Pumpkin takes the cake! (plus, my Baked adventure)

Happy Baked Birthday to me!

Happy Sunday morning and a belated Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

I typically begin my weekly blog mid-way through the week, putting the finishing touches to it, adding the photos, and posting on Sunday when it’s ‘due’.  Well… as you can tell from the above photo, as well as my short blog previous to this, I’ve been rather busy – all with rather exciting Baked-centric things – so I am writing this blog on the fly at 9 a.m. today – Sunday morning!

Before I elaborate further on the photo above (I’m sure you’re all dying to know), I wanted to jump into this week’s recipe and share my thoughts on it.  I’m a huge pumpkin fan, as you all know by now, and this week’s recipe – the Pumpkin Almond Cake with Almond Butter Frosting – caught my eye immediately when I first paged through Baked Elements.  I traditionally make my own birthday cake – usually a yummy pumpkin layer cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting from an older copy of Everyday Food magazine.  However, as I celebrated my birthday last Monday in NYC (and at Baked!  Yay! …oops, jumping ahead again!), I wasn’t able to bake my cake this year, and making this one for Thanksgiving seemed an apt substitute.  I also scrapped the notion of making an apple or pumpkin pie in favor of using this recipe for our mini-Thanksgiving celebration on Friday after arriving back in Milwaukee on Thursday.

This is a fairly simple cake to mix together for company – or, if you’re a pumpkin fanatic like yours truly, maybe to satiate that craving you occasionally may have for anything spicy and  pumpkin.  A wonderful blend of fall spices are sifted together with flour and almond flour (I used the almond meal at Trader Joe’s – fairly cheap and perfect for this recipe), which are then gradually added, with buttermilk, to a creamed mixture of butter, sugar, brown sugar, pumpkin, and eggs.  Once all ingredients are fairly well-incorporated, the cake is baked in a standard 9-inch cake pan.  I could easily see this being made as a two-layer cake, but it could be rather ‘heavy’ with the addition of the almond meal.

One of the best things about pumpkin is that it is a sturdy enough ‘workhorse’ of an ingredient which keeps baked goods dense and moist, but not too fragile.  Faced with the dilemma of getting this cake made before our trip, I thankfully was able to freeze it for a week, and it held together extremely well.  All that remained was for me to whip up the almond butter frosting in my food processor.  I used whole milk instead of the almond milk listed in the frosting recipe – I’m usually pretty faithful to every word and suggestion the Baked boys make, but I really couldn’t see the point of buying a huge container of almond milk for a couple of tablespoons.  Vanilla bean paste is also recommended for the frosting, but nowhere in the recipe is it mentioned where to add it.  Though vanilla bean paste is on my list of unique ingredients to ‘someday’ acquire, I currently have none, so I just followed my instinct and added a small splash of regular vanilla extract to the ingredients before whizzing it all up.  I liked the frosting on the thicker side, and so opted for adding just a touch more milk to keep it spreadable before turning it out onto the top of the cake.

The cake was nothing short of wonderful.  The pumpkin cake was dense, moist and nutty with the flecks of almond meal, and the almond butter frosting was deliciously gooey and not too sweet (I only added the 1-1/4 cup of confectioners’ sugar).  It was a terrific and pleasing substitution to pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving – should you ever want to shake things up in your family tradition – and best of all, as I mentioned before, it was incredibly easy to put together.  I wasn’t too sure about the pairing of pumpkin with almond, but one taste of this cake banished my skepticism.  I still favor a cream cheese frosting with pumpkin, but the almond butter frosting was a fun and tasty diversion, complementing the almond baked into the cake.  The only downside to the frosting on this cake was that I found it didn’t hold up well.  It became a little bit runny after a day or two, and slid, rather unattractively, off the cut cake.  It’s still delicious, however, so do not be deterred by this!

Can’t get enough pumpkin this fall?  Try this cake: http://bakedsundaymornings.com/2012/11/19/in-the-oven-pumpkin-almond-cake-with-almond-butter-frosting/. And be sure to visit the pages of my fellow bakers and see how they fared.  Trust me, brewing a pot of coffee and reading through all of our blogs every Sunday morning will have you itching to bake in no time!

Okay – the moment you (possibly) all been waiting for: my visit to Baked.  Let me preface this by saying that I will attempt to keep my story short, though my excitement may have me ranting like a giddy child!  I’ll actually begin with the previous Thursday, before we headed out to NYC.

On that Thursday, I had the great pleasure of driving, with my sister Donna, to the somewhat quaint little town of Woodstock, Illinois (many of you may recognize it as the filming site for the movie, Groundhog Day) to see our Baked Sunday Morning ‘heroes’, Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, talk about “how NOT to open a bakery” at Woodstock’s famed opera house.  It was a wonderful presentation, and onstage the guys were just as congenial and fun as I always imagined them to be.  They discussed how Baked came about – all of the struggles, roadblocks, financial woes, and yes – eventual joys and rewards that came along the way.  Afterwards, a table was set up in a side room for the guys to sign their cookbooks, and I was thrilled to be about 8th in line to have my Baked Elements book signed – and most importantly, finally meet Matt and Renato.

Well, when they saw me, it was such an awesome feeling – they knew right away who I was and were welcoming and super-friendly.  I couldn’t have asked for more graciousness.  I have always said that they feel like baking brothers to me, and when I finally got the chance to meet them, this feeling was solidified.  They let me have my picture taken with them (they invited me to sit right with them behind the table for it!) and we chatted about the cheese grits BSM was making that week!  I could have sat and talked with them for hours, but there was a line behind me, so my sister and I sadly had to leave – however, I was told by Matt that he would be at Baked on Monday – my birthday – when I would make the trip out to NYC.  I felt like I had just met two major celebrities (at least, to me), so the prospect of chatting with one of them again in a few days was something you can imagine I looked very forward to – and at Baked, nonetheless!

My boyfriend Jake and I started the trip out terrifically – we enjoyed some wonderful time wining, dining, and touring with some of Jake’s friends in NYC.  When Monday and my birthday rolled around, we made the trek out to Baked in Red Hook.  And by ‘trek’, I mean just that – it’s out there!  We ended up getting off the subway, then walking several blocks through several neighborhoods before we entered Red Hook, which I was surprised to notice was quite an industrial part of town, with lots of warehouses and such.  There were still sad traces of Hurricane Sandy devastation, though clean-up efforts were certainly in full-swing.  It was a very sobering sight.

As we turned onto Van Brunt street, like a little kid, I kept pestering Jake – who had visited Baked before – ‘are we almost there?  Are we almost there?”.  It was several blocks before the unmistakable brown awning and orange door with round windows came into sight.  Thrilled, I opened the door and was HOME.  Baked was everything I imagined and more.  Warm, cozy, and quaint – but also very masculine in style and overall effect.  My mouth was watering just looking at all of the delicious treats in the bakery case, and I began to decide upon which desserts I would have to sample (namely, ones I had never made and did not have the recipe for).

Matt was also there! He came out to very warmly welcome us to Baked and wish me a Happy Birthday, and after giving us a little bag of cookies and marshmallows, we sat with him over coffee and sampled a piece of the outstanding wintermint cake.  It was a fabulous, dense, dark chocolate cake with thin layers of chocolate ganache and a light mint buttercream; perfect for the holidays.  We talked with Matt for nearly 45 minutes about baking and must-see places and restaurants to visit in NYC (we eventually took Matt up on a few of his suggestions).  It was such a fun time actually sitting there, across from a baker I big-time look up to, chatting as if we were old friends – I cherished every moment, before Matt finally had to take his leave for the day.

We hung around Baked for a while longer – I got some more coffee and tried a coffee crisp bar (yummy), and purchased a chocolate cloud cookie and salted caramel bar to go.  Reluctantly, we got up to go as the outside light was beginning to dim, and I wanted to have my photo taken outside Baked before it was dark.  As we were taking the photos, a man’s voice came from behind us, jokingly saying, “Hey! You can’t take photos here!”  It was Renato!  He had been running errands throughout the day for Baked, and was happy he was able to catch Jake and I before we headed back into the city.  Needless to say, I left Baked with a spring in my step (oh brother! Sorry – I can’t find better words to express it!) and a tremendous amount of warmth in my heart for such incredible and kind generosity.  I feel a strong kinship with not only Matt and Renato, but also Baked as a whole – and as corny as it sounds, I definitely feel at home there.  This feeling was only intensified by my visit, and it was a Happy Birthday indeed.  I already miss it – and NYC – deeply and am counting the days until I am back.

Thank you for indulging me by letting me shared my Baked story. I wish all of you Baked fans out there the same opportunity in time.  If you have the chance to visit Baked, DO IT.  You will not be disappointed.  They’ve got some pretty terrific things bakin’ out there in Red Hook – and they deserve all of their success.  I’m very proud of these guys, and humbled and honored to call them friends.

Until next time, dear readers and friends… bake on!



Just because.  :-)

Met Matt and Renato of Baked today, in Woodstock, Illinois.  Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful…

Kiss my cheesy grits!

I’m thankful in many ways that, the older we all get, our tastes change.  I’ve come to appreciate so many great and interesting foods that – when I was a kid – I would immediately turn my nose up at or, having tried the ‘offensive’ food, dismissed it as disgusting with one little bite.  I think to children, certain foods come with an unfortunate kind of stigma attached to them – like broccoli or cabbage.  Surprisingly, I’m a more picky eater now as an adult, but I have added a few foods to my eating repertoire which, as a kid, I wasn’t especially fond of.

When I was younger, my mother always seemed to be the somewhat adventurous eater in the family.  She thinks chicken livers are amazing.  She and my grandparents would have special dinner nights together where they bonded over liver and onions.  She was a great cook and had dinner on the table every night for us, for which I am extremely grateful – except for those nights we had baked spaghetti (trust me, it’s not as good as it sounds), chewy cube steaks (don’t ask), tuna noodle casserole with potato chips scattered across the top (how 1960’s-70’s of her), or creamed chipped beef on toast (Depression-era food, anyone?).  Yikes.  Pretty much anything considered somewhat or distinctly gross – my mom had tried it and probably liked it.  My older sisters and I would wrinkle our noses and utter a sharp “ewww!” whenever my family would go to a diner-style restaurant and my mom would order GRITS.

Which brings me to this week’s Baked Sunday Mornings recipe – and a savory one here on Neufangled Desserts:  the Baked Cheese Grits from Baked Explorations.  Frankly, while I never enjoyed grits as a child, I did like farina – better known as cream-of-wheat – and when I finally tried grits, I really didn’t find them half bad.  They basically seem like a (forgive me) grittier version of cream-of-wheat; there’s a tiny bit more chew to them, but they still maintain a luscious creaminess if cooked properly.  Grits are especially delicious served as a piping hot, creamy bed to some tasty shrimp at a Cajun-themed restaurant (you really can’t beat shrimp and grits).  We have a restaurant here in Milwaukee where the shrimp and grits are truly a MUST-ORDER (shout out to Maxie’s Southern Comfort!  Check them out: http://maxies.com/milwaukee/index.html).

There isn’t too much to making grits.  Make sure that you buy stone-ground grits – I used the white corn grits from Trader Joe’s.  Those icky, instant/quick-cook kind from Quaker are not the ones you want for this recipe.  Combine the grits with some water and milk in a saucepan, gently heating it to a boil, then simmer – and most importantly, stirring it constantly so the grits do not cook to the bottom of the pan – until they’re nice and thick, but not dry-thick.

Now here’s the tasty, fun part: Baked amps these grits up with the addition of shredded Monterey Jack and extra sharp Cheddar cheeses, first stirred in, then sprinkled on top and broiled under the broiler of your oven.  Voila!  Bubbly, cheesy goodness.  They’re wonderful and quite filling on their own, or you can serve them with your favorite protein (a fellow Baked Sunday Mornings blogger, who has become a good friend of mine thanks to Facebook, mentioned that she served her grits with sausage and biscuits.  Sounds great!).

I’m a huge fan of comfort foods like macaroni and cheese, really well-made mashed potatoes, or a baked potato…and I think I would have to now toss these grits into this fond company.  This recipe is perfect for a windy, snowy night, as the entire process of standing by the stove and stirring the grits is calming and therapeutic.  Burrow down with a blanket and a helping of these for the night, in front of the TV – and you’re set.  I loved the typical juxtaposition of chewy and creamy with these grits, with the sharp flavors of the cheese coming through in each bite.  If you’re like me, you’ll really let that cheese on top brown to a nice, almost crispy golden hue, so that when you scoop into the grits, it’s almost as satisfying as breaking the crunchy, caramelized layer on top of a creme brûlée.  And – I’m pretty sure my mother would LOVE these grits.  Maybe not as much as those chicken livers…

If you’re of the persuasion that grits are just plain ewwwww, I suggest you be adventurous and give these a try: http://bakedsundaymornings.com/2012/11/12/in-the-oven-baked-cheese-grits. You can always pile on more cheese if you need to… and who doesn’t like cheese?  Wait…maybe I should rephrase that… limburger cheese?  Ewwww.  Goat cheese?  Waxy and gross!…(Haha!)

The quest for my inner-Little Brownie Baker

So – Girl Scout Cookies.  What are your favorites?  What are the must-haves you buy up to 3 boxes of? These are the fun questions to ponder while tackling this week’s Baked Sunday Mornings selection: Caramel Coconut Cluster Bars from Baked Elements, which are – in essence – a tribute to a much-loved Girl Scout cookie.

The inspiration for these delectable treats stems from Renato Poliafito’s adoration of the Girl Scout cookies formerly known as Samoas – better known as Caramel deLites nowadays, though they may have changed their moniker yet again. When it comes to Girl Scout cookies, I’m more of a Thanks-a-Lot, Tagalong or (good old-fashioned) Trefoil kinda guy. I feel that Thin Mints have grown tiresome – those ‘little Brownie bakers’ drastically revamped their recipe for Thin Mints over the years, rendering them vaguely blah.

Frankly, I was never one for Samoas, largely because I was not a fan of coconut – and still, really, am not, though I’m coming slowly around to it.  I know I’m not alone in finding plain coconut’s texture a little repulsive – much like clipped fingernails.  My sister has expressed the same disgust.  That, coupled with the taste, has always been enough to trigger that good old gag reflex, which just makes me feel sick overall (see my prior posts regarding my distaste of nuts)!

The slight turning point came when I was introduced to a wonderful little truffle by the Fanny Farmer candy company intriguingly called the Trinidad: a deep, dark chocolate truffle center, coated in white chocolate with bits of toasted coconut that provided just the right bit of yummy crunch.  Since that day, I’m enjoyed toasted coconut in particular as almost a thing of heaven.  I’ve even made a toasted coconut creme brulee that was to die for.  I was delighted to give Renato’s recipe a try this week.  I shunned Samoas when I was younger, but perhaps now I could finally appreciate all the sweet, rich goodness they had to offer.

It’s important to know, first off, that this is a rather involved recipe that bears some reading through first.  You’re going to be working with a rather delicate shortbread cookie crust and a heavily bubbling pot of caramel again.  I found the recipe not too difficult to work through, but am glad I read it over first and had many of my ingredients at the ready.  That being said, while my first attempt at this recipe was not a complete flop, I endured a few trials.

While it’s frequently true that I take most of what the Baked guys write as gospel baking truth, I cannot stress this enough:  you’ll probably want to disregard what the recipe suggests about refrigerating these bars.  Don’t do it.  Leave them at room temperature.  Mine were absolute jawbreakers coming out of the fridge, and when I went to cut into them, I risked cutting myself pretty badly with the large chef’s knife I was using.  I ended up cutting them – as safely as I could – into as many smaller chunks as I could, then actually microwaving the smaller pieces for a few seconds to soften the hard caramel.  This made them easier to cut.

Dipping the bottoms of the bars into the melted chocolate posed a bit of a dilemma, as the shortbread cookie fell off in pieces several times and the excessive scads of toasted coconut on top also came loose – all into the melted chocolate.  As a result, when I got near the end of dipping the bars, the chocolate was a gritty mess, what with all the coconut and cookie crumbs that had fallen into it.  A bit of a mess, yes, but I tried not to let it it get to me too much.  Aesthetically, it may not seem too pleasing, but when you think of it – it’s all going into the same ‘package’.

To decorate the top of the bars, instead of the suggested method of drizzling melted chocolate from a plastic bag, I dipped a whisk into a second small batch of melted chocolate and, with quick, sweeping motions, went all ‘Jackson Pollock’ over the bars.  I like the slap-dash, artistic touch this method of design makes even more (though it does make a slight mess of your countertop!).

When I went to carefully remove a few of the cooled bars from the waxed paper on which I set them to dry, the chocolate came loose from the cookie base (pretty much negating the entire point of dipping the bottoms into the chocolate in the first place). If you opt to do the same, carefully slide a thin metal spatula under the bars to loosen them – chocolate bottom and all – from the paper.

I found these treats to be almost more like a candy bar than a standard cookie.  I enjoyed the overall flavor, though they are on the intensely rich side, so cutting them into smaller bites may be a reasonable option.  The caramel is a wonderful complement to the warm, toasty coconut – and vice versa.  The dark chocolate, surprisingly, tempers and cuts through over the overall sweetness and rounds out the flavors.  I did find that the coconut-caramel layer was a trial on the jaw – rather the consistency of a very chewy caramel candy (my oversight, I’m sure – I think I took the caramel a little far while cooking it – see my suggestion below).  Storing these bars in an airtight container at room temperature seems to be the best, keeping the bars chewier and slightly softer.

While I admire the creative concept of these bars, I confess that they frustrated me sufficiently at points to keep my distance from making them again for a while.  If and when I do, here are a few changes I might make:

1.  I would halve the recipe for the caramel layer.  (I know, I know… can there ever be ‘too much’ caramel?  Apparently, yes.) While this coconut-caramel in particular is pretty scrumptious, it also seemed a touch too thick.  I admit that I was initially a little frightened when I read that there was a entire cup of corn syrup (eeek) in this caramel as a base ingredient – yikes.  Cutting that down to 1/2 cup to begin with might serve to assuage some like-minded fears and panic.  Consequently, I would adjust the amount of coconut down to one cup to be added to the halved caramel mixture.

2.  I would only boil the caramel mixture to about 230-235 degrees Fahrenheit.  I feel that pushing the caramel to 240-245 made it borderline hard-ball candy stage, hence the caramel firming up a little too much.  You should always use your sight and smell judgment when making a caramel – it’s good to have that trusty candy thermometer, yes, but I often find they can read ‘iffy’ and shouldn’t be relied upon too much. Unfortunately, this is a tough one to go on sight with – the recipe suggests you watch for the caramel to turn an amber hue, but with brown sugar in the mixture, it’s pretty much already close in color to amber, so it’s very deceiving.  While you should barely stir a caramel while it’s boiling, I often insert a wood spoon, give it a tiny stir, then take it out and let it cool for a minute or two to check the consistency.

3.  After spreading the caramel onto the cookie base, I would sprinkle maybe half a cup of toasted coconut on top, rather than a cup.  The cup-worth seemed like far too much, and it’s nice to see the warm, brown tones of the caramel peeking through the coconut.

4. I would make a suggestion for bettering the shortbread crust, but I can’t think of it… so I guess this #4 is a moot point.  The dough for the cookie crust seemed fine, though I did have to dust it generously with flour when patting it evenly into the pan prior to baking.  And while cutting the bars up, it shattered into pieces in several spots.  A little frustrating, but honestly, the flakiness and delicacy of the buttery crust is an essential for this recipe, so I don’t know how else one could tweak it to make it sturdier for cutting and then dipping in the chocolate.  Maybe it would be better to paint the chocolate on with an offset spatula or pastry brush?

Good luck!  If you – like Renato – are a Samoa fan, you might want to be a little adventurous in the kitchen and give these a whirl.  If you try my suggestions, let me know how you fared.  Here’s the recipe:  http://bakedsundaymornings.com/2012/11/06/in-the-oven-caramel-coconut-cluster-bars/, and please check out the other bakers’ blogs.

One last note: I will be on vacation in New York City November 16th through the 22nd (Thanksgiving), so chances are I may not be posting next Sunday morning (the recipe is Baked Cheese Grits from Baked Explorations).  I may give the recipe a try for dinner this week, and I’ll see if I can crank out a blog which I can post remotely while in NYC.  I’m posting this note now, as a disclaimer, in case I don’t get to it!

And… oh yeah, I might mention two important things:  I will be seeing Matt and Renato do a presentation in Woodstock, Illinois this Thursday, November 15th – and after that, when I head to NYC, I will actually be AT Baked… on my birthday, November 19th!  Cannot wait.  You can definitely expect a blog on my entire Baked experience when I get back – with photos and everything.  I will do my best to post on Facebook while I am there, so you may want to “like” my Neufangled Desserts page to keep up to date!

If you do not hear from me, I wish you all, dear readers, a very Happy Thanksgiving!  This is the holiday of FOOD and treasured family time together – enjoy and savor every delicious moment of it!

(Gr)easy as pie

I suppose it was finally time for me to clean out my stove.  This week’s Baked Sunday Mornings selection, Buttermilk Pie (with a Hint of Maple Syrup), from Baked Explorations, provided me with no other choice than to do just that – or risk an inevitable oven fire!

Buttermilk pie starts out fairly easy.  Make a half batch of Baked’s simple pie dough (you only need enough for a single-crust pie).  Roll your pie dough out – you want to refrigerate it until well-chilled, for about an hour – fit it to your pan, cut off the excess, tuck the ends under and crimp, and keep it in the freezer while stirring together your filling ingredients.  Mix eggs, brown sugar and granulated sugar, flour, buttermilk, melted butter, and maple syrup together in a bowl.  When you’re ready to bake the pie, take the crust out of the freezer, pour in your filling, and bake.  ‘Easy as pie’, right?

My main error with the pie filling, which I sensed from the very start, was that I added the cooled, melted butter to the other ingredients while they were still fairly cold.  You can probably guess what happened:  the butter, when it hit the cold buttermilk mixture, immediately congealed back into solid clumps in the custard filling, and I feared that – while baking – the butter would not melt and combine harmoniously with the other ingredients.  Sadly, I was right.

When I removed the pie from the oven, I found – to my dismay – that the top was basically a pool of bubbling grease/butter that, even after an hour baking, had simply refused to absorb into the custard filling.  To add insult to injury, the all-butter pie crust just seemed to add even more of a greasy mess to the pie.  In an attempt to salvage what I could, I quickly grabbed a bunch of paper towels and napkins and gently pressed them on top of the pie and into the crevices along the edges by the crust to sop the excess grease up, and it seemed to work.  As I feel that scent is a huge precursor to taste, I bent down to inhale the scent of the pie and – wow – it smelled just like buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup (perhaps no big surprise)!  I think “Pancake Pie” would be a cute alternative name for this warming, comfy custard pie.

Unfortunately, I may have saved my buttermilk pie, but the bottom of my oven was swimming with grease!  A thorough stove cleaning was in order – luckily for me, I have a self-cleaning oven, but I first set to work on mopping up as much grease as I could to avoid a potential fire in the bargain!

Now, I’m going on the assumption that most of you bakers reading this are a hell of a lot smarter than I am and won’t have this happen to you when making this pie.  However, to give you the long and short of it – if you tackle this recipe, make sure that:

A) Your eggs and buttermilk are at room temperature, or at least a close enough temperature to your cooled, melted butter, so that when you whisk all of your ingredients together, you obtain a nice homogenous mixture for your filling.

B) As a precaution, bake your pie on a foil-lined cookie sheet.  This will prevent any potential excess grease from the crust or filling from spilling over and making your oven a complete, greasy mess.  Trust me – the pie smells yummy when it’s pulled out of the oven, but that obnoxious burning grease smell that lingers in the air afterwards does not.

I was happy this pie came around when it did in the Baked Sunday Mornings schedule, as I just happened to have some buttermilk in the fridge, waiting to be used up.  While I enjoy the inclusion of buttermilk as an ingredient in baked goods, I was skeptical of a pie built around it.  I needn’t have been.  The taste of this pie is wonderfully subtle and sublime.  The buttermilk provides the right tang to the flavor, but doesn’t overpower the pie as a whole.  Though the title of the recipe suggests a ‘hint’ of maple, the maple syrup really punches through on the first bite.  While buttermilk pie has its origins in Texas, the maple twist on Baked’s recipe had me thinking of autumn in New England or Canada.  The custard is smooth and its texture analogous to that of a pumpkin pie.  They weren’t kidding in Baked Explorations when they said this pie would win no beauty pageants – it’s a very plain pie, indeed – but don’t be fooled by appearances.  I almost want to liken it to mashed potatoes – very, very humble, nondescript, and almost completely white or pale in appearance, but delicious and comforting to taste.  I would be curious to see this pie made as a tart – it has a sleekness all its own when you cut and serve a slice on a dessert plate… with a garnish of candied bacon, perhaps?  Chic, indeed.

On the downside, I did find that the bottom crust was a touch soggy and under-baked, possibly due to 2 things:  1) according to the recipe, you just pour the filling into the unbaked shell and bake the whole thing, and 2) that crust was certainly soaking up a lot of the extra butter and grease while it was baking.  I’m not sure if pre-baking the crust a touch, sans filling (with some pie weights), would make a huge difference or not.  It didn’t take away from my overall happy experience with eating the pie, but I did feel it could have been a bit flakier or drier than it was.

Was it worth the greasy disaster?  I’d say it was.  I tried a new recipe I wouldn’t have given a second thought to, otherwise… and got a cleaner stove in the bargain.

The recipe: http://bakedsundaymornings.com/2012/10/29/in-the-oven-buttermilk-pie-with-a-hint-of-maple-syrup/