Caramel Apple Blondie Pie

CaramelApple

Fall, or Autumn as the Brits refer to it, is just starting to set in. I’m getting excited as we approach October – my favorite month of the year. I’m looking forward to all of the leaves changing. Our new town has a lot more trees than the last place we lived, and there’s a huge park, so we’ll be able to see a lot more of the seasonal changes that really make fall the prettiest time of year.

With the changing of the seasons comes a whole new flavour season – apples, pumpkin, and spices. Can’t beat it!

This week’s bake has been staring at me from the cover of Southern Living once again. Since Ben and I were going to a dinner party, I of course couldn’t come empty-handed. For those who haven’t heard of a blondie before, it’s basically a brownie but without the chocolate. They have pretty much the same texture, but offers a wider flavour palette to play with since you don’t have to compete with chocolate.

The recipe calls for using a cast-iron skillet (which I don’t have). I used a Le Creuset ceramic pie dish and it seemed to work alright. (Although, now I have something new to add to my Amazon list for Christmas!) It also calls for using refrigerated pie crust, but I just made up a batch of shortcrust pastry.

Ingredients

For the pie:

  • 1 batch shortcrust pastry
  • 6 large Granny Smith apples (or any type of apple that’s crips and keeps its crunch when you cook them)
  • 2 cups light brown sugar, divided
  • 1 cup (230 grams) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups flour, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 Tablespoons bourbon (I didn’t have any, so I left this bit out)
  • 3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
For the apple cider caramel sauce:
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
Directions

1. First, peel the apples, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges. You’ll want to work quickly so that they don’t start to brown. Toss the apple slices with 2 Tablespoons of the flour and 1/2 cup of the brown sugar in a large bowl. Melt 1/4 cup (57.5 grams) butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add apple mixture, and sauté 15 minutes or until apples are tender and liquid is thickened. Remove from heat; cool completely (about 30 minutes).

2. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Melt the remaining 3/4 cup (172.5 grams) butter. In a large bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups flour and next 2 ingredients in a large bowl. Add eggs, bourbon, the melted butter, and remaining 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, stirring until the batter is blended. Stir in your toasted pecans.

3. Fit your pastry into a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, gently pressing piecrust all the way up the sides of skillet. Spoon two-thirds of apple mixture over bottom of piecrust, spreading and gently pressing apple slices into an even layer using the back of a spoon. Spoon batter over apple mixture then top with remaining apple mixture.

4.  Place pie on lower oven rack, and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Remove from the oven and allow the pie to cool completely.

5. To make the caramel sauce, cook the cider in a 3-qt. saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, 10 minutes or until reduced to 1/4 cup. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly and allow to boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool completely.

6. Once the sauce is cooled, it should be a lot thicker. Drizzle the top of the pie with about 1/3 of the sauce, then serve the pie with the rest so people can add as much as they’d like.

Advertisements

Apple Strudel

The other week on Bake Off, the contestants were challenged to make a strudel – making strudel dough from scratch. Even Mary Berry admitted to buying premade dough because it’s such a pain in the butt! Well, if Mary Berry caved in, I certainly couldn’t; therefore I had no choice but to make a strudel.

It was surprisingly difficult to even find a recipe for strudel dough. So big thanks to Linda at A Tender Crumb for posting a recipe that had both a filling and a dough.

There are two keys to making this strudel work:

  1. Take your time when stretching the dough. Seriously. Don’t rush it.
  2. Don’t use store-bought breadcrumbs to make the filling. I made that mistake and my strudel was a bit mushy in the middle. Definitely make breadcrumbs fresh at home!

This, I will admit, was a challenge, not to mention I made a huge mess in the kitchen because the flour just goes everywhere.  Anywho… here goes!

Ingredients

For the strudel dough:

  • 1 1/3 cup flour (unbleached)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 7 Tablespoons water
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

You will also need a clean bedsheet or tablecloth!

For the filling:
  • 2 Tablespoons golden rum
  • 3 Tablespoons raisins
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs – key word: fresh
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 pounds (900 grams) cooking apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces

Directions

1. First make your strudel dough: Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. In a glass measuring cup, mix together the oil, vinegar, and water. Add this mixture to the flour while slowly mixing to bring everything together into a soft dough. Then knead it on an unfloured work surface for a few minutes to help activate the gluten – this will allow the dough to stretch more easily. Take the dough and throw it hard down onto your work surface every now and then, which is great for getting out a bit of pent-up aggression.

2. Once you’ve needed for awhile, shape the dough into a ball and place it on a plate to rest. Oil the top of the dough slightly, then cover it tightly with plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 30-90 minutes (the longer the better, I did mine for about 40, and it didn’t want to stretch as much). While your dough is resting, you can make part of the apple filling.

3. In two small bowls, mix together the rum and raisins in one and the cinnamon and sugar in the other. Then heat 3 Tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add in the breadcrumbs and cook them for about 3 minutes, until they are golden brown and toasted. Set them aside to cool.

4. To make the strudel, you will need to stretch your dough out so thin that you can pretty much read through it.  To do this, first cover your work surface with your clean bedsheet or tablecloth. Dust and rub some flour into the fabric, then place your dough onto the surface and roll it out as much as possible.

5. Once you’ve rolled it out quite a bit, pick up the dough and let gravity do a bit of the work.  Use your hands and forearms to support the dough as you stretch it, and try to keep it in as rectangular a shape as possible. Once the dough gets too large to hold, gently lay it back onto the sheet to begin stretching. Reach your hands underneath the dough and gently pull it (coercing, really, more than pulling) by small bits at a time using the back of your hands. You need to be super careful that you don’t poke or tear any holes in it.

6. Stretch the dough until it is super thin, like tissue paper. In the photo above, you can start to see the words on the page through the dough – but it’s not thin enough yet! Once you get it thin enough, trim off the thicker sides of the dough into a straight-edged rectangle.

7. Now, back to the filling. Brush the top of your dough with about 3 Tablespoons of the melted butter, being careful not to tear the dough. Sprinkle the dough with the toasted breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs will act as an absorbant when your filling cooks so that it won’t get mushy. Then sprinkle the walnuts in a strip running parallel to the short edge of the dough, about 2-3 inches away from the edge.

8. Finally, mix the apples with the rum raisin mixture and the cinnamon sugar. Spread this mixture over the walnuts.

9. Now here’s the tricky part, and you may want to get a friend to help. Fold the short end of the dough over the filling. Then lift the edge of the fabric up, basically to create an incline that the roll will tumble down on its own. It’s really nerve-wracking, but once you’ve done it it’s actually quite cool. Then tuck the ends of the strudel underneath and brush the top of the strudel with the last of the melted butter.

10. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with some baking paper, then transfer your rolled strudel to the sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown.

Apple Crumble

It’s been absolutely crazy the last few weeks trying to keep up with everything between work and home, so I apologize for my sporadic posting.  Ben and I just returned this week from a wonderful vacation in the Channel Islands where we were able to escape the internet and catch some sun.

I made this recipe from A Spoonful of Sugar the weekend before we went, making a few adjustments. And while my crumble didn’t look as beautiful as hers, it tasted sooooo good. So just ignore the terribly unphotogenic sample above and give it a go!

Ingredients

For the topping:

  • 1 1/4 cups (185 grams) flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) butter
  • 3/4 cup (165 grams) sugar
For the apple filling:
  • 5 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
For the base:
  • 100 grams butter
  • 1/2 cup (110 grams) sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup (150 grams) flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon milk

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 325° F (approx 160°C). Grease your square tin with butter then line the bottom with baking paper.

2. To make the base: Cream the butter and sugar, then add the egg. Once they are combined, fold in the flour and baking powder. Finally add in the milk. Spread this batter evenly into the bottom of your prepared tin.

3. To make the filling: Place your chopped apples into a medium saucepan along with all of the other ingredients. Cook these on a low heat for about 15 minutes or until the apples start to soften. Add the softened apples on top of your batter in the tin, creating a second layer.

4. To make the topping: mix the flour, baking powder, and sugar in a medium bowl. Using your hands, rub in the butter until you get a breadcrumb texture. I also added a bit more cinnamon and about a spoonful of brown sugar to my topping for a bit of extra flavor. Sprinkle the topping onto the apples to create a third layer.

5. Bake for 40-50 minutes until golden on top. Allow the crumble to cool to try and get a better slice from in, or you can be like me and dig in while it’s still warm! It may not look as pretty, but it tastes amazing warm with a side of vanilla ice cream.

 

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

 

I found this recipe over a year ago and never got around to actually making them.  I love the idea of putting these into cupcake liners so that they’re in equal portions. I had to adjust the recipe a bit, as I found the dough to be a bit too sticky.  I’d also recommend chopping the apples a little rougher, as I completely lost the flavor of them once they baked.

These are great for breakfast or with an afternoon tea. Just beware, because they get quite sticky!

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 package yeast
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 8 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup (115 grams) butter, room temperature

For the filling:

  • 1/4 cup (115 grams) butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups chopped apples

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • approximately 2 Tablespoons milk

Directions

1. In a heatproof bowl, microwave the milk for 30 seconds, stir, then heat for another 30 seconds making sure the milk doesn’t boil. Remove from the microwave and let sit for a few seconds to cool enough that you could dip your finger in it.

2. In a large bowl, or the bowl of your mixer, mix the yeast and sugar. Add in the milk and continue to stir until everything dissolves. At the salt and 2 cups of flour and beat for two minutes.

3. Beat in the eggs and butter. Once they are combined, add in the flour a 1/2 cup at a time, making sure everything’s incorporated before adding the next part. Once all the flour is in, knead the dough for about 5 minutes.

4. Coat a large bowl with a thin layer of cooking oil. Then place the kneaded dough, cover, and set in a warm place to rise for about 40 minutes, or until it is doubled in size.

5. While the dough is rising, mix all of the ingredients for the filling except for the butter in a small bowl.

6. Dust your work surface with flour, then roll out your dough into a rectangle until it’s about 1/4-inch thick. Brush the top of the dough with the melted butter (reserving a bit for later), then sprinkle the filling mixture over the top, leaving about an inch of empty space around all the edges. Gently press the topping into the dough a bit so that it doesn’t move around when you roll it up.

7. Roll the dough into a log, beginning at the long edge of the rectangle. Then slice the log into 24 pieces. Place each slice into a cupcake tin with cupcake liners in each well, folding the edges together into a ‘C’ shape. Cover with a clean towel and set to rise in a warm place for another 40 minutes.

8. Once the dough has risen, preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Brush the tops of each of the rolls with melted butter, then place in the oven to bake for about 20 minutes, until the tops are golden.

9. Let the rolls cool before coating with a glaze made from icing sugar and milk.



Apple Pie

I’ve often heard the phrase that something is “as American as apple pie”. But what I didn’t realize growing up is that the UK does apple pie as well. In fact, Britons make apple pie quite well.

After watching an episode of The Fabulous Baker Brothers the other day, I decided to try my hand at pie. A trip to TKMaxx later, I was the proud new owner of a Le Creuset pie dish which meant that there was seriously no backing out of this recipe!

It took quite a bit of time to prep all the apples, and the recipe that the Baker Brothers provided me with for the pastry didn’t make nearly enough – but I think the results were worth it. I’ll just need to make a few tweaks to the recipe so that the bottom pie shell doesn’t get soggy. Because nobody likes a soggy bottom.

The recipe here has been my adaptation of the Baker Brothers.

Ingredients

For the pie filling:

  • 100 grams unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon (approximate, really just add what you’d like)
  • 6 Cox apples – peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 6 Bramley apples – peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 100 grams brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice (approximate)
  • granulated sugar (for topping the pie)

For the pastry:

  • 450 grams flour
  • 200 grams icing sugar
  • 220 grams butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 8 egg yolks
  • pinch of salt
  • splash of milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions

1. First, make your pastry. Rub (yes, with your hands!) together the flour, icing sugar, and cold butter until they just start to come together. Then add in the egg yolks, salt, milk, and vanilla. Continue to mix until the dough comes together. You may want to put some flour on your hands before you add the liquidy stuff, otherwise you’ll end up in a bit of a sticky situation. Once you’re finished, place the dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

2. Next, make the pie filling. Place your butter into a large pan and let it melt completely until it starts to foam a bit, then add in all of your apples. Let them cook until the outsides just start to go soft. You want them to retain a bit of their crunch to keep them from going completely mushy when baking. Add in your cinnamon, brown sugar, and lemon juice and keep turning the apples until they’re all nicely coated. Set them aside to cool.

3. Remove your pastry dough from the fridge and divide it in half. Dust your work surface with flour and roll out the dough until it is about 1/4-inch thick and large enough to cover your pie dish. Gently wrap the pastry over your rolling pin with the sheet and carefully place it into the dish, making sure it overlaps the edges.

4. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Then place your prepared pie dish into the oven for around 10 minutes, weighing it down with some baking beads or dried beans. This is called blind baking and will help prevent a soggy bottom crust.

5. Remove your pie crust from the oven and pour in the prepared apple filling. Try not to get a lot of the melted butter/juices into the pie, as it will create too much liquid inside. Don’t worry – the apples will still cook down a bit and create a nice juicy pie.

6. Roll out the second half of your pastry and repeat the transfer process to lay it over the top of your pie. Gently crimp the edges together using a fork or your fingers. If you have any extra pastry left over, cut out some cute shapes to cover the top if you’d like. Then give the top crust a generous coating of granulated sugar.

7. Bake the pie for 30 minutes until the top is golden brown. If you start to see the edges getting too dark, remove the pie from the oven and cover the edges with some aluminum foil then return it to the oven to finish baking. Let the pie stand for at least 10 minutes before serving – but it is best served warm with some vanilla ice cream or some custard.