The Difference Between Whole Wheat and Whole Grain

difference between whole wheat and whole grain

White, whole wheat, and whole grain breads all get their start with grains. The difference is determined by white grains are used, and how those grains are processed. 

Before we understand the difference between whole wheat and whole grain bread, let’s take a look at what a grain is.

The anatomy of a grain 

Freshly-harvested grains have a protective husk like an ear of corn. This outermost layer is inedible, and is removed before grains are packaged or processed into flour. 

Underneath the husk, each grain has a thin layer known as the bran. The bran is fiber and nutrient-rich. If the grain were an apple, the bran would be the apple skin; a thin, edible, outer later. 

The next layer is the endosperm. This would be the flesh of the apple. The endosperm is the largest part of the grain. This is the starchy fuel source that would provide nutrition for the germ if the grain were to sprout. 

This brings us to the germ. The germ is the innermost part of the grain. The entire grain is really just a package supporting and protecting the germ. This nutrient-rich center is the portion of the grain that would spout and grow if planted. 

Whole wheat vs. whole grain bread 

Conventional supermarket white bread is made from processed white flour. To make white flour, the bran and germ are removed before wheat grains are milled. Removing these components creates a light-colored, neutral-tasting product. The resulting flour is shelf stable, but the fiber and nutrients from the bran and germ have been stripped away. 

Whole wheat bread is made from 100% milled wheat grains. To make whole wheat flour, the germ and bran remain intact. This creates a nutrient-rich flour, but the oils from the germ and bran reduce the products shelf-life. This is why organic whole wheat flour is kept in the refrigerator at some grocery stores. 

The main difference between whole wheat and whole grain bread is that whole grain bread can include grains other than wheat. Some popular grains include sorghum, millet, and even brown rice. No matter what grains are included, they’ve been milled with the germ and bran intact, ensuring maximum nutrient power. 

In addition to whole wheat and whole grain, the grocery store may have breads labeled multi-grain, wheat, or white whole wheat. It can be difficult to parse all of the labels. If you’re looking for the most nutrient-dense product, the word “whole” is your best clue here. That’s the indicator that the grain has not been separated before milling. 

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with choosing white bread or white flour. We love a crusty baguette dipped into soup, or just slathered with butter. Learning the difference between whole wheat and whole grain is just one way to make informed decisions at the grocery store.

5 Variations on Pumpkin Pie

Pie-Decoration_Pumpkin_Social_531

Let’s face it: for most of us, pumpkin pie only comes around once a year. So why not make the most of its fleeting, deliciously custardy presence? Below, Test Kitchen Manager Claire King shows us five ways to enhance and decorate a pumpkin pie that will make your holiday dessert memorable.

Use a Cookie or Shortbread Crust

Update the traditional graham cracker crust simply by swapping in the same amount of Speculoos or chocolate wafer cookies called for in your favorite recipe.

Swirl Your Filling with Chocolate or Crème Fraîche

Just before transferring the pie to the oven, place 2 ounces crème fraîche or melted chocolate in a piping bag. (If you don’t have a piping bag, you can use a resealable plastic bag with the corner snipped off.) Pipe the topping over the top of the pie, then use a toothpick to create swirls, for a “marbled finish.” These pumpkin pie variations are delicious and beautiful.

Top Your Pie with Pumpkin Seeds

For a pumpkin pie variation with a little more texture, try adding a crunchy topping. Put some pumpkin seeds to use by preheating the oven to 350°F. In a bowl, stir together 1 cup pepitas, 6 tablespoons sugar, 1 beaten egg white and a pinch each of salt, ground allspice and cayenne pepper. Spread the mixture in an even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Toast for about 10 minutes, or until the pepitas are golden brown and slightly puffy. Immediately season with salt and gently stir, keeping some clumps together. Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely before sprinkling atop your pie.

Garnish with Extra Pie Crust

If you have leftover pie dough, use the scraps to cut out fun shapes, like leaves or acorns. Bake them separately from your pie, then simply arrange on top of the baked pie.

Make Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 1 cup heavy whipping cream, 1 teaspoon instant coffee crystals, 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, ¾ teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. Whip on high until soft peaks form, then spread or dollop on top of the pie

How-To: Shape Pizza Dough

Feta & Olive Pizza with Spicy Tomato Sauce

There’s no party like a pizza party! Making your own pizza at home is a fun activity and a tasty dinner. The only tricky part is shaping the dough. Follow these tips to create a chewy, bubbly pizza crust without things getting too sticky.

Before you start shaping, bring your dough to room temperature. Have you ever experienced stretching and rolling pizza dough, only to have it snap back into place? Cold pizza dough is full of tense, tight strands of gluten that make it extra springy. If your dough has been in the refrigerator, let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before shaping. It will be much easier to work with. 

Bake the pizza:

Once the dough has warmed up, you can pick your method and start shaping. It’s tempting to coat your work surface and hands in a pile of flour to prevent sticking, but adding all that flour can have some unintended consequences. Incorporating additional flour into the dough can make your crust tough. Try coating your hands with a little bit of olive oil instead. 

Once you’re prepped and ready to go, try one, or a combination, of these methods to shape your pizza dough by hand. 

Stretching pizza dough by hand

shape the pizza

To stretch pizza dough, pick up the dough in your hands. Hold the edges of the dough with both hands, and let the rest of the dough hang down. Slowly turn the dough like a steering wheel, letting gravity stretch out the dough. Watch for any thin spots forming, and use your hands to support the dough and keep it from tearing. 

Pressing pizza dough

shape the dough

Place your dough in the center of the pan. Use the tips of your fingers to lightly press down and out, gently working the dough towards the edges of the pan. We love this method for deep dish and sheet pan pizzas. 

Shaping pizza dough with a rolling pin 

Don’t be afraid to turn to a rolling pin (or even a wine bottle!) for a little help. Place the dough in the center of a working area, like a cutting board or pizza peel. Flatten the dough into a disk with the tips of your fingers, and then lightly work the dough with the rolling pin. For a round pizza, start in the center, and roll out in every direction. For a sheet pan pizza, work into a rectangle and then transfer to the pan.  

Watch a Blue Apron chef demonstrate how to shape pizza dough with a rolling pin.

Why Are My Cookies Flat?

stacked flat cookies
Classic vs. flat chocolate chip cookies

It’s happened to everyone. Your pans were prepared and your expectations were high, but for some reason, your cookies came out flat. What happened?

There are a few possible explanations for flat cookies. Before you start over, run through this list. Remember: don’t be too hard on yourself! There’s no use crying over a flat cookie. 

Your butter or dough wasn’t cold enough 

Butter keeps cookies fluffy in two ways. First, creaming cold butter with sugar creates tiny, uniform air pockets that will remain in the dough it bakes up. Second, cold butter naturally takes a longer time to melt in the oven. When butter melts, the water content evaporates into the dough, giving it body and lightness. Melted butter doesn’t have the opportunity to do that since its water content has evaporated before it was even mixed into the dough. If a recipe does call for melted butter, be sure to refrigerate the dough before baking it to elongate the spreading process. To avoid this problem, don’t leave your dough sitting out on the counter for too long before baking.

Your leavening agent is expired

Let’s admit it: going through a whole box of baking soda or powder can take YEARS, and with most dry ingredients, it can be hard to visibly tell if they’re expired. Things like grains and even flour can last on the shelf for longer than we care to admit, but items with active ingredients expire more quickly, with more detriment. If you followed all the cookie recipe directions to a T and still ended up with flat cookies, check to see if your leavening agent. If it’s expired, try replacing it.

flat cookies

The recipe doesn’t call for enough (or any) brown sugar 

Having the right balance of white to brown sugar is key for a cookie’s flavor and texture. Brown sugar takes longer to dissolve, so it creates nice pockets of air in the dough as it melts, similar to cold butter. While white sugar’s lightness is great for beating into (read: fluffing up) cold butter, it also melts and caramelizes quickly, which creates a thin, crispy exterior. 

You’re not using enough flour 

Without sufficient flour, there is nothing to absorb or hold onto all the fat and liquid from your eggs and butter, causing the dough to spread as soon as it hits the oven. Think back: were you counting your cups carefully? Sometimes it’s easy to miss a scoop. 

You’re baking at a higher altitude 

At a higher altitude, the air pressure is lower, which means liquids evaporate faster (and leavening happens quicker), and goods take longer to bake. Following low-altitude directions, a cookie would over expand and dry out before it’s cooked through, so try increasing the oven temperature by 20°F and decreasing the baking time.

Can you still eat a flat cookie?

You’re welcome to try! Depending on what went wrong, the cookie may be slightly oily or have a tough texture.

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

It’s not always simple to find a dessert that’s decadent enough for a special occasion but easy to make at home. This molten chocolate lava cake is delightfully rich, and you can count all of the ingredients on one hand. Molten cakes were the star of 1990s dessert menus in restaurants across the country, and now that 90’s fashion is back, it’s high-time they graced our tables again. Grab your butter, switch on your oven, and get ready to create a dessert that will make your dinner companion swoon.

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake Ingredients

The first step on your dessert journey is melting  the chocolate and butter together. The easiest way to do this in the microwave. Just combine the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl or measuring cup and microwave in 10 second bursts, stirring between each stint, until the mixture is smooth. If you don’t have a microwave you can also accomplish this with a double boiler. 

After it’s melted, set this mixture aside and turn to the eggs. You’ll need to whip the egg, egg yolk, and sugar into a voluminous cloud. This may feel like a bit of an arm workout, but you’ll be forming the heart and soul of your future cakes.

Making Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

The next step is to carefully combine the chocolate and egg mixtures. Do this by folding carefully, you don’t want to deflate all that volume you created.

Finally, pour the batter into buttered, floured ramekins and bake. They only need to bake for about 10 minutes, so place them in the oven after you’ve finished dinner. That way they’ll be ready just in time for dessert.

Baking Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

We like to serve ours with berries and a little whipped cream, but they’re also delicious on their own, or with a scoop of ice cream. 

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake with Berries

Don’t miss the rest of our five-ingredient desserts, like tiramisu and apple turnovers.

Continue reading “Molten Chocolate Lava Cake”

Three Spices for Your Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

roasted pumpkin seeds with seasoning

Carving pumpkins in one of the greatest activities of fall. Culinarily speaking, however, the best part comes right after you create your jack o’lantern: making roasted pumpkin seeds. From a food-loving grown-up perspective, the entire pumpkin carving ordeal may just be an excuse to pull out the pumpkin seed seasoning.

How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, are a true culinary treasure. To make roasted pumpkin seeds at home, the first thing you’ll need is a pumpkin. It doesn’t need to be a small sugar pumpkin. A large carving pumpkin will work perfectly.

pumpkin

To get at the seeds and preserve the shell for carving, you’ll want to cut a lid. With a sharp knife, cut around the stem in a circle or shape of your choosing. Angle the tip of the knife slightly towards the stem, that way you’ll create a wedge-shaped lid that will sit snuggly in your pumpkin without falling through.

remove seeds from pumpkin

Now it’s time to scoop out all those gooey pumpkin seeds. Each pumpkin holds a different quantity of seeds, so don’t bank on having a pumpkin seed feast until you’re sure you’ve got plenty. If you want a guarantee, invite friends over for a carving (and eating) party. Scrape the inside of the pumpking with a large spoon to clean out the seeds. It’s ok if things get a little messy.

Before you roast, you want to rinse the seeds in a big bowl of water to remove the orange slime. Then, the take seeds and place them on a dish towel on the counter. Pat them dry with a towel. You’re now ready to roast and season pumpkin seeds.

cleaning pumpkin seeds

Basic Pumpkin Seed Seasoning

how to roast and season pumpkin seeds

This simple roasted pumpkin seed seasoning is the classic. Preheat the oven to 300°F, then arrange your seeds in one layer on a baking sheet and with a bit of olive oil and a good pinch of salt. Roast for about 30 minutes, until they’re dry and browned. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with a little more salt if you like, and you’re done.

Sweet Roasted Pumpkin Seed Seasoning

roasted pumpkin seed seasoning

The flavors of pumpkin pie obviously pair well with roasted pumpkin seeds. The trick is in getting the nutmeg and cinnamon to stick to slimy seeds. The glue? Egg white. To make a batch of these, you’ll need at least 3 cups of washed, dried seeds from two to three large pumpkins. Start by whisking together one egg white with a teaspoon of water until foamy. Add 1/3 cup of brown sugar and big pinches of cinnamon and nutmeg (throw in ginger and cloves, too, if you have them). Whisk in a pinch of salt, then add the seeds. Use a wooden spoon to help you coat the seeds, then scoop onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast in a 300°F oven for about 30 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes, until the seeds are dry.

Spicy Pumpkin Seed Seasoning

pumpkin seeds with spicy seasoning
Roasted pumpkin seeds with sweet seasoning

Getting spice to stick to your seeds requires the same cooking know-how you acquired in the sweet take, above. Again, start with at least 3 cups of seeds, then whip up an egg white until thick and foamy with a teaspoon of water and add just 2 tablespoons of sugar. Throw in big pinches of your favorite hot spices: we combined smoky chipotle chili powder, peppery ancho chili powder, and cayenne for pure heat. Get some salt in there too, to make the flavors pop. If you’re not a spicy food lover, opt for smoked paprika instead. Same deal for roasting: throw the seeds in one layer on a parchment-lined sheet, then roast until dry in a 300°F oven, tossing every 10 minutes, for about 30 minutes.

In the mood for more pumpkin? Try these festive twists on pumpkin pie.

A Classic Yellow Cake Recipe Perfect for Birthdays

 

Break out the candles and confetti, this yellow cake recipe is sure to be the life of the party. 

 

Prep time: 1hr 15 minutes, plus cooling time

 

Serves: 10-12

 

 

Classic Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Meet your new go-to recipe for birthdays, and any other special occasion. A  yellow cake with chocolate frosting is a nostalgic classic, perfect for kids or sentimental adults. This yellow cake recipe gets its familiar color and moist crumb from the extra yolks in its batter. 

For the ultimate crowd-pleasing finish, we topped off this tender cake with a rich chocolate buttercream.  Whip up the frosting while the cake bakes, but make sure you have time for the cakes and the buttercream to cool completely before bringing them together.

For the Yellow Cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1¾ cups granulated sugar 
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature 
  • 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature 
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 
  • 1¼ cups buttermilk

For the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting 

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened 
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted 
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-processed), sifted 
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1/3 cup whole milk 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven and prepare the pans. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the inside of two 9-inch-round cake pans. Cover the bottom of each pan with a parchment paper circle. Lightly grease the parchment and flour the inside of the pans. Invert the pans and tap gently.

2. Combine the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 

3. Cream the butter and sugar. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar and butter. Beat the mixture for 4 minutes on medium-high speed, stopping the mixer halfway through to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl (the butter and sugar will be very fluffy and pale yellow). 

4. Add the eggs and vanilla. With the mixer running, add the eggs and egg yolks one at a time. Allow each egg to fully incorporate before adding the next. After the last egg yolk is added, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and mix for 30 seconds on medium-high speed, until just combined.

5. Add the dry ingredients and buttermilk. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add ⅓ of the flour mixture (about 1 cup). Once mixed, add ⅓  of the buttermilk. Repeat the process, alternating between the remaining flour and buttermilk. After you’ve added the last buttermilk, mix the batter for about 30 seconds, until smooth. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Smooth the batter with a spatula. Gently tap the pan against the counter to remove any air bubbles

6. Bake the cake. Bake for about 33 to 37 minutes, until golden brown. (A cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean.) Place the pans on a wire rack and let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto the wire rack. Remove and discard the parchment circles. Cool completely before icing with the frosting.

7. Make the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Turn the mixer to low speed. Add the milk in a slow, steady stream. Add the vanilla and increase the speed to medium. Mix until smooth and fluffy, about 1 minute. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 1 week. (Allow the frosting to come to room temperature and stir before using it on a cake.)

8. Frost your cake. After the cakes and frosting have cooled, layer and frost your cakes. Decorate as you see fit, and enjoy. 

Looking for more party recipes? Find this yellow cake recipe and other crowd-pleasing favorites in the Blue Apron Cookbook. 

Italy Meets Ohio in This Blackberry “Cassata” Cake Trifle

Lauren Katz is a trained pastry chef who never skips dessert. Here’s her recipe for a no-fuss twist on a cassata cake. 

Cassata cake trifle with blackberries

Traditional Italian Cassata cake is a super light cake layered with fruit syrup, dried fruit and ricotta whipped cream. I grew up in Cleveland, where we had our own (now famous) version of Cassata cake, that replaces the dried fruit with fresh strawberries and the ricotta cream with custard.

To create my ideal summer dessert I took elements of both recipes, and turned them into a deconstructed (read: low-maintenance) trifle. While strawberries are traditional in Northeast Ohio, any berry would be just wonderful. I used fresh blackberries, but feel free to swap in your favorite summer fruit. 

For the cake

  • 1 Cup cake flour (or 1 cup minus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour + 2 Tbsp cornstarch)
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 6 Eggs, divided
  • 1 Cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ Cup vegetable oil

Macerated Fruit

  • 1 ½ Lbs fresh fruit (blackberries, diced strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, pitted cherries or diced peaches)
  • 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

Ricotta Whipped Cream

  • 1 Cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 Cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 2-3 tsp lemon zest

Prepare the cake

  1. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven, then preheat to 375°F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray or softened butter.
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  1. Place the egg whites in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or use a large bowl and a hand mixer). Beat on high for 4 to 6 minutes, or until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a separate bowl and set aside. 
  1. Place the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, vegetable oil, and lemon zest in the stand mixer bowl (no need to wipe it out). Whisk on medium for 1 to 2 minutes, or until thoroughly combined and the sugar has dissolved. Reduce the speed to low and slowly incorporate the dry ingredients until no dry streaks remain. 
  1. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a spatula, fold in half the beaten egg whites until combined. Add the remaining beaten egg whites and gently fold them into the batter just until the mixture is uniform. 
  1. Transfer the batter to the prepared baking dish. Bake, rotating the baking dish halfway through, 18 to 22 minutes, or until browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

The cake can be made 1 day in advance and stored at room temperature.

Prepare the macerated fruit

  1. About 20 minutes before assembling combine the fruit, sugar, and lemon juice in a bowl. Set aside to macerate, stirring occasionally. 

Prepare the ricotta whipped cream 

  1. Place the ricotta, whipping cream, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. 
  1. Whisk on medium-low, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until thoroughly combined. 
  1. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to whisk for 3 to 4 minutes, or until light and fluffy. At the last minute, add the lemon zest and whisk until thoroughly combined.

Assemble

  1. Tear the cake into large chunks. In a trifle dish, baking dish, or large bowl, add enough of the cake chunks to cover the bottom. Add a layer of macerated berries, then a layer of ricotta whipped cream. Repeat layering until you reach the top (or run out of ingredients), ending with whipped cream. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 1 day before serving. Enjoy!

For more of Lauren’s creations, check out this icebox cake.

How to Make a Pie for Any Size Party

Mixed berry pie
Plenty of pie to go around

Pies are a perfect party dessert. Unfortunately, the classic 9-inch pie tin isn’t one size fits all. For small households, there’s a serious risk leftover pie could languish in the fridge—a true tragedy. For large celebrations, one pie just isn’t going to cut it. From parties for one to full-sized crowds; here’s how to make a pie to suit any size gathering. 

How to make a pie for 1-2 people 

strawberry hand pies
Pie for one, please

For a small crowd, hand pies are the way to go. No special equipment is required, and they’re fun to shape. Think of a hand pie like a more sophisticated Pop-Tart, customizable with the filling of your choosing. 

The difference between a hand pie and a traditional pie comes down to shape. Hand pies use classic pie dough and filling, just formed into individually portioned pockets. They’re not difficult to make, but they do require a bit more handwork than a classic pie. To make this process as smooth as possible, it’s best to work quickly. The pie dough is made with butter, and handling it too much will warm it up excessively. If the dough gets too warm, the butter will melt, and the dough can become a sticky mess. By working quickly, you can keep the dough as cold as possible.

As will all stuffed foods, there’s a very fine line between too much and not enough filling. Aim for about a 1/2-inch border around the filling for a pie that’s full of fruit, but not boiling over.

unbaked strawberry hand pie
Ready to fold

Chef Lauren Katz created this strawberry balsamic hand pie recipe with small gatherings in mind. One batch makes two hand pies, the perfect amount of dessert to follow a dinner date. 

How to make a pie for 2-4 people

To make a pie for a slightly bigger group. Chef Lisa Appleton recommends starting with a classic recipe, and cutting it in half, like she did with these miniature key lime pies.

So cute, right?

Chef Lisa used four miniature pie tins to make her family-sized dessert. If you don’t have mini pie tins on hand, you could also use small ramekins, or cupcake tins. Whatever you choose to use, be sure to grease the sides of the pan very well to prevent the filling or crust from sticking.

All dressed up

These miniature Key lime pies with a coconut graham cracker crust serve four. If you want to adapt a different recipe to work in miniature, try halving the recipe and dividing into four equal portions. 

How to make a pie for 4-8 people

For 4-8 people, you’re looking at a classic 9-inch pie pan. Try out one of our favorite crust recipes for extra flaky crust, and go crazy with the fillings. Anything from chocolate pudding to rhubarb will work well in this format. 

9-inch pie
A little fruit overflow won’t ruin the party

No matter what type of pie you choose, there are a few tricks for extracting clean, beautiful slices from a pie tin. First, make sure that your bottom crust is completely baked. That way it will be able to support the weight of the slice. If you’re using a glass bottom pie tin, you can check out the bottom of your crust just by looking. It should be a beautiful golden brown. Second, make sure your pie has thoroughly cooled before slicing. Cooling gives cream and fruit pies time to set, making sure that the filling won’t run out of the pie and all over your plate. 

How to make a pie for 8-12 people

Plenty for everyone

For a crowd of 8-12 people, you’re going to need a lot of pie. Luckily, Chef Claire King is used to cooking for a crowd. For her crew of kids and extended family, she has perfected two different methods of large format pies. 

The first is a slab pie. This rectangular pie is assembled in a baking dish or on a sheet tray.  It can be fruit, pudding, or custard filled. All of the components can be made a day ahead, that way you can really focus on assembly when the time comes. The trick here is making sure you bake the crust thoroughly. It takes a very crispy crust to hold up all that topping. 

One trick for forming the crust? Instead of trying to roll out and transfer a huge rectangle of dough, form two smaller rectangles. Just overlap them and press to seal the bottom of the pie.

slab pie crust
Press down to seal the two halves

Chef Claire’s flag pie is filled with vanilla bourbon pudding, and decorated with strawberries and blueberries. 

The second method is making a deep dish pie. These slices pack a powerful punch. A deep dish pie is made in a springform pan instead of a pie tin. The resulting pie has super tall sides and tons of filling. 

deep dish pie
A true masterpiece

For this one, you’ll need to roll out an extra large disc of dough. If you’re nervous about transferring it, Chef Claire recommends rolling the dough out between two sheets of parchment paper. Once again, it’s essential to make sure the pie is cooked through. A pie this size can take up to an hour in the oven. 

For an extra treat, Chef Claire layered the bottom of her gigantic pie with frangipane, a sweet French almond paste. 

deep dish cherry pie
So many mixed berries

Try your hand at a deep dish cherry pie with this recipe.

Recipe: Strawberry Balsamic Hand Pies

Lauren Katz is a trained pastry chef. These strawberry hand pies honor her childhood tradition of strawberry picking every summer in Ohio. 

strawberry hand pies with cream
What could be better than grab and go pie?

These strawberry hand pies are cute, sophisticated, and easy to eat. They’re the perfect way to make use of beautiful summer produce. The simple filling shows off the flavor of the strawberries, and the balsamic vinegar adds a touch of complexity. 

Strawberry Balsamic Hand Pies 

Pie Dough

  • ¾ Cup AP flour
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 4 Tbsps cold, unsalted butter, small diced
  • Ice water

Pie Filling

  • 4 oz fresh strawberries, small diced
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 2-3 tsp granulated sugar, depending on the sweetness of your berries
  • 2 tsp  balsamic vinegar
  • 4 grinds fresh black pepper, optional
  • A pinch of salt

Assembly

  • AP flour, for dusting
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Turbinado sugar, optional

1. Make the dough. Bowl method: In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the diced butter. Using your fingers, gently work the butter into the dry ingredients until coarse crumbs form. Working 1 tablespoon at a time, add the ice water and mix until a shaggy dough forms (it should take anywhere between 1 and 3 tablespoons).

Food processor method: Place the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse until combined. Add the diced butter. Pulse a few times, until coarse crumbs form. Working 1 tablespoon at a time, add the ice water and mix until a shaggy dough forms (it should take anywhere between 1 and 3 tablespoons). 

2. Transfer the dough to a large piece of plastic wrap form into a ball. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. *The dough can be made up to 3 days in advance. 

3. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven, then preheat to 375°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl. Gently mix to combine.

4. Form the hand pies. Lightly flour a work surface. Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a circle, about 7 inches in diameter (it does not need to be perfectly round, a rustic circle will work just fine). If using a cookie cutter, stamp in the middle of one side of each dough round. Transfer to the prepared sheet pan.

shaping strawberry hand pies
Ready to fold

5. Divide the filling between the rounds and arrange in the middle of the unstamped side, leaving 1/2-inch border. Lightly coat the circumference of each round with water, then fold the stamped (or empty) side on top of the filling. Using a fork or your fingers, press the top layer of dough into the bottom layer to completely seal. If not using a cookie cutter, use a sharp knife to make 2-3 slits in the top of the dough.

6. Evenly coat the top of the hand pies with the beaten egg, then the turbinado sugar, if using. 

7. Bake, rotating the sheet pan halfway through, for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Remove from the oven and let stand at least 10 minutes before serving. Top with a scoop of your favorite ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream, if desired. Enjoy!

Recipe: Miniature Key Lime Pies with Coconut-Graham Cracker Crust

miniature key lime pies
Go ahead, have a whole pie

A single serving Key lime pie is an adorable treat. These are perfect for a small gathering, or just to make and freeze for yourself. Making these is a lot like making a full-sized pie, you’re just doing everything in miniature. If you don’t have miniature pie tins, you can bake these pies in ramekins or muffin tins, just be sure to grease the sides of the pan well to prevent the filling from sticking. 

Miniature Key Lime Pie with Coconut-Graham Cracker Crust

Servings: 4

Equipment: 4, 4-inch pie tins

Crust:

  • 4 graham cracker sheets, crushed (a heaping ½ cup crushed)
  • ⅛ Cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ Cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • Pinch salt
  • 4 Tbsps melted unsalted butter

Filling:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp Key lime zest, from about 2 Key limes 
  • ½ Cup sweetened condensed milk (about 7 oz)
  • ⅓ Cup Key lime juice (juice of about 6 or 7 Key limes)

Toppings: 

  • Whipped cream (optional)
  • Toasted flaked coconut (optional)

1. Prepare the crusts. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place graham cracker sheets in the bowl of a food processor or a ziploc bag. Pulse or crush until you have the consistency of sand. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the sugar, coconut, and salt. Stir to combine. Pour in the melted butter. Stir until evenly coated. It should look like wet sand at this point. 

2. Bake the crusts. Place the tins on a sheet pan. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the crust mixture to each tin. Using your fingers and/or the flat bottom edge of a measuring cup, shape the crust into an even layer on the bottom of the tin and up the sides. You may have extra crust. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, or until golden brown. The crust may slump down the sides of the tins while baking. Let cool slightly and, if necessary, use the measuring flat bottom of the measuring cup to carefully push the crust back up the sides of the tins. 

3. Make the filling. While the crusts bake, combine the egg yolks and the Key lime zest in a separate mixing bowl. Whisk until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. It should be almost the consistency of hollandaise sauce. Add the sweetened condensed milk and continue to whisk until slightly thickened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Pour in the Key lime juice and whisk until just combined. 

4. Bake the filling. Pour the filling into the cooled crusts (you will have extra filling). The filling won’t rise, so you can pour to the top of the crust. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the filling is set on the edges. The center may still be a bit jiggly. 

5. Cool & chill the pies. Transfer the baked pies to a wire rack and let cool completely, then refrigerate until ready to serve. 

6. Serve your pies. If desired, top the finished pies with whipped cream and toasted coconut. Enjoy!

For more pie, check out Blue Apron’s guide to making pie for any size party.

One Easy Rhubarb Recipe, 3 Ways to Eat it

rhubarb recipe used in blondies
Blondies with flaky sea salt

This simple rhubarb recipe is just four ingredients: sugar, vanilla extract, rhubarb, and water. Honestly, water barely counts as an ingredient, so it’s closer to three. Thanks to rhubarb’s characteristically tart and punchy flavor, this simple slow-cooked compote has a surprising amount of complexity. Here, the natural tartness is tamed by the addition of sugar and gentle heat, leaving you with an ever so slightly zingy jam. 

Yogurt with compote and granola
Yogurt with compote and granola

Once you’ve made the compote, the possibilities are basically limitless. Of course, it’s delicious on its own, but why stop there? Spread it over peanut butter on a thick slice of toast, mix it into plain yogurt, swirl it into blondie batter, or spoon it over a scoop of ice cream for a wonderful spring dessert. 

Just remember to act fast, rhubarb season lasts from spring to early summer. 

rhubarb compote over ice cream
Rhubarb compote over ice cream

Slow-Cooked Rhubarb Compote Recipe 

Recipe from from Dappled: Baking Recipes for Fruit Lovers: A Cookbook

  • 1/2 Cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ Cup water 
  • 1/2 Tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Pound rhubarb, cut into 1″ chunks
  1. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and vanilla extract. Heat over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Stir occasionally. 
  2. Add the rhubarb and stir. Reduce the heat and cook over low until the rhubarb is soft and sticky. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has reached your desired consistency. 
  3. Store in an airtight container. This compote will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.