Tag Archives: pie crust

And Then, Inspiration Struck: What. How. Why.

9 Jul
Hello, lovely biscuits

Hello, lovely biscuits

So, here I am again.  First, I must say thank you, truly, to all of you who left comments yesterday and helped me to feel like I am on the Right Track and that this blog is meeting the needs of some folks.  Yay!  So, here’ s the inspiration.  First, I’m gonna tell you what to do (but nicely, so you don’t get Huffy), then how to do it and then why we do it that way.  How fun is that?  I guess that could take the form of a recipe, with what being the name of the dish and the ingredient list, how being the procedure and then why being a discussion of said procedure/s.  ‘Cept I don’t want to start with a recipe, so I’m not going to.  Let’s start with a mixing method that we haven’t discussed since Way Back When I Started, you know, back before I had Readers and Such:  The Biscuit Method.  Here’s what I had to say about it Long Ago.  And now, here’s the rest of the story:  This Method is also called the pastry method, because it’s basically the same method whether you’re making biscuits or pie crusts.  So, here we go.

What?  The Biscuit Method

Ingredients that are generally included:

  • flour(s)
  • fat
  • salt (duh)

Other ingredients that generally go into biscuits:

  • sugar (maybe)
  • chemical leavener
  • dairy (cream, buttermilk, etc)

Other ingredients that generally go into pie crust:

  • egg (maybe)
  • sugar (maybe)
  • a wee bit of liquid, usually ice water

How?  Like This:

  1. Have all your ingredients Really Really Cold.
  2. Whisk dry ingredients together Really Really well.  This means flour(s), salt, (sugar), any dry flavorings, such as spices.
  3. Cut up the cold fat into chunks about 1/2″-3/4″ (this is just a guideline. Kindly put the ruler down).  Or, cut up the fat and then chill it.
  4. Toss the fat in with the dry ingredients.
  5. Cut or rub in the fat with your fingers or Another Implement.
  6. Once the fat is the size that you want it (more on that later), stop.  Seems obvious, doesn’t it?
  7. Add in the liquid until you have the desired consistency.  Stir minimally.
  8. And there you go.

Why?  Well, since you asked…
This will go by numbers, so any discussion of Step 1 under “How” will be covered under “1” down here.  Keen, huh?!

  1. Your ingredients need to be cold to keep the fat from melting.  The beauty of biscuits and pie crust is that, your can manipulate the flakiness or tenderness of a product without changing the ingredients.  If you rub all of your fat into your flour (which yields a very sticky and sad-looking dough), your dough will be very tender, but it won’t so much hold together.  You’ll end up with shortbread, because you will have done some crazy creaming of fat and flour and mucked up your biscuits/pie crust.  Keeping everything cold helps you from getting carried away in the later steps.
  2. You want your dry ingredients to be all evenly distributed with no lumps (baking soda and brown sugar are especially notorious for being clumpy).  If not, you’ll have sections that are too salty (or not salty enough), too sweet (or not sweet enough), or with too much leavening (or not enough).  You get the idea.  Even distribution at the beginning makes for even mixing down the line.  And that makes for a consistent end product.  A secondary reason for whisking the dry ingredients is aeration.  Yup, you will probably achieve the wee-est bit more rise if you’ve properly whisked your dry ingredients.
  3. Cutting the fat into even pieces has a lot to do with even distribution.  It also has to do with the speed with which you can throw your biscuits or pie crust together.  If you leave it in one lump, it will take a lot of manipulation, and if you are doing it by hand, it will also mean a lot of heat transfer from your 98.6F-ish hands to the fat that is Supposed To Be Chilled.  Plus, it will take longer to bust it into wee pieces.  So, do yourself a favor and pre-cut your fat before cutting it into the rest of the ingredients.  You’ll be able to work more quickly and your fat will stay nice and cold.  Everybody wins.
  4. No discussion here–just toss it in.  I recommend an Underhand Toss.
  5. Cutting in and rubbing in sound so Mysterious, don’t they?  I know that I always thought there was some magic involved.  Here’s the deal:  cutting/rubbing in of fat=making bigger pieces of fat into smaller pieces of fat.  Seriously–that’s really all it means.  If you cut it in, you’re most likely using forks, a pastry cutter or a couple of knives (although the knife thing takes Forever).  If you’re rubbing in, you’re probably using your fingers.  I prefer rubbing in, because I can literally feel the texture/consistency/temperature of the dough that I’m making.  Of course, rubbing in means introducing your hot little fingers to all of the cold ingredients, so you have to work fast.  If you’re new at this, I’d stick with a pastry blender or a couple of forks just to begin with, until you get a feel for it.  Or, you can also Pay Attention to the temperature of your dough and throw it in the fridge for fifteen minutes or so if your fat starts getting greasy and soft-feeling. So far, this particular discussion is still about the how of cutting/rubbing in.  But, I figure that the how is Vital, especially because it seems so mysterious. How to cut in
    Press the pastry cutter or a pair of forks down through the fat and flour until you reach the bottom of the bowl.  Twist, and bring it back up again.  Repeat until the pieces of fat are of Appropriate Size:  usually anywhere from lima-bean sized to pea-sized to meal-sized, depending on what you’re making.  The twisting motion will help to rub some of the fat into the flour, giving you a certain amount of tenderness.  Eventually, some flour/fat stuff will get all goobered up in the pastry cutter/fork tines.  Just use your finger to swipe them back down into the bowl.

    How to rub in
    First of all, let me just say that I know that heading sounds Very Rude.  Ignore the giggling middle school student inside and focus.  If you’re using your fingers to rub in, use both hands and take a Piece of Fat in each hand, pinching/rubbing between your thumb and forefinger (and maybe your middle finger, too) to break the piece into two.  The rubbing action works some of the fat into the flour for tenderness while the pinching turns big pieces into small pieces, preserving some wee chunks of butter for flakiness.

    Now, on to the whys:
    I’ve been talking about this mysterious tenderness/flakiness balance.  Here’s the deal.  The more you coat your flour with fat, the more tender the end product because you’re retarding gluten formation in the flour.  The more you leave pieces of fat whole (visible as pebbly guys), the flakier.  If you turn your flour/fat mixture into Pla-Doh, you’ve ended up more or less completely coating your flour with fat, so gluten production will be almost nil (see #1 under why).  If you leave the flour mixture generally pretty sandy and, well, floury, you’re leaving enough naked, non-fat-coated flour to allow some gluten to form, lending your dough structural integrity.  The leftover bits of fat that are left pebbly melt in the oven, leaving fun little buttery pockets and helping to provide some rise (from steam).  If you finish your dough by lightly folding it a few times, you are, in effect, layering in pieces of fat, and this lends to flakiness.

    I sense another why here.  If you take your finished dough (after you add the liquid and mix a little) and fold it over a few times, you’ll have strata of relatively gluten-rich (tougher) dough, relatively gluten-free (tender-er) dough and small pieces of fat.  As you fold, the layers get thinner, and then when the fat melts and the water turns to steam in the oven, this helps push the tougher layers apart, leading to flakes.  Get it?!

  6. Given the same amounts of flour and fat, leaving larger pieces of fat equals more gluten formation and, therefore, flakiness.  Leaving smaller pieces of fat equals less gluten formation and, therefore, tenderness.  It’s up to you to decide when to stop.  If you’re making regular biscuits, go until everything is mealy.  If you’re making flakey biscuits, leave the fat in larger pieces.  If you’re making a crumbly pie dough, go mealy.  If you want a flakier crust, go with pea-to-lima-bean sized pieces.  I think I’ve answered the rest of that why in #5.
  7. Biscuits will have more liquid than pie dough.  The consistency should be anywhere from wet to sticky (depending on the recipe).  Actually, one of the secrets to Ridiculously Light Biscuits is to have a very wet dough–so wet that you need heavily floured hands to shape it into vague biscuit shapes before dropping them onto a baking sheet.  But hey, doesn’t this cause more gluten formation?  Not if you don’t mix like a crazy person–all that extra liquid=a bunch of extra steam=extra lift in the oven.  Alton taught me that–it was the way his grandmother made biscuits.  Thanks, Alton and Alton’s grandma.  Pie crust should look like it doesn’t contain enough water–it should still be relatively sandy and only hold together when you press it.  For a good discussion of this (if I do say so myself), see my post on pie crust.
  8. Upon consideration, the “and there you go,” might beg further explanation.  In the case of wet biscuits, do as I described in why #7, or you’ll just make a Fat Mess.  If you’re making biscuits with a slightly more sturdy dough, a couple of gentle turns/kneads might be in order, then just pat it into a vague rectangle and cut biscuits the size you want.  And here, might I just exhort you to eschew Circular Biscuits, please?  Cutting circles leaves scraps which then must be re-rolled.  These scrap-made biscuits are never as light as the first roll.  Also, they don’t rise as much.  Just say no.  The why for this part is you’ve made more gluten form by working the dough into the shape you wanted it.  Gluten is tricky stuff.  Stick with rectangular or square biscuits, and you won’t have any scraps to worry about re-rolling.  Genius Lightbulb Moment!If you’re making pie dough, I suggest you roll the dough between two sheets of parchment and then refrigerate it to firm up and allow the flour to fully hydrate.  And doesn’t that sound all crazy and mysterious?!  When you first add the water, the outside of the flour gets wet, but it takes a bit for the water to soak all the way through each wee granule of flour.  This refrigerated rest gives it time for that to happen.  And incidentally, this is why you should stop adding water before the dough comes together.  After that hydration rest, your perfect dough will be too wet.  Trust me; I’ve been there.  I use parchment because that means I don’t need to add extra flour.  And that means that I don’t get extra gluten formation.  Hooray.

Okay, I think that about covers it.  And how are we feeling about biscuits and pie crust now?  More comfortable, I hope?  If you still have questions, shoot them my way, either in an email or in the comments.

And after all of that, I guess there’s nothing left but The Biscuit Method Certification.  Congratulations, students, and thank you for coming. 🙂

No, it’s not my picture up there:

Courage, Intrepid Bakers, You Can Master Pie Crust

6 Mar

I went out into the Twitter corner of the Hinternet yesterday seeking inspiration for today’s post.  I asked this question unto my followers:  “Oh, followers, in the pastry kitchen, what is it that strikes fear into your heart?”  And the followers tweeted back with one voice:  Pie Crust.  Damn you, pie crust!  What is it about you that makes grown folks quake in their boots? The Daring Bakers might take a deep breath and leap into a frozen-creme-brulee-and-nougatine-center-Buche-de-Noel, but some will hide in a closet whenever anyone wants them to make a pie.

I wrote about this very topic some time ago, and at great length.  It was a question from reader Will from Recipe Play that prompted me to write.  Re-reading it, I think it’s a pretty exhaustive primer.  Go and read it, now.  As a matter of fact, print it out.  Not for the glorious prose, but for the advice.  To summarize, if you make a crust with oil, it will be so tender that you might not be able to roll it out, but it won’t shrink.  If it won’t roll, all you have to do is press the dough evenly in the pan.   If you want to make a pie crust with solid shortening (butter, lard or vegetable shortening), you’ll want to work the dough as little as possible to keep gluten from forming and causing your dough to shrink.  Go on now and re-read, or discover it for the first time!

Looking over the post last evening, I thought to myself, “Wow, Jen–not bad.  I think you covered all the bases.”  So, then, I was forced to ask myself, “Why, oh why isn’t it enough?!  Why are people still afraid of four ingredients?”  And then, I remembered one of The Seminal Scenes from The Wizard of Oz.  Let’s watch together, shall we?

I hope you get my point, folks.  It’s not that you can’t do it–it’s that you’re afraid that you can’t do it.  And guys, believe me–I understand.  I have made dough that shrank alarmingly.  More than once.  But I learned how, and you can, too.  Seriously, how ridiculous do you think I felt asking the owner of the restaurant to let me watch her make the pate brisee?  Knowing that I’ve been where you are, let me just tell you that You Can Do This.  I have found a marvelous little video on You Tube to help you.  I still recommend that you use my roll-out-then-chill method, but do watch the video.  The woman making the dough has a perfect consistency.  You’ll be able to see that her dough still looks all crumbly and dry until she squeezes it together.

Now, you are armed with a great recipe and primer, courtesy of Moi as well as a great video to help you get a feel for the consistency you’re looking for, courtesy of The Nice Expert Village Lady.  All you need now is a certificate: pie-crust-courage.  See?  If you click where it says pie-crust-courage, it takes you to another page.  Then, if you click on pie-crust-courage again, you get a Special Certificate (in MS Word)!  A little convoluted, but there you have it.

That’s it, folks.  You’re ready.  I’m not saying that you’ll get it right the first, second or even the third time.  I’m saying, “Make small batches until you get it right.”  Seriously–scale the recipe down to 4 or 6 oz. flour at a time, and practice until you get it.  If you have an issue with warm hands, work quickly, throw your bowl of ingredients back in the freezer for a few minutes, or wear a couple of pair of latex gloves for insulation.  If you are nervous, laminate your certificate and slap it up on the fridge right next to the Rules of Engagement for Pie Crust, drink some wine, and get to it.  No excuses, people.  You are smarter than flour, butter, salt and water Put Together.  And, you’re Certified, so go forth and make some pie crust.

Oooh, Your Pie Crust! It’s So….Wee!

9 Jan
You won't ever need to buy crust again.

You won't ever need to buy crust again.

Brave Will, from Recipe Play boldly asked a question yesterday.  Here it is:  “Why does my pastry always, ALWAYS shrink so much when I’m pre-baking it? It always shrinks down below the sides. Drive me nuts!”

Can you feel the frustration?  I can, and I’m with you, Will.  Spending time and sweat on making a crust only to see it make like a Shrinky-Dink in the oven is most disheartening, to say the least.  This whole shrinkage phenomenon needs to be addressed.  And let me just say to you, Will–it’s not just you.  The shrinkage problem plagues many folks.  Let’s all take the first step towards healing and full-sized crusts together.

Pie crust.  I wish I could make reverb happen when I write that.  :: PpIeEe CcRrUuSsTt:: There!  Pie crust strikes fear into the heart of even the most intrepid bakers.  Let me tell you a story.  At one of the restaurants I worked in, it fell to the pastry department to make the pate brisee for the savory tarts.  Four ingredients.  How hard could it possibly be?  Let me tell you: I struggled with that dough and even sheepishly asked for a Brisee In-service so I could figure out what I was doing wrong.  More than once, my what-I-thought-was-lovely-brisee ended up as not much more than a disc of cracker in the bottom of the small tart pans.  It took me longer to master this stupid dough than it did to master fudge, toffee, burnt caramel buttercream and lemon sabayon.

I confess this to you so you will know that I’ve been there.

Do you guys remember gluten and what activates it?  Flour+water+agitation=gluten And how do we make a standard pie crust?  Flour+some fat+water+mixing.  This is just a recipe for tough, shrinking pie crust.  If you end up activating the gluten in your flour, and then you stretch your dough into your pie pan, the dough will shrink.  Simple as that.   If you don’t want to activate the gluten, there are two ways you can go:  Way 1–Coat all the flour particles with fat.  The fat will form a barrier between the flour and the water and keep gluten from forming.  There is a condom joke in there somewhere.  Please, tell it to yourselves.  Okay.  Way 2–Limit agitation of the flour and water.

Way 1 Analysis

If you coat the flour really well with fat, you will have a very short crust.  I don’t mean that in terms of height.  When folks talk about “shortening” and shortened doughs, cakes, etc, what they are talking about is the state of the gluten.  Coating flour with fat inhibits gluten formation.  It “shortens” the gluten strands.  Short gluten=tender.  Short gluten also=less structure.  This is why shortbread–made with sugar, butter and flour, is so crumbly.

While crumbly-ness can be desirable in a cookie–it even spawned a saying “That’s how the cookie crumbles”–it is less desirable for a crust that needs to be strong enough to hold a filling.  What you can do is work the fat into the flour so it resembles coarse corn meal with a few peas thrown in (in texture, not in color).  This will coat enough of the flour to allow tenderness but also allow enough gluten formation that the crust will be sturdy.  There are oil-based pie crust recipes out there.  Oil coats the flour very effectively, so that kind of crust will treat you right and stay the correct size for you.  I prefer some flakes, so I go the solid fat (butter) route.

Way 2 Analysis

This is all about the mixing method.  Actually, don’t think “mix,” think another, less mixy word. Combine, maybe.  Or commingle or unite.  It’s basically using The Biscuit Method with a lot less liquid.  Here’s what you do–I do it by hand so I can feel the dough.  You can use a food processor if you want:

  • Rub together fat and flour until it resembles the above-mentioned cornmeal and pea mixture.
  • Sprinkle in a tablespoon or so of ice water.  Here’s where it gets interesting.  Sprinkle the water evenly over the flour mixture, and then toss the flour and the water together.  Kind of like when you mixed water with sand to get the perfect sand castle consistency.  You guys did that, right?
  • Continue doing the sprinkle/toss method.  After each incorporation, squeeze a wee handful of the flour.  If it sticks together and doesn’t crumble apart when you open your hand, it’s ready.  When the dough is ready, it will still mostly look like crumbly flour.  If you add enough water that it looks like your idea of “dough” it will be too much.
  • Once your dough is ready, sort of compact it into a disc in the bottom of the big bowl in which you’ve been working.  I do this by just pushing down and pulling any flour crumbles that might have migrated up the sides of the bowl into the center.
  • Here’s where my method differs from others.  Most recipes tell you to refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes-2 hours before rolling.  I immediately roll the compacted puck of dough between two pieces of parchment paper, and then put the sheet of dough, parchment and all, into the fridge.  While the dough is in the fridge, the flour will c0ntinue to hydrate, and your dough will be beautiful when you’re ready to bake.  (If you’re going to bake on some other day, go ahead and freeze your sheet o’ dough).

Basic Pate Brisee

  • 10 oz. all purpose flour
  • 8 oz. cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • heavy pinch of salt
  • heavy pinch of sugar (optional–assists browning and will absorb some water)
  • ice water–2-4 tablespoons

Here’s what you do:  Whisk together flour, salt and sugar (if using).

Rub in the butter by hand.   Do this by pinching the cubes of butter together with the flour.  Continue pinching and making smaller pieces of butter while smearing a little of the butter into the flour.  The smearing part will add to tenderness by coating the flour really well.  The pinching part makes sure you have some larger pieces of butter for flakiness.  Do this kind of quickly so the butter doesn’t warm up and start melting into the flour.  If things start getting warm, throw the whole deal into the fridge or even the freezer for a few minutes to cool things back down.

Once you’ve got your flour mixture to a nice consistency, do the sprinkle/toss method from above.  Resist the urge to add extra water.  Once the dough (which will still look like flour crumbles) holds together when you squeeze it, you’re there.  The whole “stop the processor when the dough comes together in a ball” makes us want to add too much water.  If the dough is coming together in a ball, it’s too wet.  Remember, the flour hasn’t even had a chance to fully hydrate yet.  Also, there’ s water in that thar butter.  It takes a strong person to walk away, but I know you can do it.

Putting the dough in the pan can be a bit of a struggle, too.  When you’re ready to bake, take your dough disc out of the refrigerator, peel off the parchment from one side, and put that side down over your pie pan.  Peel off the other piece of parchment.  Your dough will likely be a bit stiff.  Let it sit there until it starts to slump down into the pan a little.  Now, from the edges of the dough, shift the dough down into the pan.  Try not to stretch it, just sort of push from the edges until the dough is mostly laying flat in the pan.  If you stretch it, your dough will punish you by snapping back and shrinking.  So, be gentle and place it.  No stretching.  Now you can press it into the corners and up the sides.  Use a piece of excess dough to help you do this–that way, if you have long nails, you won’t poke holes in the corners of your crust.

At this point, you can cut the dough off level with the top of the pie plate, or you can cut it with a half inch-inch to spare so you can make some sort of decorative edge.  With a wee knife, poke little slits all over the bottom of the dough to let steam escape.  In case you were wondering, a fork will make big holes, and your filling could leak out.  Bummer.  Put your poked-crust-filled pie pan in the freezer.

When it’s time to bake, take the pie pan out of the freezer.  Line the pan with Saran Wrap or other heavy duty plastic wrap.  You can also use magical Release foil, crumpled-then-uncrumpled parchment paper, or a really big coffee filter.  Fill to the top with dried beans.  If you have pie weights, go for it, but there’s no need to run out and buy new.

Throw your poked-bean-filled crust into the oven and bake at 350 degrees until the edges and sides look dull and set, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from the oven, carefully remove your vessel of beans, brush the bottom of the crust with some egg wash (1 egg whisked together with 1-2 teaspoons of water), carefully press down any bubbles on the bottom of the crust (you shouldn’t have any, but just in case) and put the pie shell back in the oven until the bottom is set and lightish gold.  Take into consideration whether your crust will go back in the oven with some filling in it.  If so, underbake it some.  If not, make sure it’s fully baked.

And there you have it.  I hope this has helped Will and all you other folks out there who have felt bested by :: PpIiEe CcRrUuSsTt:: Let there be pie!

PS  Make a ton of dough, roll it in pie or tart sized circles between parchment and freeze the lot.  Now you’ll have pie crust at hand whenever you need it.

PPS You can reuse your pie weight beans almost indefinitely.  I like to use dried chickpeas, because they are small and don’t smell funny in the oven.

The Best Graham Cracker Pie Crust…

11 Dec
A lovely graham cracker crust.

A lovely graham cracker crust.

…comes from the best graham cracker crumbs.  Contrary to what the Frankenfood people say, the best graham cracker crumbs do not come from boxes.  No, those actually taste like…shh, come closer….sweetened cardboard.  I can’t stop you from using them.  I can’t even stop you from buying the crusts that have already been lovingly pressed into foil pans by heartless robots.  What I can do is tell you that the best graham cracker crumbs come from the best graham crackers.  And the best graham crackers come from your kitchen.  No, not from the pantry, smart guy!  From your oven.

They aren’t hard to make, I promise.  And, once you’ve made them, save some for eating and then grind the rest up in the food processor and freeze them.  That way, you’ll be ready to make a mean crumb crust at the drop of a hat.  By the way, Honey Maid Graham Crackers have a 182-day shelf-life.  Plus, they contain partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil.  Do you really want to eat them?

Graham Crackers

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat (or Graham) flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. salt, or to taste
  • 8 oz. butter
  • 5 oz. dark brown sugar (you can use light, if that’s what you have)
  • 2 T. honey

Thoroughly whisk together dry ingredients.  Cream butter, brown sugar and honey until smooth.  You’re not looking for light and fluffy, just a homogeneous blend.  After all, we are making crackers, not cake.

Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until the dough just comes together.  Remove from mixer and roll out between two sheets of parchment to about 1/8″ thickness.  Chill this sheet o’ dough until firm-ish.

You can cut these with cutters, just bake it in a sheet, or you can slice them into thin rectangles and poke them with a fork to look like the boxed kind.  No need to separate them before baking.  You can break them apart when they’re cool.

Sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar before baking, if you want.  Bake on parchment-lined cookie sheet/s at 350 degrees, F, until golden and firm–the timing depends on if you’ve cut them apart or are baking them as one humongous cookie.

You know how sometimes when you try and cut through a crumb crust, you can’t do it?  “It’s just crumbs, What the…?” you think.  The crust gets really hard when there’s a lot of sugar in the dough.  So, if you want your crust to cut easily, don’t add extra sugar.  If you’ve added cinnamon sugar to the tops of your crackers, you might want to cut the crumbs with some finely ground nuts to lower the sugar concentration.  (Thank you, Shirley Corriher, for teaching me this).

To make your crust, take some graham crumbs and mix them with melted butter and the optional nuts until it just holds together.  Then, press it into the pie pan and bake at 350 degrees, F,  for about 8 minutes to set the crust.

So, I’ve done what I can do.  I’ve explained about the shelf life of commercially produced graham crackers.  I have, I hope, dispelled any illusions you might harbor of a little grandmother busily making crumb crusts so you can buy them at the store.  I have offered a simple recipe.  Now, I must rest.  Do what you will, people, but do write and tell me how awesome your homemade graham crackers are.

“Gee, I’d like my kid’s breakfast to be a little more nutritious.”

25 Nov
There is nothing natural about this, folks.

There is nothing natural about this, folks.

Wow.  I just saw this commercial for a breakfast to please kids and moms alike.  I can’t remember what they called it, but it’s some sort of strawberry pastry thing.  The kids wanted “more strawberry filling,” and the moms wanted to “sneak some nutrition in.”  Moms, here’s a thought:  If you want to sneak nutrition in, don’t buy those things.  Feed them a healthy breakfast and save the fruity pastry for dessert.”

And that’s where I come in.  I want to give you some ideas for little treats that you can make for your kids (or for yourself) that aren’t health food, but contain ingredients that actually occur in nature.  I firmly believe that if you feed your family healthy food most of the time that a little splurge every once in awhile is good for the soul.

Make some pie crust.  Try this recipe.  Keep rolled pastry in the freezer so you can make these treats whenever you want to.

Cut 3-inch circles out of your dough, put about 1 1/2 teaspoons of some all-fruit spread in the center, wet 1/2 of the rim of the circle with a bit of water, fold over and crimp with a fork.  Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with a little sugar.  Bake at 350 degrees, F until golden brown and lovely.  Let cool for several minutes.  Eat.

Peel and core small Golden Delicious apples.  Stuff the centers with some brown sugar, a pinch of salt and cinnamon, butter and some raisins if you like them.  Cut circles 6″ circles from your dough.  Set the apple in the middle and start bringing up the edges to meet at the top of the apple.  Fold a bit up, make a pleat and fold up another bit.  Keep going until all the pastry is pleated around the apple.  Seal it tightly at the top.  Brush with some egg wash, sprinkle with some Sugar in the Raw or other sugar with large crystals, and bake at 350 degrees, F until golden brown and lovely.  Let cool a bit; serve with some ice cream or a little real whipped cream.

Cut out a 4 to 5 inch circle of dough.  Sprinkle the center with some brown sugar, butter,a pinch of salt and a bit of ginger.  Place a peach half, cut side down (no pit, thank you very much) on top of the sugar.  Sprinkle with a bit more sugar and pleat up the edges of the dough.  You’ll probably still be able to see the peach–that’s fine.  It’s pretty that way.  Bake at, you guessed it, 350 degrees until it’s done.  This would be lovely with just a little unwhipped, unsweetened heavy cream.

And there you have it.  Three ideas.  Not health food, but not masquerading as a “healthy breakfast,” either.  Enjoy a treat every once in awhile, and stay away from fake food.

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