The Great Experiment: Pie crust edition

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Good morning, beautiful crafty people!

Yesterday, our fabulous Laura and I got together to test a recipe we’d been discussing. Now, I’m a big-time baker. I love to bake confectionery treats and goodies but I have only made one fruit pie in my life (and I cheated there and bought the pre-made dough that you just lay into the pan). Pie dough is quite daunting to me. Laura has made many and was kind enough to help me in working with this new-to-me medium.

I thought it would be fun to share with you all what I learned in my first real foray into making pie dough. Pie dough is not like cookie dough. My first moment of “Oh dear, am I doing this right?” was when I was mixing the butter into dry ingredients. The recipe called for cubed butter and I just sliced off the stick into rectangles, thinking that would be ok. Laura suggested actually cubing the slices as well, stating it would make the hand-mixing much each and would blend more thoroughly and easily. She was right. We had also discussed the use of a pastry blender, since this recipe specifically called for hand-blending/kneading. As I worked the ingredients together, I felt that the reason this recipe called for hand-kneading was so that you have a real feel for when the dough is blended enough. I wouldn’t be opposed to trying it with the pastry blender though, if for no other reason than it may be a little easier on my upper body muscles. (Also, I’m short and Laura’s counters are tall, LOL.)

Next, Laura talked me through the roll out process. This recipe called for you to roll the dough out to about 8 x 13 and fold like a business letter. Then you roll it out again to 8 x 13 and fold like a business letter again. At this point, you wrap the dough and chill it for 30 minutes. This was the next point where I got confused. The roll out cookies I’ve made in the past didn’t require chilling. It was especially nerve-wracking when we took the dough out and I tried to roll it out again. It was tough & required a bit more effort than a cookie dough to get rolled out. I recommend definitely only chill for the suggested time in the recipe. Laura and I left ours in longer (we had to break for dinner, we were starving) and she thinks that may have contributed to the difficult roll out.

The next thing I discovered is the thickness of the dough. This recipe called for me to roll out the dough to 14 x 14. I’m used to cookie recipes saying something like, “roll dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness.” I think for the next time, I will gauge my roll out this way. We found after baking that the crust was a bit thick along the bottom. I also noticed it was a bit more difficult to slice venting slits in the top through a thicker dough. However, unlike with cookie dough, I noticed that the dough did not get consistently tougher as I re-rolled. And adding flour didn’t dry out the dough.

We also discovered that we had a little awkwardness during the crimping edge process. Laura and I exercised a little trial and error and eventually felt that the following method seemed to work best. We started off pushing the edges down and then, as you pressed the fork around the edges to crimp, you put a finger over the top of the fork as you press down. However, for next time, we also want to try putting  a little of the egg wash around the bottom edge before covering and crimping to see if that helps seal it a bit. 

Overall, the recipe/experiment was a resounding success, resulting is a light and flaky dough, and I learned a lot about making pie dough from scratch. I hope that these little tips and lessons we learned help you all in your future baking journeys!

Have a delicious Monday, Hackers!

~Scribe Sarah~

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Halloween-Themed Snacks

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Hello my Halloween-y Hackers!

One of my very favorite things to do each Halloween is to make yummy treats. Well, I like doing that year-round but it’s most fun at Halloween. To me, there’s something deeply satisfying about making a hot dog look like a bloody finger. So this week, I wanted to share some fun recipes and tips for making your Halloween party treats the talk of the night.

One thing I make every year (both at Halloween and Christmas) is soft sugar cookies with either a buttercream or royal icing. My recipe for the cookies is from my Hy-Vee Employee Cookbook (courtesy of the lovely Linda Myers of Mt. Ayr), included below, and the buttercream icing that I favor is Wilton’s recipe, found here. Royal icing can be whipped up from a box mix from the store (Michael’s will almost always carry it). This recipe is best for rolled & cut-out cookies. Decorate how every you like. A big tip though is that royal icing works best for cookies you’ll need to transport. Royal icing will harden and your designed cookies will not get destroyed in transit. Buttercream pairs with the soft sugar cookies better because the frosting does not harden. So really, it’s a choice for you which would work best for you and your situation.

Another fun and easy thing to put out for a party is a party mix. This is easy and inexpensive to make (or if you really have a time crunch, you can buy bags of pre-made Chex Mix). Then it’s as easy as adding a little Halloween themed candy to the mix. I prefer candy corn or the pumpkins but you can also use orange and brown M&M’s or Reese’s Pieces. Harvest Hash Chex Mix recipe on Pinterest can be found here.

Other fun finger foods to try out are Deviled eggs, Halloween pretzels, Rice Krispie treat pumpkins, and Ghost Strawberries.

If you are having a smaller soiree with a sit-down dinner, a wonderful dish to serve is Eyeball Pasta (recipe found here). You can also find some fun and frightful ideas for dinners here.

If you want something to set out that is of the healthier snack variety, a simple veggie tray can be set out and arranged in fun designs. There is a Jack’O’Lantern pattern found here and a lovely owl design found here.

As always, imagination is key in your food creations. See that can of black olives? So easy to turn it into black spiders that can be put on top of a pizza with just a few slices of a knife. Those pretzel sticks? A little white almond bark drizzled across them makes them mummy sticks. With that imagination, your Halloween party can be filled with feisty food and tantalizing treats.

~Scribe Sarah~

 

Soft Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 c. margarine

1 egg

1 c. sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 c. thick sour cream

3 1/4 c. flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

Cream margarine, egg, sugar and vanilla for 2 minutes. Add sour cream and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients. Do no chill; roll out and cut. Bake at 350 degrees for 6 minutes.


Bunnies Galore

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Happy Sunday, all!

Easter is a couple of weeks away and I’ve already been having bunny sightings! Spring has definitely sprung, so let’s get festive and add a few more buns to the mix. If you are the crochet type, you could use all kinds of colors to create these little cuties:

They don’t take that much yarn so the stash could be raided!

Or maybe you’ve already been itching to start a quick/portable hand sewing project? These cute bun buns would do the trick:

I love those widdle whiskers!

Or maybe you’ve still got the old sewing machine out to work on through some of those scrap projects? How about adding a quick bunny basket to the mix:

Just in time to fill with chocolate goodies, too.

Speaking of goodies, I just can’t pass up the opportunity to mention these deliciously cute looking bunny butt cupcakes:

I mean, look at that adorbs tail!

I seem to have become the queen of project lists in the last few months but never fear, I have some tutorials and product testimonials up my sleeve, yet. More to come!

Stay crafty!

~Laura

 


Reinvention of the 1950’s apron

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Ok so I absolutely love to bake, which usually results in flour, powdered sugar, or whatever I might be working on splattered on the front of me. Right now I have one apron with a screen print of the Tardis on it, but it is more a standard apron. Now I have patterns for more traditional vintage style aprons but I was wondering if anybody out there made any geeky style aprons. Because if I’m gonna bake I want to do it while wearing something fun and inspiring. Well a quick etsy search later and I found DarkBalloons, she makes FANTASTIC vintage style aprons with a geeky flair. Just checking out her shop you’ll see some fun representations of your favorite pop culture and video came characters. These aprons are so adorable and elegant that it almost seems a shame to get them dirty, but hey that’s what an apron is for :-p

This is the apron I would LOVE to have as Princess Daisy is my fave Mario character:

Princess Daisy Apron

And how adorable is this Zelda apron:

Toon Zelda Apron

There are soo many more that I could post, just go check her out: https://www.etsy.com/shop/darkballoons These aprons are perfect for the geeky baker or chef, who wants an apron that is out of the ordinary and represents their geeky nature.

Dana