Gingerbread Loaf with Poached Pears

Hello Fall Baking Season! Woo hoo!! My windows are open and my kitchen smells like warm cinnamon:) When I was in college living in a tiny apartment, my roommate and I would light spice candles. There's just something about those aromas that makes me want to snuggle under a blanket. Now, I actually take the time to bake! I mean, you can't eat candles and gingerbread must be tasted. I'm definitely a newbie when it comes to cooking and baking anything over simple recipes. However, as a photographer I am challenging myself to create more personal dishes to style. My inspiration stems from binge watching "The Great British Baking Show". The breads, cakes, and desserts are mind blowing, not to mention the fabulous subtle British humor:)

Baking a gingerbread loaf with poached pears was a personal first and it turned out pretty darn good. I found it "absolutely scrummy" without a "soggy bottom". Watch the show, seriously its a "spot on" "top bake"!



Poached Pears

~3 bartlett pears

~1 bottle red wine (I used a red table wine)

~1/2 cup organic cane sugar

~1 cup water

~3 cinnamon sticks

~1 vanilla bean

Gingerbread Loaf

~1/2 cup low sugar maple syrup (can substitute molasses)

~2 large eggs

~2/3 cup brown sugar

~1/2 cup vegetable oil

~1 tsp baking powder

~1 tsp baking soda

~1 1/2 Tbsp grated ginger

~1 tsp ground cinnamon

~1 tsp ground nutmeg

~1/4 tsp salt

~2 cups all purpose flour

~2/3 cups vanilla almond milk

Make Pears

Combine all ingredients into medium pot and bring to boil. Then let simmer 15-20 min until pears softened.  Remove pears and set aside.

Make Loaf

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line loaf pan with parchment paper.

Mix all ingredients together in large mixing bowl.

Place whole pears into loaf pan and spoon batter around them. Bake for 50-60 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Then place loaf on cooling rack for another 15 minutes.

Dust loaf with powdered sugar to serve. (optional)

*make sure pears are not too large or they will fall through loaf. Option to slice pears into halves and only use 3 half for better firmness of gingerbread.

Happy Fall Baking Friends!!


Homemade Cherry Pie

Cherry season means pie making time!!! I love just about every kind of pie, but hot cherry pie with vanilla ice cream is a summer tradition. I refuse to even look at the bags of cherry pie filling in the grocery store..yuck!! If I am taking the time to bake, it needs to be done right. Especially if I am going to stray away from my diet, I want the real thing:)
Please follow the process of hand picked cherries to dessert satisfaction!
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup very cold unsalted butter ( I used 2 sticks, chopped into pieces)
8 tablespoons ice water
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp organic sugar
4 1/2-5 cups pitted fresh cherries (I used a deep dish pie pan, so 5 worked for me!)
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup organic sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp salt
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~Pit cherries (remove stems first)
With fresh cherries, you must remove the pits. You can choose from two simple methods. Slit cherries in half or use a chopstick to push them out from stem side and retain cherry shape.
~Make the Crust
Sift flour into mixing bowl to remove lumps. Combine sugar and salt, then add butter pieces. Use hands to knead butter into flour.  Once throughly combined, add cold water.
Sprinkle fresh flour onto flat rolling surface and to ball of pie dough. Lightly coat dough with flour to prevent sticking. Roll out to an even layer about 1/8 inch thickness and slightly larger than pie dish. Leftover dough will be used for lattice. Gently place crust into dish and cut off excess dough.
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~Make the Filling
Mix cornstarch, sugar, vanilla, almond, lemon, and salt into small bowl. Then pour onto pitted cherries and gently coat them using a spatula in a separate bowl. spoon filling gently into pie crust.
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~ Add your Lattice
Take remaining chilled dough, lightly pat with flour and roll out to an even 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into 1/2 -3/4 inch strips. Lay out 4-5 strips evenly spaced and parallel across topping. Use fingers to press ends into sides of bottom crust. Fold back alternating strips as you weave each new piece from alternate direction. Continue until lattice weave is completely covering pie. Press edges in around the pie dish to secure lattice.
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~Signature Touches
Chefs are artists, so make your pie an original!
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~Bake that pie already
Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 40-45 minutes. Or when crust is lightly brown and cherries are bubbling in the center. About 15 minutes before pie is done baking, remove from oven, lightly brush lattice with almond milk and sprinkle with sugar.
Let pie cool for 1-2hrs before slicing. (this is very me it will still be warm, but allows filling to set)
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~Prepare to eat
While the pie is cooling...get some plates and forks ready..duh!! This is a given, but make sure you have vanilla ice cream on stand by :)
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Slice yourself a big piece, be generous with the ice cream, and enjoy all your hard work! YES..this is the best cherry pie ever:)
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