Sometimes, you can’t improve on a baked-from-scratch classic, like this Apple Pie. Apples, flaky pastry, and a bit of cinnamon is all that’s needed…except maybe a scoop of ice cream.
I was scrolling through Facebook yesterday and came across two videos of recipes being prepared in fast-motion. They weren’t special recipes – one was carrot cake and other was banana bread. I was astonished to realize the banana bread recipe had received over 8 million hits. Eight…million…hits – for banana bread. My blog is over 10 years old and I haven’t reached 8 million hits total, let alone for one post.
I have online presence envy.
The truth is that I’ll probably never have 8 million hits for a post. Those videos are for people who want a recipe that’s fast…and easy…with as little fuss as possible…and doesn’t require a special pan or spice…and results in something the whole family will love. Those videos are for what I call “Everyday Cooks.” You know who they are. After a full day at work, these folks are expected to arrive home and whip up something soul-satisfying and delicious day after day after day. God bless them. I could never do that – it would suck the joy of cooking right out of me.
Instead, I write for the food enthusiast, culinary explorers who learn about different cultures through preparing and eating their food, who are enamored by new ingredients or cooking techniques, and are willing to sacrifice gluten sensitivities and sugar phobias for the perfect slice of homemade apple pie. We relish the fuss – handmade crusts, apples harvested from the garden. We are a special breed, our numbers are small, but our passion is deep.
This crust recipe, my favorite and from The Pioneer Woman, makes three crusts. Not sure what to do with the extra crust? Freeze it and use it for a single-crust pie later.
4-5 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
¼ cup brown sugar
zest from ½ lemon
Juice from ½ lemon
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup Crisco
1 large egg, beaten
5 Tablespoons cold water
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
3 cups All-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons Panko breadcrumbs
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg, beaten
1 Tablespoon sugar, preferably turbinado, like Sugar in the Raw
In a medium bowl, combine apples, brown sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Toss to coat. Set apple filling aside.
Chill butter and Crisco until very cold by placing both in the freezer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside. Place flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add butter and Crisco to flour and pulse on/off until mixture resembles coarse meal (you can also combine the flour and fats using a pastry blender if you don’t want to drag out your processor – more effort, less clean-up). Scrape mixture into a large bowl, add egg mixture, and stir until combined. Don’t overwork dough.
Separate the dough into thirds (If you prefer a more substantial crust, separate in half) and roll into balls. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap and freeze for about 15 to 20 minutes to chill. (If you will be storing the dough in the freezer for a longer period, form dough into a disk and seal in a Ziplock bag. Thaw 20 minutes before using).
Preheat oven to 375⁰. Sprinkle crust with a bit of flour and then, in between two sheets of waxed paper, roll out the bottom crust, starting at the center and working your way into a 11” – 12” circle. Once the dough is the correct size, peel off the top layer of waxed paper and, using the bottom sheet, transfer the dough to a 9” pie pan. Flip the dough over, peel off the bottom sheet, and gently press the dough into the pan. Go around the pie pan tucking the dough to make a clean edge. Freeze until second crust is rolled out. Roll out the second crust into a 12” circle between two sheets of waxed paper and transfer to freezer until ready to use.
Remove the bottom crust from the freezer. Sprinkle with panko crumbs (this helps avoid a soggy bottom crust). Fill with apple mixture, but do not include any juice/liquid that may have accumulated at the bottom of the bowl; Dot filling with bits of unsalted butter. Remove top crust from freezer. Peel off top sheet of waxed paper, flip crust on top of filling, and trim top pie dough so that overhang beyond the pie plate lip is only about 1/2-inch. Tuck rim of dough underneath bottom crust and crimp decoratively. Cut a few decorative vents on top of pie. Transfer pie to a baking sheet and brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
Bake at 375° for 50-60 minutes or until crust is brown and filling is bubbly. If edges brown too quickly, cover edges with foil. Cool completely on a wire rack.
I’m an autumn girl. This favored season of mine showers me with crisp sweater weather, falling crimson leaves and cozy fires that align with my introvert’s sensibilities. And I cannot forget autumn’s bounty of rib-sticking roasted meats, soups and stews that beckon my German sensibilities as well. And yet, I bask in the first few weeks of summer – perhaps even more than autumn. Summer’s constant sun soaks through my tired flesh and warms my very soul. Birds sing the song of summer throughout the trees during the day while crickets serenade the night away, calming me. The longer days encourage my evening walks and dining alfresco – the TV is left silent. And my kitchen is inspired by summer’s bounty of sweet corn, ripe tomatoes, juicy nectarines and, of course, freshly made gelato.
This is my post-gelato school updated version of a 2012 recipe. Measurements are in grams.
500 grams 2% milk
1 bunch fresh mint leaves, washed, patted dry and lightly packed – about 2 cups
145 grams sugar
16 grams corn syrup
1 gram salt
38 grams powdered milk
1 gram guar gum
1 gram carob
250 grams heavy whipping cream
2 grams vanilla
1 package chocolate dinner mints, chopped (such as Andes) – about 1 cup
Heat milk to 104 degrees. Remove from heat, add ¾ of mint leaves, stir, cover and let steep for 1 to 1 ½ hours. Strain mint, pressing to extract as much mint oil as possible. Re-warm milk mixture. At 104 degrees, add sugar, corn syrup and salt. Continue heating and stirring milk mixture. At 144 degrees, add powdered milk mixed well with guar gum and carob. Heat milk to 194 degrees to pasteurize and immediately remove from heat.
Cool milk mixture in ice bath, adding cream and vanilla when mixture’s temperature is reduced to 144 degrees. Add remaining 1/4 of mint leaves and emulsify with a stick blender. When mixture has cooled to room temperature, pour through a sieve and refrigerate overnight.
Make gelato in ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s directions. Add chopped mints about one minute before gelato is finished.
Over 20 years ago, a young woman traveled to Sedona and stayed, on recommendation, at Don Hoel’s cabins. They were a cluster of small cabins near Oak Creek, looking a bit tired, but still cozy and homey, each with a kitchen, fireplace and a separate bedroom.
12 years later, she returned to Sedona and the first lodging she considered was Don Hoel’s. She was disappointed to learn she couldn’t reserve a cabin – the owner was selling and the cabins were closed. She stayed just down the road at Junipine, at a place that was neither cozy nor homey. During that trip, she drove past Don Hoel’s and saw the large “For Sale” sign across the closed gates. Even then, she daydreamed about buying it. The place was big – over 20 acres, with 20 cabins and a market. Her thoughts on the matter stayed in the daydream world.
The woman is back again. The place is now renamed, owned by a young couple for the past 5 years . They’ve polished the place up, adding the much needed character, and turned it into a little gem. The woman, who is not so young anymore, is envious. Again, she thinks “I could do that” and this time she doesn’t consider it just a daydream.
“Happy Anniversary!” – or is it “Happy Birthday?” We’re 9 years old today. For a girl who can’t stay committed to much of anything, I’m astonished to find TwoBitTart is still going – and growing! I starting this blog in 2008 with a different name (Phorenications) and a different mission – and nine years later, what began as a silly little hobby has grown into a big part of my life. This anniversary deserves some cake – like Bananas Foster Cake with Caramel Latte Buttercream Frosting.
Caramel and coffee flavor this not-too-sweet frosting
2 Tablespoons water
6.5 ounces sugar
3 Tablespoons strong coffee
3 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
3 egg yolks
7 ounces softened butter
Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until sugar melts and turns coppery brown. Remove caramel from heat, cool slightly, and add coffee and whipping cream (caramel may bubble).
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat yolks. Add caramel to yolks in a steady stream. Continue whipping until mixture has cooled to body temperature. Add 1/3 of butter and whip. Add remaining butter and whip until frosting is pale tan, fluffy and a spreadable consistency. In addition to banana cake, this bittersweet frosting would pair nicely with rich chocolate cake.
Every Superhero has one great nemesis. Batman has Joker. Superman has Lex Luthor. My nemesis is named Inertia. Inertia convinces me to sleep an extra hour; she calls me to my comfy couch, and encourages me to get lost in formulaic television rather than creating something of my own. Inertia’s power frightens me. Without her, there’s no telling what I can do, yet I don’t know how to rid myself of her. This layoff has given me approximately 40 weeks to reinvent myself. 40 weeks seems like plenty of time, but not when Inertia sits at my left hand, whispering to me, “Tomorrow, tomorrow, start tomorrow.”
4 Large Brussels sprouts, cut in half and finely shredded (about 1 1/2 cups of leaves)
1/3 cup Canadian bacon, finely diced
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 1/3 cup All-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/3 cup canola oil
3 Tablespoons plus 1 Tablespoon milk
Sauté onion in butter until beginning to soften. Add Brussels sprouts and bacon and continue cooking until onions are soft and golden. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and thyme. Combine canola oil and 3 Tablespoons milk in a measuring cup. Pour oil mixture over flour mixture and mix well. Place dough between two sheets of waxed paper and roll into a 12” circle. Place on a sheet pan, remove waxed paper.
Spread filling on dough, leaving a ¾” border. Sprinkle filling with feta cheese. Brush border with remaining 1 Tablespoon milk, fold border towards center, just barely enclosing filling and pleating as you go. Brush top of dough with any remaining milk.
Bake galette 25-30 minutes until crust is golden brown.