Three Berry Pie with Vanilla Cream

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For quite a long time I’ve resisted baking pies, mainly because I don’t particularly enjoy things like apple pies (i.e. using actual fruits in baking). Not sure what changed my mind, but I decided to give berries + pie a try, given that it’s summer over here in the Southern Hemisphere!

True to the reviews, the Three-Berry Pie with Vanilla Cream is very deliscious. The recipe seems fairly easy to do, with a few things to watch out for.

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  • The recipe calls for a pan that has 4 cups capacity. Measure your pan size and depth carefully to adjust your pie dough and fillings. In my case, I have a same size pan but deeper (6 cups) so I had to adjust both.
  • Try not to use frozen berries, but if you do – definitely defrost and drain the excess juice out. I tried making this pie twice. First time I did it with 70% fresh and 30% frozen (but defrost and drained) – the fillings came out beautifully. Second time I used the reverse and didn’t defrost. Fillings were VERY watery.
  • Put some cornstarch and sanding sugar at bottom of pie, before you put in the fillings.
  • I used Arrowroot instead of Quick-cooking tapioca (couldn’t find that at local supermarket)
  • Trim your pie dough around the edges well, so when the top crust meets the bottom it’s not too thick.
  • I think I prefer a thicker bottom pastry, so that when you line the pastry into the pan, it will not tear so easily around the pan edges.
  • Trim the pastry overhang ASAP. Excess will cause the pastry to start to rip around the pan edges. I’ve trimmed it and then make the overhang ‘stand vertical’ instead of still hanging over the pie pan. Put that into the fridge to chill while working on rolling out top crust.
  • Crimp the dough on the side however you like
  • Definitely use a baking tray or sheet below your pie pan, to catch those butter drips as the pie bakes
  • This pie is heavy – you might be tempted to rotate the pie to get it browning more even. I would say do so, but with caution (that’s how I lost 1/3 of my first pie!)
  • I would make the pie the day before serving – to let the fillings thicken even more
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Espresso cake with raspberry & rhubarb compote & Italian meringue – Redux

Espresso cake with raspberry & rhubarb compote & Italian meringue

Espresso cake with raspberry & rhubarb compote & Italian meringue

I rarely make the same cake twice (which is not a good habit at all), but this time one of my colleague has requested this as the leaving-do cake, so here it is, again.

This time I was armed with many more tools like my 5L mixing bowl, more mixing bowls in general, and my experience from last time. I have also discovered a local nut store that sells toasted and blanched hazelnut(i.e. skins off). Bingo. A simple thing like that reduced my prep time by an hour.

All in all it was alot easier than last time. I would half the Italian Meringue portion, and also half the rhubarb compote (which I did this time). Should yield just enough for the cake.

For the candied hazelnut, definitely wait for that 3 minutes after taking the caramel off the heat. Not sure the ice water is needed – During my first batch I had the iced water and at the end the caramel hardened too much. Second batch without iced water gave me more time to muck around with taping the skewers to the kitchen bench.

Note to self – next time, take that pot of boiling sugar syrup off the stove when there’s an earthquake (can’t believe I ran around the house while I left it boiling)!

And to get rid of hardened caramel / sugar syrup? Add quite a bit of water, and bring it to boil with high heat. No mess no fuss cleanup.

Refer to my previous post for recipe (off Cuisine Magazine) and other comments.

Espresso cake with raspberry & rhubarb compote & Italian meringue

My so-so attempt at Espresso Cake with Raspberry & Rhubarb Compote & Italian Meringue

My so-so attempt at Espresso Cake with Raspberry & Rhubarb Compote & Italian Meringue

This is my first ever attempt at making this cake.

Original recipe (and even videos! I wish I had watched them before I made the cake) available at Cuisine Magazine.

The featured cake is by Aimee Gillett from Wellington’s Charile & Cake.

Lessons learnt:

1. I really need a bigger mixing bowl. Preferably 5L one.

2. I really should put my cakes near bottom of oven – otherwise they will burnt easily on the outside but the insides would still be uncooked.

3. The caramelised hazelnut was tricky – I had to be quite quick (and all the cellotapes should be ready!) otherwise the caramel will harden within 5 minutes.

4. For the cake to resemble more closely (in terms of height) to the original, I really do need 25cm cake pans. By reducing the cake pan size, I have increased the height of the cake (due to the same amount of batter now in narrower container) so it looks oddly out of proportion.

5. Each hazelnut needs quite a bit of caramel, otherwise it won’t drip down.

6. I still have lots of left-over compote, so perhaps the quantity stated in the recipe could be reduced. Or, I probably had done something wrong with the compote! 🙂