Rustic Pie Dough by Judy Kim

by Judy Kim

Rustic Pie Dough

Yield: Two 8 to 10-inch single-crust pies or one double-crust pie

This is a no-fuss dough recipe made without a food processor or pastry cutter. Living proof that pastry can be made on a hot Summer day but still be delicious and flaky. I made this on a trip to Charleston, SC in August, so you can imagine the high humidity in an already hot kitchen. Needless to say, it was not an ideal situation for baking. Since I was in the South, the use of lard just seemed apropos and I paired it with my favorite high butterfat European butter. Most likely the reason this rustic thrown together dough tastes so delicate despite the thrown together process.

I would suggest using this pastry for simple galettes or tarts. If you're looking for pastry to make a decorative pie, use my Vodka Pie Crust or Vodka Pâte Brisée Pie Crust


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, additional for rolling

1 teaspoon flaky sea salt, such as Jacobsen Salt

12 tablespoons unsalted European style butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1/2-inch cubes, I use Vermont Creamery European Cultured Butter with 86% butterfat

1/4 cup lard (or shortening)

1/4 cup cold water


  1. In a large mixing bowl combine flour and sea salt. Add butter and break butter into the flour by pressing the butter between your index finger and thumbs using a slow snapping motion. It will create large chards of butter. Rotate through all the pieces of butter until they have all been flattened out and coated in flour to avoid clumps. Add the lard and continue to mix with your hands. Work quickly to prevent the butter from melting from the warmth of your hands. The mixture should look slightly lumpy.

  2. Add 1 tablespoon of cold water at a time and combine until the dough comes together. I used 1/4 cup of cold water. Chilled water using ice cubes is the most ideal, but cold filtered tap water is fine.

  3. Spread a thin dusting of bench flour and knead the dough just until it forms a ball. Avoid using too much bench flour and over kneading or the pastry will get tough. Cut the dough in half and wrap tightly in plastic wrap and form into a round or rectangle, based on your final desired shape. Chill in the fridge until ready for use. Bring to room temperature for a few minutes before rolling.

Note: European butter is different than regular butter, it has a high level of butterfat and will soften very easily. I typically keep this butter in the freezer until I'm ready to use it. At minimum keep it in the fridge. 

Pro Tip: Make a double batch of pie dough and label the plastic wrap with the date for a future use. You'll make your next pie in half the time. Freeze dough up to 3 months.

Coconut Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting Rosettes by Judy Kim

by Judy Kim

Coconut Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting & Rosettes

Yield: 4 layer (9-inch) cake or approximately 22 - 24 cupcakes

Coconut cake, probably my favorite cake. I doubled this cake recipe once and half the layers ended up tasting like churros. If I can figure out a way to duplicate that, I'll let you know.  

Try variations on this recipe using different sizes of cake and types of shredded coconut. See my mini version above.



½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature plus extra for greasing pans

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting pans

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ cup sugar

3 large eggs separated, plus 3 whites

1 ½ cups cream of coconut

1 ¼ cups unsweetened coconut milk (such as So Delicious)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon orange zest

½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

3 cups unsweetened finely shredded coconut


6 large egg whites, at room temperature

1 ½ cups sugar

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

¾ cup solid vegetable shortening, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 ½ cups unsweetened finely shredded coconut, tasted

1 ½ cups unsweetened large flaked coconut, toasted for flavor and a rustic look or untoasted for an elegant white cake.



  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

  2. Cut 2 rounds of parchment paper to fit the base of each cake pan. Grease two 9-inch cake pans with room temperature butter, place a parchment round in each cake pan and grease the top of the parchment paper. Dust with flour and discard any excess.

  3. In a large mixing bowl, using a fork whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream butter and sugar together until pale in color and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add yolks 1 at a time until each is incorporated. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Lower speed and add flour mixture in 2 to 3 batches. Batter will be very thick.

  4. In a mixing bowl (I prefer a large Pyrex liquid measuring cup since it has a pour spout), whisk together cream of coconut, coconut milk, vanilla, orange zest and orange juice. Add coconut cream mixture and shredded coconut to the batter in 2 to 3 batches. Beat on low until just combined, do not overmix. Transfer to large mixing bowl used previously for flour.

  5. In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip remaining 6 egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold into batter with a large rubber spatula.

  6. Divide batter between the prepared cake pans. Smooth batter using an off-set spatula. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center of the cake, it should come out clean. Cool cake on wire rack. Unmold cakes once they are just cool enough to handle, about 15 to 20 minutes. If the cake is completely cooled it will be difficult to unmold.

  7. Using a serrated bread knife, place one hand on top of cake to hold it steady and cut each layer in half horizontally through the center of the cake into two layers. If cake layers are domed during baking, level cake by using the serrated knife. Those are the best parts of the cake to snack on!

  8. Cake should be completely cooled for several hours before frosting, or made the day before. If you make the cake in advance wrap each cooled cake tightly with plastic wrap before cutting into layers. Store in refrigerator for 2 to 3 days or freezer.



  1. In a large metal bowl whisk together sugar and egg whites until fully combined. Set bowl over a pot of boiling water as a double boiler, constantly whisk until the sugar has completely dissolved.

  2. Pour mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip on high speed until it is thick, shiny and white. The peaks should be very firm. If they are not firm, the frosting will not be stable.

  3. While the egg whites are whipping, sift confectioner’s sugar. After you reach stiff peaks, add confectioner’s sugar all at once into mixer on very low speed until it is fully incorporated.

  4. Add butter and shortening in 2 to 3 additions.

  5. Add vanilla extract.

  6. Switch to paddle attachment and beat on high speed until smooth, approximately 5 minutes. The longer you beat the frosting, the whiter the color will become.

The buttercream can be stored at room temperature for 4 days, up to 2 weeks in refrigerator, 2 months in the freezer.



  1. Add 1 small dollop of frosting in the center of a cake stand or plate. Optional to place cake onto a cardboard round available at any baking supply store or online. Place 1 of the 4 layers of cake, cut side up. Cut 5 strips of parchment paper cut 3-inches wide. Fan out each piece of parchment by tucking in the center of the paper under the cake while covering the cake stand. This will ensure easy cleanup of the cake stand after decoration.

  2. Spread a thin layer of frosting on top of the first layer of cake using an offset spatula. It's easiest by starting with a large dollop of frosting in the center and spread it out. Push enough frosting to the edge of the cake, it’s helpful if the frosting extends past the cake. This helps keep the layers even and aids in frosting the exterior. Sprinkle top with toasted coconut. Place next cake layer on top and repeat with frosting and coconut. Repeat with the third layer and for the final layer place cut side down (I prefer the bottom piece of the cake rounds as they are flat). Optional: For stability place a bamboo skewer into the center of the cake and trim to height of cake, it will be covered with frosting. Spread frosting in a thin layer on top since it will be covered in roses and 1/4-inch thickness of frosting on the sides of cake, otherwise you may run out of frosting while piping the rosettes.

  3. Transfer remaining frosting into a large pastry bag fitted with 1M pastry tip. Place a large 18-inch pastry bag in a pint class, fold back the sides and fill frosting using a rubber spatula. Unfold sides upwards and twist to create pressure. Pro-tip: To keep things tidy, use an icing bag tie to keep the bag closed. And while frosting the cake you can rest the pastry bag in the pint glass.

  4. Hold the pastry bag in your dominant hand and keep the bag firmly twisted, use your other hand to guide the base near the tip for control. Starting from the center of the rose, press the pastry bag at the top and guide the tip to move in an outward circle until the rose is created. Keep even pressure but as you approach the final edge of the rose, begin to lighten the pressure to create a tapered finish. Optional to make the roses uniform or varied in size.

  5. Remove parchment paper from the cake stand and any excess coconut flakes that have fallen during the decorating process.

Pro-tip: When piping a new cake design, I practice frosting techniques on parchment paper. It’s easy to scoop up the frosting and re-use it while you're practicing your skills or planning a new design concept.  

Salted Caramel Pear Pie by Judy Kim

by Judy Kim

Salted Caramel Pear Pie

Yield: 1 (9-inch) pie

I love this lesser known combination in comparison to apples and caramel, but it easily interchangeable, perhaps one the things I love most about pie. Recipes are suggestions and hope that with each pie, each baker personalizes them with small changes and substitutions when necessary.

This Springtime Garden Wreath pie design is a labor of love. In many ways the making of this is no different than the arts and crafts techniques I learned from my Mom. But I say, make a pie that suits you, and if time is a factor use a full pie crust in lieu of this detailed design, it will still taste delicious. See the video below for a demo.



1 double crust pie dough, such as Buttermilk Pie Crust

All-purpose flour, for rollling dough

1 egg

1 tablespoon heavy cream for egg wash

Salted Caramel:

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter (preferably European butter), sliced into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 cup heavy cream, extra for egg wash

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon flaky sea salt


4 Anjou pears - peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon lemon zest (suggest Meyer lemon if available)

1 lemon, juiced

1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons tapioca flour (or cornstarch)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes and frozen


  1. To make the salted almond caramel, heat a large sauce pan over medium heat. Combine 1/4 cup water and 3/4 cup sugar, swirl the pan to help them dissolve. Add slices of butter, bring to a boil and simmer until golden brown, about 10 minutes. At this stage, stir occasionally using a wooden spoon. Watch the mixture carefully as it can burn. Turn off heat and add heavy cream carefully as it will bubble intensely. While continuing to stir, add almond extract (for stronger flavor add 1 teaspoon almond extract instead) and sea salt. Set aside to cool. This can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator for a few weeks.

  2. Let the prepared Buttermilk Pie Crust come to room temperature, about 5 to 7 minutes before rolling out. On a lightly floured surface, roll out round disk to 1/8-inch thickness and larger than the circumference of your 9-inch pie dish. Gently fold into quarters and transfer to the pie dish. Trim excess with scissors or a knife along the rim and place pie dish in the fridge.

  3. Leftover dough from the bottom crust can be used for decorative cut outs in the shape of leaves and flowers. I prefer to use two different leaf shapes when possible. It may be necessary to roll a bit thinner and chill in the freezer for a few minutes. Dust each side of chilled leftover dough before using pie cutters or cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Lay them in a single layer on a quarter sheet pan dusted with flour, lay parchment paper between layers of pastry as needed. Place cut outs in the freezer.

  4. Remove second piece of pie dough from fridge and let come to room temperature before rolling to 1/8-inch thickness. To make this design, it is preferred if dough is pre-shaped into a rectangular. Use a ruler to cut long strips for the lattice work. To re-create my design, you will need a mix of braids using either narrow or wide strips. Work quickly to prevent the dough from getting warm, chill dough in fridge to firm up when necessary. After cutting enough strips, use leftover scraps for more cut outs; transfer to the chilled sheet pan with other cut outs. Place lattice strips and braids on a separate sheet pan, chill in the fridge until you are ready for final assembly; avoid the freezer as strips may become too stiff to handle later.

  5. In a large mixing bowl, fold pears, lemon zest (sometimes I zest the entire lemon for extra flavor), juice of 1 lemon, 1/4 cup sugar, tapioca flour, cinnamon, vanilla extract and sea salt. In a small bowl beat 1 egg with 1 tablespoon heavy cream. Set aside.

  6. For the final assembly, add even layer of 1/4 cup caramel at room temperature into chilled pie crust. If caramel is too thick to handle, warm on low heat, just enough to loosen but not too hot that it will melt the pastry. Layer half of the pear mixture in an even layer, top with 1/4 cup caramel, layer remaining pears and drizzle about 1/8 cup caramel. Scatter frozen butter cubes evenly all over the top layer. If time permits, chill pie in fridge or freezer for 10 minutes. NOTE: There will be some leftover caramel, keep in fridge for a few weeks or drizzle warm caramel over each slice when serving.

  7. Apply a very thin layer of egg wash around the rim of the pie using a small pastry brush, it will act as glue. Remove lattice pieces from fridge and bring to room temperature for a few minutes to prevent breakage. Begin lattice work by lightly arranging each element to create your design. When you're satisfied, trim the edges with scissors or a sharp paring knife. Begin to lift each piece alternatively to create the lattice and press down lightly along the rim to seal edges. For a traditional lattice layout, create 90° angles, but for an argyle arrangement try 45° angles.

  8. To complete the design, add a leaf and floral wreath border. Brush the back of the leave cut outs one at a time with egg wash to secure and place in a random pattern or alternate directions. Use a variety of flower shapes if possible and nestle them into the leaves trying not to cover up too much of the lattice work. For visual interest you can stack different sized flowers on top of each other. However be cautious to create too many layers as the pie thickness will affect the taste. Place pie in freezer preferable to the fridge to chill pastry, minimum of 20 minutes.

  9. Preheat oven to 425°F, with a pizza stone or Baking Steel on middle rack if possible. Just before baking, gently brush the pastry with a thin even layer of egg wash all over, avoid pooling. If any pieces become loose, glue them down with a small dab of egg wash. Place pie on a rimmed sheet pan and loosely tent entire pie with foil avoiding contact with the pie. Bake on the middle rack for 20 minutes. Reduce oven to 375°F and remove foil. Finish baking until filling is bubbling, and golden brown about 60 minutes more. Watch the pie carefully, rotate if necessary. Pro-tip, pie must be violently bubbling to ensure filling is cooked and bottom crust is crispy. Let pie cool completely before serving, minimum of 4 to 6 hours.

Springtime Garden Wreath pie design demo.

Chocolate Nut Butter Cups (Peanut Butter Cups & Pecan Butter Cups) by Judy Kim

by Judy Kim

Chocolate Nut Butter Cups

Yield: 20-24 pieces


10 ounce bag of Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips, 60% cacao

11.5 ounce bag of Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips

Variation 1: peanut butter cups:

1 cup smooth peanut butter

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup confectioners sugar, sifted

1/4 teaspoon salt

Variation 2: pecan butter cups:

1 cup toasted pecans, plus additional pecans for garnish


For Classic Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine peanut butter, butter, sugar and salt. Mix with a hand held mixer and beat on medium low speed until well blended. Transfer nut mixture into a pastry bag or into a plastic ziplock bag with 1/4-inch of the corner cut off to mimic a pastry bag. Set bag aside.

  2. Line two standard 12 cup muffin tins with paper liners. Set up a double boiler to melt the chocolate. Since this recipe calls for 2 different types of chocolate, you need 2 Pyrex or metal bowls that will fit over a medium sauce pan filled with simmering water. If you want to simplify the recipe, just combine both chocolate types into one bowl or select one type of chocolate.

  3. First melt the dark chocolate for the bottom layer. The milk chocolate will the top layer with a drizzle of dark chocolate, so reserve a little bit of dark chocolate. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of dark chocolate into each muffin cup. After you add the dark chocolate, swirl the pan to even out the chocolate. Transfer to freezer until it's set, 10-15 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, place the second bowl over double boiler to melt milk chocolate. Check to ensure there is still water in the sauce pan.

  5. Remove the muffin tins from the freezer and pipe approximately 1 tablespoon of peanut butter evenly over the cold dark chocolate. Spoon 1 tablespoon of milk chocolate over the peanut butter. Smooth out the chocolate with a spoon. Transfer muffin tin back to the freezer for about 10-15 minutes.

  6. Return bowl of remaining dark chocolate back to the double boiler. Before drizzling chocolate, place muffin tins over parchment paper or paper towels for easy clean up. Using a fork, drizzle dark chocolate over the top of the milk chocolate layer. Return to freezer for 5 minutes.

  7. The total quantity will vary depending on the amount of chocolate you choose for each layer.

For Chocolate Pecan Butter Cups:

  1. In place of peanut butter, replace it with homemade pecan butter. Place pecans into a small food processor (you can use a blender, but I find a food processor to be faster) and start with short pulses. Then blend about 1 minute till smooth.

  2. Add butter, sugar and salt and blend until combined.

  3. Replace pecan butter in place of peanut butter and follow same directions.

  4. Option: Instead of drizzing chocolate on top of final layer, place one whole pecan on top of milk chocolate before it sets, then transfer to the freezer.

•• Chocolate nut butter cups can be kept in the freezer.