Baking History

A Taste For The Past

Posts Tagged ‘Pies & Tarts’

Chess Pie (quiche, tarte, & co.)

Posted by bakinghistory on October 14, 2008

A Southern classic: Chess Pie

Blog-Event XXXIX - Quiche, Tarte & Co.

This is my entry for the event hosted by  Zorra of 1x umrühren bitte .


Chess pie is a classic dessert in the culinary repertoire of Southern U.S. The flaky crust encloses a sweet, sweet, sweet, and creamy filling topped by an ever-so-thin, crispy layer of meringue.

From the original recipes by:  Mattie Lee Wehrley

In: “Handy Household Hints and Recipes”, 1916, USA

and Juniata L. Shepperd

In: “Handbook of Household Science”, 1902—USA



4 eggs

2 cups sugar

2/3 cups butter

1 tbsp flour

1/2 cup milk or cream


1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (scant) butter

1/4 tsp salt

ice water as needed

Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).

Make the Crust: In a food processor put flour salt and butter (diced), and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With the machine running add enough water for the dough to come together. Do not overprocess. Wrap the dough in wax paper and let rest in a cool place for about 30 minutes. Roll the dough to about 1/8-inch thickness and line a deep pie dish, make a decorative rim.

Filling: melt the butter and let cool. Warm the milk and set aside.Beat the eggs at high speed with the sugar until very light (at least 15 minutes), then add the flour, the melted and cooled butter, and the lukewarm milk. If the milk is cold the mixture will curdle. If this happens, blend with an immersion blender until smooth and glossy.

Pour the filling in the prepared pan and bake at 350F (180C), until the top of the filling is golden brown. Let the pie cool in the pan placed on a rack. Serve cold; refrigerate any leftovers.

A note on the pie pan to use: I recommend using a metal deep-dish pie pan. In my experience, pies baked in  glass and ceramic pie dishes often have a soggy, undercooked pastry layer, which spoils the final result. Natural finish aluminum pie pans are best because they bake evenly.


Posted in American Cooking, Blog Events, Dairy, Desserts, Pies & Tarts, Regional American Food, Tarts & Pies | Tagged: , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Potato Pie

Posted by bakinghistory on September 30, 2008

A tasty savory pie filled with potatoes and onions, milk and a touch of butter.

Ivy of Kopiaste is the host of a blog event all about savory pies. My contribution is a simple one, made with a buttery crust filled with shredded potatoes, onions, milk and butter. The filling is assembled in the pie crust with raw ingredients, which makes the preparation easy and quick. Furthermore, it does not contain any eggs. The result is a truly wonderful pie, with a perfectly flaky crust enclosing a tender, buttery filling, which is best enjoyed warm. Something worth trying for a simple dinner on a cold winter night.


From the original recipes by  Jane Cunningham Croly

In: Jennie June’s American Cookery Book”, 1878—USA

and Juniata L. Shepperd

In: “Handbook of Household Science”, 1902—USA



4-5 large potatoes

1 small onion

1 tbsp butter

1/4 to1/3 cup cup whole milk (or half-and-half)

1/2 tsp kosher salt


1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (scant) butter

1/4 tsp salt

ice water as needed

Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).

Make the Crust: In a food processor put flour salt and butter (diced), and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With the machine running add enough water for the dough to come together. Do not overprocess. Wrap the dough in wax paper and let rest in a cool place for about 30 minutes. Roll the dough to about 1/8-inch thickness and line a deep pie dish, letting the extra pastry hang over the sides of the pan.

Filling: peel, wash and dry the potatoes. Shred them finely, mix them with the shredded onion and salt.  Put the mixture into the pie plate lined with pastry, then pour over enough milk (or half-and-half) to barely cover the filling. Distribute the butter in small pieces all over the filling, fold over the pastry so that the filling is partially covered. Bake for about 1 hour. Serve warm.

This pie does not freeze well, either baked or raw, because the potatoes turn mushy.

Posted in American Cooking, Blog Events, Dairy, Eggless, Milk, Pies & Tarts, vegetarian | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Linzertorte (Novel Food 4)

Posted by bakinghistory on June 21, 2008

A traditional Linzer tart made with almonds, spices, and berry jam.

Novel Food is a lovely, seasonal blog event that pairs food and literature—hosted by Simona of Briciole and Lisa of Champaign Taste.


This time I chose to recreate a food item from the novel The Inn at Lake Devine , by one of my absolute favorite contemporary American writers: Elinor Lipman.

In this novel the author addresses the issues of antisemitism and prejudice, of religious and ethnic barriers and the courage to cross them. It is no small feat to explore these themes in a novel and Ms Lipman succeeds at doing that through a flawless, witty tale in which sharp social satire intertwines with romance and tragedy, and destiny takes unpredictable turns.

The most remarkable aspect of the novel, in fact, is that it carries across its message clearly and powerfully by describing how the social and historical context affects the personal and the individual—and vice versa.

The novel unfolds at a swift pace and is masterfully written in a language peppered by humor—and a few Yiddish words here and there.  The story is told through the voice of Natalie Marx, who embarks in her own personal crusade against bigotry and social injustice and finds love in the process.

Food is present throughout the novel, as a metaphor for separateness and closeness, identity and nurture. Natalie realizes that her call is becoming a chef and through food she will finally, albeit unwittingly, conquer a local example of antisemitism—the Inn that gives the title to the novel itself.

Here is an excerpt from the novel in which the Linzertorte is actually mentioned:

Ahead of Nelson, a woman in a blue lace dress, with hair the smoky gray of cat fur, turned to speak. “What’s the name of your hotel again?” she asked.

“The Inn at Lake Devine”

“Is that near Rutland?”

“Very close. Do you know Rutland?”

“I have a cousin there,” she said. She held her plate out to the chef overseeing the Linzertorte. “Is it a white hotel with a big porch and a lawn that goes down to the water?”

“That’s us,”said Nelson.

She paused before asking, “And how long has your family owned it?”

“All my life,” Nelson said, with the polish of a spelling bee finalist. “And my grandparents before that.”

“My cousins told me about you,” said the woman, minus the smile of a satisfied customer.

From the original recipe by Florence Kreisler Greenbaum

In: “The International Jewish Cookbook”, 1919—USA


8 oz. flour

8 oz. shelled almonds (not blanched)

8 oz. sugar

4 oz. butter (room temperature)

2 eggs

1/2 tbsp brandy

1 generous pinch of allspice

1 pinch of salt

2 jars berry jam (e.g., strawberry, raspberry)

Grind the almonds with the sugar until powdery. Mix with the flour, spice and salt. Work in the butter at low speed until the mixture resembles wet sand. Add the eggs, lightly beaten, and the brandy, and mix at low speed until the dough holds together. Wrap the dough in wax paper and let rest in a cool place for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Prepare a 10-inch springform pan.

Take 2/3 of the dough and roll to about 1/4-inch thickness on a generously floured surface. The dough is crumbly and is tricky to roll. Alternatively it can be patted into the pan. Line the pan bottom and half way up the sides. Prick all over the dough with a fork, then fill with jam. Roll the remaining dough and cut in strips to form a lattice top on the jam layer.

Bake the tart for 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan placed on a rack for 5 minutes, then unmold it and let it finish cooling on the rack.

The tart is better made one day ahead.

Posted in American Cooking, Blog Events, Jewish Cooking, Pies & Tarts, Spices, Treenuts | Tagged: , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Cinnamon Tartlets (Small Tarts Have Big Hearts! Mini Pie Revolution Event #2)

Posted by bakinghistory on February 12, 2008

These plain little tarts hide a tender almond meringue heart scented with cinnamon
For Valentine’s day, in the second blog event hosted by Karyn and Ann, as my contribution I chose these little tarts from a vintage cookbook published in Chicago in 1907.
While reading the recipe I could tell they should be pretty good, but once I made them I realized I had underestimated the results.
Even if their plain appearance might not catch too much attention at first, they actually hide a surprisingly delicate meringue heart in their tender pastry shell.
From the original recipes by Paul Richards
In: “Paul Richard’s Book of Breads, Cakes, Pastries, Ices and Sweetmeats, 1907—USA
Short paste for tarts
2 cups (227 g) flour
1/3 cup (75 g) butter, cold
2-1/2 tbsp (30 g) sugar
1 yolk
1-3 tbsp (15-45 ml) milk (or as needed)
Cinnamon filling
1/3 cup egg white (whites from 2 extra-large eggs)
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
scant 1/2 cup (2 oz., 60 g) whole almonds, blanched
1-1/2 tsp (3 g) ground cinnamon
extra sugar to decorate ( I used Demerara but any kind will do)
Prepare the almonds: Place the almonds on a baking sheet in a single layer. Toast the almonds in the oven (preheated at 350F°—180°C) for about 10 minutes, or until just lightly colored. Let the almonds cool completely.
Make the short paste: Put the flour in the food processor with the butter (diced) and pulse until the flour resembles wet sand. Add the sugar and pulse briefly to mix it in. Add the yolks and process briefly, then, with the machine running, add milk. Start with 1 tbsp of milk and add a little more at a time, pulsing, until the crumbly dough just holds together. Be careful not to add too much milk or the dough will be wet and sticky.
Wrap the dough in wax paper and let it rest in a cool place for about 30 minutes.
Roll the paste on a floured board to a scant 1/8-inch (3 mm) thickness and line bottom and sides of tartlet molds. I have used heart-shaped tartlet pans that are as big as min-muffin cups.
Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C)
Make the filling: Grind the almonds with 2 tbsp of sugar (taken from the total) and the cinnamon until they are fine and powdery. It is important that the almonds are cool when you grind them or they will become pasty and oily.
Beat the egg whites at high speed until soft, glossy peaks form, then add the remaining sugar 1 tsp at a time. The meringue should be stiff but not overbeaten and dry. Gently fold in the almond-cinnamon mixture, being careful not to deflate the meringue.
Assemble the tartlets: Fill each pastry shell to the rim with the meringue mixture, sprinkle a little sugar over the filling. Bake in a slow oven until puffed and golden (about 30-35 minutes, depending on the size of your mini pans). Cool the mini tarts on racks.
P.S. I scaled down the original recipes–the short paste recipe called for 3 lb of flour, and you might have a little more dough than filling, depending also on the type of tart pans you have.

Posted in American Cooking, Blog Events, Pies & Tarts, Spices, Treenuts | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Mini Custard Pies (Mini Pie Revolution)

Posted by bakinghistory on December 25, 2007

A dainty miniature version of a classic: custard pie, flavored with vanilla and nutmeg
This is my entry for the Mini Pie Revolution blog event hosted by Karyn and Ann at The Mini Pie Revolution Headquarters minipielogothumbnail.jpg
HERE is the ROUNDUP——————
From the original recipes by:
Miss Catharine Esther Beecher
In: Miss Beecher’s Domestic Receipt Book”, c1846–USA

Mrs. Fanny L. Gillette

In: “The White House Cook Book”, 1887–USA

Pie Paste

3/4 lb (1-1/2 cup–350 g) butter, cold
1 lb flour (3.5 cups–454 g) + extra as needed
ice water as needed
1 tsp (6 g) salt

Custard Filling

3 eggs
3 heaping tbsp (45 g) sugar
1 heaping tbsp (10 g) flour
1 pinch salt
2 cups (488 g) milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla paste
grated nutmeg to taste

Make the Pie Paste

Take a quarter of the butter and place it into the bowl of a food processor, add the flour and salt and process until the mixture resemble wet sand. Pour a thin stream of ice water into the food processor bowl pulsing until the mixture turn into to a stiff paste. Wrap the dough in wax paper and leave in a cool place, but not in the refrigerator. In my basement in this season the temperature is about 60°F, and I find it ideal to keep the dough at that temperature.

Meanwhile, dredge the board thick with flour, and cut up the remainder of the butter into thin slices, lay each slice upon the flour, and dredge with another thick layer of flour. Then roll out the butter slices into thin sheets and lay them aside.

Take the dough previously prepared and roll it out thin (1/8 inch–3 mm) , cover it with a sheet of this rolled butter, dredge on more flour, fold it up in thirds, roll it out again, and then repeat the process till all the butter is used up. Wrap the final dough in wax paper and let rest for at least 30 minutes in a cool place.

Make the pie shells

Roll the dough thin (1/8-inch–3 mm), then with a biscuit cutter cut out rounds to line the cups of mini muffin pans (butter the pan cups before lining them). Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C) , line each pastry shell with a small piece of aluminum foil and fill with dried beans. Bake the empty shell for about 5 minutes, then take the pans out and let cool on racks. Make sure the shells are throughly baked, otherwise put them back in the oven for a little longer, until ready. If the shells are not completely baked in advance, they will become soggy once filled with the custard.

With the pastry scraps you can make tiny cutouts to decorate the pies once they are baked. Place the cutouts on a cookie sheet and bake them separately until golden.

Make the custard filling:

Mix the sugar and flour, then beat the yolks until pale yellow and light, adding little by little the flour-sugar mixture. Then add salt, vanilla and nutmeg, and next the egg whites slightly beaten. Finally add the milk in a thin stream and mix well.

Assemble the pies

Pour the custard mixture into the cooled pastry shells and bake in the preheated oven (300°F–160°C) until the custard is set. A higher temperature will make the custard curdle.

Cool the pies in the pans placed on racks. Refrigerate leftovers.

Note: This pie paste recipe makes the flakiest, lightest pie shells ever. It is worth trying.



Posted in American Cooking, Blog Events, Pies & Tarts, Spices | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »