Tag Archives: pastry

Torta Rustica – A Savory Italian Pastry

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Torta RusticaThis Torta Rustica is a savory Italian pastry which I am assuming means Rustic Tart.  Its memorable crust holds a filling of spinach with cheese, eggs, onions and bread crumbs to bind it.  It is layered with red peppers, artichokes and provolone.  It is hard to go wrong with these ingredients.  The one caveat here is to thaw the spinach completely and squeeze all the water from it.  It is important it is dry when combined with the other ingredients.

We would squeeze 30 pounds of spinach to make 12 Torta Rustica at a time.  No matter how long we thawed the spinach it would be freezing cold when we squeezed it.  We would keep a bowl of warm water next to us to dip our hands into to  warm them as we prepared the spinach. Continue reading

Honey Thyme Apple Tart

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Honey Thyme Apple TartThis simple Honey Thyme Apple Tart came about out of total boredom pressing in forty three pastry shells for a dessert at the restaurant. My mind started wandering around the fifth shell. I knew I wanted something simple, easy to put together with an unexpected element to start the year. It is not only beautiful to look at, it is even better to eat. The little bit of thyme gives this an unexpected note while the honey and balsamic vinegar offset each other. Continue reading

Chocolate Raspberry Gateau

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Chocolate Raspberry GateauThis Chocolate Raspberry Gateau is one of the most flavor packed, moist cakes to be found.  Please don’t be put off because this looks so intimidating.  While it looks intimidating, it really is not hard to make.  I have provided a schedule starting a month out and it has to be competed a day or two before serving.  The Chocolate Raspberry Gateau is ideal for entertaining, and is one of the great celebration cakes. This is an updated version of the one originally written in my first book, The New Pastry Cook.

Gateau is the French word for cake. It generally denotes items made with delicate ingredients which are best consumed soon after the confection is made. Cakes can last much longer, some even improving with age (fruit cake). Torte is the German word for cake, with similar properties. Continue reading

Unbelievable Cheesecake Update!

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Unbelievable CheesecakeI originally posted this Unbelievable Cheesecake in 2013.  However, on this, my last regular appearance on KMOV’s Great Day St. Louis, I chose to update it using the food processor.  In doing so, this is the fastest and easiest cheesecake I’ve ever made.

This is the easiest of all cheesecakes to make – five ingredients and you’re good to go (I don’t count water as an ingredient, if you do it’s  six). When I first stumbled across this recipe, it called for baking it overnight. I did and I ended up with a large off white hockey puck.

This unbelievable cheesecake requires no crust, no water bath and can be put together in a matter of ten to fifteen minutes from gathering the ingredients to pouring it in the pan. A 2 1/2 hour slow bake insures a perfectly smooth, creamy, delightful cheesecake with no cracks ready to serve plain or with a sauce.

While a springmold pan can be used, my preference is a cheesecake pan. This pan can be seen here.

I prefer to make this in the processor as opposed to the mixer but I have included instructions for both. It is far easier to get a completely smooth, lump free cheesecake with the processor but either machine will yield a wonderful cheesecake so don’t hesitate to use what you have.

Cheesecake
3 to 4 tablespoons graham or cookie crumbs
2 pounds cream cheese, regular or 1/3 less fat, room temperature (910 grams)
1 cup sugar (200 grams or 7 ounces)
5 eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup water

Spray a 9 inch cheesecake or springform pan with cooking spray. Add the crumbs and shake the pan to dust it with the crumbs on the bottom and about 1 1/2 inches up the side. Remove the excess and set the pan aside. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Processor Method
Place half the cream cheese in the processor and process until it is smooth. Add the remainder of the cream cheese and the sugar, processing until completely smooth. Scrape down several times to make sure there are no lumps hiding. Add the eggs, process and scrape down. Add the vanilla and water. Process to make sure it is smooth.

Pour it into the prepared pan and continue to baking.

Mixer Method
In a mixer bowl, combine the cream cheese and sugar, beating until smooth. Scrape the sides and bottom often to prevent lumps. Add the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down every two eggs. Add the vanilla and water and beat to just combine. You do not want to incorporate air at this point. That’s it!!! Pour into the prepared pan and place in the oven.

Baking
Bake for 2 1/2 hours until the cheesecake does not “jiggle” in the middle. It will be very lightly browned. Cool in the pan and refrigerate until cold or overnight.

To remove from the pan easily, heat the sides with a hair dryer set on high. If using a cheesecake pan, place it on top of a wide can and slide the bottom down. If using a springform pan, release the side of the pan. Using a straight, metal spatula, loosen the bottom by slipping the spatula between the cake and the bottom of the pan. Using two pancake turners, one on each side of the cake, lift the cheesecake onto a serving plate. If using a springform pan, you cannot loosen the bottom because of the lip. However, the cheesecake should be firm enough to lift off using the pancake turners.

Note: This cheesecake freezes well if you wish to make it ahead.

Brandied Cranberry Sauce –  I realized that the cheesecake would benefit from a sauce.  Looking around I had a package of cranberries in the freezer so I quickly made this sauce.  I did not write down the amounts but these are as I remember them.  Cranberries have an enormous amount of pectin which is why there is no thickener used.
12 ounce package fresh or frozen cranberries, picked over (340 grams)
1/2 cup water
1 1/4 cup sugar (250 grams or 8 3/4 ounces)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons brandy

Combine all of the ingredients except the brandy in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Boil until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and add the brandy. Cover directly with film and allow to cool. Refrigerate.

To use: Heat slightly if necessary to loosen if too thick.

Harvest Pie – A New Holiday Tradition

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Slice of Harvest PieHarvest Pie came about after my realtor told me about a casserole he made for Thanksgiving called Harvest Casserole. It sounded so good that I couldn’t wait to make it into a pie.

This is a pretty straight forward pie except for the sweet potatoes in an otherwise apple pie. At about 2 hours, it is also is the longest baking pie in my repertoire . But it is well worth the time.

The combination of apples and sweet potatoes is unusual but adding brandy and a crumb topping may make this Harvest Pie a new tradition for the holidays. Continue reading