Peach pie + Happy Mothers Day

Pie's. You gotta love them. I know I do. In case you haven't noticed: i'm a little obsessed with baking the most delicious pie's filled with fresh fruit. Although I know my pie's don't look perfect. My pie's are somewhat crooked, a little messy even. But also warm and inviting. I like that. I love that pie's supposed to look like me (crooked and messy?) in a way. A pie is very personal you know. I bet you can recognize who made that one specific pie. Because of the way you make the crust, or how you prefer your lattice. But they all have the same best things in common: they're all hand made, home baked and smelling oh so good. Which makes a home made pie a perfect gift for Mother's Day, don't you think?

When the pie came out of the oven, it was devoured in one hour (ok, truth to be told: I was one of the pie eaters…). To me a clear sign the pie was a success. Which made me think about another, juicy pie. I'm thinking to make a pineapple pie, or galette. But I also spotted some cherries the other day, the sour ones. Yeah, that would make a perfect 'messy' pie. Just thinking out loud here.

This recipe is really easy, I got it from Joy The Baker (I love her recipes!) and made some changes here and there like adding pastry cream on the pre-baked crust to get that extra creamy flavor that fits any type of fruit. Basically it's almost like eating a giant millefeuille and pie in one. Which is amazing.

Happy Mother's Day!

Peach (and leftover strawberries) PIE

recipe adapted from Joy the Baker, slightly edited by me

makes one 9-inch pie

Ingredients peach filling

5-6 cups fresh peaches, sliced
(around 5 or 6 leftover strawberries if you have, cut in half)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
large pinch of salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
heaping 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 large egg, beaten and granulated sugar for topping the unbaked pie

Ingredients crust

2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
1/2 cup cold buttermilk

Ingredients pastry cream

3 gr vanilla seeds
2776 gr milk
178 gr all purpose flour
694 gr sugar
99 gr corn starch
972 gr egg yolks
278 gr butter

How to

To make the crust 

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Add cold, cubed butter and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture. Quickly break the butter down into the flour mixture. Some butter pieces will be the size of oat flakes; some will be the size of peas. Create a well in the mixture and pour in the cold buttermilk. Use a fork to bring the dough together. Try to moisten all of the flour bits. On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture. It will be moist and shaggy. That’s perfect. Divide the dough in two and gently knead into two disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Allowing the dough to rest in the refrigerator will help rechill the butter and distribute the moisture.

To make the filling

In a medium bowl toss together strawberries, sugars, cornstarch, salt, lemon juice and ground ginger. Toss until all of the cornstarch has disappeared into the strawberries and let rest for 10 minutes. The strawberries will begin to produce juice.

To make the pastry cream

Boil milk, half of the sugar and vanilla. Mix the other half of the sugar with the starch, flour and the egg yolks. Strain the hot milk on top of the starch mixture and cook for 2 minutes. Mix in the butter and let it cool. 

To assemble the pie

On a well-floured surface, roll the bottom crust 1/8″ thick and about 12″ in diameter. Transfer it to a pie pan. Trim the edge almost even with the edge of the pan.

I pre-baked the crust at 350°F until it looked light, golden brown, for about 20 minutes. After the crust cooled down I added the pastry cream on top (while using a pastry bag, which is not really necessary) and after that, the fruit filling.

Roll out the top crust in the same manner as before. Use a pizza slicer to slice the dough into 1-inch wide strips and weave the crust strips on top of the pie, in any style you like.

To finish

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Brush the egg wash over pie crust, then sprinkle with sugar. Place pie on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake the pie for 30 minutes more, or until the crust is golden and the cherry filling is bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before serving.


Japan | the OntaYaki pottery village

This is the last post about Japan. It feels like ages ago since I traveled there, but it has only been a month. Where does the time go?

It was on the third day of our wabisabi workshop, when we went on a neighboring village excursion. We travelled all together, in a small van. We drove through the rural countryside for about an hour. It was a cloudy and rainy day, that produced a mysterious mist hanging over the tree tops. It looked amazing so we all shot away with our cameras, hanging out the windows (well ok, at least the lenses where peaking out) from the driving van. I'm sure that looked really funny from the outside. 

The village we went to is called Koishibara and the people of the village are specialized in Ontayaki, a traditional pottery making method. The first thing we noticed and after hearing the "thumb-thumb" sound, where the ancient style water-powered wooden hammers whacking away at piles of yellow clay. The village consists of ten families, all with their large houses and all with their own kilns.

All pottery there is produced in ancient ways. The water-powered hammers prepare the clay. The clay is then watered by hand and readied for the potter's wheel where the shapes of the plates, cups and bowls are formed by hand while the wheel is driven by the potters' feet. 

This village was amazing to get lost in. And if you are a ceramics fan like me, you will love all the little shops filled with Ontayaki ceramics. Swoon.

Japan | the wabisabi workshop

{This is the second last Japan post. I've divided the story about the workshop in two: the first part is on the workshop and the traditional bathhouse, the second part will be about our village excursion to a neighboring village that specializes in onta-yaki, a traditional pottery method.}

I loved traveling Japan, but the highlight of my trip was definitely the last 5 days in Kurokawa. While spending these couple of days in the countryside of Japan, it made me realize I would actually prefer living in the countryside more than living in a city. I loved being away from the urban jungle; breathing clean and fresh air and wandering around the small villages, surrounded by elegant, tall trees. But later when I was eating a cake in a local bakery I realized: if I ever move to the countryside, it should be in biking distance of a city filled with friends and pie shops (…).  

The reason why I traveled to Kurokawa in the first place, was because of the wabisabi workshop lead by Beth Kirby and Haruka Sakaguchi. Beth had always been one of my biggest inspirations, even far before I considered going for a photography career. I had always admired her photography and styling work and her talent for writing. I discovered Haruka via Beth and I loved her portrait photography and her travel stories through the US and Japan. So, after following them both and finding out one day that Beth and Haruka where organizing a workshop in Japan, I signed up immediately, if not, sooner.

Arriving at the village and meeting Beth for the first time was surreal (i'm such a groupie), it made me act really awkward and I believe this didn't stop until I got on the bus back to the airport. Especially when we all hung out that first night, in the public onsen. Naked. But you can definitely say that broke the ice a little (Sorry! It's just too funny for me not to mention).

We stayed in a traditional bath house in the foothills of Mount Aso, surrounded by seven naturally-occurring hot springs. The onsen has been carefully preserved by locals for centuries and is known to heal physical wounds, improve circulation and decrease blood pressure. My room had a private onsen as well, so this meant I was taking baths 2 or 3 times a day, in my private one and the public outdoor one. My skin has never felt softer.

We had so much amazing food during our workshop days. Every day, 3 times a day and most of the time prepared by our bath house (they have an amazing restaurant). I thought I had a pretty good impression of Japanese food after living in Taiwan for two years (Taipei has many great Japanese restaurants), traveling Asian countries for many years and wandering Japan for 3 weeks, but these 5 days in the Mount Aso area really amazed me with mouthwatering, fresh and delicious Japanese food. I am sorry to say I hardly took any photos of my meals, because during our dinners together I was so busy talking and listening to all the inspiring ladies (my fellow workshoppers) who where with me at the dining table. 

Beth and Haruka showed us how they would style a table scene (flat-lay) with the use of pastries, flowers and Japanese ceramics. All while practicing 'wabisabi' styling techniques. 'Wabi-sabi' is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection. Wabi-sabi is old markets, not warehouse stores; aged wood, not Pergo; rice paper, not glass. It celebrates cracks and crevices and all the other marks that time, weather, and loving use leave behind. Basically wabisabi is telling me to make messes look pretty. Just kidding.  

For me watching Beth and Haruka style, was inspiring and in a way very reassuring to see that what i've been doing is not that different as how they do it and that it's not so crazy to think for 30 minutes what the perfect position for a potato, plate or tea leaf is. #stylistproblems

We also witnessed a tea ceremony, performed by true Japanese tea masters. These ladies know how to make a proper cup of tea. Seeing how serious and dedicated they where really showed me the true nature of Japanese culture. I loved the small 'respectful' acts towards another person, creatures of nature or food. This was explained when we where practicing the art of Ikebana (a ritualized practice to honor the ephemeral life of a flower, guided by the same Japanese ladies). When they cut the bottom part of a flower for example, they place the stem in water as an act of respect for the flower. And I loved how being aware of fleeting moments (also known as mono-no-aware) that could never be repeated, is important to Japanese people. The fact that this way of life still exists today, is amazing to me and I find it really touching.

I was sad when the workshop was over, but I felt energized and full of inspiration at the same time. I'm sure this experience will stay with me forever. Better yet: it has already influenced my work that i'm creating today. Therefore I want to thank Beth (sorry for being so akward!!) and Haruka for guiding and inspiring me and to make me feel i'm on the right path. And off course all the talented ladies I met (my new friends!), who made the workshop even more awesome than it already was.