When I attended that amazing food blogger picnic two summers ago (where I met Lindsey and a handful of other bloggers), I only had a vague sense of who would be attending based on my email chain. Someone made a comment about Yossy showing up later on and my ears perked up – “Yossy?” I asked. “As in Apt. 2B Baking Co. Yossy?!” (How many Yossys do YOU know? It seemed like the most logical option.) And I was right, of course. I was not a seasoned blogger (I hadn’t even been blogging for a year yet at that point), so the fact that I was there with some people I would call heavy-hitters already seemed preposterous, and then I found out Yossy would be there – Another big-hitter. If I was a Phillies fan or some other kind of sports fan, this for me was like meeting the Phillies, ya know? Aka I was nerding out HARD.
So Yossy showed up with a flawless pie in tow, which was not surprising in the slightest. She was, of course, extremely humble, sweet and quiet, especially compared to my nervous babbling self. At one point she softly mentioned she was working on a cookbook, and my ears perked up again. In my brain I was going “YYAASSSSSS!!!” It made me so happy to know that her gorgeous images and delicious recipes would be in print. I obviously love food blogs, but there’s something about cookbooks that really makes my heart go pitter-patter. I just love having that object to hold and feel the weight and texture of the paper, flipping through it just to see where you end up.
Roughly two years later her book, “Sweeter Off the Vine: Fruit Desserts for Every Season,” arrived on my doorstep, and it’s every bit as beautiful as I had hoped for. When it came time to decide what to make from it for this blog post, my immediate thought was pie. Robert and I still talk about her pie we enjoyed that day at the picnic, and just in general I tend to think of pie when I think of Yossy. So pie it was.
I had made her caramel pear pie shortly after receiving the book (and loved it), so I was drawn to make my own interpretation of it. I’ve been having a moment with nectarines for the past few summers, so I wanted to include them as well. Nectarines are so under-rated compared to peaches, but it’s way easier to find a good nectarine than a good peach, they don’t have the weird fuzz of a peach on their skin, they’re much more reliable and they’re basically as delicious as a good, ripe peach. (I feel like it’s practically impossible to find a good peach these days, but my CSA totally nailed it this year.) So I threw in some nectarines. And caramel goes wonderfully with everything, so I knew it would play well with them, too. I know it’s a little late for nectarines now that I’m posting this, but feel free to use all pears in this pie, or throw in some plums or other stone fruits to mix it up.
The other thing I changed about her caramel pear pie was to adapt it into a slab pie, and that was for two reasons: One, Yossy brought a slab pie to that picnic where I met her. And two, if you’re going to go through the whole process of making a pie, let’s make it HUGE, shall we? Furthermore, the crust to filling ratio for a slab pie is way more up my alley, aka lots of crust! My main beef with pie is that there’s often too much filling compared to the crust. This slab pie has enough crust for two double-crusted pies, but the filling is only enough for 1.5 regular pies. It’s kind of like an enormous fat pop tart. Sounds amazing, right?!
One guy I work with is not a huge fan of pie for similar reasons to mine (not enough crust, too much filling, etc.), so he was cautious of jumping all over this pie when I brought it in for coffee break. But of course he had a piece because he’s a good sport. The next day he came in and asked if there was any pie left. I said, “I thought you didn’t like pie.” His response was, “Well I like THAT pie!” So there you go.
The créme fraîche caramel in the pie is worthy of its own blog post, and the cookbook is worth it for that recipe alone, in my opinion. I ate all of my leftover caramel by scooping it up with mini pretzels, but it would also be great with fresh apples or pears. Or just on a spoon or over vanilla ice cream, etc. I might need to make another batch soon, just to keep it in the fridge for my salty-sweet cravings. It’s one of those things that makes me say, “I wanna take a bath in that sauce!”
The book is organized by season, and then it’s further broken up by fruits within each season. So for example we have grapes, persimmons and pomegranates, apples, pears, quince, and squash and pumpkins for the Fall chapter. That’s so smart because how often do you have a bushel of apples or you went strawberry-picking or whatever and want to bake something with them, but then you have to scour the index of your baking books to find a suitable recipe? Now you can just grab this book off your shelf and flip to the corresponding chapter. That being said, most of these recipes will also play well with different fruits, and Yossy gives plenty of suggestions for that. There’s also a chapter of year-round essentials, which is where you can find her créme-fraîche caramel and pie crust recipes, among others.
In addition to the caramel pear pie I’ve made the browned-butter date blondies, which were fantastic. They had a lovely depth and richness to them from the brown butter, bourbon, chocolate, nuts and dried fruit in them. I’ve got my eyes on many more, including her wine-soaked peaches with lemon verbena, chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream, caramelized apple fritters and caramel-swirled roasted squash ice cream. YUM.
It’s truly a lovely book – a great one to have on hand when you have an abundance of some kind of fruit and want some inspiration for how to use it, or a reason to try out a new fruit. If you’re a baking enthusiast I’d highly suggest picking it up.
Congrats, Yossy! I’m so excited to bake from this beauty over the years.
In other news, have you noticed my beautiful new forks? They’re from the site For the Chef, which is a fantastic resource for home cooks where you can get reliable, restaurant-quality items at reasonable prices. I fell in love with this Cadenza Carrera flatware set immediately when I saw them online, and they ended up being even more wonderful in person with their stone-like texture, which is subtle and sophisticated. They have a great weight to them and are the definition of beautiful and functional.
If you’re not in need of flatware (I desperately needed some since our flatware previously was a random mish-mash of various pieces), they have a bunch of other great stuff for the home cook or baker, like cookie cutters, bakeware sets, pizza stones and tools, or dutch ovens and woks. You can seriously find anything you need on there.
Full disclosure: For the Chef provided me with the flatware set pictured in these photos. All opinions are my own and I think they’re a great company – Thanks for supporting the brands that help Cake Over Steak to run smoothly!
Illustration at top created with Photoshop.
Prints of my illustrations (plus other products with my work on them) are available in my Society6 shop.
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ½ cup (115g) unsalted butter, cut into tbsp-sized pieces
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped from the pod
- ½ cup (115g) créme fraîche, at room temperature
- 5½ cups (680g) all purpose flour, divided
- 2 tsp coarse kosher salt, divided
- 2¼ cups (510g) very cold unsalted butter, divided
- 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup ice
- 1 cup water
- 3.5 lbs pears and nectarines (about half and half), cored and sliced into ¼-inch slices
- ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup (42g) all purpose flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp allspice
- juice of ½ a lemon (about 4 tsp)
- ½ cup créme fraîche caramel sauce
- 1 large egg, beaten (for egg wash)
- 2 tbsp turbinado sugar
- Combine the sugar, water and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the sugar dissolves, but do not stir.
- Once the sugar has dissolved, add the butter, vanilla seeds and pod. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally so it browns evenly until it is a beautiful deep amber color, but do not stir. This takes several minutes, but do not walk away because it will suddenly turn and you don't want to burn it.
- After it has turned the amber color, remove it from the heat and carefully whisk in the créme fraîche until it is smooth. It will bubble, so be careful of splatters. Remove the vanilla pod.
- Let the sauce cool slightly before using. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days. Warm slightly before serving.
- Cut the butter into ½-inch slices and place on a plate in the refrigerator until you're ready for it. Keep it divided in half (1 cup plus 2 tbsp for each half) - You will be making the dough in two parts so this will make it easier to grab the correct amount of butter each time you need it.
- Combine the vinegar, ice and water in a medium bowl or measuring cup. Set aside.
- Combine half the flour (2⅔ cup or 340g) with 1 tsp salt in a large bowl.
- Add half the butter to the flour mixture and toss to coat. Yossy then uses her fingers to work the butter into the flour, but I love my pastry blender. Either way you choose, work the butter in until dime to quarter-sized shards of butter remain. Refrigerate the bowl for a few minutes if the butter seems to get too soft.
- Add 6 tbsp of icy vinegar water and use a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula to mix it around. Add more water, a tbsp or two at a time, until the dough sticks together easily when you squeeze it without falling apart. Near the end of this process I find it easier to work with my hands, so I turn the dough out onto a floured surface to finish it off.
- When it's ready, form it into a rectangle, wrap in plastic and refrigerate.
- Repeat with the remaining ingredients for the second half of the dough. (Take note: I attempted to make both halves of the dough at once, but it didn't work out very well. It took much too long to work the butter in and everything was getting soft and weird. Just do it separately.)
- Chill for at least two hours or overnight.
- On a floured surface, roll one piece of dough out to a 21x16-inch rectangle. It doesn't need to be perfect, but fill in any cracks that appear. If at any time it gets too sticky, place dough on a parchment sheet in the fridge to firm up.
- The second piece of dough needs to be rolled into an 18x13-inch rectangle. My kitchen was quite hot so I took turns rolling each dough piece out, swapping them in and out of the fridge as one would get too warm to work with.
- Place the larger dough rectangle into an 18x13x1-inch baking sheet. Press it into the corners and let the edges hang over the sides. Place the smaller dough rectangle on top of it with a piece of parchment separating them. Place all of that in the fridge until you're done preparing the filling.
- In a large bowl, toss together the fruit with the sugar, flour, spices and lemon juice.
- Remove the crusts from the fridge and place the smaller one off to the side. Spread half the filling evenly over top of the crust fitted into the pan. Drizzle the caramel sauce over the filling, and then put the rest of the filling on top of that.
- Remove the parchment from the second rectangle of dough and place it on top of the filling. Fold the overhanging edges of the bottom crust up and over the top crust. Press the edges together to form a seal. Refrigerate the pie until the crust is firm, about twenty minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400°F and position a rack in the center. Put foil on the bottom of your oven in case the pie bubbles over. (This way you can just pull that out after the pie is done and you don't have to clean your oven floor.)
- When the crust is firm, remove it from the fridge. Brush the top with the egg wash and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut a few vents in the top of the pie.
- Bake until the pie is a deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling, 40-45 minutes.
- Let it cool to room temperature before slicing and serving.
- This is best eaten the day it's made, but will keep for a few days wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator.
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