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.

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Goat’s Cheese and Onion Tart

oniontart_3

I don’t bake savory things often, so when I do, I usually take a poll of what people would like me to attempt. When I asked the office about a savory tart – everyone immediately said cheese and onion tart. So of course, I went off in search of a cheese and onion tart that captured my interest and came upon this one.

After a few tweaks, I was fairly pleased with the way it turned out. So I made it again for Christmas brunch when I was in the States, and it was a hit!

Originally I presented this tart in a rectangular tin, which I actually prefer. These round tart images are from Christmas morning. I don’t know why, I just liked the angular nature of the rectangular tart with the round onions. Meh. Either way, it still tasted good!

Ingredients

  • 1 batch of shortcrust pastry
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 small red onions
  • fresh thyme
  • balsamic vinegar
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup double cream
  • 100 grams soft goat’s cheese
  • pancetta strips

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C), with a metal cookie sheet in the oven. Line your tart pan with the shortcrust pastry and trim off the extra from the edges. Line the pastry with some baking paper and fill with your pie weights. Place your pastry into the oven on the preheated pan and blind bake for 10 minutes. Next, remove the pie weights and allow your pastry to bake for a further 5 minutes.

oniontart_1

2. In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over low heat. Slice the onions, keeping their layers together. Gently place them into the heated oil along with a few sprigs of fresh thyme. Allow them to cook on both sides until caramelized – then remove from the heat to a paper towel and brush with some balsamic vinegar.

3. Reduce the heat of your oven to  375°F (190°C). Then, in a medium-sized bowl, whisk together your eggs and cream, adding a bit of salt and pepper for seasoning. Crumble up your goat’s cheese, filling the pastry case, then pour the egg mixture over the cheese, not quite to the top. You’ll need to leave some space to allow for displacement when you put the onions in!

4. Carefully arrange the onions on the top of your tart, then top up the egg mixture if necessary. Add in a few sprigs of fresh thyme, as well as the pancetta strips, arranging however you’d like.

5. Bake for 20 minutes or until set and just turning brown.

oniontart_2

Cherry Bakewell Tart

Ben’s been asking me to make a Bakewell Tart for ages, so I finally decided to give in and do a bit of research.  Originally, I was going to make individual tarts a la Mr. Kipling, but the pastry recipe I used was just terrible. It kept ripping and tearing and just wouldn’t cooperate. In fact, the recipe was so awful that the first tart I made completely fell apart!

So for this week’s recipe, I won’t be posting the pastry recipe. It would just be cruel. Luckily, the second tart turned out beautifully and tasted AMAZING.

Ingredients

  • 500 grams shortcrust pastry
  • 100 grams butter
  • 100 grams sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 50 grams ground almonds
  • 50 grams flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • strawberry jam
  • 175 grams icing sugar
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons milk
  • glacé cherries

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400° F (approx 200°C). Lightly grease your pie tin, then roll out the pastry until it is about 1/8-inch thick. Gently lay the pastry over the tin and press into place. Lightly poke the pastry with a fork, being careful not to go all the way through the pastry. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes to set, then remove from the oven and set aside while you make the filling.

2. In the bowl of your mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy, then add in the eggs followed by the ground almonds.

3. Next, add the flour, baking powder, and almond extra. Mix to combine.

4. Spread the bottom of the baked pastry with a generous layer of strawberry jam, then fill with the almond batter. Bake for approximately 20 minutes.

5. Remove the baked pie from the oven and set aside to cool on a wire rack. Once it is completely cool, it’s ready to ice.

6. Make the icing by combining the icing sugar and milk, adding the milk slowly and only adding enough to make a thick but still runny icing. Pour over the cooled pie, being sure not to let it run over the sides, then dot the top with the glacé cherries.