Sunday, 27 September 2015

Marvelous Double Apple Pie

It's Autumn - officially, finally, autumn.  You wouldn't know it from the temperatures we have, ahem, enjoyed, lately but you can definitely tell from the cool nights, deep golden hue of the sunshine and the changing leaves.  It's baking season!!  I have been off to a roaring start - pumpkin muffins and loaves, banana bread, and this apple pie.

This is probably the best apple pie I have ever made.  The two of us gobbled up half of the pie on Saturday night, which may be normal for my husband, but two slices of pie in one sitting is definitely pas de normale for me.  It was just that good.  I followed the pastry recipe exactly - and it worked out.  Pastry is not my strong suit, and I have never had much luck with butter crusts, but I thought I would give this a try - eggs and milk and all, and it was marvelous....!

The other marvelous thing about this pie is the double apple part - it is a mixture of firm and tart apples and soft and sweet apples, sweetened simply with brown sugar and flavoured with just a hint of cinnamon.

Pâte brisée
From Joanne Chang's Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe

1 ¾ cups (245 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks/228 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons cold milk

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt for 10 to 15 seconds , or until combined. Scatter the butter over the top. Mix on low speed for 1 to 1 ½ minutes, or just until the flour is no longer bright white and holds together when you clump it and lumps of butter the size of pecans are visible throughout.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and milk until blended. Add to the flour mixture all at once. Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until the dough just barely comes together. It will look shaggy and more like a mess than a dough.

Dump the dough onto an unfloured surface, the gather it together into a tight mound, smearing the butter chunks into the dough as you go.

Gather up the dough, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and press down to flatten into a disk about 1 inch thick. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before using. The dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Makes enough for one 9-inch double-crust or lattice-top pie

Double Apple Pie
adapted slightly from Joanne Chang's Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe

2 large or 4 small Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
2 medium Macintosh apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
Pinch of ground cinnamon
2 tbsp sanding sugar

Roll out 2/3 of the chilled dough to fit a 9-inch pie pan. Gently press the dough into the bottom and sides of the pie pan, leaving a small lip at the edge of the pan. Place the pie shell in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine the apples, brown sugar, flour, salt, and cinnamon, toss until the apples are coated evenly. Let this sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes so that the apples get all juicy and saucy.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Roll out the remaning 1/3 of dough and using a pizza cutter or knife, cut the dough into 8 strips, with 4 a bit longer than the other 4. Remove the chilled pie crust from the fridge and pour the apples in, pressing down slightly to fill in the gaps. Lay 4 strips over the top, leaving an inch or so in between, starting with the two longer strips down the middle, and the two shorter strips closer to the edges. Lay the remaining 4 strips over top, making a criss-cross pattern, No need to weave in and out, unless you want to get all complicated : )

Sprinkle the lattice top with the sanding sugar. If you want to be fancy, you can brush the lattice with egg first.

Bake pie at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350 and continue baking until tops and edges are a nice golden brown and the apples are all bubbly, about 40-45 minutes.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Chocolate Chip Cookies for Two

This post marks two milestones - 100 posts, and 3 years of blogging!  Wow!

When I write Chocolate Chip Cookies for Two, I mean two hungry people (or one hungry man and his pregnant wife!) This recipe makes 4 hearty chocolate chip cookies.  We ate these for dessert on pizza night - I wouldn't recommend nor repeat that choice.  Who needs dessert after pizza? So full....but so good.  And, you have to eat them warm out of the oven or what is the point, really?  

These cookies are Comfort Food.  With capitals. 

Apologies for the poor quality pics - they were taken at 10pm on a Friday, and we were in a hurry to sample. 

Chocolate Chip Cookies for Two
totally borrowed from Chatelaine

2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup chocolate chips

PREHEAT oven to 350F. Line a baking pan with parchment.
STIR butter with brown sugar in a medium bowl until creamy. Stir in egg yolk and vanilla until combined. Stir in flour and baking soda until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
DIVIDE batter into 4 portions. Scoop each portion onto prepared sheet, 3-in. apart. Cookies will spread as they bake. Sprinkle with sea salt if desired.
BAKE in centre of oven until cookies are golden around the edges, about 10 min. Transfer sheet to a rack to cool just slightly, about 2 min.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Pumpkin Muffins or Loaf (or both!)

It feels like fall this weekend.  What a change....we were literally hiding out in a dark air-conditioned theatre last weekend to escape the sweltering heat.  Right now our house is cooler than it is in the depths of winter, but we refuse to turn on the furnace.  It is still summer, after all.

I fully welcome the change in seasons this year - and all the yummy things that come along with it. Yesterday morning I was up early and felt like baking, and as I looked through all my favourite cookbooks for inspiration, I was drawn to this pumpkin muffin recipe in Flour.  I kept flipping the pages though, thinking, no, too early, what else can I make, but all the other recipes required some ingredient or other that I just didn't have, nor did I have the 'drive' to go out and get it.  What I did have was two large cans of pureed pumpkin. So, pumpkin spice it was.

You can add raisins to this if you like, or espresso powder and chocolate chips.  You can add a maple glaze, cream cheese icing, or maple roasted pepitas to jazz them up or turn them into cupcakes.  I just baked them up, plain and simple.

This recipe makes a lot of pumpkin muffins.  A double batch of average sized muffins, or perhaps a dozen jumbo muffins.  I decided on 12 muffins and a loaf.

Pumpkin Muffins
from Flour
makes 24 muffins, 12 muffins and 1 9x5 loaf, or 2 9x5 loaves

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 tbsp molasses
4 eggs
3/4 cup pulp-free orange juice
454g pumpkin puree
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cloves in a medium-large bowl.

Cream butter, sugar, and molasses together in a separate bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at at time, beating in between additions.

Add the orange juice and the pumpkin.  Mix well until thoroughly combined.

Add flour mixture, all at once, and stir until well combined.

Pour into lined or well-greased muffin tins or loaf pans if using.

Bake muffins at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes.  Loaves will take between 45-55 minutes.