PIECAKEN #PIECAKEN

MY FIRST PIECAKEN, I MEAN #PIECAKEN

christmas and thanksgiving are two very food-centric holiday’s in my home. a few weeks before the holidays my husband and i toss out ideas of what to do, we call around and see what nearby relatives are doing, then we start to probe friends who may not have family in the area. after a little general consensus we tend to host eats and drinks at our place. figuring out a menu is not as easy as one would think, we don’t tend to cook up traditional holiday foods, instead we like to cook foods that we really enjoy. so this year as i was researching holiday cakes, i came across a piecaken, needless to say i was immediately intrigued. i knew then what i would be making for our christmas gathering and it was decided that i would not be doing a half-ass attempted piecaken with store bought pies, but one with high quality ingredients and from all made from scratch. 

i wrote out what i would like to see in a piecaken and started to source out recipes. i picked recipes i’ve tried in the past and used companies and cookbooks that I favor. my piecaken was a massive three layers, three separate pie flavors, and two whole pies. there was over a pound of buttercream, used over eight separate recipes and took three days to construct (remember rome wasn’t built in a day).

you’ll see i used grand central bakery’s pre-made pie crust, as i’ve had terrible luck with my own crust and I’ve also used GCB’s in the past, i know they know how to make a pie crust. you'll see i also used their pumpkin and pecan pie recipes too.

i’ve been fascinated with yolanda gampp’s youtube channel ‘how to cake it’ and have followed all of her cake videos since it started, i used her Italian meringue butter cream and it was magical, i don’t think i'll ever use american buttercream ever again.

for the apple pie layer cake i used momofuku’s milk bar apple pie layer cake recipe’s and technique's for the cake, including the liquid cheesecake, apple cider soak, and apple compote.

just like the chicken and waffles is to the screen door here in Portland,  i hope the piecaken is to my house at christmas time!

this piecaken was not labor intensive at all, if anything it was a lengthy process but so so worth it! the ingredients are all commonly found in your grocery store and if you live here in foggy Portland you’ve surely seen a grand central bakery. 

piecaken by maxene's trail of crumbs

Assembling this massive piecaken was a lengthy three day process for me, I doubt anyone would ever take three days to make and assemble a cake. However, I work full time days and have an hour commute on top of my schedule, so my free time on weeks nights runs pretty tight. Since I am a bit of a frantic mess in the kitchen and am just learning the process of cleaning as I go, rather than at the end –hello there you trail of crumbs- I am not the most efficient with my time management.  to lessen my load of this huge piecaken undertaking I decided to strategize out the assembly days in advance. I figured out the order each recipe would need to be completed prior to moving on to the next recipe, and then the next, and so on. I also wrote out a list of all of the questionable ingredients and did some heavy kitchen inventory, so that I was well prepared and not having to run out mid-recipe to purchase missing ingredients.

Here’s the breakdown of how I prepared this gargantuan piecaken (I thought each recipe out very carefully and wrote down a baking timeline a few days in advance). You may follow any schedule, but beware, you can’t make the cake without the pies being completed or you’re not making a piecaken.  I do not recommend preparing any recipe -like the pie fillings- and not baking those the day you prepared them. I have never cooked pie fillings the day after mixing and am not sure how well they will hold up, plus there’s a reason we don’t do that with recipes anyhow. 

my first piecaken #piecaken

THE FOLLOWING BREAKDOWN ACCORDING TO MY OWN TIME FRAME

day 1:

  • prepare and blind bake dough into 8-inch or 9-inch pie shells. let cool completely
  • prepare pumpkin pie filling, bake into and let cool completely. trim excess pie crust.
  •  prepare pecan pie filling, bake and let cool completely. trim excess pie crust

day 2:

  • prepare cake batter, bake pies into cake batter, cook third cake batter without pie, let all three cakes cool completely.
  • trim and level cakes so they will stack nicely.
  •  prepare apple pie fillings; apple compote, apple cider soak, and liquid cheese cake, let all cool completely

day 3:

  • prepare cake batter, bake pies into cake batter, cook third cake batter without pie, let all three cakes cool completely.
  • trim and level cakes so they will stack nicely.
  •  prepare apple pie fillings; apple compote, apple cider soak, and liquid cheese cake, let all cool completely
  • prepare cinnamon infused italian meringue butter cream, fill piping bag or a large zip-lock baggie, this isn’t necessary but will come in handy for the last few steps.
  •  trim cakes and level layers, the buttercream will fill any uneven places, so will any excess cake trimmed or leveled.

day 1:

  • prepare and bake pumpkin and pecan pie

day 2:

  • bake prepared pies into cake batter

day 3:

  • prepare italian meringue buttercream and assembled the piecaken!
my first piecaken

ASSEMBLY:

-lets start stacking and building our colossal piecaken-

  • starting with an even surface and a ruler, level the top of the cake. reserve any scraps as they can be used to  back fill the pie layers.  here's a great video on how to level your cake.
  •  to start stacking; begin with a pie layer, crust side down. if the pie did not come out level fill any gaps with buttercream and or cake scraps. using a piping bag add a generous butter cream boarder to the perimeter of the cake. this is the foundation to hold our next layer. repeat the same process with the next layer.
  • stack both piecaken layers.
  • add the final leveled cake layer. now we have a few more steps before we can do our final frosting coat. 
  •  for the top cake layer; using a pastry evening  brush the apple cider soak to the top of the cake. be generous, half or more of the soak should be used. next, using the butter cream, pipe a boarder around the perimeter of the cake layer.
  • using the back of a spoon, spread liquid cheesecake evenly within the buttercream boarder. use all or almost all of the liquid cheesecake. it doesn't hurt to be generous with this part at all.
  • lastly, add a healthy drained-dose of the apple pie compote to the top of the liquid cheese cake.
  • now add any remaining buttercream frosting to the sides of the stacked piecaken. using the straight edge of a bread knife, or a bench scraper, clean up any excess with a bench scraper
  • use any remaining frosting and frost sides of stacked piecaken, style to your liking. if looking for a cleaner edge like i used, use the back of a bread knife or a bench scraper
  • put into the refrigerator for at least an hour to firm up any loose pieces.
  • bring out 1 hour before serving (an hour at minimum); I had slices left out over night at room temp, since I didn't want to waste any cake i ate them and was absolutely happy how well it tasted the next day! (it was also very cold in my apt) but room temp allows all of the flavors to be released and settle.
  • to store this massive piecaken; I just went ahead and cut individual slices, wrapped them neatly in wax paper and then covered them in foil and stored in the fridge. I was able to hand out cake slices at work and stored a few slices in the freezer, which I am still pulling out!

-helpful to have-

  • candy thermometer that reads up to or above 150
  • turn table/ counter-top lazy susan
  • standing kitchen aid mixer
  • an offset spatula 
  • piping bag(s)
  • three 9-in or 10-in cake pans, pie needs to be able to snuggle into the pan or you’ll be trimming excess crust/ pie (which is that even a real statement, excess pie anything?) if you don’t happen to have three of the same size anything, and don’t want to bake one cake at a time, (like myself, I had two 9” and one 8”  -you can see how some of my cake got more frosting on the outside.

i used recipes that i have used in previous baking adventures so i had a good understanding of what this cake would taste like. feel free to adjust your piecaken as you please, this is just how i 


BOURBON PECAN PIE

recipe from Grand Central Bakery, direct link by clicking here.

 

preheat oven to 325 F

1.  put corn syrup and brown sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. remove from heat and add the butter, bourbon and vanilla. let the mixture cool, then add the eggs and whisk until smooth.

2.  arrange pecans halves on the bottom of the crust, then carefully pour the filling over them. bake on center rack for 45 minutes, until filling is set, rotating the pan halfway through baking time.

3. allow pie to cool before serving

 

BOURBON PECAN PIE

1 grand central bakery u-bake pie shell, blind baked

1 C light corn syrup

¾ C light brown sugar, packed

2 tbsp unsalted butter

¼ C bourbon

1 tsp vanilla

3 eggs, at room temp

1 1/2 C lightly toasted pecan halves.


PUMPKIN PIE

recipe from Grand Central Bakery, direct link to recipe by clicking here.

pumpkin pie recipe from grand central bakery

1 grand central bakery u-bake pie shell, blind baked

1 15-ounce can pumpkin pie puree

1 ½ C half and half

2 eggs

½ C granulated sugar

¼ C light brown sugar, packed

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground clove

Pinch salt

preheat oven to 325 F

whisk all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, stirring until the mixture is homogenous, creamy and smooth.

pour filling into a blind-baked pie shell and carefully place on the center rack of the oven. bake 30 minutes and 325 degrees F, rotate the pie and lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees F. bake for another 30 minutes, or until pumpkin pie filling is set and top of the pie is just beginning to darken.

allow pie to cool before serving.


BLIND BAKE PIE CRUST

pre-made from grand central bakery, direct link to recipe by clicking here.

blind bake a pie crust using GCB pre-rolled pie dough, fitted to 8-inch or 9-inch pie pan, folded and edges crimped.

to blind bake:

1.       Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2.       Use a fork to prick the bottom of a slightly thawed grand central bakery pie shell. This allows steam to escape and prevent bubbles from forming on the bottom of the crust.

3.       Cover pie with a piece of baking parchment paper or foil and fill with 2 to 3 cups of dried beans. Bank beans high along the edges; this helps to keep the crust from sagging.  Protect the edges from burning by covering edges with foil.

4.       Bake the crust for about 30 minutes, or until crust edges are dark golden brown.

5.       Remove from oven. Carefully lift out parchment paper with beans. Return the crust to the oven for 5 minutes, or until bottom crust is slightly dry and pale golden brown.

6.       Remove from oven and let cool to room temp before filling


BARELY BROWN BUTTER CAKE

recipe from Milk Bar, direct link to recipe by clicking here or buy the book here.

barely brown butter cake from christina tosi's apple pie layer cake recipe

combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrap down the sides of the bow, add the eggs, and mix on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more

stream in the butter milk, oil, and vanilla while the paddle swirls on low speed. Increase the speed to medium,-high and paddle 5 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is practically white, twice the size of your original fluffy butter-and-sugar mixture, and completely homogenous. you’re basically forcing too much liquid into an already fatty mixture that doesn’t want to make room for it, so if it doesn’t look right after 6 minutes, keep mixing. stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

on very low speed, add the cake flour, baking poweder, and salt. mix for 45 to 60 seconds, just until your batter comes together and any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. mix on low speed for another 45 seconds to ensure that any little lumps of cake flour are incorporated.

bake 30 to 35 minutes

4 tbsp unsalted butter

1 ¼ C granulated sugar

¼ C light brown sugar, tightly packed

3 eggs

½ C buttermilk

1/3 C grapeseed oil

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 ½ C cake flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp kosher salt

Pam or other non-stick spray


APPLE CIDER SOAK

recipe from Milk Bar, direct link by clicking here, or here

apple cider soak from christina tosi's apple pie layer cake recipe

1/4 C apple cider

1 tsp brown sugar, tightly packed

a pinch of cinnamon

whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl until the sugar is dissolved

 

 


LIQUID CHEESECAKE

 recipe from Milk Bar, direct link by clicking here, or here

liquid cheesecake from christina tosi's apple pie layer cake

pre-heat oven to 300 degrees f

put cream cheese in the bowl of stand mixer fitter with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed for 2 minutes. scrape down the side of the bowl with a spatula. add the sugar and mix for 1 to 2 minutes, until the sugar has been completely incorporated. scrape down the sides of the bowl.

whisk together the cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl. whisk in the milk in a slow stead stream, then whisk in the egg until the slurry is homogeneous.

with the mixer on medium-low speed. stream in the egg slurry. paddle for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and loose. scrape down the sides of the bowl.

line the bottom and sides of a 6 x 6-inch baking pan with plastic wrap. pour the cheesecake batter into the pan, put the pan in the oven, and bake for 15 minutes. gently shake the pan. the cheesecake should be firmer and more set toward the outer boundaries of the baking pan but still jiggly and loose in the dead center. if the cheesecake is jiggly all over, give it 5 minutes more. and 5 minutes more if it needs it, but it’s never taken me more than 25 minutes to under bake one. if the cheesecake rises more than ¼-inch or begins to brown, take it out of the oven immediately.

cool the cheesecake completely, to finish the baking process and allow the cheesecake to set. the final product will resemble a cheesecake but it will be pipe able and pliable enough to easily spread or smear, while still having body and volume.

8 ounces cream cheese

¾ C sugar

½ tsp cornstarch

½ tsp kosher salt

2 tbsp milk

1 egg

 

makes about 1 1/2 cups


APPLE PIE FILLING, recipe from Milk Bar, direct link by clicking here, or here.

apple pie filling from christina toni's apple pie layer cake

fill a medium bowl halfway with cold tap water. juice the lemon into it. fish out and discard any seeds. you will use this lemon water to keep your apple pieces looking fresh and pert.

peel the apples, then halve and quarter them. put each apple quarter on its side and cut a small slice down the length of the apple to remove the seeds and core. cut each apple quarter lengthwise into thirds and then crosswise into fourths, leaving you with 12 small pieces from every apple quarter. transfer these pieces to the lemon water as you go.

when you’re ready to cook, drain the apples (discard the lemon water) and combine them in a medium pot with the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. slowly bring to a boil over medium heat, using a spoon to gently stir the mixture as it heats up and the apples begin to release liquid. reduce the heat and simmer the apples gently for 3 to 5 minutes. be careful not to cook the apples so much that they turn into applesauce.

transfer to a container and put in the fridge to cool down. once completely cooled, the filling can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 1 week; do not freeze. 

1 lemon

2 medium granny smith apples

1 tsp butter

2/3 C light brown sugar, tightly packed

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp kosher salt

 

makes about 1 ¾ cups

 


YOLANDA'S ITALIAN MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

frosting can be found by clicking here.

cinnamon infused Italian meringue buttercream frosting by yolanda gampp

in a small saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar and ½ c water to a boil.

while your sugar mixture is heating, place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. when your sugar reaches about 230 degrees on the candy, begin to whip egg whites at medium-high speed until stuff but not dry; do not over beat!

once your sugar reaches 240 degrees, remove it from heat immediately, and with the mixer running, add it to your egg whites in a stream and beat on high speed. be careful, it's very hot!

continue to whip your meringue until no heat remains in the bowl. you can place your hands along the sides of the bowl to check - it should feel like it's at room temperature. 

now, with the mixer still running, add your butter bit by bit, beating until spreadable, 3 to 5 minutes; then, beat in vanilla. If your buttercream appears curdled, keep beating until smooth.  

finally, taste your Italian Meringue Buttercream. to flavor your buttercream. take a small amount of buttercream from the batch, about ½ C and place it in another bowl. add the cinnamon, a little at a time, and stir it into the buttercream. make sure cinnamon is well incorporated before introducing buttercream in your whole batch. stir well until all of your italian meringue buttercream is specked with cinnamon.

1 ¾ C granulated sugar

½ C water

8 large egg whites

1 pound unsalted butter, room temperature

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp ground cinnamon

 

makes approximately 6 cups

here's a great instructional video made by yolanda.

 


all recipes used have been cited with a direct link back to their original author. if a link is no longer working, please comment below and i will fix it.

my first piecaken
my first piecaken

here's my first piecaken ever! 

three days of baking and assembly to make this massive heavy ass cake

my first piecaken

BUEN PROVECHO!