As always, we’re here to answer all your baking questions to ensure your success in the kitchen, and this week we held a special Q&A session with Dédé on Facebook surrounding all your favorite holiday desserts. With Thanksgiving in less than a week, we know you probably want some pointers before heading into a hectic day of cooking and baking and entertaining, so here’s a recap of the session in case you missed it!
Question: What is your go-to dessert recipe for the pastry and baking novice? Specially one that is only equipped with a whisk, rubber spatula and an oven?
Answer: Crisps! How about an apple cranberry? Apple pear? Pear ginger? So easy to arrange fruit in a dish and cover with a crisp. You can melt butter in the microwave and then add the remaining crisp ingredients to the bowl (oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt) and you are done! One bowl, one spatula!
Q: In some of your recipes you call for European butter. Any brand in particular?
A: Plugra is a fairly easy-to-find brand. It has a higher butterfat content – YUM!
Q: What are your thoughts on how to make the best homemade pie crust to accompany any favorite filling?
A: I am partial to all-butter for the flavor, but there are a few tips you can try. Of course, your butter must be cold, but try chilling the bowl with the flour, too. It will keep the whole shebang more flaky in the long run.
Q: Some apple pie recipes i’ve seen cook the apples for 10 minutes before making the filling; what’s your take on that?
A: By cooking the apples first, you can pack more in the crust and you wont get that “shrink” where the crust is way above the filling. It is a great technique. Just don’t cook too much because they will continue to cook in the oven. I always like to use a selection of apples and, especially in this case, use some that hold their shape and texture pretty well, like some could be Granny Smith. If you used all Cortland for this, you would have sauce-pie!
(For an example of an apple pie recipe using a variety of apple types, try our Classic Apple Pie.)
Q: We’re downsizing this year and would like some recommendations for Thanksgiving desserts. I know we can cook a smaller turkey and less side dishes, but dessert is one of the best parts of the festivities. Do you have any recommendations on desserts for two?
A: I applaud the fact that you still want to bake and celebrate. You can find some really lovely small pie plates at places such as Bed Bath & Beyond. They are maybe 4- to 6-inches across and you could make half a pie recipe to fit. Would be great – you still get pie!
Q: Can I substitute Sugar in the Raw for regular sugar in recipes?
A: Yes you can! Cup for cup. The difference is that it can be a larger granulation, so take your time with your recipe to make sure it is dissolved. So, for instance, if you are using it in a creaming application, you will have to beat longer. It adds great flavor!
Q: My edges on my pie crusts always burn 🙁 I try to place foil around it, but it usually falls off and the ready-made ones never fit. Help!
A: We have had this experience, too. There are new and better pie-crust shields on the market, including silicone ones that bend to fit and also ones that come in sections, so they can work with a 9-inch pie, a 10-inch pie. Also, if you want to use foil, try really cheap foil from the dollar store. It’s thinner and easier to bend and won’t damage the crust as readily.
Bakepedia Fan tip: I take the flimsy aluminum disposable pie pans from the grocery store and cut out the center. You just flip it over and it is an inexpensive and really functional shield. Super easy to remove to check, also.
Q: I’m making a cranberry-apple crisp. If I’m serving someone who is gluten-free, can I go all-oatmeal instead of mixing it with flour on the topping? Any better suggestions?
A: I like using some whole oats and then grinding some for oat flour. A nut flour would be nice, too!
To see all of the questions and answers, see the Q&A discussion on our Facebook page.