buckwheat apple tart

Guest post today by a dear friend and adventurous baker.

By Tim Vollmer

I’ve been baking my way through the Tartine No. 3 cookbook, mostly experimenting at home with the natural fermentation breads, but also trying my hand at some of the sweeter things in the book. It was my friend Cristina’s birthday last week, so I decided to turn to the back of the book and take a look at some of the desserts that would be good to make for a birthday picnic at Lake Merritt. Originally, I’d wanted to do a buckwheat and rhubarb tart–having had an incredible version of this the week before at Camino. However, the farmer’s market yielded no rhubarb at this time of year (Camino either had gotten early access to fresh rhubarb or had used some preserves from the previous year). In any case, I decided to go with one of the recipes straight from the book: a buckwheat apple tart.

Buckwheat tastes good. Like earth. You start this recipe by cutting the butter into cubes and chilling it in the freezer for 15 minutes so it’s nice and cold. Then, measure the buckwheat flour and spread it onto your surface. Sprinkle the very cold butter onto it, dust the top with some of that buckwheat flour, and begin rolling the butter into the buckwheat flour.

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citrus galette

Citrus GaletteCeci n’est pas une pie.

Hopefully the patron saint of pie is as accepting and appreciative of diversity as I am and considers galettes to be within the broader family of Pie. Last Pi(e) Day I did not get my act together in time to write a post. Not getting my act together in time to do much of anything is sort of my modus operandi these days, at least until May 18th when I’ll be given a piece of paper that says I’m a Master of something or other. Continue reading

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peanut butter apple pie

peanut butter apple pieBig shout-out to sous chef & pie-aficionado, K Mac, for his invaluable contributions to making and devouring this pie.

My favorite part about baking is the earliest phase where you get to do a little dreaming. The ideal time to do that dreaming is when you’re hungry or when you’re sitting around with friends who appreciate a good pie as much as you do. Or, right after a particularly dense lecture on benefit-cost analysis, when you really need to take your mind off of demand curves and consumer surplus. This was precisely the combination of events that led to dreaming up this pie.

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carrot cake with maple cream cheese frosting

carrot cake with maple cream cheese frostingRarely do I venture into the daunting land of cake. Pie is so much more manageable, like a comfortable, over-sized, cable-knit grandpa sweater. It’s comfy. It’s warm. It’s dependable. It has a certain level of understated charm. Cake feels like a velour track suit: much harder to pull off and not look like you’re trying too hard. But on certain special occasions, like the birthday of a dear friend whose daring, inventive, and playful culinary exploits are something to marvel at and admire, only a cake will do. Continue reading

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summertime lime custard pie

lime custard pie with saltine cracker crust

Summer is a great time to forget… Forget about all of the “important” things you’ve got on your to do list. Forget about how gloomy and cold it was a few months ago. Forget about all of your worries and woes. And, most importantly, forget about how gross condensed milk is. Continue reading

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potato and blue cheese tart

potato and blue cheese tart
I baked this pie on Pi(e) Day, March 14th. Unfortunately being a grad student, as it turns out, means that sometimes you lose track of time and space and pretty soon three months go by before you get around to finally getting that Pi Day post up on the ol’ weblog.

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the one and only éclair

eclairsAfter the recent mini meringue burgers aka macarons, it seems we have a theme going here with this week’s mini vanilla creme corn dogs. I never thought I would compare delicate French pastries to American fast food favorites, but the resemblance really is uncanny. And while this humble attempt at imitating the timeless French classic surely doesn’t do justice to the real deal, I was yet again surprised at how relatively simple it was to recreate my favorite French pâte. That said, it was much easier working as a duo — special thanks to my bold baking warrior buddy Tim V! — and I highly recommend trying this recipe with a friend. I also highly recommend springing for a pastry bag. We rigged a DIY situation with a plastic baggie, which seemed like a great idea till it erupted vanilla creme filling everywhere. Continue reading

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