Monday, April 18, 2011

pie #19-homemade blueberry toastries

a day late and a dollar short-the summary of my life lately.  no matter how hard i try, i am perpetually scrambling to meet a deadline and not always successfully.  it is spring and that means i have work to do in the garden; at home we have a vegetable garden, an herb garden and many other separate beds of flowers, plants, shrubs and trees.  then there is the demo garden where i do my volunteer hours for the master gardeners-too much to type, just look at it here.  did i mention the bees?  we have one colony and they need our attention on occasion.  then there is the house, the girls-they both graduate this year, the herd (too many cats and a dog) and did i mention my full time job?  at a busy restaurant? which makes coming home and baking seem like too much some days?  oh and there was that big birthday for my husband last week-he's 39 again...

is it any wonder that i decided to make pop tarts for last week's pie?  comfort food, a return to carefree childhood days and nothing more important than the lunch menu in the middle school cafeteria or maybe this week's spelling test on my mind.  i tell both of my girls regularly that they will long for the days of high school-no worries more importantly, no bills, just school.  they don't believe me now, but we all know that someday, they will and i doubt they will ever tell me so.

i experimented with two different doughs and settled on the second one.  it is more like a tart dough and has sugar, egg and buttermilk in it.  in the end, it was easy to work with-even the scraps.  it held the jam without bursting and after almost a week, the toastrie dough was still tasty with a nice texture.  they never had the cardboard snap of the commercially produced tarts and remained a little on the softer side but even so, everyone who ate one, reached for a second.

one thing to keep in mind, you can use any flavor filling you like.  i happen to like blueberry and made a quick batch of jam with just a one pound bag of frozen blueberries from the grocery store.  you could use raspberry, blackberry, rhubarb or pineapple-all of those are available frozen which makes them a little more affordable than fresh fruit.  if you have a surplus of apples or pears-try those.  and while i did not experiment with things like nutella or lemon curd, i am pretty sure that either one would be pretty tasty.

i didn't need any special equipment either.  armed with a set of square cutters that range in size from 1 3/8" to 2 5/8", i chose the largest cutter but you could do this just as easily with a ruler and a pizza cutter.   to make the fluted edges and to prick the tarts (to allow the steam to escape during baking) i reached into the silverware drawer and used a regular fork.

lined up on a tray, they baked up quickly.  this was a quick treat to make and one of those things i hope to add to my list of things to make at home myself from now on.  just as soon as we move to a 36 hour day and my new clone arrives.  i really need to simplify my life-eliminate and reorganize the excess-now, to find the time to do that...

homemade blueberry toastries

yields 16 small treats-each one is about 2 1/2" square

toastrie dough
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 egg
2-3 tablespoons buttermilk
egg wash (1 egg and 1 tablespoon water)
jam filling-recipe follows

in a mixing bowl, stir together the dry ingredients to combine them.  cut in the butter until it is in small pieces and is beginning to resemble a coarse meal.  add the egg and 2 tablespoons of the buttermilk and mix gently to combine and only until it comes together.   add the additional tablespoon of buttermilk only if the dough seems a bit dry or crumbly.  you want a soft and pliable dough but not a wet and sticky one.  wrap the dough in plastic and chill it for 30 minutes to make it easier to work with.

preheat the oven to 350.  on a large, floured surface, roll the dough 1/8" thick.  i did this in two batches to keep the dough from getting too soft as i worked.  cut the squares and place half of them on a lined baking pan-paper or silpat will make it easier to work with if any of the jam leaks out.  brush the edges with a light coating of egg wash and place a dollop (about 2 teaspoons) of jam in the center of the square.  add the top square and gently press the edges with your fingertips to seal.  using a regular fork, press the edges to make a decorative seal and prick the center of the toastrie several times to make steam vents.  do not egg wash the tops or you will seal the vents and the toastries may burst.  

homemade blueberry jam filling
makes about 1 2/3 cup

1 pound blueberries-i used frozen
1 cup sugar
zest of one lemon
piece of vanilla bean pod (i always save the scraped out pods to use for things like this)
1-2 tablespoons all purpose flour

thaw the berries and place them and the juices into a blender.  with the lid securely fastened (does this sound like experience talking???) blend them lightly just to chop them coarsely-do not puree them!  place the berries into a pot with the remaining ingredients and bring them to a slow boil.  allow this mixture to boil gently for about 15 minutes.  remove the vanilla pod and pour into a heat proof bowl.  chill completely before using-several hours or overnight.

when you are ready to make the toastries, measure out 1 cup of jam and reserve the rest for another use (homemade scones, anyone?).  if the jam seems thin and a little runny, stir in the 2 tablespoons of flour.  otherwise, if you were able to release lots of pectin and your jam is thick and gelled while it is cold from the fridge, just stir in 1 tablespoon.  mine was a little on the thin side so i used the full amount.

and look for me to have this weeks pie up soon-i am working on that today along with another loaf of salt rising bread.  and as always, bake it and send me a photo-i will post it here!  happy baking!!!

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