Nothing screams, “Happy Holidays!” more than the warm aromas of baking wafting out from kitchens far and wide. Whether you’re working with a baking recipe passed down through several generations, or looking for new recipes and ideas for this winter, our pastry chef and owner, Becky Courchesne has some insights that will help every baker with their holiday baking endeavors.
What seasonal produce do you like to use in your holiday pastries?
Persimmons, Meyer lemons which are just starting, and pears of course!
What are your recommendations for making a great homemade pie dough?
Keep everything cold. If you’re making it in a Cuisinart or a mixer, fold in the water, don’t add it into the device. Put the flour and fat together and then fold in the water and let it rest as long as you can before rolling it out. Try to make it ahead of time and then leave it in the freezer and let it defrost [when you need it] so you’re not trying to make it all in one day.
How do you transport your pastries to your holiday gatherings?
I have this old funky cake carrier that my sister in-law got for me at a thrift store and I actually use it alot because it has little handles and has a lot of space so things don’t slide around. So I recommend investing in something like that and do as much as you can ahead of time. You could bake a tart and glaze it at the end, right before [serving] and whip the cream ahead of time, bring it separately and just fold it at the end with a little unwhipped cream so it’s nice and smooth.
Do you have any tried and true pastry ingredients that you always have in your kitchen?
For pie dough, I really like leaf lard. And Kerrygold unsalted butter for making any kind of pastry. Really good vanilla extract, and the price is going to go down at the end of the year I’m hoping. And really nice all-purpose pastry flour. Those are things that are staples, totally go-tos in my kitchen.
What kind of special traditions do you love for holiday pastry?
I think cookie parties are really fun. I like the idea of people bringing cookies and exchanging them and it really relieves the pressure of one person making everything.
What dessert do you like to bring to the holidays?
Usually holiday meals are really heavy, so light things. Even though it’s winter time and this isn’t a pastry, granitas are a really nice thing to bring. Like a grapefruit or lemon or a mandarin granita. Those are really refreshing after a big heavy meal.