Maid of Honour Tarts

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 0 0

My grandmother was always put on the most fabulous family get-togethers. She was an amazing homemaker, very skilled at flower arranging and table setting and decor, a good cook, and most importantly, from my eyes as a child, a superb baker. Whenever I visited, there were always homemade cookies in the cookie jar and when Christmas rolled around, her baking overflowed her kitchen cupboards. The best part about family Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were the amazing dessert spreads – I came to think it was normal to have 2 kinds of pie, 3 types of tarts, cookies, and chocolates for dessert.


I have been thinking about what to bake for Christmas this year and it got me thinking about my grandma’s Christmas baking – 2 types of shortbread, mincemeat tarts, butter tarts, and my favourite as a child – Maid of Honour tarts.


Maid of Honour tarts are a simple-tasting tart – pastry filled with jam and topped with light almond-flavoured crust. But they are so much more. I was having trouble digging up my grandma’s exact recipe, and ended up finding this recipe online. Last night I did a test-bake well in advance before Christmas, and o.m.g. They were exactly like my grandma’s.


I can not tell you how thrilled I am to be able to bake my grandma’s Maid of Honour tarts. It means so much, especially because Alzheimer’s disease is slowly consuming my grandma and she will never be baking again. I am happy to carry on her legacy.

Maid of Honour Tarts
{adapted from this recipe}

For the pastry:
2 cups unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 large egg
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 cup ice cold water
4 cups good quality unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

For the crust topping:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup white rice flour

Additional ingredients:
Medium-size jar raspberry jam {or you can use any flavour jam really!}

In a food processor, make the pastry. Combine the flour, salt and sugar and pulse for 10 seconds to combine. In a separate small bowl, combine egg, water, and vinegar and whisk to combine. Set aside. Add well-chilled butter {I froze mine for a few minutes} to the flour mixture in the food processor. Pulse to combine so the mixture resembles large rice granules. Gradually add the egg mixture and pulse until the dough comes together in a ball. Dough should be sticky and resemble pie crust dough. Wrap dough with plastic wrap and chill for 2-4 hours. {I was in a hurry so I chilled for only 1 hour and it turned out fine!}

Next, make the crust topping. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until well combined. Add eggs one and a time and beat until fluffy. Add almond extract. Slowly incorporate flour, mixing at low speed. Cover bowl with saran wrap and chill until tart assembly.

Once your pastry dough is chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove pastry dough and crust topping bowl from fridge. Let stand for 10 minutes. To assemble tarts, first fill tart pans with the pastry dough by pinching off a 1 1/2 tablespoon size piece of dough and pressing it into the pan so the entire surface is covered. Make sure there are no holes or the jam will leak through! Then, place 1 tsp jam in the centre of each tart. Top the tarts with 1 tbsp crust topping.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until tops are golden brown. {I had to bake a full 25 minutes.} Cool tarts on wire rack for 10 minutes and then remove from tart pan. Try not to eat them all at once. ;)

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{baking for my manfriend} classic oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Thursday, November 28, 2013 1 0

Baking cookies has been one of my favourite pastimes since I was a little girl. I remember first learning to bake cookies when I was so small I needed a chair to stand on to reach the counter. Ever since then, cookies have been my thing. Friends have commented at the speed at which I can whip up a batch. And it’s true, baking cookies just feels so easy and cathartic to me – I love it.

Everyone needs a good oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe under their belt – it’s a kitchen staple. Here’s mine:


Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
2 cups oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup coconut (optional)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl. Mix in vanilla and egg. Stir in oats, flour, coconut, baking soda, and salt. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop batter onto greased cookie sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes at 350 degrees F.

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Homemade Old-Fashioned Eggnog

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 0 0

I don’t love eggnog. I know, I know, it’s shocking. { Is it also shocking for me to admit I don’t really love pumpkin pie either? I don’t. }

The other day J picked up some eggnog from the grocery store – probably the first day that eggnog hit the shelves. Every year I try to like it – I’ll try it straight up, with rum, in my chai tea, in my coffee… and every year I’ll drink a quarter glass and be done with it { although I do enjoy it as the creamer in my coffee… don’t knock it til ya try it! }

So when I was leafing through my Masala Farm cookbook on the weekend to plan meals for the week, I noticed a homemade old-fashioned eggnog recipe. I’ve been feeling the Christmas-vibe lately, and I know that almost anything homemade is better than store-bought, so I decided to give eggnog another chance.

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Strawberry Peach Hand Pies

Monday, September 30, 2013 1 0

I had a surplus of quickly-going-bad strawberries hanging around in my fridge, as well as one past-its-prime peach. I’d been trying to think of what I could bake them up into and knew I didn’t want to go the easy route and bake a crisp, because I am crisp-ed out! I have probably made about 10 crisps over this summer, and while they are delicious and easy, I just need to lay off the crisps for a while.


And so, a quick google around the ol’ winternet brought me upon this recipe for Hand Pies. It was a rainy Saturday, I didn’t have to go anywhere, so all the better for fiddly pastry recipe. {And I say fiddly in the best sense of the word – only meaning that this recipe is a wee bit more time-consuming than the tried-and-true-crisp.}



Strawberry Peach Hand Pies

{ adapted from this recipe }

{ disclaimer: I know it sounds like there are a lot of steps to this recipe BUT if you have an hour or two to kill on a rainy day, it is perfect. And pie that can be eaten with your hands? Takes snacking to a whole new level. }


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (16 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup cold sour cream


2 cups fruit (I used strawberries and peaches)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Gelatin
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Glaze topping

1 large egg, beaten
coarse white sugar, for garnish


1) To make the dough: Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add the butter, working it in to make a coarse/crumbly mixture. Leave most of the butter in large, pea-sized pieces. {Or just throw everything into your food processor, like I did, and voila!}

2) Stir in the sour cream; the dough won’t be cohesive. Turn it out onto a floured work surface, and bring it together with a few quick kneads.

3) Pat the dough into a rough log, and roll it into an 8″ x 10″ rectangle. Dust both sides of the dough with flour, and starting with a shorter end, fold it in three like a business letter.

4) Flip the dough over, give it a 90° turn on your work surface, and roll it again into an 8″ x 10″ rectangle. Fold it in three again.

5) Wrap the dough, and chill for at least 30 minutes before using.

6) To make the filling: Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan set over medium heat. Cook until the mixture starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Transfer the cooked berries to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.

7) Preheat the oven to 425°F; place a rack on the middle shelf. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

8) To assemble the pies: Roll the dough into a 14″ x 14″ square. With a straight edge and pastry wheel, or a 3 1/2″ square cutter, cut out sixteen 3 1/2″ squares.

9) Divide the filling among eight of the squares, using about a heaping tablespoon for each. Brush some of the beaten egg along the edges of each filled square.

10) Cut a vent into the each of the remaining eight squares, using a decorative cutter of your choice.

11) Top each filled square with a vented square, and press along the edges with the tines of a fork or a pie crust crimper to seal.

12) Brush the top of each pie with the remaining beaten egg, and sprinkle with sparkling sugar. Transfer the pies to the prepared baking sheet.

13) Bake the pies for 18 to 20 minutes. Remove them from the oven, and let cool for 20 minutes before serving.

Yield: 8 hand pies. {I got 10 and a few messy weirdly-shaped ones to use up the rest of the dough.}


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Rustic Peach Galette

Friday, September 13, 2013 2 0

Last night I followed this recipe by Lark&Linen to bake a Rustic Peach Galette. Probably the most overwhelmingly exciting thing about the entire process was how fast my new food processor whipped up the dough! My pie crusts in the past have always been a flaky dry mess, so I was super excited to find out how fast and easy and perfect the dough for the crust came out in the food processor. That thing is going to get a lot of mileage, you guys.

The peach galette itself could have been more amazing if I’d used more ripe peaches – unfortunately I used slightly underripe peaches – but it was still a treat and a feast for the eyes in all its rustic beauty. All I needed were a few string lights to eat this thing under, and life would have been complete.


Rustic Peach Galette

{recipe via Lark&Linen}

For the crust:
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup butter
¼ cup cold water, as needed

For the filling:
¼ cup sugar
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 large peaches, pealed, pitted, and sliced
Maple syrup, for brushing
Vanilla sugar, for sprinkling


For the crust:
1. In a food processor, add flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse until ingredients are combined.
2. Add butter and pulse until mixture has a crumbly consistency.
3. Once you’ve reached the desired consistency, add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until dough just holds together. Make sure you don’t overprocess!
4. Form the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
5. Once refrigerated, roll out dough to 1/8″ thick. Using a sharp knife and a 9″ round cake pan as a template, cut the dough into a circle.
6. Refrigerate for 10 more minutes.

For the filling:
7. In a small bowl, mix together sugar, flour and cinnamon. Add vanilla and peaches and toss until coated.

To assemble:
8. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
9. Lay the dough in the centre of your pan (I used a cast iron pan).
10. Starting in the centre, lay the peaches in a concentric circle, each one overlapping the last. Be sure to leave a 1 ½” border  of pie crust so that you can fold it over the peaches.
11. Brush with maple syrup and sprinkle with vanilla sugar.
12. Bake for 30-35 minutes until crust is golden brown. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.