Cool-Mom Twinkie Pie

What do you do when it’s Pi(e) Day/Week & Spring Break & you’re a food blogger & cool mom? You make a Twinkie pie! This is not a pie with the flavor profile of a Twinkie, it’s a pie made with actual Twinkies. An entire box of them in fact! I found this recipe on Pinterest via Wine and Glue. I’m thinking it could conceivably be made with any un-iced snack cake. Stay tuned for ideas on that. I actually made TWO Twinkie pies (since I’m the cool mom) one with traditional Twinkies, the other with banana flavor. Fun fact: banana was actually the original flavor of Twinkies pre-WW2! I was out of vanilla extract, so I used almond extract. It worked out fine & I feel like you could change up different extracts depending on the snack cake used. Example: Devil Dogs with mint extract! The good news is the pies were delicious; the bad news is I only managed to capture one photo of the pies before they were devoured by teens on Spring Break! 

Cool-Mom Twinkie Pie

makes one 9-inch pie


  • one whole box of Twinkies, any kind
  • 9-inch frozen deep-dish pie crust
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted 
  • 1/4 C granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (almond works too!)
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar


  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Unwrap all your Twinkies and break them into about 4 pieces each. 
  3. Combine Twinkies, eggs, butter, vanilla extract, and vinegar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. 
  4. Mix on med-low heat until smooth. 
  5. Pour into pie crust on lined baking sheet. 
  6. Bake 35-40 mins or until top of pie is golden. 
  7. Serve with whipped cream, if desired. 

Ugly Blueberry Pie & Limoncello Whipped Cream

The holidays are hectic. When I made this pie on the fly the other day I didn’t intend for it to be so ugly. However, I assure you it was delicious. As for the limoncello whipped cream, it was quick and easy & not to toot my own horn, (TOOT!) but I was quite pleased with how it came out. 

So here’s what I think made my pie ugly (but still delicious). I got a regular pie crust, not a deep dish. When the ingredients overflowed my regular pie crust, the remainder didn’t even half-fill a second crust. So I ended up making another half-round of blueberry filling.  When they went into the oven, fruit & crumb topping were mounded atop each pie. The filling did cook down as I predicted it would, but the juices runneth over. This is why we put pies on foil-lined pans people! For the record, Ugly Pie disappeared just as quickly as Pretty Pie. 

I make ugly pies. I’m not perfect. Who knew?

For your convenience, in the interest in fighting Ugly Pie Syndrome, I have edited the recipe to make one, attractive, deep-dish pie. 

Ugly Blueberry Pie

makes 1 deep-dish pie


For the pie:

  • 3-4C blueberries (this time of year frozen seems to be cheaper in my area)
  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon (about 1 tbsp)
  • 1/8 tsp Kosher salt
  • deep dish pie crust (Go ahead, use store-bought, I won’t tell!)

For the crumb topping:

  • 3/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 6 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
  • 6 tbsp cold, unsalted butter


  1. Preheat oven to 400F. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine blueberries, flour, sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Make sure berries are coated well with mixture. 
  3. Pour mixture into a deep-dish pie crust, to avoid Ugly Pie Syndrome, do not mound your filling into the crust. 
  4. In another small bowl combine topping ingredients. Toss with your hands until pea-sized crumbs are formed. 
  5. Sprinkle crumbs evenly over the top of your pie. 
  6. Bake on a foil-lined baking sheet for about 1 1/2 hrs. You will probably have to tent with foil after about half an hour to prevent over-browning. 
  7. Allow pie to cool for several hours before serving. 

The perfect topping for this sweet blueberry pie is a tart limoncello whipped cream. 

Disclaimer: this topping has actual booze in it. It’s not cooked off. So you will want to make/get some regular whipped cream for any kidlets in the house. 

Limoncello Whipped Cream 


  • 1 C heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar (confectioners)
  • 3-4 tsp limoncello


  1. Using a stand mixer or hand blender with whisk attachment, whip cream on high speed until stiff peaks are formed. 
  2. Lower speed to medium and add in sugar, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. 
  3. When sugar is incorporated, add in your limoncello, one tsp at a time to desired flavor.
  4. Serve immediately, or save in a covered container in the refrigerator until ready for use. 

More for pie-enthusiasts on my Pinterest Board, 3.14

Julia’s Brioche

A few weeks ago, when I was making my kids Croque Monsieur for dinner I picked up some store-bought brioche. Delicious, but a touch expensive, but definitely a delicious treat!

I hadn’t made brioche since culinary school many moons ago, so I decided to give it a go. Naturally, I immediately reached for my copy of Baking with Julia.

Julia was apparently one of my early role-models, my mom tells stories of me “cooking” on my grandma’s front steps as a preschooler. I’m going to have to get her to find a photo of that. Julia is the inspiration for the pegboard wall in my kitchen that you may have seen in the background of some of my photos. Hanging in my dining room, is this print, that I received for Christmas last year.

If you are short on time, brioche is definitely not the bread for you to bake. You will need a total of about 12 hours of rising time to make this bread properly. Here’s the recipe I used, adapted from a Julia’s recipe:

Julia’s Brioche

makes 3 loaves

First you will need to make The Sponge. I think of this as a warm-up for the yeast to all the rising it will be doing during this recipe.


  • 1/3 C warm milk
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 C all-purpose flour


  1. In the bowl of your KitchenAid, combine milk, yeast, egg, and 1 C of the flour.
  2. Mix ingredients with a rubber spatula until combined.
  3. Sprinkle the other 1 C of flour over the mixture, covering it completely.
  4. Set The Sponge aside to rest, uncovered, for about 30 mins.
  5. After a few mins the flour topping will start to crack, that’s how you know thing are going as they should.


Here’s my sponge volcano starting to crack…

Once The Sponge has finished his initial rise, you can start to make him into The Dough. 


  • 1/3 C granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 oz) unsalted butter, at room temp


  1. Add sugar, eggs, and 1 C of the flour to  The Sponge. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until ingredients begin to come together.
  2. Add 1/2 C more flour; when flour is incorporated, increase speed to medium and mix for about 15 mins. Scrape down bowl and dough hook as needed.
  3. During the 15 min mix, dough will come together, wrap around the hook, and begin to “slap” the sides of the bowl. This is what Julia says. I laughed when I read it, but sure enough, about 10 mins in: slap slap slap rhythmically on the bowl!
  4. With the mixer on medium-low, begin to add the butter, a tbsp at a time.
  5. When all the butter has been added, turn speed up to medium and mix for about 5 mins. Scraping bowl and dough hook as needed.
  6. Your finished dough should be cool, soft, and a bit sticky.
  7. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm place for about 2 hours. During this time the dough will double in size.

    before first rise

  8. After 2 hours, deflate the dough by lifting & dropping the sides gently. Cover and refrigerate the dough overnight. It will continue to rise, and may double in size again.

    after refrigeration

  9. After the dough is refrigerated, you can freeze it for later use or shape it into some loaves immediately.

Proofing and Baking:

Fun fact: There are 2 kinds of brioche loaves. One is called a tête (French for head) and is baked in a special pan. The other is called a Nanterre, and is more of a traditional loaf. Since I don’t have a special brioche pan (Santa, are you listening?) I went with a Nanterre. 


  • 1 recipe brioche dough (see above)
  • 1 large egg, beaten with a tbsp of cold water for egg wash


  1. Butter 3 loaf pans, set aside.
  2. Divide the dough into thirds. Each of the thirds will become a loaf of brioche.
  3. Divide each third into 6 equal pieces, and roll into balls.
  4. Place the balls in loaf pan side-by-side in three short rows of 2. Repeat with remaining dough & pans.

    2 regular-sized pans, 1 mini

  5. Cover the pans with plastic  wrap sprayed with cooking spray and allow to rise at room temp for 2 hours or until double in size.

    after the rise

  6. Preheat the oven to 375F
  7. Lightly brush loaves with egg wash.
  8. Using a sharp pairing knife, cut a small cross into the top of each dough ball.
  9. Bake for about 30 mins until browned. If the loaves are browning too fast, you can cover them loosely with aluminum foil.
  10. Carefully remove from pans & cool on a rack.
  11. Put loaves in freezer bags & refrigerate ir freeze until ready for use. Slice as needed, as slices will go stale quickly.
  12. Use for sandwiches, French toast, or bread pudding!

Apple Cake Update!!

I stand corrected. The apple cake recipe I published a few weeks ago is similar to, but not the same as my late Aunt Doris’ recipe. It is a dense cake with a sweet apple topping, but this cake is much bigger and will definitely feed a crowd. There’s less oooey-gooey, cinnamony goodness in the topping; although you could make that topping and put it on this cake…


Without further ado, here’s Aunt Doris’ cake, recipe via my Aunt Helen, Doris’ daughter.

Aunt Doris’ Legendary Apple Cake (the real one)


For the cake:

  • 3 pounds (about 4) apples, peeled & cut into wedges (I used Fujis since they were on sale.)
  • 1C shortening
  • 1C granulated sugar
  • 1 1/3 C milk
  • 3 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the topping:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • a few sprinkles of cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Peel & cut apples into wedges.
  3. Cream shortening & sugar until well combined.
  4. Add milk, egg, & vanilla.
  5. Folk in flour, baking soda, and salt.
  6. Spread in an 11″X17″ pan.
  7. Put apples in the dough, overlapping slightly, and pressing down gently.
  8. Make the topping. Sprinkle the top of the cake with 1 tbsp of granulated sugar, put pats of butter across the top of the cake, then sprinkle with 1 tbsp of sugar & a sprinkle of cinnamon.
  9. Bake at 350F for 30-40 mins or until edges turn golden brown.
  10. Best when served hot!

A Morbid Cake

While recently perusing Pinterest for recipes involving chestnuts, I ran across a few recipes for Torta Morbida al Cioccolato e Castagne. Too perfect! I thought. Halloween is right around the corner! I can make this dark, morbid cake AND use a bunch of the chestnuts in my freezer! Imagine my surprise & disappointment when I found out that a Torta Morbida is a “soft cake”.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.54.05 AM

via Google Translate

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.54.35 AM

via Google Translate

Alas, it was a still a delicious cake. Nearly flourless, very rich, and SO SOFT! Molto morbida indeed!

Torta Morbida al Cioccolato e Castagne

(soft cake of chocolate and chestnuts)

makes a 9 inch round cake


  • 1 C roasted, shelled and skinned chestnuts
  • 1 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of Kosher salt
  • 11 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 12 oz semisweet chocolate
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour (GF flour of your choice could be easily used here, if desired.)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-1/2-inch deep fluted tart pan with a removable bottom or a springform pan. **Hint: I highly recommend the use of a springform pan here if at all possible. This is a very soft cake that will not withstand being turned out from a non-springform pan very well.
  2. Place chestnuts, 3/4 C of the sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large saucepan and cover with about 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer covered for about 45 mins. Remove from heat and let chestnuts cool in syrup, then drain. **HINT: Do not stir chestnuts while they are in the hot syrup, as they will break. Still delicious, but much less attractive in your cake.
  3. Melt the chocolate in a metal bowl set on top of a pot of simmering water. For ease, I recommend that you use chips or morsels if possible.
  4. Add remaining 3/4 cup sugar and butter, stirring until smooth. Remove bowl from heat and whisk mixture until cooled to lukewarm. This will take about 5-8mins. Whisk in egg yolks and flour.
  5. Beat egg whites until stiff. Gently fold whites into batter half at a time. **Hint: My preferred method for beating egg whites most effectively is my hand blender fitted with a whip attachment.  


    “Whip it! Whip it good!”

  6. Pour batter into greased pan. Gently lay chestnuts on top of batter and poke them in gently.
  7. Bake for about 40 mins or until the edges of the cake have formed a crust. Cool cake in pan on rack for 5 mins, then release from pan and let it cool completely.

My Favorite Apple Cake

This recipe is apparently quite old, appearing in both my 1943 & 2006 editions of The Joy of Cooking. My late Aunt Doris used to make this cake for family gatherings, and to date, I don’t believe that anyone in the family has been able to make it taste quite the same as she did.


Note: this is a dense cake, not a fluffy one, and when you make the batter you will wonder if you have enough to spread across the pan. Trust me, you will. Also, trust that you will want to make two of these cakes, because they will disappear quickly!

Aunt Doris’ Apple Cake


  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 tbsp cold, for the batter, 3 tbsp melted, for the topping)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • about 2 tbsp milk
  • 4 C sliced peeled apples (I prefer to use a slightly sweeter Jonathan rather than a Granny Smith.)
  • 1 C packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Grease 8″ or 9″ round pan and set aside.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt into a medium bowl. (You will want some room in the bowl for when you work in the butter.)
  3. Using a pastry blender, 2 forks, or best of all your hands, add 1 1/2 tbsp of the butter to the dry ingredients a little at a time. When combined, the mixture should resemble coarse cornmeal.
  4. In a glass measuring cup, combine egg and vanilla. Add milk until mixture is measures 1/2 C.
  5. Stir the egg mixture into the flour/butter mixture to form a stiff dough.
  6. Spread dough into prepared pan evenly using a rubber spatula or your hands. (This is a very hands-on recipe. See what I did there?)
  7. Arrange apples atop the dough in a decorative manner, overlapping them slightly.
  8. Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and remaining 3 tbsp butter (melted). Sprinkle over fruit and the top of the cake.
  9. Bake for about 25 mins, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Finnish Pulla Bread with Cinnamon & Cardamom

This recipe is the Scandinavian version of a cinnamon roll. But better. Not as sickeningly sweet as their Amercian counterparts, the dough is yeasty & just slightly sweet, the filling is flavorful and not excessive, and they are delicious without any type of gooey white icing on top. If you would like, you can top with crushed cardamom seeds or almonds after the egg wash. Completely by accident, I made these the same night I made chili for my kids for dinner. Chili & cinnamon rolls are some sort of weird Midwestern combo that I have never understood. Possibly a native Midwesterner can explain it to me?

A side note: cardamom is awesome & a cornerstone of the Nordic flavor profile. It is expensive, but a little goes a long way. I would recommend *not* buying the pods if possible. Use seeds or ground seeds. I had the pods leftover from when I made spiced rum & it was extremely time-consuming & labor-intensive to open a pile of pods & remove the seeds from within.


As I was taking the seeds out of the cardamom pods, I was reminded of this passage from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. #nerdalert

Pulla Bread with Cinnamon & Cardamom

makes 16 large rolls


for the dough:

  • 4 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 2C warmed milk (2% or whole is best)
  • 7C all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2C granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp cardamom seeds
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

for the filling:

  • 18 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1C granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground cardamom
  • 1 large egg, beaten (for egg wash)
  • slivered almonds, or crushed cardamom seeds, for garnish (if desired)


  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Warm the milk in the microwave. As with any liquid you are adding yeast to, you will need it to be warm, not hot. In my microwave, it took about 1 min.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together warm milk and yeast. Set aside for at least 5 mins, or until frothy.
  4. In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the flour, sugar, cardamom and salt to the yeast mixture. Stir until combined.
  5. Add the butter, a tbsp at a time, waiting for each addition to combine before adding the next.
  6. Knead for 6-8 mins, until dough is elastic & slightly sticky.
  7. Put the dough in a larger bowl that is oiled or buttered (here I recommend either butter or cooking spray), cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour.
  8. Meanwhile, prep the filling: combine the butter, granulated sugar, cinnamon and cardamom in a small bowl and mix with a rubber spatula until combined.
  9. Lightly dust your work surface with about 2 tbsp of flour. Turn the risen dough out and divide in 2 (I found that this was alot of dough to work with at once).
  10. With a rolling pin, roll it out to about 1/2″ thick. Ideally, the shape of the dough should be as close to rectangular as possible, but don’t worry if your dough is slightly rounded at the edges.
  11. Spread half the filling evenly over the dough, reaching all the way to the edges, then, beginning with a long side, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Cut the cylinder into 8 rolls.
  12. Repeat the above process with the other half of the dough.
  13. On two baking sheets with parchment paper arrange eight Pulla on each sheet, making sure they are about 2 inches apart. Cover Pulla with plastic wrap and allow them to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour. They will double in size. (Hence the spacing.)
  14. Brush the pulla with the beaten egg and sprinkle with cardamom seeds or slivered almonds, if desired.
  15. Bake for 10 mins or until golden brown. Serve warm with a cup of strong coffee.

    adapted from a recipe from