Use the Same Fruit Pie Filling to Make Four Different Pastries

We are officially entering fruit season, which means juicy local berries galore. Fresh fruit ready to be cooked and filled in flaky pastry is a spring and summer staple in my home. Of course I love making pie, but that’s not the only way to showcase seasonal fruit; there are many other ways to make delicious pastries using the same pie filling. I used the filling from Martha Stewart’s Rhubarb-Strawberry Pie for my four desserts here, but pretty much any fruit-based pie filling will work.



No pie plate? No problem. Use your fruit filling to make a rustic French-style galette. For this pastry you may not use all of the prepared filling, and you will only need dough for a single crust pie.

Roll out your pastry dough in a large circle on a sheet of parchment paper, then place the filling in the center and fold over the crust. Transfer to a baking sheet, brush with egg wash. sprinkle with sugar, then bake at 375 degrees until juices in the center are bubbling, about 50 to 60 minutes.


Traditional Lattice Pie

Probably the most obvious way to use your filling is to make a delicious pie with a flaky lattice crust. In addition to the filling, you will need dough for a double-crust pie. Once the pie is filled, lattice the top. Trim the edges then fold and crimp the crust. Brush with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, then bake at 375 degrees until juices in the center are bubbling, about 90 minutes.



Hand Pies

These hand-held pastries are portable and delicious and one of my favorite things to make for parties. They do take the most time in terms of prep, but these sweet little treats are worth the effort.

To make hand pies, in addition to the filling (you will likely only use about half the quantity needed for a regular pie), you’ll also need dough for a double-crust pie.

Roll the dough out, then use a large biscuit cutter to cut circular disks. Brush each of the disks with egg wash, then spoon filling into the center. Top with a second dough circle to fully enclose the pie, then press to seal the edges. I used a fork to press in a decorative crust design. Cut small air vents into the top, then brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Repeat the process with all the hand pies. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet, then bake at 375 degrees until juices in the center are bubbling, about 40 to 50 minutes.




Skip the traditional pie dough and make a cobbler! It calls for biscuits to top the fruit filling. I used the biscuits from Martha Stewart’s Best Berry Cobbler, and they worked perfectly.

Place the filling in a deep baking dish, then top with biscuit dough. Brush biscuits with melted butter, sprinkle with sugar, then bake at 375 degrees until juices in the center are bubbling and biscuits are golden, about 45 to 55 minutes.


Which style of pastry suits your fancy? Give them all a try; it’s easy to make a delicious dessert with your favorite fruit pie filling.


This article was first published on the Network on May 26, 2016.


By: Adrienne Blumthal

Photos: Steven Karl Metzer

Easy Decorating Ideas for Spring Cupcakes

Use these super-quick and simple decorating ideas to transform your cupcakes into spring cupcakes. Fresh fruit, flowers, herbs, and even leftover Easter candy will give your treats a seasonal look.


From the batter to the frosting, there are so many ways to flavor cupcakes. Baking to the season is a good excuse to try a new recipe. For spring cupcakes strawberry cupcakes or lemon cupcakes are a couple of great options.


When it comes time to add the beloved buttercream, I always recommend piping it on the cupcakes. Like mastering most things, using a pastry bag takes practice. But cupcakes are a great place to start. (Remember, if you mess up the piped design, it’s easy to scrape it off, refill the bag and start over.) I like to use a large star-shaped tip to frost cupcakes because it creates a clean floral look. Once your cupcakes are frosted, here are some spring-time toppers you can try.


1. Flowers

Adding a beautiful bloom to the top of your cupcake takes minimal effort and has an amazing visual wow-factor. I used edible flowers, but you can snip a few buds from your garden: just be sure to let those who are eating the cupcakes know that the flowers are for decoration purposes only.


2. Sprinkles

Perhaps sprinkles are an obvious choice for cupcake toppers, but they are always an excellent (and easy) option. They come in so many shapes, sizes and colors, I like to keep a variety on hand for all occasions. Plus it’s fun to mix and match different sprinkles. For a spring-time look, I used a variety of bright colors and different shapes.


spring cupcakes

3. Herbs and Fresh Fruit

I’m a big fan of using herbs and fresh fruit in pastries, and adding a herbal note doesn’t always have to be n the batter or the frosting. Using a few herb sprigs as a topper can bring a whole new dimension to your spring cupcakes. I particuarly love using sweet basil and thyme. Fresh fruit like strawberries, or even blueberries or blackberries, are another great option. No matter what you chose, these unexpected spring cupcake toppers will delight your family and guests.

cupcakes with herbs

4. Leftover Easter Candy

Easter candy seems to linger for months at my house. Adding it to cupcakes in lieu of sprinkles is a fun and colorful option. If you still have remaining pastel candy stashed away, add it whole or crush it up and sprinkle on top!cupcakes with candy

This article was first published on the Network on April 29, 2016.


By: Adrienne Blumthal

Photos: Steven Karl Metzer

How to Make an Egg-Shaped Easter Cake (Without an Egg-Shaped Cake Pan!)

What’s better for a spring celebration than an egg-shaped Easter cake? Bake your favorite cake recipe then transform it into an egg with these easy steps. The finished cake, decorated with vibrant colors and pastel candy is both a gorgeous centerpiece and deliciously festive dessert.

For this project all you need is: a square and a round cake pan, icing spatulas and a piping bag with an assortment of tips for decorating the cake, and a large serving platter — oval works best.

Use a cake recipe that makes a two-layer cake. I used Martha Stewart’s Simple Layer Cake. A pastel cake would work wonderfully too.


1. Prepare the cake batter following the recipe instructions. Divide the batter evenly between one 9 x 9 x 2-inch square baking pan and one 8 or 9-inch round cake pan. Bake and cool the cakes according to the recipe instructions. Remove cakes from the pans and let cool completely before cutting — trimming a warm cake can be a very crumby disaster!



2. To start assembling the Easter cake, place the square cake in the center of the platter.


Next, cut each end of the round cake so that it sits flush against the square cake. Place the half-rounds on either end of the square cake to create an egg shape. (Note: You will not cut the round cake in half, but rather each end separately, with some cake remaining in the center).


Use the remaining cake scraps from the center of the round cake to fill out the top and bottom of the cake, creating an egg shape. Oh, and don’t worry if your Easter cake looks a little messy, the frosting in the next step will hide that!



3. Now it is time to start frosting the egg cake. Martha Stewart’s Basic Buttercream is really great for this project, but most white or pale colored frosting will work. You could tint your frosting if you want a more vibrantly colored egg cake. Make it pink, yellow green or blue – whatever color you fancy!


Use a pastry bag fitted with a large tip to pipe a little of frosting on to the seams of each of the cake pieces to ‘glue’ them in place. Then, use spatula to frost the entire cake. Smooth the tops and the sides of the cake and transfer to the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes to firm up the frosting before you start decorating.



4. Get creative! You can decorate your Easter egg cake however you like. It’s a fun project for kids to help with. I used pink and blue colored icing, piped on with a small circular decorators tip, pastel colored candy eggs and edible Easter grass.


The Easter egg-shaped cake can be refrigerated, just be sure to bring it to room temperature before serving.


This article was first published on the Network on March  23, 2016.


By: Adrienne Blumthal

Photos: Steven Karl Metzer

Bake a Beautiful Rose Apple Pie for Valentine’s Day

Dessert should be as sweet and beautiful as your special someone, especially on Valentine’s Day. Try this extra-special apple pie recipe — you’re in for a treat!

Last year I made mini versions of this pie, but after many requests, I decided to create a full-sized version. It’s a bit more labor intensive, but the end result is well worth the effort.



– Prepared pie dough

– 12 medium apples

– Simple syrup

– Cinnamon sticks (optional)

– Vanilla beans (optional)

– Flour for dusting

– Sugar for dusting


How to Make the Rose Apple Pie:

1. Prepare the pie dough as instructed. Once it’s ready, roll it out on a lightly floured surface. Then, transfer it to a 9-inch pie dish. Crimp the edges and prick the bottoms and sides with a fork. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes. Chilling the dough is key to preventing crust shrinkage during the blind baking. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.



2. Because the apple slices will be paper thin, they won’t take long to bake, so you will need to blind bake the pie crust: Line the pie shell with parchment paper, then add ceramic or metal pie weights (dried beans also work). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the crust is golden. Remove the parchment paper and pie weights, then set on a wire rack to cool.rose-pie-0163


3. Prepare about 3 cups of simple syrup. I added vanilla and cinnamon sticks to mine, but you can flavor however you’d like. Once prepared, pour the hot syrup into a 9-by-13-inch dish and set aside.

It’s time to get out the mandolin again! Using a knife, cut off each end of an apple lengthwise (to remove the core and maintain a flat surface). Cut apple into paper-thin slices. Transfer to the syrup and let soak for at least 10 minutes. Repeat with remaining apples.



4. In the full-sized version of this pie, the apple roses will use each other to stay in the spiral shape. You will need to prepare all of them before arranging them in the pie pan. Muffin tins work perfectly as a ‘holding area’ for your finished roses. Place a muffin tin near your work station before you get started.

To start the apple roses, arrange 7 to 8 apple slices lengthwise in a straight line, overlapping each other on a piece of parchment paper. Blot juices with a paper towel. Starting at the end closest to you, gently and tightly roll the apples. Try not to stop once you have started to roll. Carefully transfer the rolled apple rose into the muffin tin. Repeat rolling apples, until you’ve created 24 apple roses.



5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Dust the bottom of the pie shell with a bit of flour (to help absorb any juice drippings), then transfer the prepared apple roses to it.



6. Sprinkle the finished pie with sugar. Put in the oven and bake until the apples have cooked and the tops start to brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.



7. Let cool completely before serving.


This article was first published on the Network on February 5, 2016.

By: Adrienne Blumthal

Photos: Steven Karl Metzer

Make a Pastry Crown Worthy of a Mardi Gras King Cake

A king cake is a once-a-year treat! Here’s how to add a buttery, flaky pastry crown to your Mardi Gras king cake.

For this project you will need a king cake, homemade or storebought. And for the crown, you will need the following:


– 5-inch to 8-inch cake ring (you could also use a cake pan or other circular baking dish)

– Pie dough

– Rolling pin

– Knife or rolling cutter

– Parchment paper

– An assortment of different shaped and sized cookie cutters

– Aluminum foil



How to Make the Pastry Crown for Your Mardis Gras King Cake:

1. To start the crown, you’ll need to first measure the circumference of your cake ring. I used a 6-inch cake ring as the crown mold, which was about 21 inches.


2. On a piece of parchment paper, roll out your pie dough into a long rectangle the length of the circumference you just measured (in my case, 21 inches) and about 4 inches wide. Use a knife or rolling cutter to trim the edges. Discard the scraps.



3. Next, create the crown arches (the points). You can use a square cutter, knife, or rolling cutter. I used a small 1 1/2-inch square cookie cutter, which helped create symmetrical consistency.



4. Now create a decorative, cut-out pattern on the crown. You can use cookie cutters or just go freestyle. I used small flower and petal shapes which worked perfectly, but nearly any cutter will do. After you’ve completed your design, discard remaining pie scraps and transfer dough to the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.



5. Make sure the dough is firm but still pliable (so that it can be easily bent). Grease the cake ring with nonstick cooking spray, then carefully wrap the dough around the outside of it. Gently pinch the ends together to create a seam. Be careful not to press your dough into the cake ring — you don’t want the pastry to bake into it, just around it!



6. Wrap a folded, triple layer of aluminum foil around both the inside and outside of the crown. The foil will act as structural support during baking. With foil on both sides, the pastry won’t flop over or fall during the baking. Be sure the foil is at least the same height or taller than the crown. Gently pinch together and fold the top pieces of foil. Place on a baking sheet, then transfer to the refrigerator or freezer for 15 to 20 minutes to chill.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the crown until the pastry is golden, about 20 to 25 minutes. Discard the foil and let the crown cool completely.



7. The baked crown will be delicate, so be very gentle when removing it from the cake ring.



8. Voila! You have the perfect golden pastry crown. Place it on top of your Mardi Gras king cake before serving.



This article was first published on the Network on February 6, 2016.

By: Adrienne Blumthal

Photos: Steven Karl Metzer


Hidden Heart Cake: A Sweet Surprise for Your Valentine

Thinking of baking a cake for your Valentine this year? Try making a hidden heart cake! Every slice is baked with a little love, right in the middle.

For this project you will need a small heart-shaped cookie cutter, food coloring, and a recipe for two pound cakes, which will be baked separately in the same 5-by-9-inch loaf pan. Martha Stewart’s Classic Pound Cake works perfectly for this project.


Step 1: Bake the first pound cake, dyed pink.

To start the hidden heart cake you will need to prepare and bake the first pound cake in a 5-by-9-inch loaf pan. You should dye the cake batter the color you will want your hidden heart inside to be (I used neon pink liquid food coloring).

Once the pound cake is baked, cooled, and removed from the pan, transfer it to the freezer for about 20 minutes. (It’s much easier to cut a cold or semi-frozen cake.)



Step 2: Cut out the hidden hearts.

Use a serrated knife to cut the entire pound cake loaf into thick, 3/4-inch to 1-inch slices. Then use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut hearts from the center of each of the slices. Be gentle when handling the hearts, they will need to remain intact for the second cake.

Once all of the hearts have been cut, you will have a lot of leftover cake scraps. There is no need to let them go to waste. Make cake pops or save them for another delicious dessert!



Step 3: Prepare the second cake batter.

Prepare the batter for the second pound cake and set it aside. For the best results, you will want to use the same loaf pan you used for the first pound cake to bake the second. Be sure the pan is very clean and re-greased to prevent any sticking.



Step 4: Stack the hearts inside the loaf pan.

Place a very thin layer of batter on the bottom of the loaf pan. Then carefully stack the hearts upright, inside the pan, in a straight line. Gently press the bottom point of the hearts into the layer of batter on the bottom of the pan.



Step 5: Pour the remaining batter on top of the hearts.

Carefully pour the batter on the sides of the hearts and then on top of the hearts. Make sure they are completely covered with batter. Use a rubber spatula to smooth the top surface, then bake as indicated in the pound-cake instructions.

Be sure to check on the cake while it’s baking. The total bake time will likely be about 10 to 15 minutes less than indicated since the hearts in the center are already baked.

To make sure your cake is fully baked, use the trusty old toothpick trick: insert a toothpick near the center (but in this case, closer to the sides). When the toothpick comes out clean, you are all set.



Step 6: Bake and cool the hidden heart cake before slicing.

Once the hidden heart cake is fully baked, transfer to a wire rack to cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Then remove the cake from the pan, and let it cool completely.

Slice and surprise! The pound cake can be served alone, or with fresh fruit and whipped cream. Either way, it is a lovely treat for such a loving day.





This article was first published on the Network on January 30, 2016.

By: Adrienne Blumthal

Photos: Steven Karl Metzer

Mini Melon Cakes: Quick, Healthy, No-Bake, and Cake-Free

Looking for a quick and healthy dessert? Try making these mini melon cakes! They are the perfect party treat for a hot summer day, but really can be served all year round. These fresh fruit cakes use cantaloupe, watermelon, whipped cream, and a blackberry, and mint leaf as garnish.


Before you start cutting your fruit, make a simple whipped cream and keep it in the fridge until ready to use. Then, cut your cantaloupe into 1/2-inch thick slices. Using a 3 3/4-inch biscuit cutter, cut circles out of the center. Use a smaller biscuit cutter (about 1-1/2 inch) to cut the seeds out.




Using a large knife, carefully cut the watermelon into 1/2-inch slices. Don’t worry if you cut too thick or crooked, it’s easy to slice the cut circles in half to make them a bit thinner.







Using the 3 3/4-inch biscuit cutter, cut circles out of the watermelon. If you cut the watermelon too thick in the previous step, slice the cut circles in half lengthwise to make the layer thinner.





Before you start stacking, use a paper towel to blot the water from the cut fruit — this helps prevent slipping. Start with a watermelon disk as the base. Stack the cantaloupe on top of the watermelon. Transfer your whipped cream into a piping bag or plastic bag with the corner cut off. Fill the inside of the cantaloupe (where you cut the seeds out) with whipped cream.




Repeat the layering process, filling each of the cantaloupe pieces, until you’ve reached your desired height, finishing with the watermelon on top. I used seven layers in my mini melon cakes. Repeat to make as many mini melon cakes as you like!


Cupcake wrappers make a great “plate” for these mini melon cakes. Simply flatten out the cupcake wrapper and you have the perfect sized parchment circle on which to build your mini melon cakes.






Adding a piped border will make your melon stack really look like a tiny, fancy cake. Pipe a simple whipped cream border on the bottom and top.





Spoon a dollop of whipped cream on top of each cake, then garnish with a blackberry and mint leaf. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Super-Simple Chocolate Pie Crust

It’s as easy as adding sugar and cocoa to your pastry dough, but the result has a major wow factor for both looks and taste.

Using chocolate pie dough adds a colorful, delicious, and unexpected element to your favorite pie. Below is a super-simple recipe for a buttery, flaky chocolate pie dough. Best of all, it functions the same as most butter-based pie doughs and can be par-baked, blind-baked, or fully baked with filling inside.


Give it a try; the chocolate lovers in your life will thank you.



Super-Simple Chocolate Pie Dough


Yield: Makes one 9-inch deep-dish pie shell



– 2 cups all-purpose flour

– 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

– 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

– 6 ounces unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes

– 1/3 cup brewed coffee, cold





Combine flour, cocoa powder, and sugar in a large bowl; whisk to incorporate.



Add the butter, then using your fingertips or a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse meal.



Slowly add the cold coffee in thirds, stirring with a wooden spoon after each addition. Continue stirring until a soft dough has formed.



MARTHA STEWART_PIE_DOUGH 2330Gather with your hands and knead slightly, then mold into a circular disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes (or up to two days).



Remove dough from refrigerator and let rest for 5 minutes. Roll out on a floured surface and transfer to 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. Trim crust overhang, then fold and crimp the edges. Return to refrigerator for 20 minutes before filling and/or baking.


Cook’s note: If baking chocolate dough for longer than 30 minutes, use a crust cover after 30 minutes of baking to prevent burning.


This article was first published on the Network on March 31, 2014.

Bake a Blackberry Balsamic Pie this Weekend

A few years ago we shared a recipe for blackberry balsamic pie with sea salt and walnut crumble on Design Sponge. Due to popular request, we decided to post it again! We are in the thick of blackberry season right now and this pie is definitely worth making. It’s simple, yet sophisticated. The balsamic and lemon zest in the filling enhances the bold flavor of the blackberries, while the walnuts and sea salt in the crumble balance the sweetness. Check out the recipe below. Happy baking!


Blackberry Pie

Blackberry Balsamic Pie with Sea Salt Walnut Crumble


Note: This recipe is for a 9-inch deep-dish pie. If using a smaller pie pan, you may have some filling and crumble left over.


For the Pie Dough

– 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

– 4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes

– 4 tablespoons ice cold water


For the Filling

– 4 1/2 cups fresh blackberries (about three 6-oz. containers)

– 1/2 cup sugar

– 1/4 cup brown sugar

– 3 tablespoons cornstarch

– 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

– zest of 1 lemon


For the Crumble

– 1 cup old-fashioned oats

– 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

– 1/2 cup brown sugar

– 1 cup chopped walnuts

– 1 teaspoon sea salt

– 4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes


Pie Dough

Combine flour and butter in a food processor. Pulse 7 to 8 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the cold water, one tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition. If dough seems too dry, add additional cold water by the tablespoon. Remove pie dough from food processor and mold into a circular disk. Cover and let refrigerate for at least 25 minutes.



Mix blackberries, sugars, cornstarch, balsamic and lemon zest in a bowl. Turn the mixture with a spoon several times to ensure the blackberries are coated.



Stir together oats, flour, brown sugar, walnuts and sea salt in large bowl. Add butter and rub into the mix with your fingertips (just like you would with pie dough!), pressing the mixture together until clumps form.


Assembly & Baking

Preheat oven to 400°F. Roll out dough on a floured surface and transfer to 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. Trim any crust overhang, fold under and crimp the edges. Spoon the blackberry filling into the dough-lined pan. Sprinkle crumble on top, fully covering the blackberries. Bake pie for 45–55 minutes or until filling is bubbling and topping is brown and crisp. Check pie after 25 minutes of baking and cover with foil if the crust or crumble seems to be browning too quickly. Cool one hour before serving.


The Finishing Touches: Pie Crust Wash

The process of making a pie from scratch is certainly a rewarding one. And as with anything you bake, the preparation and process is so important to the outcome. You’ve spent time and effort putting the pastry together, so don’t sell yourself short by skipping the final step — the wash!


Pies with a top crust or lattice top will typically call for an egg or cream wash to be brushed on to the dough just before baking. The type of wash you use is what will give the baked pie a polished finish (it’s also the perfect “glue” for holding sugar that’s sprinkled on the crust).





An egg wash will give your pie crust a glossy finish, while a cream wash will give your pie crust more of a semi-golden, matte-like finish. Skipping a wash altogether can leave your crust looking stark.


The general rule of thumb for egg wash is 1 well-beaten egg plus 1 to 2 tablespoons of water (note: more water will lighten the golden color, or for a shinier pie, you can substitute the water with cream or milk).





For a cream wash, use heavy cream or half-and-half. No matter which you chose, a wash should always be applied just before the pie goes into the oven.




There are a variety of pie wash combinations that will give your crust a different finish. Whatever look you are going for, do yourself a favor and don’t skip this final preparation step.


From left: egg wash, no wash, and cream wash after baking.


This article was first published on the Network on May 14, 2014.