Homebakers Collective July Challenge: Bake Your State

A little bit fussy, Homebakers Collective Challenge, Pie

Iowa Cherry Pie

I have moved around too much to feel ownership of any state other than the state I was raised in. Iowa means a lot of things to me, but dessert-wise, it has to be pie, and cherry pie in particular. It was my birthday request every year as a kid. I remember when the cherries on the tree were ready, everyone would get together to pick them, then gather around the porch table armed with bobby pins to pit the cherries. Cherry juice would run down your forearms to your elbows until you were so sticky you had to hose off.

Pie Crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 1 stick cold butter (115g), cut into pieces
  • 1/3 cup lard (70g), cup into pieces
  • 1/3 cup ice water

Combine flour, salt and sugar in food processor. Add butter and lard and pulse until the butter pieces are no larger than peas. Add ice water and pulse until dough just comes together, about 5 times.

Divide dough into two pieces, shape into disks, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Cherry Pie Filling:

  • 2 pounds sour pie cherries, thawed if frozen
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1/4 almond extract

Drain cherries, reserving liquid – you should have a little more than 1 cup. Place cherries in a medium bowl.

Combine sugar, salt, and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Gradually add reserved cherry liquid and lemon juice, whisking until smooth. Cook over medium heat until thick and clear. Remove from heat, stir in butter and almond extract. Pour over cherries and stir to combine. Sneak a taste here.

Assemble and Bake:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roll out each pie crust between two pieces of wax paper, peeling the paper and flipping the crust over to make rolling easier and uniform.

Line pie plate with bottom crust. Refrigerate until ready to use. Cut top crust into strips, if you’re doing the lattice. On a square of wax paper, prepare the lattice by weaving the strips together, starting with the longest pieces in the middle and working outwards. Sandwich the lattice crust with another piece of wax paper and refrigerate for 15 minutes to firm it up. Pour prepared cherry filling into bottom crust. Brush the edges with egg wash. Peel one piece of wax off the lattice and gently flip it over onto the pie, trying to get it centered. Crimp the pie and trim the excess pastry.

Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the cherries are bubbling.

Tres Leches Cake

A little bit fussy, Cakes

This is a winner.


  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar

Whipped Cream Frosting:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Make Dulce: Place can of sweetened condensed milk in a medium saucepan, cover with water by several inches, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 2 hours, adding water to keep the can covered if necessary. Remove from water and let cool to room temperature.

Make Cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9×13″ pan.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

In a small saucepan, combine butter, milk and vanilla over low heat until the butter has melted.

Meanwhile, place the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip the eggs on medium-high speed, and gradually add the sugar. Whip until thick and light, about 5-7 minutes.

Pour the milk and melted butter mixture into the eggs on low speed until the mixture is combined. Add the flour mixture and stir on low, then increase speed to medium and whip for 1 minute, until the mixture is smooth.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cake is lightly browned.

Meanwhile, combine cooled sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, heavy cream and vanilla together in a large measuring cup.

Poke lots of holes in the cake all over. Slowly pour milk mixture evenly over hot cake. Let sit for 20 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Whipped Cream Frosting: Combine heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl and whip until firm. Spread over cooled cake.

Cut into squares and serve.

Homebakers Collective March Challenge:

A little bit fussy, Homebakers Collective Challenge, Pie

Pie Challenge: Raspberry Lemon Chess Pie

This is an optimistic pie. Dedicated to my preggo sister.

Check out the other baker’s pies on: https://homebakerscollective.com/2020/03/31/march-challenge-a-pie-to-say-goodbye-to-winter/


  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 stick butter, cut into tablespoons
  • 60g lard, cut into tablespoons
  • 5 TBSP ice water

Raspberry Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups raspberries
  • 3 TBSP sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Chess Pie Filling:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 6 TBSP lemon juice
  • 2 TBSP cornstarch
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Fancy Pants Pie Decoration:

  • powdered sugar
  • freeze dried raspberries

Make crust: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pulse flour, salt, butter, and lard in food processor until butter and lard are the size of peas. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl. Add ice water and stir with a fork until incorporated. Turn out onto work surface and work dough together until it forms a ball.
Roll out between sheets of wax paper.

Line a 9-inch pie plate with dough, prick with a fork and freeze for at least 15 minutes.

Partially Bake Pie Crust: Line the frozen pie dough with foil, fill with dried beans, rice or pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool and remove foil.

Make Raspberry Filling: Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5-10 minutes, breaking down raspberries with a spoon if necessary. Pour into a fine mesh strainer and press through to remove raspberry seeds. Reserve about 2 tablespoons of strained filling (no seeds) for decorating on top if desired. Then, if desired, add back in about 2 tablespoons of seeds to the rest of the raspberry filling for texture. Chill until ready to use.

Make Chess Filling: Combine sugar, cream, butter, eggs, egg yolks, cornmeal, lemon zest and lemon juice and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until thick, about 7 minutes. Whisk in vanilla.

Spread chilled raspberry filling in the prepared pie shell. Pour thickened chess pie filling over raspberry. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the filling has set in the center and is just starting to brown.

Let pie cool completely.

For Plaid Design: Cut several 2″ strips of paper. Place paper on chilled pie, leaving 2″ between strips. Dust with powdered sugar. Remove strips. Place paper strips across the pie perpendicular to the white stripes. Combine equal weights of powdered sugar and powdered freeze dried raspberries (pulverized in blender or food processor). Sift over pie to create the pink stripes. Dust the sugar off of the exposed pie crust with a pastry brush. Place reserved raspberry filling in a piping bag with a small round tip. Pipe one raspberry stripe along the side of every pink stripe and two raspberry stripes along the side of every white stripes. Chill until ready to serve.

Chocolate Black Sesame Rugelach

A little bit fussy, Cookies, Food Hoarding Confessions

A little leftover hand pie dough, black sesame paste from my freezer, and a bar of chocolate with almonds all found each other today.


  • 4 ounces cream cheese, straight from the refrigerator
  • 1 stick butter, straight from the refrigerator
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Black Sesame and Chocolate Filling

  • 1/4 cup black sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (with or without almonds), chopped

1 beaten egg and coarse sugar for topping

For the dough: Cut the cream cheese and butter into cubes. Place flour, sugar and salt in food processor and blend. Toss in cream cheese and butter. Pulse until the dough comes together – check it by taking the lid of and pinching some dough – if it sticks together it is ready.

Divide dough into two pieces and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight.

For the filling: Toast sesame seeds in a small skillet. Let cool completely. In a food processor or blender, combine cooled sesame seeds, butter and sugar. Process into a paste.

Chop chocolate into small pieces and set aside.

When ready to assemble: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil (these will leak a bit).

Divide the dough into two. One at a time, roll out on lightly floured surface to about a 10-inch circle. Spread 1/2 of black sesame paste onto one circle and sprinkle half the chopped chocolate on top.

Cut the circle into 16 pieces, like a pizza, first in half, then quarters, then into eighths, etc… Roll up each triangle starting with the fat end of the triangle. Place on the prepared cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

If desired, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Kolaches – Cherry or Black Sesame

A little bit fussy

My Grandma Jean used to make us cherry kolaches and they were my very favorite treat. Using all white flour weighed on her conscience, so they were always made with part whole wheat flour. I did the same, adjusting my favorite dough -Julia Moskin’s japanese milk bread- with half whole wheat flour. This recipe makes 18 kolaches, and if you make both cherry and black sesame you will have filling leftover. I’m thinking pop-tarts…

For the Dough:

  • 1/3 cup bread flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

Cherry Filling:

  • 2 lbs. pie cherries, liquid drained and reserved
  • 1 cup reserved cherry liquid
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 1/4 almond extract, optional

Black Sesame Filling

  • 1/2 cup black sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened

Make the starter: Combine 1/3 cup bread flour and 1/2 cup milk in a small saucepan, whisk until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until thickened, whisking constantly. Transfer to a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap until cool.

When starter has cooled, combine it with the remaining dough ingredients with the exception of the butter in a stand mixer with the hook attachment. Mix on low for 5 minutes. Add butter, one tablespoon at a time and mix until a smooth dough is formed – about 10 minutes. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

Make Cherry filling: Whisk to combine sugar, salt and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Whisk in 1 cup reserved cherry liquid and lemon juice. Add cherries and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula until very thick and translucent. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and almond extract, if using. Let sit a room temperature until ready to use.

Make Black Sesame filling: Toast sesame seeds in a small skillet. Let cool completely. In a food processor or blender, combine cooled seeds, butter and sugar. Process into a paste.

Grease or line 2 large baking sheets with parchment.

When dough has risen, pinch off pieces of dough a little larger than the size of golf ball, or if using a scale, about 75g per piece. Shape into a ball by hand, then roll on the counter with your palm in a circular motion to even it out. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat until you have 18 balls total – 9 on each sheet. Spray with cooking spray, cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Assemble kolaches: Make a large indentation in the center of each dough ball, about 2″ in diameter. Fill with about 2 tablespoons of the cherry or black sesame filling. Repeat with remaining dough balls.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the bottoms are just starting to brown. Eat while they are warm, or reheat slightly for best eating.

Passion Fruit & Vanilla Marshmallows

A little bit fussy

Along with toffee, I make marshmallows to give away around the holidays. This year they were jazzed up with some passion fruit. Passion fruit is so hot right now.

  • 1/2 cup frozen passion fruit puree, thawed
  • 1/2 cup passion fruit juice 3 envelopes unflavored gelatin (3/4oz total)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup potato starch (or corn starch)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Special equipment: candy thermometer stand mixer with whisk attachment

Line a 13×9-inch pan with foil, letting some overhang to make lifting the marshmallow out easier. Coat lightly with non-stick spray or butter.

Combine the passion fruit puree and juice well. Pour 1/2 cup into bowl of stand-mixer. Sprinkle gelatin over water and let stand.

Combine 2 cups sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup passion fruit mixture in heavy medium saucepan (with a handle preferably). Over medium heat, stir super-gently with a heatproof spatula, or swirl the pan every so slightly, just for the first couple minutes to dissolve the sugar, being careful not to let any sugar granules stick to the sides of the pan (if they do, wash them down with a wet pastry brush).

Once sugar had dissolved, attach a candy thermometer and never stir it again until it reaches 240º, about 8 minutes. It will boil up the pan quite a bit as it gets going- just keep an eye on it so it doesn’t boil over, adjusting the heat accordingly.

With the mixer running on low speed with the whisk attachment, slowly pour the hot syrup into the gelatin in a thin stream, running down the side of the bowl so the whisk doesn’t splash it all over. Don’t worry about the syrup that sticks to the bowl.

Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until very stiff and cooled to lukewarm – it should take 10-15 minutes. Add vanilla and beat to blend, about 30 seconds.

Spread the marshmallow into the greased pan and smooth the top as best you can. You can spray a piece of wax paper with non-stick spray and pat it over the top to smooth it out better. Let stand for at least 4 hours before cutting. Overnight is even better. Pictured above is one recipe of passion fruit marshmallow, topped with one recipe of vanilla marshmallow (https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/bakersanonymous.org/175) – after the passion fruit mallow is smoothed in the pan, leave it uncovered while you make the vanilla marshmallow and spread that on top. Then smooth with greased parchment. Sift starch and powdered sugar together and dust your work surface. Lift marshmallow out and cut into squares using a rotary pizza cutter dusted with sugar/starch. Or a large knife also coated. Roll in sugar/starch until all sides are coated before stacking or packing. ​


A little bit fussy

During the month of December my house becomes a toffee factory. This is my mom’s recipe – she started this tradition. Some have said that toffee is “finicky” but I prefer to think of it as superstitious. I always use the same pot, same spatula, same brand of butter, etc. Just keep trying until you find the magic and don’t mess around.

  • 1 lb. salted butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • about 2 cups chocolate chips
  • about 2 cups chopped walnuts

Very lightly grease a large rimmed baking sheet. Place a candy thermometer at the ready, or if you don’t have one, get a small glass of ice water and put it within reach.

In a medium dutch oven (or heavy-bottomed saucepan) combine butter, sugar and sliced almonds over medium-low heat. With a heat-resistant spatula, stir gently – making sure not to have rogue grains of sugar working up the side of the pan or spatula itself. Wipe them down or rinse off the spatula if it looks dicey. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly in a figure eight motion – pretty much leave the sides of the pan alone.

After the butter and sugar melt together, you may attach the candy thermometer to the side of the pot. Keep stirring constantly until the toffee reaches 285 degrees – it can go to 300 without burning, so don’t pull it off too soon. If you don’t have a thermometer, when the toffee looks dark golden brown (it may take 30 minutes, depending on the size of your pot), drop a little tiny bit into the glass of ice water, let it cool for a minute, then fish it out and test it between your front teeth. If it breaks cleanly, it is good to go. If it is still a little sticky/tacky, let it cook longer and try again.

Carefully and quickly, pour the toffee onto the prepared baking sheet. Smooth with an offset spatula (or just lift up the pan and rotate it around until the toffee fills in everywhere). Let sit for 5 minutes. Sprinkle generously with chocolate chips. Let sit 5 more minutes to let the chocolate melt. Smooth the chocolate over the toffee with an offset spatula and immediately sprinkle generously with chopped walnuts.

Let cool completely. Turn toffee over onto a flat surface and remove it from the pan by pressing down on the overturned baking sheet. Smack it with a metal spoon or spatula or something to break it into irregular pieces. Try not to eat an entire pound while you are packaging it up for others.


A little bit fussy

This is a family recipe – some of the fuss is taken out of it because you pour the melted butter over the top of the constructed baklava instead of brushing all those layers. Bonus is that it uses an entire package of phyllo – just be sure to defrost it in the refrigerator the day before.

  • Syrup:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 14 whole cloves
  • Peel from one lemon (not zest, peel)
  • Nuts:
  • 1 lb. walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 TBS toasted sesame seeds, ground
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 lb. unsalted butter
  • 1 lb. phyllo

Make the syrup: combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer 20 minutes. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Combine the nut filling ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well.

Melt butter in a small saucepan. Skim off foam. Pour almost all the butter into a liquid measuring cup, but leave the milk solids behind.

Place 6 layers of phyllo in the bottom of an ungreased 9×13″ pan. Reserve 6 layers phyllo for the top. Sprinkle 1/4 cup nut mixture over phyllo. Place 2 layers phyllo over nuts, top with another 1/4 cup nuts. Repeat until all the phyllo and nuts are used (except the reserved 6 for the top). Top the last layer of nuts with the reserved 6 layers of phyllo.

Cut the baklava into diamonds with a sharp knife – cut parallel lines horizontally spaced about 2″ apart. Cut diagonal lines from the top of the pan to the bottom.

Pour melted, clarified butter all over the baklava.

Bake 45 minutes at 300 degrees. Increase oven to 350 degrees and bake another 15-20 minutes, until dark golden brown.

Remove from oven and immediately pour cooled syrup all over the baklava. Let cool completely (at least 4 hours) and cut through again to separate pieces.

This is best made ahead and keeps for many days at room temperature.

Cherry Poptarts

A little bit fussy, Breakfast, Food Hoarding Confessions

Guys guys guys- after years of trying I finally nailed homemade pop tarts. Happy little accident involving self-rising flour I bought for no reason other than I heard a story about Loretta Lynn using it for biscuits. It makes the perfectly delicious cardboard-y tasting pastry I’ve been hunting for. The filling ended up being a great use of the half jar of morello cherries that was taking up fridge space. The key here is to roll the dough out SUPER thin. Like, when you say to yourself, “I think this is thin enough” – keep rolling until you say to yourself “this has GOT to be thin enough”.

  • Cherry Filling:
  • 1 1/2 cup jarred morello cherries, drained (reserve 3 TBSP liquid for optional glaze)
  • 12 pitted dates
  • 4 TBSP sugar
  • 1 TBSP cornstarch
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • Crust:
  • 2 cups self-rising flour, if you have it
  • (or 2 cups cake flour, 3 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt)
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 1 stick cold butter, cut in chunks
  • 1/2 cup milk

In food processor, process cherries and dates until crushed. Combine sugar and cornstarch in small saucepan. Whisk in cherries and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat until thickened. Add almond extract and set aside to cool. This can be done ahead of time and refrigerated.

Combine flour and sugar. Cut in butter in and work until it’s the size of peas, or a bit smaller (by hand or food processor). Stir in milk until combined and knead until the dough holds and is uniform. Divide the dough in half. Roll out each half between long sheets of wax paper until very thin – (as thin as possible – 1/16″ maybe) and in the shape of a long rectangle. Dust with flour as needed to keep from sticking. Using a ruler or straight edge, trim the edges of the dough. Cut the dough in half, the long way, then cut every 3″ or so to make 3″x5″ rectangles. You should get 16 rectangles total from all the dough. Spread about 2 TBSP filling in half the rectangles, but leave about 1/2″ from the sides free of filling. You will have extra filling, which you can freeze for another poptarting. Brush the edges with egg wash. Poke the other dough rectangles with a fork 3 or 4 times, then sandwich the pop tarts. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Brush tarts with egg wash and bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown on the edges. Dust with powdered sugar, leave unfrosted, or glaze.

  • Cherry Glaze:
  • 3 TBSP reserved cherry liquid
  • enough powdered sugar to thicken

Snow Day Monkey Bread

A little bit fussy

Remember Monkey Bread? This is a good project if you happen to have a house full of monkeys home for a snow day (just me?). There is more dough here than you need – if you don’t have eager helpers who like to play “bake-off” with extra dough (just me again?), you can half the recipe and it will be A-OK (use 2 tsp yeast). The bread is my favorite Japanese Milk Bread from New York Times – it is so good.

  • Tangzhong starter:
  • 45g bread flour
  • 120 ml whole milk
  • Dough:
  • 650g bread flour
  • 120g sugar
  • 3 1/4 tsp quick-rise yeast
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 240ml whole milk
  • 8 TBSP softened butter, cut into tablespoons
  • Butter and Cinnamon Sugar mix:
  • 1 stick salted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 TBSP cinnamon

Make Tangzhong – In a small saucepan, combine flour and milk. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until very thick. Set aside to cool.

In stand mixer, combine flour, sugar, and yeast. Whisk eggs, milk and salt together in a small bowl or measuring cup. Add to the flour mixture and stir. Add tangzhong starter and knead for 5 minutes, until the dough comes together.

Add the softened butter and knead for another 10 minutes – it will take awhile for the butter to incorporate.

Grease a large bowl, place dough in the bowl and cover to let rise for 1 hour.

Melt the additional stick of butter. In another small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large bundt pan.

Turn dough out onto work surface. With a bench scraper, cut dough into quarters. Give a quarter of the dough to the dirty little hands that are milling around your work surface. Cut the remaining quarters up into small pieces – about 8-10 per quarter. Roll the pieces into a rough ball, pinch it, dip it in butter, roll it in cinnamon sugar, then toss it in the bundt pan. Repeat until the bundt pan is 2/3 full. Cover with plastic wrap or towel and let rise for 30-40 minutes.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Let rest 5 minutes before turning out onto a platter. Invite the monkeys to tear and share.