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.

Hummingbird Cake

HummingbirdCake_LR

I’ve always seen recipes for hummingbird cake, but have never quite figured out exactly what it actually is. A cake with bananas, pecans, pineapple – surely it just seems bizarre! Like it’ll just be a big lumpy mess of cake! I never really understood the appeal, but decided to give it a shot after I saw this recipe on the cover of Southern Living.

This cake in particular has a cream cheese custard filling and what’s supposed to be browned butter frosting. But I chickened out in the middle of browning my butter – I didn’t want it to burn!

Despite my skepticism, this cake turned out pretty well! It was a big hit at work, so there must be something magical about the strange combination of ingredients.

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups chopped overripe bananas (about 3 medium bananans)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup chopped toasted pecans
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
For the cream cheese custard filling:
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
For the browned butter frosting:
  • 1 cup (230 grams) butter
  • 16 ounces icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

1. The night before, make your cream cheese filling. Whisk together first 2 ingredients in a heavy saucepan, then whisk in eggs and milk until smooth. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until mixture reaches a chilled pudding-like thickness. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, and allow to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat, and whisk in cream cheese and vanilla until cheese melts. Cool to room temperature (about 1 hour). Place plastic wrap directly on mixture (to prevent a film from forming), and chill 6 to 24 hours.

2. The next day, make your cake.Prepare 4 9-inch round cake tins by greasing and lining the bottom with baking paper. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Mix all of your dry ingredients together, then add in the rest of the ingredients to create a moist batter.

3. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until your cake tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove the layers from their pans and allow them to cool completely. 

4. Put together your cake layers by spreading a portion of the cream cheese custard in between each layer. Cover your cake with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to cool while you make your frosting. 

5. Finally, make your frosting. Cook butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until butter begins to turn golden brown. (This is the part where I chickened out!) Remove pan immediately from heat, and pour butter into a small bowl. Cover and chill 1 hour or until butter is cool and begins to solidify.

6. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add sugar alternately with milk, beginning and ending with sugar. Beat at low speed until well blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

7. Once your frosting is finished, frost your cake.

The frosting on my cake is called a basketweave. To do this, you’ll need A LOT of frosting, so you’ll want to double the recipe to make sure you have plenty to get the job done!

Mom’s Pecan Pie

pecanpie_1

Back in September, I attempted to make a pecan pie for the American pie challenge on Great British Bake Off. After a miserable failure, I vowed to stick to my mother’s recipe for all future pecan endeavors.

After a few weeks of waiting for mom to finish traveling, I finally had a copy of her recipe arrive in my inbox. So I made myself some pastry and began my second attempt at this troublesome tart. I whisked up the filling and carefully laid in the pecan halves, one by one. Then I held my breath as I anxiously placed it in the oven, gently sliding it into the center and praying that disaster didn’t strike a second time.

Boy had I wished I had done it the right way the first time around! Beautifully dark golden brown and crisp – I’d call this pie a success as well as true American classic!

Ingredients

  • 1 batch of sweet shortcrust pastry
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup (UK people, you can order this on Amazon!)
  • 1/4 cup (57.5 grams) unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pecan halves

pecanpie_2Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 450°F (230°C). Line your pie dish (preferably one with a removable bottom, it’ll make your life easier) with the shortcrust pastry, then gently prick the base and sides with a fork. Lay a sheet of aluminum foil over your pastry, then fill with baking beans and place in the oven to bake for 5 minutes. Carefully remove your baking beans and foil, then return to the oven for another 2 minutes.

2. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and butter. Stir the mixture constantly until the sugar dissolves and the butter melts. Once everything dissolves, remove the pan from the heat.

3. Once the mixture is slightly cooled, whisk in the eggs, vanilla, and salt. Once everything is mixed together, pour into your blind-baked pie crust.

4. Gently arrange the pecan halves on the top of your mixture, arranging in concentric circles – starting from the outside and working towards the center.

5. Reduce the heat of your oven down to 325°F (160°C). Carefully place your pie in the oven and bake for 55 minutes until set.

For an added touch, try drizzling over some melted chocolate or make a praline whipped cream using 1 cup whipping cream, 2 teaspoons praline liqueur, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1/4 cup icing sugar – mix them all together and beat with an electric mixer until you have your whipped cream.