons from a cherry bourbon vanilla pie

Finding Tiffany's Summer Cherry Pie

I’m calling it – fruit pie season is here!

This Sunday, I broke out the pink wine and got to work on a cherry pie. I’ve only used canned filling in the past, so I thought it would be fun to use real cherries. And here’s where I tell you it wasn’t all sunshine and rosé.

Lesson #1: Let frozen cherries defrost before baking or you can attempt to de-pit fresh cherries, which, no thank you. I did not, and I literally had to sop up the pie because it was so liquid-y. I also did not add any flour/starch to help it stick together…lesson(s) learned.

Lesson #2: More spices! I put a little bourbon in the mix and some more nutmeg and cinnamon would have really complemented the flavor and counteracted some of the watered down flavor.

With all that in mind, here’s an edited version of the Cherry Bourbon Vanilla Pie filling:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1-2 TBS vanilla
  • 3 TBS bourbon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 bags of defrosted cherries
  • 2 TBS flour
Source: SimplyGluten-Free.com
Source: SimplyGluten-Free.com

My favorite gluten-free pie crust recipe is from SimplyGluten-Free.com. Not only will it fool the best of gluten-eaters, it’s really easy to make with vegan butter and not quite as delicate as other gluten-free dough. This means you can make it through the haphazard parchment-paper-to-pie-dish flip with a much higher rate of success.

Her recipe calls for the following pie crust ingredients, which I’ve modified below, in a food processor:

  • ½ cup vegan, soy free Earth Balance (one stick)
  • 2 to 4 TBS ice water
  • 1¼ cups Bob’s Red Mill Baking Flour, Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Flour, or a mix of both plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 tsp kosher or fine sea salt
  • 1 TBS sugar
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Now for some more learnings:

Lesson #3: Use the food processor over a hand or stand mixer. It cuts and distributes the butter so much faster, so the butter stays cold. Cold dough is happy dough.

Lesson #4: You can adjust the salt and sugar ratio to taste. Since fruit pies can be sweet naturally I prefer less sugar in the crust. For chocolate pies, I use a little more salt to delicious results. That said, the vegan butter adds a little saltiness to the recipe, so I recommend going no more than 3/4 tsp salt.

Lesson #5: Instead of doubling the recipe for a top crust, blend two separate batches. I can’t point to any science behind this, but my dough always turns out better this way.

Despite not turning out quite as expected, I’ve still eaten almost all of it. Maybe contemplating baking and eating a whole other pie before I hit the beach next weekend, too…

Finding Tiffany's Cherry Pie

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A good day for donuts

gluten free vegan donuts

My ultimate zen is a Songza playlist of the “sunshine indie” variety and a mid-morning baking session, which is also when the natural light is best for capturing photographs along the way.

Luckily, I never face a shortage of baked goods I want to try for the first or fortieth time. Ever since I tried Babycakes’ unbelievable gluten-free, soy-free, vegan donuts in New York, I have had a major craving. And is it just me or is there an unusually high number of donut recipes floating around Pinterest lately?

So this Saturday I took a short, relaxing break from what is shaping up to be a jam-packed January to try out this recipe I found from Bubble Girl Bakes.

The perfect playlist blasted, the sunlight hit just right and these guys turned out delicious. It’s been a good day.

gingerbread cake donut holes - gf vegan

Here’s her recipe, with my notes in parentheses.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons flaxseed, finely ground
½ cup warm water
¼ cup light extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup maple syrup (All I had on hand was the corn syrup variety…)
¼ cup molasses (I happened to have some gingerbread flavored syrup I used in its place)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup + 2 tablespoons bg bakes gluten free all-purpose flour mix (I used a store-bought GF flour mix)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda

1. Whisk the flaxseed and water well; let sit for minimum of 5 minutes.
2. Mix all liquids including flaxseed mixture on high.
3. Sift dry ingredients in until just combined, each in order of how listed above.
4. Pour into a greased donut pan, roll on a pan for donut holes, whatever! I put the gingerbread ones in a cupcake pan I had, then finally had the bright idea to put the chocolate batter into an icing piping bag to shape into the traditional donut shape on a pan.
5. Bake at 375 F for ten minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
6. Enjoy!

chocolate donuts - gf and vegan

I also tried her chocolate donut recipe, which was good (although the gingerbread ones win my vote). It was actually my first flaxseed baking experience, and I have to say, it went well! The donuts came out moist and not crumbly at all, which can sometimes be a problem with gluten-free baking.

Next up, jelly donuts!