Sunday, October 23, 2011

Autumn Apple Pie

Autumn is definitely here.  The heat in our building has turned on a couple times, the leaves are starting to change, and the apples at the farmer's market are absolutely perfect.  So there was really no way I could go much longer without making an apple pie.

This is the recipe that my mom and I always make together.  The crust is the best, flakiest pie crust I have had, and the filling is scrumptious.  My suite can attest to that- the pie was gone before anyone had time to think about a second slice.  I guess I'll just have to make another!  Anyways, here is the recipe, and if you haven't made an apple pie this fall yet, now you have no excuse not to.

Bon Appétit

Flaky Pie Crust
Makes 2 crusts (enough for 1 apple pie)

2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 sticks frozen butter, cut into small cubes
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1/2 teaspoon salt
cold water

Blend the butter, flour, shortening and salt with a pastry fork.  Add the ice water a small bit at a time, just until the mixture sticks together to form dough.  Divide the dough into two balls, wrap each in plastic wrap, and refrigerate.

Apple Pie Filling

5 or 6 apples (3 granny smith and 3 jonathan or macintosh)
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch (or 1/4 cup flour)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
a grating of fresh nutmeg
fresh lemon juice

In a large measuring cup mix together the sugars, salt, cornstarch, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg.  Core and peel the apples and slice them into 1/4 inch thick slices, putting them in a large bowl.  Squeeze 
1/2 of a lemon over the apple slices, and pour the sugar mixture over them, stirring well.  Let the apple mixture sit while you roll out the dough.

Assembly and Baking

Roll out the two crusts between layers of plastic wrap.  Dust the dough lightly with flour before rolling to prevent sticking.  Place the bottom crust in the pie dish, prick with a fork, and put in the freezer for a few minutes.

Roll out the top crust and cut a hole in the center to vent the pie.  Remove the bottom crust from the freezer, fill with the apple mixture, and dot with a few small pieces of butter.  Place the top crust on the pie, crimp the edges, and add additional vents with a fork.

Bake at 450° for 12-14 minutes and then lower the oven temperature to 350° and bake for another 35-45 minutes (or more) until the filling starts to bubble over.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Black and White Cheesecakes

Does a mini oreo cheesecake count as a cupcake?  Hmm, not entirely, I guess, although the cupcake suite doesn't mind the slight discrepancies.  Out of all the cupcakes I have baked for my suitemates, these might just be their favorites.  And that is saying quite a bit.

I have been making these cupcakes/cheesecakes for at least over a year now, and I never get sick of them.  They are super easy to make as well.  Unlike a regular cheesecake, you don't need to separately bake a cookie crust- the oreo is the crust!  And you don't need to worry about a water bath while baking; these are small enough that they shouldn't crack.

The recipe is exactly the same as my Mini Golden Oreo Lime Cheesecakes, except you replace golden oreos for regular (preferably not double stuffed) and replace the lime with a teaspoon of vanilla.

Bon Appétit

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Autumn Apples

Each week at the farmer's market, I pick up a bag full of apples.  I love trying out all the different kinds, although I can rarely remember which is which by the time I get them home.  Regardless, they are always delicious.  I decided that I really wanted to bake with one of the fantastic apples, and I was looking for something easy.  This Swedish apple cake from Cooking with Directions was the perfect solution.

I made this in 45 minutes (5 minutes to mix it up and then 40 in the oven) in between classes, and it came out wonderfully.  The "cake" is more of a fluffy sugar cookie with delicious apples placed decoratively on top.

I used a Cortland apple, which held up really well during the baking.  It was soft, but not mushy after 45 minutes.  I would also try this again with a couple Granny Smith slices to add some more variety.  It was a really wonderful and easy fall dessert to make.

Happy Autumn,

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Happy Cupcakes

College can be hard.  There is lots of work- that paper that is due on Monday or that lab report that you haven't started yet, and don't forget the reading that was due yesterday that you have yet to do.  But there are certain things that make these problems (and problem sets) go away, at least for a little bit.  One of those is nutella.  My friends and I have somewhat of a nutella addiction, especially when it is on pineapple, but for these cupcakes I decided to go with peanut butter as the pairing.

They were quite divine.  The cake was a little dense, but a really peanut buttery and delicious recipe from How Sweet It Is.

For the frosting, I just whipped a couple large dollops of nutella with half a stick of butter and 4 oz of cream cheese.  Then I added powdered sugar a half a cup at a time until I was around 2 1/2 cups of sugar.  A splash of milk if necessary and voila- nutella with extra sugar and butter!  It is quite a happy little cupcake.

Bon Appétit