Saturday, October 25, 2008

Rustic Apple Pie

I don't know why but I bought a lot of apples a couple of weeks ago. A LOT! I couldn't help myself. I went a little crazy when I saw all the different varieties available. I meandered around all the crates and containers picking up a couple of each variety as I went and before I knew it, I had a boat load! What's a girl to do? Make a pie!

Instead of making the typical pie, I went with a more rustic looking pie. (aka galette)

I keep extra pie dough in the freezer at all times for such an occasion. You can use any pie crust recipe you would like for your galette. If you want an easy (and tasty) recipe with photos, pop over to Simply Recipes.

Peel, core and slice your apples. (I used 4 granny smiths, 4 golden delicious and my favorite apple peeler/slicer) Toss the apples with 1 TBS fresh lemon juice and a 1/2 cup of sugar. Let them rest on the counter for an hour, then drain the liquid off into a sauce pan.

Caramelized the liquid over medium heat for 5-8 minutes.

To prevent a flood of juices from collecting in the bottom of the pie/galette, pre-cook your apples in the caramelized liquid for 10 minutes over medium heat to a temperature of 120 to 140 degrees. (This stabilizes the pectin and prevents the apples from becoming mushy when cooked for a second time in the oven. Temperatures over 140 causes the pectin to break down and you'll end up with an applesauce pie.)

Remove the apples from heat, adjust the flavoring to your liking (I sprinkle in cinnamon, a tablespoon or two of brown sugar and a slash of vanilla)

Let the apples cool for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Roll out your dough and place it on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Put your cooled apples in the middle of the dough and fold the dough up leaving most of the fruit exposed

Mix a splash of water with an egg white and brush it on the exposed dough then sprinkle it with sugar and pop it in the oven.

Bake on the bottom rack 30-45 minutes at 400 degrees (until crust is brown and fruit is bubbly) Check the bottom of the pie after 35 minutes, if it is getting too brown, move it to the middle rack and lower the temperature to 350.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

TWD: Chocolate chocolate cupcakes

After living vicariously through all the "TWD" bakers out there, I finally have jumped on the bandwagon. (Yes, the October deadline had a lot to do with motivating me)

This weeks recipe, Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes, was selected by Clara of I Heart Food4Thought You can find the recipe on her website or on pages 215-217 of Dorie Greenspan's "Baking From my Home to Yours"

Although I carefully weighed all my ingredients and took the cupcakes out of the oven the second the tops of the cakes were dry and springy to the touch and a knife inserted into the center came out clean (21-22 mins) as Dorie described, I found these cupcakes to be on the dry side.

I only had one issue with the recipe... the step where you fold the melted chocolate into the batter, ...I scraped all the chocolate into the batter at once, grabbed my spatula to fold it in, and hit a big lump of chocolate! The entire amount of melted chocolate had solidified! grrrrrrrrr. (the chocolate was around 74 degrees, the cake batter around 66 degrees when I merged the two.)
I removed the big lump of chocolate out, wiped off all the cake mix that I could, and stuck it in the microwave until it was pliable again. Then I mixed it into the batter slowly. I think there were still some small pieces of chocolate that solidified but they seemed to have melted when I baked the cupcakes.

I wanted to do something different with the cupcakes so I used the vanilla cream filling that Baking Bites posted on her site. For half of the cupcakes, I used her method of filling the cupcakes ,
for the other half, I used a faster method... I shoved the piping tip into the cupcake and squeezed the pastry bag until the cupcake swelled. (some of them cracked because I squeezed too much. See the one on the left below)

The cupcakes using Baking Bites method (shown below) looked nicer and more symmetrical than the ones I filled by shoving the tip into. (shown above) However, I'm probably the only one who noticed.

I'm have a lot to learn when it comes to baking... especially when it comes to chocolate. I really, really don't like chocolate. Not only does it end up all over my kitchen, but it doesn't behave the way it's supposed to. Please leave me a message on what I need to do differently to get chocolate under control. Perhaps there's an obedience training class out there that you could recommend?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tyler Florence Banana Bread

While visiting our daughters in Florida, the youngest, Carey, made this awesome banana bread. It was light, fluffy and delicious! As much as I love her and visiting with family, I couldn't wait to get back home so I could make it myself!

My first batch turned out heavy and dense (like most of my banana breads) It was tasty but I wanted light and fluffy. (picture a kid at the checkout stand at Wal-Mart pitching a fit because they wanted something... yep, that was me)
Exhibit A:

I emailed the above picture to her and asked her what I did wrong. I followed the recipe to a tee and it came out heavy and dense. :-( It turns out that she didn't follow the recipe to a tee. (She is so much like her Father... He makes little changes to a recipe and it comes out mouth watering... me, I follow a recipe to the tee and... well you get the picture) Anyway, Carey explained that she was out of plain flour that day so she used self rising flour plus a pinch of salt and baking soda instead. Amazing how little things make such a big difference!

While I was baking batch #2 (this time with self rising flour) I remembered that we ate the bread while it was still quite hot. Aha! Another clue! I let the 2nd Banana Bread cool for 15 minutes before I sliced it.
It was closer to hers but still not quite right.
Exhibit B:

I had 3 bananas left, so on the 3rd and final batch I sliced the bread as soon as I took it out of the pan. (10 mins)
Exhibit C:

You can find the original recipe at:

The changes I made from the original recipe for the last batch of Banana Bread were:

I used:
2 cups (10 oz) Self rising flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking soda
3 bananas (about 13oz /381grams)
and I folded the flour in instead of using the mixer.

In all three batches, my banana / sugar mixture never looked what I'd call a "light and fluffy banana cream" as described in the recipe. Maybe you can tell me where I went wrong...