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Authors: Joanne Chang

Baking with Less Sugar (9 page)

BOOK: Baking with Less Sugar
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4.
Refrigerate the pie shell for at least 30 minutes. (The gluten needs a little time to relax so it doesn't shrink as much in the oven). The unbaked pie shell can be stored, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 4 weeks. If frozen, the pie shell can be baked directly from the freezer.

5.
Blind bake (that is, prebake) the shell so it doesn't get soggy when you eventually fill it with fruit: Line the shell with parchment paper or a large coffee filter and then fill it with pie weights, uncooked beans, uncooked rice, or even well-washed marble-size rocks. Press down slightly on the weights to make sure the shell is entirely filled and place in the oven. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the shell is brown on the edges and pale and matte when you lift the parchment and peek at the surface of the shell. (If the edges brown too quickly, cover the shell loosely with foil.) When the pie shell is done blind baking, remove it from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.

6.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine about one-fourth of the blueberries with 3 Tbsp of the sugar, the flour, salt, almond extract, lemon juice, and 1 Tbsp of the butter. Cook over medium-low heat, mashing the berries and stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the berries, sugar, and flour melt into a gooey mass. Some of the berries will cook into a jam and some will remain somewhat whole. Remove the pan from the heat. Place the remaining blueberries and the nectarines in a large bowl and add the blueberry mixture to it. Stir to combine.

7.
Remove the parchment paper and pie weights from the baked shell and pile the fruit into the shell. Dot the fruit all over with the remaining 1 Tbsp butter.

8.
On a well-floured surface, roll out the remaining dough into a circle about 10 in [25 cm] in diameter and drape it over the pie with the edge of the circle overhanging the edge
1
/
2
in [1 cm] all the way around (you will trim off this excess once the pie is baked). In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk and brush it evenly over the top crust. Sprinkle the top crust evenly with the remaining 1 Tbsp sugar. Cut four to six slits in the center of the dough to allow steam to escape.

9.
Set the pie on a baking sheet to catch any bubbling overflowing fruit juices, and place in the oven. Bake for 1
1
/
4
to 1
1
/
2
hours, or until the top crust is entirely golden brown. If the top of the pie starts to brown too quickly, cover it with aluminum foil during the last 20 minutes of baking to allow the bottom to finish baking without over-baking the top. Remove the pie from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 3 to 4 hours before serving.

10.
Before serving, use a sharp paring knife to carefully trim the edge of the pie, cutting off the excess overhanging dough and leaving a simple, straight edge on the finished crust. The longer you let the pie sit, the more “together” the fruit will be. If you cut into it while warm, the fruit will be especially juicy and the filling, especially runny. The pie can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

DOUBLE-CRUST PIE DOUGH

MAKES ENOUGH FOR ONE
9-IN [23-CM] DOUBLE-CRUST PIE

  • 245 g/1
    3
    /
    4
    cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 225 g/1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into about 12 pieces
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 Tbsp cold whole milk

1.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or an electric hand mixer), beat the flour and salt on low speed for 10 to 15 seconds, or until mixed. Add the butter and beat slowly for 60 to 90 seconds, or just until the flour is no longer bright white, holds together when you clump it, and there are still lumps of butter the size of a pecan throughout. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and milk and add all at once to the flour-butter mixture. Beat very briefly, still on low speed, about 30 seconds, just until it barely comes together. It will look really shaggy and more like a mess than a dough.

2.
Dump the dough out onto a work surface and gather it into a tight mound. Using the heel of your hand, smear the dough, starting at the top of the mound and sliding your palm down the sides of the mound along the work surface, until most of the butter chunks are smeared into the dough and the whole thing comes together. (This technique is called
fraisage
and makes for a very flaky pie dough.) Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and press it down to make a flattened disk. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using. The dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days (wrapped in another layer of plastic wrap if storing for more than 1 day) or in the freezer for up to 4 weeks.

VANILLA-PECAN COFFEE CAKE

Sour cream coffee cake has been on our menu since Day One. The method we use to mix this cake is so common within our baking kitchen that many of our cake recipes simply say “mix like SCCC” in the directions. When I opened Flour, the first pastry to get publicly praised by a food writer was this coffee cake. Sheryl Julian, the food editor of the
Boston Globe
, wrote me requesting the recipe and included it in a breakfast pastry roundup she did for the newspaper. (When you are a new business and someone like that praises you, it's like Tiger Woods walking by as you tee off and saying, “Nice shot.” You kind of want to tell the world. Which I guess is what I'm doing right now!)

To say I was a bit tentative in trying to make a low-sugar version of this cake is an understatement. Why mess with something that was already pretty much perfect according to hundreds of Flour customers? But on a whim one day, I decided to try it out. I reduced the sugar in the main batter and tweaked the nutty streusel layer and brought the results that evening to the prep crew at my Asian restaurant Myers+Chang. They are used to getting treats from me; I often end my day at the restaurant and will grab a bag of cookies when leaving Flour—and to be honest, they get a touch inured to them. So imagine my surprise when a few minutes after my arrival, the cooks were all abuzz: “Mama, this is so good!” (Yes they call me Mama! Maybe it's all the treats I bring them.) I was floored. Day in and day out bringing them cookies and pastries had elicited no more than a polite “gracias,” and with this coffee cake I was suddenly a superstar.

As with most items that contain less sugar, the keeping qualities of this cake are not as good as the regular version—it's best enjoyed within a day of baking. However it's really so good that I doubt you'll have the problem of leftover cake. We never do! Note that you'll need a tube pan with a removable insert for this recipe to easily release this tender-crumbed cake from its pan.

MAKES
ONE
10-IN [25-CM] CAKE

STREUSEL

  • 75 g/
    3
    /
    4
    cup pecan halves
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1
    /
    2
    tsp ground ginger
  • 1
    /
    4
    tsp ground cloves
  • 1
    /
    2
    tsp kosher salt
  • 45 g/6 Tbsp cake flour
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 300 g/2
    1
    /
    2
    cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1
    /
    2
    tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 140 g/
    2
    /
    3
    cup sugar
  • 225 g/1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 5 or 6 pieces, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs plus 3 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp finely grated orange zest
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 240 g/1 cup crème fraîche
    (see page 24)

1.
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F [175°C]. Butter and flour a 10-in [25-cm] tube pan with a removable insert.

2. To make the streusel:
Put the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Set aside to cool.

3.
In a food processor, combine the pecans, honey, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, cake flour, and butter and pulse for about 20 seconds, or until the mixture comes together roughly and looks like quicksand. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside; you should have about 1 cup [240 ml]. Alternatively, put all the ingredients in a medium bowl and use a pastry cutter to combine them until well mixed. (The streusel can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 1 month.)

4.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with an electric hand mixer), mix the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar on low speed just until well mixed. Add the butter, one piece at a time, and continue to beat on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the butter is well incorporated into the dry ingredients. The mixture will look like coarse meal. If the butter is a little softer than room temperature, the mixture may come together as a soft dough, which is fine.

5.
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, orange zest, vanilla, and crème fraîche until thoroughly mixed. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour about half of the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix until combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat for about 1
1
/
2
minutes. The mixture will go from looking thick, clumpy, and yellowish to light, fluffy, and whitish. Stop the mixer once or twice during the mixing and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure all the ingredients are mixed in. Decrease the speed to low, add the remaining egg mixture, and beat for about 30 seconds, or until combined. Again, stop once or twice during the mixing to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

6.
Spoon about 1 cup [240 ml] of the batter into the streusel and fold the streusel and batter together until well mixed. (This step helps keep the streusel from sinking directly to the bottom of the pan during baking.) Scrape all of the non-streusel batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Then top with the streusel batter, spreading it in an even layer and smoothing it out.

7.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the center of the cake springs back when you press it and the top is pale golden brown. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 3 hours, or until completely cool, then run a paring knife around the edge of the pan and carefully pop out the cake and the removable insert. Run the knife around the bottom of the pan and invert onto a wire rack or plate, gently shaking until the cake pops out; then top with a second wire rack or plate and flip so it is right-side up.

8.
The cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Or store in the freezer, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 2 weeks; thaw overnight at room temperature.

COCONUT CHIFFON CAKE WITH COCONUT GLAZE

I adore a light, fluffy coconut cake, and in the first
Flour
cookbook I included one of my favorite recipes: Toasted Coconut Angel Food Cake. Angel food cakes by nature have a lot of sugar in them. They are made with all egg whites, which can make a cake tough (think egg white omelettes, which are often tough and dry), and the antidote to dryness in baking is often sugar. Add sugar to something and it not only makes it sweeter but also much moister.

To make a moist, delicious, and light coconut cake but without as much sugar, I decided to go the chiffon cake route. Chiffon cakes look and taste similar to angel food cakes, but they are made with egg yolks and have added oil mixed into the batter, which makes them rich and tender. I also use full-fat coconut milk; make sure to stir before measuring to combine the coconut cream into the coconut water. I was able to decrease the amount of sugar in this cake to 140 g/
2
/
3
cup (versus 300 g/1
1
/
2
cups in my angel food cake recipe) and still create a remarkably tender cake full of sweet coconut flavor with a barely sweet coconut-y glaze. You'll need a 10-in [25-cm] tube pan with a removable bottom for this recipe.

BOOK: Baking with Less Sugar
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