(adapted from Richard Sax)
makes one deep dish 9½” inch pie or one 8” springform pie
Buttermilk Pie Crust with Pink Peppercorns
2½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon finely ground pink peppercorns
1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into ¼” cubes
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons cold buttermilk (I use Five Acre Farms)
egg wash made from one egg beaten with one tablespoon milk or heavy cream
extra sugar for sprinkling
Lightly butter your deep-dish pie plate or your springform pan, dust with flour and knock out the excess .
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, place the flour, sugar, salt, and ground peppercorns. Pulse two or three times to combine. Add the cold butter pieces and pulse just until the mixture is crumbly and the butter pieces are about the size of small peas. Empty the mixture into a large bowl. Gradually add the buttermilk, tossing the mixture with a fork or your fingertips, just until the dough holds together. Divide the dough roughly in half, making one slightly larger for the bottom crust. Shape each half into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before rolling out.
Remove the larger disc of dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, roll the dough into a circle about 12” in diameter and about ⅛” thick. Gently transfer the dough to the pie plate or the springform pan, making sure to smooth the dough inside the bottom edges of the pan and easing the dough into the pan and up the sides without stretching it. Leave an overhang of about ¾” and fold it under, decoratively crimping the edge. Refrigerate the pie shell while you roll out the top crust. Retrieve the second (slightly smaller) disc of dough from the fridge and roll it out on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, into a circle about 11” in diameter and about ⅛” thick. Slide the parchment with the top crust onto a baking sheet, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it while you par-bake the bottom crust.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Place a sheet of buttered aluminum foil or parchment paper inside the dough lined pan, extending over the edge of the pan. Fill the pan with dried beans or rice, place the pie pan on a baking sheet and bake on the bottom rack of the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Put on your favorite oven mitts and remove the pan from the oven, then carefully remove the foil or parchment and beans. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Prick the bottom and sides of the crust with a fork and return the pie shell to the oven for an additional 7-10 minutes, just until the bottom crust is golden and no longer doughy. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you prepare the filling. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.
For the filling-
10-12 ripe but firm Anjou or Bosc pears (4 pounds) I use a combination of the two; after peeled, cored and sliced, you should have about 8 cups of fruit
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice or Amaretto
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons orange zest
¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
generous pinch of freshly ground pink peppercorns
3 tablespoons Minute tapioca* (pulsed until fine in the food processor)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or seeds from one half of a vanilla bean
⅔ cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
Rinse, peel, halve, and core the pears; cut into ¼” thick slices and place the pears in a large bowl. Toss the pear slices with the lemon juice and orange juice (or Amaretto.). In a medium bowl combine the sugars, orange zest, cardamom, salt, ground peppercorns, tapioca, and vanilla extract (or vanilla bean); add to the pears. Use a rubber scraper to gently combine the fruit with the sugar/spice mixture. (Hold off on the walnuts; you will layer those between the pears.) Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes so the tapioca has a chance to absorb the pear juices. Retrieve your top crust from the refrigerator and make sure the oven is preheated to 400 degrees F.
Place a portion of the pears into the pie shell, sprinkle on some of the walnuts and continue layering with the remainder of the pears and walnuts. Retrieve the top crust from the fridge. Brush the edge of the pie crust with egg wash and drape the top crust over the filling. Trim the excess, leaving a ¾” border. Carefully seal the edges of the top crust to the bottom crust and crimp the edge decoratively. (Because the bottom crust has been par-baked, it will be fragile.) Brush the top crust with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Use a fork or a small paring knife to poke/cut a few holes in the top crust, allowing steam to escape as the pie bakes.
Place the pie on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover the edges of the pie with aluminum foil strips. Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes then reduce temperature to 375 degrees F and bake an additional 30-40 minutes, until the crust is golden and juices bubble around the edges and in the center of the pie. Place the pie on a rack to cool completely, several hours or preferably overnight. (It will be much easier to slice if the pie has a chance to rest overnight.) Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.
Cornmeal-Olive Oil Cake with Honey Roasted Plums and Almond Praline
makes one 8” fluted cake (I use a fluted tart pan with removable bottom measuring 8” x 2”)
(adapted from L. De’ Medici and D. Mele)
1 cup stone ground cornmeal (plus additional 1-2 tablespoons for dusting the cake pan)
⅓ cup coarse cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 large eggs, room temperature
zest from one small lemon and one small orange
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
⅓ cup olive oil + 2 tablespoons for tart pan (California Olive Ranch brand, widely available)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease your tart pan with 2 tablespoons olive oil and dust with cornmeal, knocking out the excess. Place the tart pan on a parchment lined baking sheet.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the stone ground and coarse cornmeal, all-purpose flour, salt, and baking powder. Place the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed until frothy. Rub the lemon and orange zest into the sugar with your fingers. Gradually add the sugar to the eggs then increase speed to high, beating until the mixture becomes light, about 5 minutes. Turn the mixer down to low and slowly drizzle in the olive oil; add the vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients in thirds, gently scraping down the sides and the bottom of the bowl. Add the lemon and orange juice being careful not to over mix the batter.
Pour the batter into the tart pan and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, until the cake is golden, springs back gently when touched and tests clean with a small knife. Place on a cooling rack while you prepare the plums. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.
For the Honey Roasted Plums-
(from Katie Quinn Davies)
8-10 Casselman (also known as Santa Rosa) plums, rinsed, halved and pits removed
1-2 tablespoons honey
Place the plums with the cut-sides up, on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the honey and bake for 20-30 minutes until softened. Set aside.
For the Almond Praline-
½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
3 tablespoons water
⅔ cup sugar
Line a small baking pan with aluminum foil and butter the foil. Place the toasted almonds on top of the foil.
Place the water and sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil without stirring, carefully swirling the water and sugar occasionally, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sugar syrup turns golden. Put on a sensible oven mitt (don’t use a kitchen towel- hot sugar syrup burns!) Remove the pan from the heat and immediately pour the hot sugar syrup over the toasted almonds. Set aside to cool. Transfer the praline to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and pulse until coarsely ground.
Serve the cake with the roasted plums, the almond praline, and either softly whipped cream or mascarpone with honey. Wrap any leftovers in plastic wrap; the cake keeps at room temperature for several days. Wrap and refrigerate any leftover plums. The praline can be stored in an airtight container.
(adapted from Joan Nathan, Marian Burros, and Marcy Goldman)
fills one 10” x 4” tube pan OR one 9½”x1½” deep dish ceramic pie plate and one 9”x5” loaf pan
(Note: Honey Cake tends to elicit raised eyebrows, a cake most of us associate with grandmothers, great aunts, and old school bakeries. Before you return to your regularly programmed Rosh Hashanah apple cake, give this one a try. It relies on honey for sweetness with a generous dose of warm spices, strong coffee, and Cognac. The cake freezes beautifully (double wrap it in plastic wrap) and both the pie plate version and the tube pan lend themselves to Rosh Hashanah when we gravitate towards circular shapes, symbolizing the continuation of life.)
2 generous cups of dried fruit, diced (apricots, dates, figs, prunes)
3-4 tablespoons Cognac
Place the fruit in a medium bowl, toss with the Cognac and transfer the mixture to a clean glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Let the fruit macerate overnight in the refrigerator.
Coffee Whipped Cream- (unless you are serving a dairy-free meal)
1 cup cold whipping cream
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (I use Medaglia D’Oro)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large chilled bowl, combine cream, brown sugar, espresso powder, and vanilla extract. Beat until cream thickens, forming soft peaks. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving.
Halvah- for garnish
2 ounces coffee flavored halvah, diced (Halvah is available at most grocery stores and also from Russ & Daughters or Seed + Mill in NYC.)
For the cake-
Line the bottom of the tube pan (or the loaf pan) with parchment paper, cut to fit, then lightly grease the pan (and the parchment) with vegetable oil and dust with flour, tapping out the excess. If you are using a deep-dish pie plate, lightly grease it with vegetable oil, dust with flour, and tap out the excess. Put on a pot of coffee; some for the baker and some for the cake.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange your oven racks to accommodate either the tube pan or the pie plate and the loaf pan; you will want to bake these on the middle rack of your oven.
3½ cups all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ginger
½ cup chopped toasted walnuts (optional)
Sift together the dry ingredients onto a large sheet of parchment paper. If you are using walnuts, add ½ cup chopped, toasted walnuts to the dry ingredients.
In a large bowl, whisk together:
3 large eggs, room temperature
1¼ cups sugar
½ cup brown sugar
grated zest of 1 thick-skinned orange
½ cup fresh orange juice
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup honey
1 cup warm black coffee
¼ cup Cognac
You can mix the cake by hand or use a standing mixer. I get the best results by placing all of the sifted dry ingredients into the bowl of the standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, give the dry ingredients a whirl to combine and aerate them. Gradually add the Eggs/Sweets/Liquid mixture to the dry ingredients, mixing on low speed, making sure to periodically turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides and the very bottom of the bowl. Make sure the batter is thoroughly combined.
Place the tube pan OR the pie plate and loaf pan on a parchment lined baking sheet. Pour the batter into the pan(s) and bake on the middle rack of the pre-heated 350 degree oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake(s) comes out clean. The tube pan should take between 55-60 minutes and the loaf pan about the same. The pie plate generally takes a little less, about 45 minutes. Transfer the cake(s) to a wire rack to cool completely. The cakes are best baked the day before serving and wrapped in plastic wrap. You can turn the tube cake out of the pan and wrap it, same for the loaf cake; leave the “pie” plate as is, covered in plastic wrap.
Serve honey cake with Tipsy Fruit, diced halvah, and Coffee Whipped Cream. (Refrigerate any fruit or whipped cream leftovers.)