Archive for the ‘Pies & Pastries’ Category

P1060740I’m confused–is it summer or fall? If it really is summer (it IS August), then why am I wearing a scarf every day, and why am I already thinking about booking my plane ticket home for Thanksgiving? Because this is San Francisco, and like Mark Twain once said, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” Though I must have heard this quote at least 10 times since moving here, it is actually true.

This last weekend, I left the chill of the city to go Gravenstein apple-picking and picnicking in Sebastopol, a cute town about 50 miles North of San Francisco. I know–Sebasto-what? Sebasto-hole? No–Sebasto-pol! As in the Gravenstein apple CAPITAL OF THE WORLD!

It was altogether loads of fun–turning out to be an all-day apple-picnic extravaganza! I left with about 5 lbs. of fruit and a brain full of all the fab things I wanted to make–apple butter, apple jam, apple tart, and apple tarte tatin!!

The bounty of Sebastopol before my eyes, I set out to find the ultimate apple pastry–as in apples in the crust, apples in the filling and apples in the topping.

I didn’t find a recipe with apple in the crust (I suppose I could have just added it–you know like when you add lemon or orange zest–but maybe I will next time. Grated apple essence crust? Has anyone ever done this before?). However, I did find one that utilized apples in both filling and topping, namely a “Zuercher Pfarrhaustorte” (Zurich rectory tart) that I came across on 1x umruehren bitte. Apparently, it’s another Betti Bossi recipe–the Betty Crocker of Switzerland!

I eschewed all plans I had made that Sunday–skipping Ballet in the park and a birthday party (not a close friend; someone’s mom)–staying home instead to put together this ravishing pastry. And I’m so glad I did; I enjoyed every minute–even grinding the hazelnuts by hand with my pestle & mortar (I haven’t gotten round to buying a voltage converter for my food processor yet.)

This tart is perfect for these fresh summer days in the city–it’s all hazelnuts, grated apple and flaky, butter tart crust. According to Zora, the hazelnuts are replaceable with almonds. I also didn’t have quince jam, so I used apricot. Lovely, lovely (>^_^)<

Zürcher Pfarrhaustorte (from 1x umruehren bitte and Betti Bossi)
30 cm tart pan


shortcrust pastry (recipe see below)

150 g hazelnuts, grated
2 eggs (M)
80 g sugar
1 ts cinnamon
juice of 1 lemon
2 apples, grated

4 apples, peeled, halved, cored and finely incised
2 tb quince jelly, melted (I used apricot.)

Roll out the pastry and line tart pan with baking paper and pastry. Poke small holes in the bottom of the crust with a fork. Put in fridge, until the rest of ingredients are ready.

Preheat oven to 220 C.

Sperate eggs.
Mix yolks, hazelnuts, sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice and grated apples.

Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form, fold them gently into the hazelnut/apple mix.

Spread the hazelnut/apple mix over the pastry. Put the halved apples on top, cut side down.
Coat apple halves with quince jelly.

Bake tart for 35 minutes.



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I’m obsessed. But at least I know why. I’ve spent many years of my life away from the US and have learned to live without as well as create my own substitutions for certain foods. One such item is buttermilk. Sure, you can get it in Asia, but who wants to pay $11 Singaporean dollars for 1 pint of sour milk? (Thank goodness a DIY version is super easy to make on one’s own!)

Anyway, it’s funny what you miss when you’re far from home and also what things get the label “exotic”–simple things like good-quality cheese, bread, nuts, herbs, dried fruit and chocolate that cost an arm and a leg but which you buy anyway because living without is just too sad and horrifying to imagine (at least for me it is).

Now that I’m back State-side, I am of course taking complete advantage of all these much-missed foods, especially buttermilk. (Too bad I am already missing things like pink guava, mangosteens, kuey teow and dim sum…sigh. Will I ever be content 😛 ) I had almost an entire quart of buttermilk left over from the Raspberry Buttermilk Cake I made before, so I immediately started scouring the web for recipes that required a large amount of the stuff. This recipe for strawberry buttermilk tart that I found on The LoveBite does exactly that–buttermilk in both the crust and the custard!

So–changes I made to the original: for the crust, I used a simple recipe from my go-to Swiss cookbook, TipTopf, replacing the water/cream component with buttermilk. For the custard, the only thing I didn’t do was top the tart with strawberries–definitely would have; just didn’t have any at home at the time.

I’d never actually heard of or tasted “buttermilk tart” before (apparently it’s a Southern US thing). It’s easy-peasy to put together and bakes up all golden–meringue-y on the top and custard-y on the bottom. Loved it.

(Strawberry) Buttermilk Tart (taken from The LoveBite)



200g flour

2 pinches of salt

100g cold butter

2-3 tbsp sugar

grated zest of 1/2 lemon

1 egg

1-2 tbsp buttermilk


2 cups buttermilk

1 cup milk (I used non-fat–no issues.)

3 oz butter

3 eggs, separated

3 tbsp cornstarch

1 tsp vanilla

pinch of salt

grated zest of 1 lemon

2 pints fresh strawberries (optional–I left them out)


Prepare the pastry: Combine and stir together the flour and salt.

Then, cut in the cold butter, carefully mixing it in together with your fingertips.

Add the lemon zest, egg and buttermilk. Stir together quickly–until the dough is just formed.

Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Pre heat the oven to 350f / 180c

Place a large sheet of baking parchment on your counter space…at least 20 inches…sprinkle a little flour onto it. Place the pastry disc in the centre. Sprinkle a little more flour on top of the pastry and use a rolling pin to roll the pastry out into a 17 inch circle about 1/4 inch thick.

Butter the 9 inch springform pan, then place it upside down in the centre of the pastry. Place your hand under the baking parchment, use your other hand to hold the springform pan in place and carefully flip the pastry and pan. Ease the pastry down into the pan and peel back the baking parchment. Carefully mould the pastry to the bottom and sides of the pan. I re-use the parchement by tearing it into pieces and I line the bottom and sides of the pastry with it. Then place the 8 inch pan into the centre. You are going to ‘blind-bake’ the pastry shell and this will stop the sides from collapsing. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven, remove the 8 inch pan and peel back the baking parchment.  Prick the bottom of the tart shell with a fork…every inch or so. This pastry has a little rise in it and will have puffed up. That’s okay.  Pop it back into the oven for another 10 minutes (I didn’t do this, and it turned out fine).

Start preparing the Buttermilk custard: Place the milk and butter in a saucepan and heat gently until the butter melts; remove from heat (Do not let it boil).

In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks, cornflour, sugar and vanilla.

In a smaller (very clean) mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until they foam. Add a pinch of salt and continue beating until the egg whites look glossy white and hold stiff peaks.

Pour the hot milk in a slow and steady stream into the egg yolk mix. Whisk constantly to do this. Stop pouring and keep whisking if you can’t do both at once. This mix will thinken and you don’t want the eggs to get lumpy. Whisk the buttermilk into the yolks. Add the lemon zest.

Spoon about 1/4 of the egg white mix and fold it into the yolk mix by strirring from the bottom and up and over in a circular motion. Add the rest of the egg whites. Do not beat the batter as all of the air in the egg whites will be beaten out of the custard and it is this which makes the custard so fluffy and light.

Pour the batter into the tart shell and sprinkle some brown sugar on top.

Bake about 45 mins or until golden on top and the custard is just set in the middle.

This is a traditional Swiss pie from the Romandie. It’s quite tricky to get the texture of the custard and the crust right. I made this for D.’s 28th birthday. I hope he likes it!  

Despite appearances (this image is from my pre-photography class days), the pie was a nice combination of creamy, curdy, bounce and crisp crust. 

Makes one 9 inch pie (8-10 slices).

Swiss Custard Pie (Nidlechueche)

300 g flour

1/2 tsp salt

100 g very cold butter

5-6 tbsp cold water


1 tbsp flour

4 tbsp sugar

a dash cinnamon

2 large eggs

300 ml heavy cream

1/4 tsp vanilla


1. Prepare the dough: In a mixing bowl, combine flour and salt.

2. With a knife, flake the butter into the mixing bowl.  Then, with your fingertips, gently rub the butter and flour together until evenly combined (small grains).

3. Add cold water.  Then quickly mix together.  Do not knead.

4. Refrigerate for 1 hour or put into the freezer until completely chilled through.

5. While the dough is chilling, prepare the custard: In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients.

6. Whisk in the 2 room temperature eggs, combining well (until dry ingredients are completely dissolved).

7. Add the room temperature heavy cream and vanilla to the mixture.  Mix well.

8. To assemble: Pre-heat oven to 240 deg. C. Grease and flour one 9 inch pie pan.

9. Pour custard into the pie pan.

10. Pour custard into the pie pan.

11. Place pie into the pre-heated oven. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden.

12. Remove from the oven and allow to completely cool. Do not refrigerate.

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