Sweeter off the Vine! is Yossy Arefi’s first book. Celebrate the luscious fruits of every season with this stunning collection of heirloom-quality recipes for pies, cakes, tarts, ice cream, preserves, and other sweet treats. Ruby red rhubarb is roasted to adorn a pavlova, juicy apricots and berries are baked into galettes with saffron sugar, and winter’s bright citrus shines in Blood Orange Donuts and Tangerine Cream Pie. Yossy Arefi’s recipes showcase what is fresh and vibrant any time of year by enhancing the enticing sweetness of fruits with bold flavors like rose and orange flower water inspired by her Iranian heritage, bittersweet chocolate and cacao nibs, and whole-grain flours. Accompanied by gorgeous, evocative photography, Sweeter off the Vine!, is a must-have for aspiring bakers and home cooks of all abilities.
The Sweetest Strawberry Tart
-Makes one 15 x 6 –inch tart
I’m not one for hyperbole, especially when it comes to food, but this truly is the simplest strawberry tart, and it’s more delicious than the sum of its parts. This tart is all about the contrasting textures of crisp crust, creamy mascarpone, and juicy strawberries, so make sure to assemble the tart right before you serve it so the crust doesn’t get soggy.
- 1⁄2 recipe Rye Pie Crust (see rye variation on All- Butter Pie Crust, below)
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten for egg wash
- 1 pound (450g) small sweet strawberries
- 1 cup (225g) mascarpone
- 3 tbs Vanilla Sugar (page 235) or granulated sugar
- 3 tbs high-quality strawberry jam
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400ºF (200ºF/Gas Mark 6).
On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, roll out the pie crust disk into an oval about 15 by 6 inches and just under 1⁄4-inch thick. Use a paring knife or pastry cutter to trim any rough edges and move the parchment sheet and crust to a baking sheet. Dock the crust with a fork to prevent it from puffing up too much in the oven. Brush the surface of the crust from edge to edge with the egg wash. Bake the dough until it is deep golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Check on the crust halfway through baking and if any bubbles have appeared, use a spatula to press them flat. Cool the crust completely on the pan.
While the crust is cooling, combine the mascarpone and 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Hull the strawberries and slice them into 1⁄4-inch slices.
Move the cooled pie crust to a serving platter or board and spread the mascarpone over the top in an even layer, dot with the jam, then arrange the sliced strawberries in a single, slightly overlapping layer in a decorative pattern. Sprinkle the tart with the remaining tablespoon of sugar (omit this final sprinkling if your strawberries are particularly sweet), slice, and serve immediately.
All-Butter Pie Crust
-Makes about 25 oz (720g), enough for one double crust tort or two single crust pies
All pie crust is made from the same basic ingredients: flour, fat, water, and salt. I am partial to an all-butter crust because I think it tastes the best. The key to flaky pie crust is to keep the ingredients nice and cold— especially the butter and water—and to work quickly and intentionally. The small amount of apple cider vinegar in this recipe helps tenderize the dough by preventing the gluten in the flour from forming long strands, making the dough tough. I like to mix pie crust with my hands rather than a food processor or pastry blender because I can control the exact size and shape of the butter pieces for the flakiest results.
- 2 ⅔ cups (340g) all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (255g) very cold unsalted butter
- 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
- 8 tbs (120ml) ice water
Whisk the flour and salt together in a large bowl, cut the butter into 1⁄2-inch cubes, and add the apple cider vinegar to the ice water.
Working quickly, add the butter to the flour and toss to coat. Then use your fingers or the palms of your hands to press each cube of butter into a flat sheet. Keep tossing the butter in the flour as you go to ensure that each butter piece is coated with flour. The idea is to create flat, thin shards of butterrange from about the size of a dime to about the size of a quarter.
If at any time the butter seems warm or soft, briefly refrigerate the bowl.
Sprinkle about 6 tablespoons of the icy cold vinegar-water mixture over the flour mixture. Use a gentle hand or wooden spoon to stir the water into the flour until just combined. If the dough seems dry, add more cold water a couple of teaspoons at a time. You have added enough water when you can pick up a handful of the dough and easily squeeze it together without it falling apart.
Press the dough together, then split it in half. Form each half into a disk, and wrap each disk in plastic wrap. Chill the dough for at least 2 hours before using, but preferably overnight. Keeps for up to three months in the freezer wrapped in a double layer of plastic wrap and a layer of foil. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.
Variations: For a rye variation, substitute 11⁄3 cups (175g) rye flour for an equal amount of the all purpose flour. For a spelt variation, substitute 11⁄3 cups (175g) spelt flour for an equal amount of the all purpose flour. You also may need a bit more water to bind the dough for these variations.
-Makes 4 cups (800g)
This simple vanilla sugar can be substituted for granulated sugar in any recipe that might benefit from a bit of additional vanilla flavor. It also makes a lovely gift, packaged in a jar with a nice label. As you use the vanilla-infused sugar, top off the jar with fresh sugar and the pods of spent vanilla beans. Spent vanilla beans are vanilla beans that have been used one time, to make ice cream, for example, but that still have a lot of vanilla flavor and are perfect for this use.
- 4 cups (800g) sugar
- 2 vanilla beans
- Two 1-pint (480ml) jars or one 1-quart (1l) jar
Use the tip of a knife to slice each vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Combine the vanilla seeds and sugar in a bowl and use your fingertips to work the vanilla seeds evenly into the sugar. Divide the scented sugar into the jars, along with the vanilla bean pods. Use the sugar immediately or store in a cool, dark place until ready to use.
Marie-Danielle’s Apple Tart
Makes one 10 x 15 –inch tart
I learned how to make this supremely simple and surprisingly tasty tart from my friend Amelie, who in turn learned how to make it from her mother, Marie-Danielle. I know the lineage goes back further than that, but I associate it with those two lovely women, so Marie- Danielle gets the credit here. I’ve modified the recipe slightly to use homemade spelt puff pastry instead of traditional puff pastry, for its wholesome flavor and exceptionally light texture. If you are pinched for time, store-bought puff pastry makes a fine substitute. Use Dufour or another brand made with all butter instead of vegetable shortening for the tastiest results. Marie-Danielle and Amelie like to use Granny Smith and Gala apples, but any firm, tart apples will work wonderfully.[place Marie Dannielles Apple Tart.jpg]
- 1⁄3 recipe (450g) Spelt Quick Puff Pastry (page 231)
- 4 large tart baking apples, about 2 pounds (900g)
- 2 tbs all purpose flour
- 6 tbs (75g) vanilla sugar (page 235) or granulated sugar
- Pinch salt
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten for egg wash
- 1 tbs turbinado sugar
- Crème Fraîche (page 228) or lightly sweetened whipped cream, to serve
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Peel, core, and slice the apples into 1⁄8-inch slices. On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a 10 by 15-inch (25 by 38cm) rectangle. Trim the edges so they are more or less straight and even. Transfer the pastry to the baking sheet and sprinkle the flour and 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar over the top, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges. Arrange the apple slices on top of the dough so the edges slightly overlap, while leaving a 1-inch border around the edges. Sprinkle the remaining granulated sugar and a pinch of salt over the apples. Fold the edges of the dough up and over the apples and press gently to seal at the corners. Pop the baking sheet into the freezer for about 15 minutes, or until the dough is firm.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425ºF (220ºC/Gas Mark 7). When you are ready to bake, brush the dough with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
Bake the tart, turning the pan halfway through baking until the apples are soft and browning around the edges and the pastry is deep golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Cut into slices and serve with whipped cream or crème fraîche. This tart is best the day it’s made, although it makes a fine breakfast the next morning.
Spelt Quick Puff Pastry
-Makes about three pounds (1350g) pastry, enough for three large tarts or lots of little ones.
The method to make this quick puff pastry is a lot less involved than traditional puff pastry, but the results are still spectacularly flaky. The addition of spelt flour gives the pastry a bit of nutty flavor and a delicate, crisp texture when baked. Because this dough is unsweetened, you can use it for both sweet and savory preparations. This dough can used for Cherry and Chocolate Turnovers (page 50) and Marie-Danielle’s Apple Tarte (page 146).
- 3 cups (680g) cold unsalted butter
- 2 1⁄4 cups (280g) all purpose flour
- 2 cups (255g) spelt flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 cup (240ml) cold water
Cut the cold butter into 1⁄2-inch cubes. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl, combine the flours and salt. Add the butter all at once and mix on low speed until the butter is well coated with flour and beginning to break up into smaller pieces. If working by hand, use a pastry blender for this step. Add the water all at once and mix for about 15 seconds, or until the water is evenly incorporated. At this point the dough may look like a crumbly mess: don’t worry about it.
Turn the mixture out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface and do your best to pat it into a rectangle about 1 inch thick with your hands. Use a bench scraper to fold the right third of the dough to the center. Fold the left third of the dough over the other two thirds, like a letter. Turn the dough 90 degrees. You have completed your first turn. If the dough is sticking to the work surface, lightly flour it, but take care not to add too much more flour to the dough.
Press the dough back into a rectangle roughly 1 inch thick and repeat the process two more times. The dough will seem crumbly, and may fall apart a bit at first, but it will come together eventually. If at any point the bits of butter seem soft, slide the dough onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for a few minutes, until the butter has hardened up a bit. By the end of the first three turns, the dough will begin to resemble a cohesive mass.
-Makes about one cup (225g)
Crème fraîche is a tart French-style sour cream. It is a bit more subtle in flavor than American sour cream, and I love to use it both as a garnish and as an ingredient in sweet and savory cooking. It can sometimes be difficult to find at the grocery store, but it is very simple to make at home. Add a tablespoon or two of maple syrup to the finished crème fraîche for a slightly sweet variation.
- 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
- 2 tbs buttermilk
Stir the cream and buttermilk together in a glass container. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours, or until the cream has thickened to the consistency of soft sour cream and has a tart, tangy flavor. Store the crème fraîche in the refrigerator, covered, for up to seven days.
Sweeter off the Vine! is available at your local bookstore or can be ordered from Indiebound and Amazon.
Yossy Arefi is a Brooklyn based photographer, food stylist and baker. Originally from Seattle, Yossy moved to New York in 2007 where she worked in restaurant kitchens honing her baking skills for a few years before hanging up her apron in 2012 to devote more time to her photography.
In 2010 she started her the award winning blog Apt. 2B Baking Co.which celebrates seasonal baking and preserving.
How to Make Blackberry Rhubarb Pie with Yossy Arefi
Yossy shares her baking mistakes and tahini obsession with the London Guardian here.
Another Fruit Pie recipe.
Reprinted with permission from Sweeter Off the Vine, by Yossy Arefi, © 2016, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Photographs copyright © 2016 by Yossy Arefi unless otherwise credited.