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Pie Party for 8!

Pie in a Jar


I love to entertain, I love to make desserts but I hate to be a slave to the kitchen.  So when BBQ season rolls around I try and take advantage of the this type of cooking method to the fullest extent.  Enjoying the weather, spending time with my guests and the lack of dishes is definitely on my list of priorities for the summer and the cooler fall temperatures.

This recipe is one where you can prep the jars with pie dough prior to your guests arriving and it takes only a couple of minutes to assemble your fillings.  As soon  as dinner is completed your guests can pick their favourite fillings and then these amazing little desserts can be placed in the BBQ.  Plenty of time to relax, digest dinner and enjoy the weather.   Add a small scoop of ice cream and these petite, single serving pies are the perfect summer treat.

Note: This pie dough recipe has been used for generations in my family and the secret ingredient is Tenderflake Lard.  This is a Canadian product and it is a product that I will use FOREVER!  I have heard stories of former Canadian ladies travelling across the US border with it in their suitcases!   I have tried other products and nothing compares to this.  I generally make the recipe on the back of the box and it makes approximately 3 pies (top & bottom) as I make several pies at a time.   Also you can use ANY type or recipe of pie filling for this method of baking a Pie in a Jar.  Pumpking, cherry and blueberry will also work fabulous!

We were fortunate to be asked to demonstrate our ‘Pie Party in a Jar’ on Breakfast Televsion Edmonton.  Just click the link and enjoy!
Pie in a Jar:


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp of brown sugar
dash of salt
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp of Tenderflake lard
  • 1 egg + 1 tablespoon vinegar 
and enough cold water to make 1 cup of liquid


  • 1 cup of rhubarb, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 cup of strawberries, chopped into small pieces
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger


  • 2 cups of apples, chopped into small pieces
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp of pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp of Bourbon
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp of flour
  • 1 tbsp of cold butter, grated (put 1 tbsp of butter in the fridge and then grate)
  • dash of nutmeg


  • 1/3 cup flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 c melted butter


  1. Pie Crusts Directions:  To a large bowl add your flour, sugar and mix. Add the Tenderflake to the bowl and use a pastry blender or two knives and slowly cut in the shortening until it resembles a crumb like mixture.   Whisk the egg, vinegar & water mixture.   Slowly add the liquid a tablespoon at a time and mix lightly with a fork. You will only use half of the liquid mixture.   Once the dough starts to come together lightly bring into a loose ball with your hands.  Empty the dough on a piece of saran wrap, bring together softly and chill in the fridge for 1/2 hour.  The main thing in working with pie dough is to not overwork it.  Use a light tough and you will have flaky pastry pie crust.
  2. Take the chilled pie dough and divided it into 8 portions.  Take one portion and flatten it into a disk and then begin to press the pie dough into the mason jar.  Keeping the dough less than a ¼ inch thick and even throughout, make sure the dough is pressed to the bottom of the jar and then follow up the sides.  Jars can then be covered with the seals and lids and refrigerated or even stored in the freezer.  Allow the jars to sit for 5 mins prior to filling if the have been refrigerated or even 15 mins if coming from the freezer.
  3. Fillings:  Just prior to baking the pies, mix all the ingredients for each filling and place each in a bowl. The crumble topping can be mixed earlier.
  4. Assembly: Have guests fill their jars with the pie filling and crumble topping just to the rim of the mason jar.  Do not overfill the jars as they will overflow when baking.
  5. Baking:  Set the BBQ to a temperature of 375.  Place the mason jars on a cookie sheet and place the cookie sheet on the top rack of the BBQ. To control the temperature, shut off half of the burners and allow the pies to cook in the indirect heat for 30-40 mins depending on the BBQ.  Continue to observe the pies, cover them with foil if the tops are browning and check the bottoms to ensure they are not burning.  The pies are finished baking when the bottom of the jars are brown.   Note: The mason jars can be baked in the oven for 30-40 mins in the oven at an oven temperature of 375ºF.
  6. Let the pies cool for 5 mins and then add a mini scoop of ice cream.
  7. Enjoy.

This recipe, Pie Party for 8  was featured on Eat In Eat Out as a guest blog post here:

Click on the image below to read Canada’s first online food magazine:  Eat in Eat Out, Fall 2012 Issue

or follow this link:


Rainbow Doodle Cake

Rainbow Doodle Cake

Rainbow Doodle Cake

This post comes straight from the inspiration of the internet.  I am forever reading food and photography blogs looking for devine inspiration.  The idea behind this rainbow colored cake is definitely the rage right now but what is incredibly inspirational is the brilliant idea from a fellow Canadian blogger Rosie from Sweetapolita.  Not only is she a tremendous baker but her photography is stunning, crisp and inspirational.  Rosie not only made the rainbow cake but took this cake to another level with covering the cake in fondant and then using it as a blank canvas for her adorable daughter to draw on the cake with edible markers.  Now what could be more fun for a kid than to be handed some markers and told they can decorate their own cake? With 6 nephews and 4 nieces ranging in age from 7 to 2 years old this cake spoke to me like none other.  Wow – was all I could think!  What I adored about this cake is the idea of watching this cake come to life in the artistic doodles of the birthday child.  I couldn’t stop thinking that this is a cake could be made year after year and provide a snapshot of that child’s time of life fully represented in cake.   I am pretty  sure I read and re-read this fantastic post at least 50 times that day. I was in awe!

The orginal recipe for the Rainbow cake comes from Kaitlin of Whisk Kid.  This brilliant girl has her own blog and has been banging out recipes for a couple of years. She appeard on Martha Stewart to demonstrate the very recipe!  Wow – this girl is going places. Check out her Blog Post

Rainbow Cake via Whisk Kid

White Cake (but not really)
2 sticks butter, room temp
2 1/3 c (466 g) sugar
5 egg whites, room temp
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 c (375 g) all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 1/2 c (355 g) milk, warmed for 30 sec in microwave to bring to room temp
Red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple GEL food coloring. Liquid will not be vibrant enough!

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Oil and line how ever many 9” cake pans you have (I have three and I just reused them).

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Cream the sugar and butter, then add the egg whites (I cracked them all into one bowl) and add them a little at a time. Add the vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Then, alternating between wet and dry, add the milk and flour mixture in two parts.

Divide the batter amongst 6 bowls (you can do it by weight). Weighing directions: weigh your mixing bowl before you begin adding ingredients and then subtract the weight of the bowl from the final measurement after the batter is completed. Divide that number by six and add that weight of batter to each bowl), and then whisk a fair amount of the appropriate food color into each bowl. Keep in mind that the color of the unbaked batter will be the color of the baked batter. Pour into the pans and bake for 15 minutes each.

When you remove them from the oven, let them rest on the cooling rack, in the pan, for ten minutes. Then flip, cover, and stash them in the fridge to cool quickly.

Lemony Swiss Meringue Buttercream

To fill and crumb coat: 9 egg whites 1 ¾ c (350 g) sugar 4 sticks (454 g) of butter, room temp 2 tsp lemon extract

To frost: 5 egg whites 1 c (200 g) sugar 2 sticks (227 g) butter, room temp 1 tsp lemon extract

Cook the egg whites and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved (test by rubbing some between your fingers. If it’s completely smooth, it’s done). Pour into another bowl (a stand mixer is preferable) and whip on high speed until room temp. Then, on a medium-slow speed, add the butter, waiting until each piece is completely incorporated before adding the next. After all the butter has been added, turn the mixer back to high speed and whip until it has come together, about five minutes. Add the extract, beat briefly and then use.

If the buttercream seems soupy after all of the butter is added and does not come together after whipping, refrigerate for 5 to 7 minutes and continue whipping until it becomes fluffy and workable.

Assembly Stack the layers in your preferred order and fill and frost as you would any other cake.

Sweetapolita’s Notes & Doodle Cake How-To:

1. For tips & tricks on making Swiss Meringue Buttercream, both Kaitlin & I have posts about this, so lots of info!

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Demystified and How to Make Swiss Meringue Buttercream

2. You may find my previous post 50 Tips for Baking Better Cakes helpful with this cake (and hopefully others).

3. I was worried at first that I somehow made the layers too thin, but they were perfect, so don’t panic when they seem almost pancake-like! Once you pile 6 of those layers and all of that buttercream, the cake is a perfect height. Mine was about 4.5″ high. Use a 9-inch,  1/4″ thick cake board when building the cake.

4. To make the doodle cake, cover the buttercream cake in white fondant and refrigerate overnight. You will need approximately 2 lbs, 3 oz of fondant for a 9″ round 5″ high cake. Remove cake from refrigerator and let child (or anyone!) colour all over cake using AmeriColor Food Colour Markers. Place cake back in refrigerator every 15 minutes or so, if it begins to soften before child is finished (otherwise you will get dents in the cake). It’s also fun to have everyone at a birthday party sign the cake, write a message, draw a picture, etc!

5. You can store finished cake in refrigerator, but serve at room temperature or buttercream won’t be soft enough and the flavours won’t come through as intended. I typically take this type of fondant-covered cake out of refrigerator about 6 hours before serving. Just a note the cake will dent very easily when ready to serve,  so avoid touching the cake itself.

*A note about the rainbow cake colours: I used AmeriColor electric gel colours to get such vibrant hues in the cake while adding minimal colouring. Here are the colours I used and links to find them:

Electric Purple, Electric Blue, Electric Green, Electric Yellow, Electric Orange, Super Red

A huge thank you to Rosie from Sweetapolita and Kaitlin of Whisk Kid.  They have each given me permission to post their recipes and I am truly grateful for their kindness.

Watermelon Cake – A tribute to my nephew Zack!


While browsing on Pinterest, I came across an amazing cake.  It wasn’t made out of flour, sugar or eggs…it was made out of fruit.  The entire cake was made out of a watermelon and an colorful array of fruit.  I was blown away and I thought it was brilliant on so many levels.  It is a fantastic dessert idea for people who are watching their diet but more importantly I thought it was a tremendous option for parents of children with diabetes or celiac disease.

I have a seven year old nephew, Zack, who was recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and it has definitely been struggle for the child, the siblings and the parents, on so many, many levels.   Since they are in a constant battle to regulate and count sugars I thought this would be an fun and fantastic alternative to the baked/iced birthday cake where they have to guess at the sugar content.

I hope in some way this helps some parents navigate the birthday celebration with some wonderful and nutrious alternatives.   Zack you have my greatest admiration for all that you have endured in these past years.  My wish for you is for there to be a cure so that you can be a normal, healthy boy in the years to come.

Video Demonstration on Breakfast Television Edmonton
On June 13, 2012 I was fortunate enough to be a host on Breakfast Television.  For this summer segment, I demonstrated the wonderful watermelon cake.  Enjoy!  Jo-Ann

1 oblong seedless watermelon
Assortment of fruit:  strawberries, kiwis, cantelope, pineapple, blackberries, grapes
Note: Pay special attention to ensure to the fruit that you purchase is not overripe as it will not hold its shape well in the carving and assembly of the cake.

Take the watermelon and carefully slice each end off with a sharp knife.   Try to make the bottom and top as level as possible.

Stand the melon on one end and cut down the sides of the melon removing the peel.  Then begin to remove the white pith.  Bit by bit, turn the plate so you take a little off then turn, then a bit more, then turn etc.  Aim for an octagon.  Then begin to take off the sharp corners to create a circle.

Use cookie cutters to cut out fruit shapes and attach to the watermelon with toothpicks.

The watermelon cake can be wrapped with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for a maximum of 3-4 hours.  To serve cut into the watermelon cake into pieces, remove tooth picks and add a dollop of yogurt on the side.

Credit to Kristy with blog See My Footprints.

Grand Marnier and Blueberry French Toast

Grand Marnier French Toast with Orange Blueberry Sauce

Grand Marnier French Toast with Orange Blueberry Sauce

If you know of me  – you know I like to bake desserts: multi-tiered cakes, cupcakes, pie pops, trifles, tarts and cookies.   So you would think that dessert would be my most favourite meal.  But if you really, really know me…you would know that I LOVE brunch!  I absolutely adore that you can combine dishes of sweet and savoury at a time in the morning that has the relaxed atmosphere of pure indulgence and culinary luxury.  The idea of brunch is definitely a step up from the everyday toast & cereal and is an elevated meal compared to the weekend fare of bacon and eggs.  It is a time of day that exudes lazy elegance with the understanding that people have been anticipating this meal the night before and then all morning…and I love that!

So with Mother’s Day approaching, I decided to enhance my standby recipe of Grand Marnier French Toast from Epicurious and change it up a bit to suit a lazy, celebratory morning and increase the flavour with an orange blueberry sauce.   I created a dish that can be made the night before and popped into the oven 45 minutes prior to your guests arriving: perfect timing for the coffee to be brewed, sizzle some breakfast sausage in a pan, slice up some fruite and call it a glamorous brunch for friends and family.

In closing, I dedicate this recipe to my mother and mother-in-law.  They arethe two women whom are forever answering my culinary questions and their answers are always honest, tried and true.  They are both a wonderful resource and I am so very thankful to have them just a phone call away.  And for that I cannot thank you enough. Happy Mother’s Day!

Recipe: Adapted from Epicurious

Grand Marnier French Toast
5 large eggs
1 c of Half & Half
2 tbsp of Grand Marnier
2 tbsp of orange juice concentrate
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp of vanilla
grated zest of one orange
1 sourdough bread bowl or 1 french bread loaf

Orange Blueberry Sauce
4 c of blueberries (frozen or fresh)
2 tbsp orange juice concentrate
grated zest of one orange
juice of one orange
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch & 2 tbsp of cold water

1 c of whipping cream (whipped to make 2 cups)
Powdered sugar

Slice bread into 1/2 inch slices.  You can choose to cook the french toast in a 13×9 glass baking dish or a ceramic pie plate.  If you are choosing to use a pie plate, you must cut your slices in half again.  Whisk the first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl.  Lightly grease your baking dish with butter.  Dip each bread slice into the egg mixture and arrange in the baking dish.  Pour remaining egg mixture over the bread.  Let stand until egg mixture is absorbed, at lease 20 minutes. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.)  Bake at 375F for 45 minutes.

Combine the first five ingredients in a saucepan on medium heat and bring to a simmer.   Combine the cornstartch and cold water, add to the blueberry mixture and bring to a boil.  Once thickened remove from heat and cool.

Cut into slices and garnish with powdered sugar, orange blueberry sauce and whipping cream.


Grand Marnier & Blueberry French Toast

Grand Marnier & Blueberry French Toast

Release Your Inner Picasso!

Painted Sugar CookiesPaint your Sugar Cookies with Icing Paint!

Sugar Cookies are a tried and true tradtion for many bakers and is very simple with ingredients that you would find in any fridge or kitchen cupboard.  The dough is a basic sugar cookie recipe and the icing is only two ingredients: egg yolk and liquid food colouring.  Although this recipe is very simple in ingredients, it is crucial to follow the directions to ensure that you have a moist and pliable cookie dough for rolling.

One important tip when baking is to always spoon your flour into your measuring cup and then level the cup with a knife.  Scooping the measuring cup directly from your flour bin can add close to an extra 3 tablespoons of flour into your cookie dough!  That extra flour in your dough is the difference between a soft, rollable cookie dough and a dry and crumbly mess.  As well, always have your butter and eggs at room temperature.  Baking is a chemical reaction and when the temperature of your ingredients is cold, you will have a difficult time incorporating all of your ingredients into one fluid mixture.  Follow these simple tips when baking and you are well on your way to creating a masterpiece.

This icing technique is perfect for children and allows them be creative at their own pace.  All you need are two ingredients (egg yolk & food colouring) and some new paint brushes and away you go!

Ingredients for Cookie Dough

•3/4 cup butter , softened

•1 cup granulated sugar

•1 egg

•2 tsp vanilla

•1/4 tsp almond extract , (optional)

•2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spoon your flour into your measuring cup and then level with a knife)

•1/2 tsp baking powder

Ingredients for Icing Paint

– Add one egg yolk per bowl,  in a small dish.  Add 3-4 drops of liquid food colour and mix well.

In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy; then beat inthe egg and vanilla.  In a medium size bowl, stir flour with baking powder.  Stir into butter mixture in 2 additions.  Do not over mix.  Mixture will be crumbly. Divide mixture into two batches on plastic wrap and form into a disc with your hands.

Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until chilled, (Make ahead: Refirigerate dough for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 weeks.)

Pre-heat your oven to 350. Take out your dough and let it rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Roll out the dough on a well floured counter or parchment paper.  Dip your cookie cutters into flour and begin cutting out your cookie shapes. Using a set of paint brushes designated for the kitchen, begin painting cookies with icing paint. Cook cookies at 350 for 10 minutes. Due to different oven temperatures check cookies after 8 minutes.  Remove cookies and let cool on a cooling rack.  Cookies can be stored in an air tight container for 3-5 days.

Recipe adapted from Canadian Living Sugar Cookie Dough

Smore Shooters…Classy Enough for Adults but Kid Friendly!

Smore Shooters

These Smore Shooters are the perfect dessert for a Smore Table…classy enough for adults and kid friendly as well.  They are pretty simple and made with Marshmallow Frosting, Chocolate Glaze and Graham Cracker Crumbs.  You will need close to 1/2 cup of Graham Cracker Crumbs.  The secret to these shooters and any layered dessert (Trifle) is to be very neat and tidy with your layers.  That means making sure each layer is smoothed out evenly and touching the side of your dish but also the sides of the glass dish are kept clean.  If you slop on the side, take a cloth and wipe it otherwise the layers will not show properly because this is the visual appeal of this show stopping dessert.  For creating this layered look in the shooter glasses, put your marshmallow frosting in a piping or ziploc bag.

Marshmallow Frosting

This frosting recipe is from Jennifer Shea of Trophy Cupcakes and was featured on Martha Stewart Living.

  • Yield –  This recipe will fill 12 tall shot glasses with some leftover


  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


  • Place egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer. Set over a saucepan with simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix until combined. Use immediately.

Chocolate Glaze

I absolutely adore this recipe from the Whimsical Bakehouse by Liv and Kaye Hansen.  I was fortunate enough to visit their bakery a couple of years back and I met them both.  Their shop is incredibly cute and their bakery delights are out of this world and so creative.  Their books are a wealth of knowledge and the recipes are second to none.  I use this chocolate glaze over cupcakes, cakes and of course in the Smore Shooters.  This recipe will keep for a while in the fridge and also freezes well!


  • 12oz semi-sweet chocolate – chopped finely
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup


  • In saucepan on med-low heat, heat the cream until bubbles start to form – watch it very, very closely
  • Add chopped chocolate to med size bowl.  Add cream and leave it for 2 mins.  Slowly stir to melt chocolate (whisking quickly creates air bubbles)
  • Add butter and corn syrup.  If mixture is not completely melted together, put in the microwave in 10 sec intrevals.


The secret to these shooters and any layered dessert (Trifle) is to be very neat and tidy with your layers.  That means making sure each layer is smoothed out evenly and touching the side of your dish but also the sides of the glass dish are kept clean.  If you slop on the side and above the layer you are working on, take a cloth and wipe it otherwise the layers will not show properly.  For creating this layered look in the shooter glasses, put your marshmallow frosting in a piping or ziploc bag.  The glaze can be put in a bag but it will be in almost a liquid until cooled – use either a spoon or a ziploc bag.

Layer the following: put 2 tsp of graham cracker crumbs in each glass, marshmallow frosting, chocolate glaze and then repeat. If you are using a piping bag for the frosting, just swirl it in the glass but make sure it touches the edges. Once filled to the top, garnish with graham crumbs and chocolate chips.

Enjoy and send me your comments!  Jo-Ann

Pie for Everyone!

Summer is here and there is nothing more that celebrates summer than pies…blueberry, strawberry, cherry and of course apple pie.  I was asked to design a dessert table for a wedding that was having their reception in a rustic barn.  There is nothing more down home and rustic than a homemade pie.

With a burlap table cloth and various pies in mind I created a table fit for a bride and groom in one of the most beautiful rustic rooms with wagon wheel light fixtures, old wood floors and large barn doors to let in the sunshine.  The one idea that I tried was the Cherry Pie Pops.  These looks super cute, a little bit of work but created an amazing centerpiece.

For directions follow this link from the one an only Bakerella.  Her directions were simple to follow and it worked like a charm.  Once sealed and brushed with egg white I sprinkled course sugar to give it a bit of decoration and then tied a red ribbon around the stick to give the arrangement some color.

Cherry Pie Pops

Cherry Pie Pops

It was a stunning wedding and such fun a fun table to design and bake.  Congratulations Marjolene and Liam – I wish you nothing but sweet memories for the rest of your life.

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