Sunday, January 29, 2017

Coffee crumb cake

Soft and fluffy coffee crumb cake that is perfect with your favorite cup of joe (or hot chocolate)! This bread-like cake will have you wanting another slice!

Not too long ago, I was helping teach a learn-to-skate class at the rink. We were having a good old time when a teenager carried a little girl over to our class. He set her down on the ice and left. She looked up at me and had tears in her eyes. I asked her if she knew how to march on the ice, and she shook her head. The look of utter fear in this little girl's face was something that shook me to my core. This girl was petrified, and I was going to help her overcome her fear.

Although we had a huge class that day (over 10 kids), I only focused on helping this little girl since she was the only one who couldn't move. We took things very slowly, and I focused on setting small goals in short increments of time. By the end of the 30 minute lesson, she had learned how to march, glide, dip, and properly stand up (after learning how to properly fall down). This little girl's tears and panic melted away and became smiles and laughter. I could not have been more proud of her, and I was thrilled to have helped her overcome her trepidation of the ice.

That little girl's look of terror struck a chord with me, as that was the fear that I had of yeast several years ago when I first started this blog. I avoided anything having to do with yeast and quickly walked by the shelf at the grocery store. And here I am now, baking with yeast and wanting to learn more. Like the little girl at the rink, I've learned to set smaller, achievable goals (with yeast) and work towards those first. Then the bigger experiences won't seem as scary.

I found this book at my local library and wanted to try the coffee cake. Since I didn't need a huge 12"x16" serving (or three 9-inch pans), I cut the recipe into a third so I only had one 9-inch pan's worth. I listed out the full recipe below so feel free to cut it based on your needs.

Coffee crumb cake 
Dough
  • 6 and 14 cups (28 ounces/794 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons (0.5 ounces/14 grams) salt 
  • 6 Tablespoons (3 ounces/85 grams) granulated sugar
  • 5 teaspoons (0.55 ounces/15.5 grams) instant yeast
  • 2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons (17 ounces/482 grams) lukewarm whole or low-fat milk, about 95 degrees F or 35 degrees C
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces/113 grams) vegetable oil or melted unsalted butter
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon, or 1 Tablespoon lemon extract, optional
Crumb topping
  • 1 cup (4.5 ounces/128 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (8 ounces/113 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, allspice, cloves, cardamom or ground ginger (your choice)
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces/113 grams) melted unsalted butter
Directions
Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flour, salt and sugar together. In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast on top of the milk and allow it to get frothy, about 5 minutes. Pour the yeast mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix briefly with a spatula. Add the oil/butter and zest if using.

Make sure the stand mixer has the dough hook attachment. Mix on medium low speed for about 4 minutes and add milk if the mixture is too dry or flour if it's too wet. Increase the speed to medium and mix for another 2 minutes. Your final dough should be soft and tacky but not sticky (it should not stick to the sides or bottom of the bowl).

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 1 minute. Form a ball (with the seam side down) and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 4 days.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to thaw for 2 hours before you are ready to bake.

Line a 12"x16" pan with a silicone mat or parchment paper (or generously grease three 9-inch round pans). Spread the dough out onto your prepared baking sheet/pan and use your fingertips to press down on the dough to make dimples. If the dough starts to shrink back, let it rest for 20 minutes and stretch and dimple it out again. It may take 3 rounds of dimpling for it to stop shrinking. Cover the pan(s) and allow it to rest at room temperature for about 2 hours or until doubled.

Make the topping: In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt and spices. Then pour in the melted butter and stir with a spoon. Using clean hands, mix everything with your fingers until you large clumps form. Sprinkle the crumbs over the dough.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the cake for 15 minutes. Then rotate the pan and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the crumb is golden. Keep an eye on the cake since your baking time may vary depending upon the type and size of your pan and your oven. The cake is done when the dough is a bit springy to the touch.

Allow the cake to cool for 30-45 minutes before cutting and serving. You can top with fruits, powdered sugar or a simple glaze (powdered sugar and milk or water) if desired.

Leftover cake should be stored, covered, at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for a few days.

Yield: One 12"x16" coffee cake or three 9-inch round coffee cakes

Source: Artisan Breads Every Day by Peter Reinhart

Friday, January 27, 2017

Skating Fridays

An Update on Ballet and an Unexpected Compliment


Last summer I mentioned that I was taking ballet lessons to help with my performance. I've learned some tips throughout the months and noticed that my flexibility has increased as well. In fact, this is the most flexible I have been in my adult life. I have both of my front splits back and am working on regaining the center split.

Anyway, I ran my program during a lesson one afternoon. Afterwards, my coach and I chatted about how it went. She said that the elite male skater from the rink watched my entire program and mentioned that my performance was really good. He said that my presentation was better than most of the skaters at the rink, and that it was notable because I was an adult skater.

Wow - hearing this compliment from our elite male skater made my week. Knowing that my presentation is improving makes me seriously happy. My program still isn't where I want it to be, but I have one more month until I first compete it and two months until Sectionals.

Time to ramp up the training.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Buttery French brioche loaf bread

A super soft and fluffy brioche loaf bread that can be sliced (perfect for French toast!) or pulled apart and eaten as individual dinner rolls. This is a great addition to any meal!

The end of 2016 brought many highs and lows for us. For highs, we got to see my nephew, who turned 7 months old on the last day of 2016. He was a cute bundle of joy and so much fun to play with. I also got to spend time with my parents, brother, sister-in-law and ate tons of great food with them. Addie was well behaved and kept us smiling through the end of the year.

One of the low points was hearing about Addie's 1st grade teacher and the health problems her husband has been facing. He suffered a heart attack earlier in December so she took time off to take care of him. His doctors recommended getting a bypass, so they scheduled it. We knew that our teacher would be off the first 2 weeks of January to be by her husband's side.

The room mom organized a meal train for our teacher. I quickly signed up for the first available slot. We made blueberry lemon muffins (adapted from this bread), soup, cinnamon apple pie, a lemon loaf and this brioche. I dropped it off one evening for the room mom to deliver on our behalf.

Naturally, I asked her how the teacher and her husband were doing. Addie was with me at the door when we were chatting. "Do you want me to say it in front of her?" she asked. I knew this was bad news. She tried to maintain composure as she said that the husband had some complications during the bypass surgery and was on an artificial heart. He would remain in the ICU indefinitely and would be placed on the transplant list. We wouldn't know when our teacher would return to school and would receive an email update from the principal soon.

My heart sank. It makes me sad that our child's teacher has to deal with such a scary and horrible situation. I know that her husband is in good hands, but it's still terrifying to know that he will remain in the hospital. I continue to hope that he is able to receive the transplant he needs so that he can return home and life can be back to normal again. I'll try to remain positive and hopeful for him, our teacher, and all others around the world who are in the same situation. Your collective thoughts and positive vibes would be greatly appreciated.

Buttery French brioche loaf bread
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • ½ cup milk, room temperature
  • 14 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes, slightly softened
  • 1 egg + 1 Tablespoon water (for egg wash)
Directions
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, mix together the flour, sugar, yeast and salt.  Add in the eggs and milk and mix on medium speed until a dough comes together.

Add the butter, one Tablespoon at a time, and mix for about another 8 minutes. The dough should be tacky but not sticky and should not stick to the sides. If it's too sticky, add more flour, about 1/4 cup at a time.

Stop the mixer and transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough and form it into a ball (put the seam side down). Place it back into the mixing bowl, cover and allow it to rise for an hour.

Deflate the dough by punching it down, cover and allow to rise for another hour. Alternatively, you can cover and place in the refrigerator overnight if you are not planning on baking the bread on the same day.

Once the dough has risen again, divide it into 16 equal parts. Generously grease two standard 9"x5" loaf pans. Place 8 dough balls (into 4 rows of 2) in each pan. Allow the dough to rise once more for another hour.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine the egg and water and gently brush over the tops of each loaf. Bake in your preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until the tops turn golden brown and the bread starts pulling away from the sides of the pan.

Bread should be covered and kept at room temperature and will keep for several days.

Yield: Two 9"x5" loaves

Source: A Cookie Named Desire

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Butterscotch pudding

A super thick and creamy butterscotch pudding that will make your guests and family swoon - you'll be sure to lick the bowl clean!
"Mom! When can you make me some butterscotch pudding? I LOVE butterscotch pudding!" That's all I've been hearing for the past few weeks here at the Eva Bakes house. Addie hasn't been helping out as much in the kitchen because she's been too busy playing with her Shopkins and reading books.

Despite my lack of help in the kitchen, I set out to make some butterscotch pudding for my little girl. I tackled this one morning during the winter break and just kept stirring the saucepan as I caught up on my blog reading.
This particular recipe requires a bit of patience, as it will take at least 10-15 minutes (or more) for the pudding to firm up. Don't worry though - just keep stirring and it will eventually come together. In the end, you'll be rewarded with a creamy and thick butterscotch pudding.

You'll want to make sure that you allow these to chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour, so plan accordingly. You could, of course, serve it hot if you're a hot pudding type of person. Me? I'm an any temperature pudding person so I taste tested a spoonful straight out of the saucepan. For quality control purposes, of course.
Enjoy this sweet and divine butterscotch pudding. You'll be tempted to lick the bowl clean on this.

Butterscotch pudding
  • 1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Directions
In a large nonstock saucepan, mix together the brown sugar, corn starch and salt. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and egg yolks. Transfer this to the large saucepan and mix well.

Heat the saucepan over medium heat and gently stir until the mixture thickens to pudding consistency (this will take at least 10-15 minutes). Keep stirring so the pudding doesn't burn. Once the mixture starts to bubble and is nice and thick, take it off the stove and quickly whisk in the butter.

Transfer the pudding to 6-8 ramekins or bowls and cover with plastic wrap. Allow it to chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. Garnish with whipped cream, butterscotch chips or chocolate chips if desired.

Pudding should be stored in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

Yield: About 6-8 servings

Source: Pioneer Woman

Friday, January 20, 2017

Skating Fridays

A Proud Coaching Moment 


I'm not sure if I've ever shared this with you, but I am a registered Learn to Skate coach at my rink. I am either a coach or a helper throughout the year, depending on how full the sessions are. This winter session, I am a helper during a weeknight.

During the first class of the session, we had about 10 skaters in the Basic 1 (beginner) class. Although none of the students had ever taken lessons before, they all knew how to move. I was getting ready to help them on their 2-foot glide when one of the other helpers carried a little girl to our class.

This teary-eyed little girl was no more than 7 years old. She had been crying and it was obviously that she was scared. The helper placed her on the ice and went off on his way to help another class. I asked the little girl if she could march with me and she said no. She reached for my hand, but I gently refused and said that we'd learn how to skate together. I said that I knew she could do this by herself.

The girl was trembling and was very unstable. We took things one baby step at a time until her tremors stopped. Soon enough, she was standing on 2 feet and holding her own. By the time the 30 minutes were done, she had learned to march, do a 2-foot glide, dip, and properly stand up on the ice (after purposely trying to fall). She was smiling and laughing at the end of the class, and I could not have been prouder. She never fell or cried during our time together (note that because she was the least experienced in the class, I focused all of my time helping her out).

I gave this little girl plenty of high-fives along the way and told her multiple times throughout the class how proud I was of her. After class ended, she had the opportunity to continue practicing or go home. She excitedly chose to remain on the ice to keep skating.

It's moments like these that make me happy to help others develop a love for the sport that I adore. This little girl was initially petrified of being on the ice, but after we broke things down into smaller, achievable steps, she was happy and excited to be skating. This was definitely a proud coaching moment and one that I will always cherish.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Peppermint snowball cookies

Nothing screams winter like these peppermint snowball cookies! A soft, peppermint center gets coated with a dusting of powdered sugar. These practically melt in your mouth!
How is it halfway through January already? Wasn't it just Christmas and New Year's?

Amidst my crazy holiday stress and baking-palooza, I made my peppermint fudge as our gifts to teachers, neighbors, skating coaches, coworkers and everyone else in my life. All that peppermint extract must have gotten to my head because I thought it would be a bright idea to make another peppermint treat to give to neighbors.

The treat I had in mind were these beautiful peppermint snowball cookies. They are easy to bake and even easier to eat. Just pop a few of these in your mouth and they will practically melt before you've even begun chewing. The melted peppermint baking chips will give you an extra minty burst with every bite.

These snowball cookies are perfect for a cold wintry day, and you can dress them up or down depending your mood. Change up the food coloring, the baking chips and even the dusting on top (you could do cocoa powder if you wanted a truffle-like appearance). Just make sure that you save at least half a dozen for yourself because they are addictive.


Peppermint snowball cookies
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • red food coloring, optional 
  • 3/4 cup Andes peppermint baking chips, optional
Directions
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream together the butter and powdered sugar on medium speed until soft and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the flour and salt until well mixed. Add the peppermint and food coloring if using. Turn the mixer off and fold in the baking chips by hand.

Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Using a medium cookie scoop, portion out about a golf ball sized piece of dough. Roll it in between your hands to form a ball. Space them out on the baking sheet (they will not spread).

Bake in your preheated oven for 7-8 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

Fill a small bowl with powdered sugar. Once the cookies have cooled, dunk each one into the bowl of powdered sugar to coat completely. Transfer to whatever container you want to use to store them in. Dust with additional powdered sugar if desired.

Leftover cookies should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature and will keep for a few days.

Yield: About 24 golf ball sized cookies

Source: Mom on Timeout

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Small batch blueberry cottage cheese muffins (one bowl)

These blueberry muffins contain a secret ingredient - they are packed with cottage cheese and a punch of extra protein! Best of all, this recipe is made in one bowl and only makes 6 muffins!
Anybody else a muffin fiend like I am? While I love baking them, it gets old having a dozen of the same flavor hanging around the house all day (unless we are making these eggless chocolate zucchini muffins - in that case, we never have enough).

We have some leftover cottage cheese from making lasagna and I wanted to see if I could find a creative way to use them up. I found these blueberry cottage cheese muffins and was all over them. Even better, they were made in one bowl and only made 6. Perfect. Each of my family members could have 2 and then we'd be done. In case they didn't turn out well, then there wasn't much food to waste.

My husband got scared when I said that there was a secret ingredient in them. He got hesitant and backed away from them. I told him that they were just regular blueberry muffins with all the regular ingredients. He made a face at me. He finally tried one and wasn't too thrilled, but I thought they were fine.

The muffins were a bit on the salty side, so I recommend eliminating the salt altogether (I've reflected the changes in the recipe below). Other than the saltiness, the flavors and texture were spot on and held up to my blueberry muffin standards.

Small batch one bowl blueberry cottage cheese muffins
  • 1/4 cup lowfat cottage cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk of choice
  • 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not thaw)
Directions
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Generously grease a standard muffin pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the cottage cheese and egg until well combined. Add in the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Fold together until a few dry streaks remain. Add in the milk and mix until just combined. Gently stir in the blueberries.

Evenly distribute the batter into your prepared muffin pan, filling each well at least 3/4 full.

Bake in your preheated oven for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the muffins to cool before serving.

Muffins should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

Yield: 6 muffins

Source: Barely adapted from Food.com

Friday, January 13, 2017

Skating Fridays

Video Proof


I finally got my phone to work so I could video myself executing the 3 axels in a row. Although I didn't have the beautiful crossed legs in any of these jumps, I did land them cleanly. These definitely are not my best jumps, but I was happy to have completed the 3 axel jump challenge.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

One bowl toffee chocolate chip cookie pie

An amazingly simple and fabulous toffee chocolate chip cookie pie that is made in one bowl! No stand mixer required! And even better - the batter comes together in about 5 minutes!

Is it me, or do you tend to get sick during holidays and breaks? I remember back in college how I'd always get sick during Thanksgiving and winter break. I think my body was so stressed out from school that I'd stay healthy during the semester and once I had a few days to breathe, my body's immune system broke down.

I returned from my parents' house over the holiday break and when I got home, I started feeling sick. My 7-month old nephew and my brother both had coughs, and Addie had a runny nose. I'm pretty sure that I caught something that one of them had.

Despite my crummy health, I still wanted to bake something for my family. I needed something that I could easily put together and didn't require me to use my germy hands. This one bowl toffee chocolate chip cookie pie from my friend Ashley was perfect. It didn't require a stand mixer, and everything was made in one bowl. The prep time was only about 5 minutes, so it doesn't require a lot of time to put together.

This pie hit the spot and made me feel better immediately (OK, so it made me feel better mentally but not physically). Despite my runny nose and constant sniffling, my tastebuds were having a field day. The pie is a bit on the sweeter side, so if you want to dial back the sugar, I'd recommend cutting out about 1/2 cup of it (start with 1/4 cup of each sugar). The toffee bits gave the pie a nice crunchy texture and the filling was out of this world - just like a soft and chewy chocolate chip cookie.


One bowl toffee chocolate chip cookie pie
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup toffee bits
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a standard 9" pie pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the melted butter and sugars until well blended. Add in the egg, egg yolks and vanilla and mix well. Gently mix in the flour, corn starch and salt until a few dry streaks remain (do not over mix). Finally, fold in the chocolate chips and toffee bits.

Transfer the batter to your prepared pan and bake in your preheated oven for 35-40 minutes. The top should be golden brown and the middle will jiggle slightly. Do not over bake this pie, as it will set once it cools.

Allow the pie to cool completely before serving with your favorite ice cream or whipped cream.

Pie should be stored, covered, at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

Yield: One 9" pie; about 8-10 servings

Source: Baker by Nature

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Lemon yogurt cake

This wonderfully tart lemon yogurt cake contains no butter or oil and does not require a mixer! You'll want to snack on this cake all day long!
Addie and I have a weekly girls' night. It probably isn't what you think. We don't go to the nail salon or rent a movie. Instead, we go to the library. She and I have been going since she was about 2 years old. We know all the librarians in the children's wing and attended the weekly story time for 3 years.

One day, she exclaimed, "Mommy. I don't want to go to story time any more. I'm too big." I had warned the librarian that this day was imminent, but it came sooner than expected. She and I stopped attending story time a few months before she began kindergarten. Addie was a full-blown reader at that point.
The librarian was very fond of my daughter and said that of all the children that have attended story time, Addie is the first 'graduate' who fully learned how to read during their stint in the Wednesday evening program. Despite not attending the weekly story times, Addie and I have continued to go to the library on Wednesday nights to borrow books. She is now avidly into chapter books.

I almost forgot that the library also contained books for adults, and that collection included cook books. I had wanted to borrow a slow cooker book but wasn't able to find it. I found an Ina Garten cook book instead and this recipe jumped out at me.

The yogurt cake, as Ina claims, is originally adapted from Dorie Greenspan but made healthier since it contains no oil or butter. It's wonderfully lemony and tart, and the lemon glaze make it extra special.

I'm looking forward to borrowing more cook books from the library since my kitchen is already overflowing with some of my own!

Lemon yogurt cake
Cake
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt 
  • 1 and 1/3 cups sugar, divided
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (2 lemons)
Glaze
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon, optional
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a standard 9"x5" loaf pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the yogurt, 1 cup of the sugar, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla until well blended. Transfer this to the large bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until a few dry streaks remain. Add in the applesauce and mix until just incorporated. It will be a bit clumpy, and that is OK.

Transfer the batter to your prepared loaf pan and bake in your preheated oven for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Turn the oven off and allow the cake to cool for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar with the 1/3 cup of lemon juice over the stovetop in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.

Once the cake has cooled slightly, pour the lemon juice/sugar mixture on top of the cake and allow it to soak in. Allow the cake to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the glaze. Mix the powdered sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest together. Once the cake is cool, pour the glaze over the top. Slice and serve.

Cake should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for several days. It can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: One 9"x5" loaf; about 8-12 servings

Source: Slightly adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten

Friday, January 6, 2017

Skating Fridays

Challenge Accepted 


One of the teen skaters at my rink (whom we've given honorary "adult skater" status) came up to me this week. She wanted to ask for a favor, to which I happily obliged.

She asked me if I could join her in a skating challenge that her coach offered. She was tasked to practice landing 3 axels in a row (with no break in between the landing and takeoff of each). I said that I'd be more than happy to do it. After all, I have already been practicing my axel-tap toe-axels. Adding another one would be another fun challenge to try.

Shortly after my on-ice warmup, I attempted the 3 axel challenge, and I am happy to report that I was able to land all 3! Unfortunately, my phone zonked out at the time and didn't capture it on video. I've been having phone issues all week where my battery thinks it's at 9% so it doesn't record video.

Once I get my phone back to normal, I'll try to see if I can get this on video.  I did take a few hard falls this week on double salchow attempts, and thankfully I couldn't get those on video for you to see!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Cinnamon apple pie

A classic cinnamon apple pie with a slightly different crust - it uses cream cheese for a slightly tangy flavor. This is one apple pie that you'll want to add to your baking rotation!

I remember being overwhelmed at Thanksgiving last year. My husband's aunt is a phenomenal pie maker and had 4 different types of pie for dessert: cherry, pumpkin, pecan and apple. The apples came from her backyard and the cherries from her cherry tree. She truly is a gem.

With so many choices, what did I end up picking? Apple. There's just something about a classic apple pie that I can't resist. What can I say? I love sweet pies. I'm not a nut fan, so pecan wasn't the best choice for me. And I'm not a huge fan of tart cherries so I didn't choose that one either.

I've made plenty of apple pies before (see here, here, here and here), but I wanted to try another one. What's one more, right? The crust on this pie was intriguing - it uses cream cheese. I was skeptical at first but then realized that the cream cheese was the secret ingredient that made this crust pretty awesome. It provided a tiny bit of tang and kept the crust together.

The apple filling was wonderful, as expected, and I could hardly believe that 3 pounds of apples fit into my dish. I let my filling sit for a few hours in the refrigerator to marinate a bit, and during that time the apple slices soaked up their own juices and the cinnamon sugar mixture.

This apple pie was love at first bite. Both my husband and I really enjoyed it and would definitely make it again.

Cinnamon apple pie
Crust
  • 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 sticks (12 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, COLD
  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons cold water

Filling
  • 3 pounds (about 9 cups) apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • squeeze of a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Topping 
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Directions
Make the crust: In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar and salt together until well mixed. Add in the butter and cream cheese and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand (it should be a bit clumpy). Add in the water and pulse until a dough ball forms.

Divide the dough in 2 and roll each half out to a large circle. Cover in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days in advance.

Once the dough has chilled completely, roll out one of the dough circles large enough to cover a 9" pie pan. Place it in the pan and fold any excess under the edge of the pan. Place back in the refrigerator and chill for at least another 15 minutes.

Make the filling: Toss the apples with the sugars, lemon, cinnamon and salt. Then add the flour and mix well. Allow the filling to sit for at least 15 minutes and mix it at least once.

Assemble and bake the pie: Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Take the pie crust out of the refrigerator and transfer the apple mixture (including the juices) into the pan. Smooth out the top. Roll out the other piece of dough so it's large enough to cover the top of the pie. Tuck any excess dough underneath and pinch the top and bottom crusts together to seal. If desired, flute or crimp the edges for a nicer look.

Sprinkle the top of the pie with the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Cut 6-8 slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Bake in your preheated oven for 15 minutes. Then turn down the oven to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 45 minutes.

Pie needs to rest for 2-3 hours to fully set. It can be stored, covered, at room temperature for up to 3 days or a few additional days if stored in the refrigerator.

Yield: One 9" pie; about 8-10 servings

Source: Ever so slightly adapted from Natasha's Kitchen

Sunday, January 1, 2017

One bowl pumpkin chocolate marbled bread

This beautiful swirled loaf of pumpkin chocolate bread is made in one pan. Throw in some chocolate chips for an extra tasty treat!

Happy New Year! How was everyone's holidays? Did your credit card get a workout? Are you wearing yoga pants like I am because you can't stay away from allll the desserts?

I don't know about you all, but the holidays make me a bit lazy. I want to stay in pajamas all day and do nothing but watch television and snack all day long. Who wants to cook?



This super easy bread is made in one bowl and doesn't require a lot of thought or preparation. You can dress this up or down with some frosting, chocolate chips or whatever makes you happy (maybe frosting and sprinkles if you're feeling sassy). That way you have something sweet and sassy for breakfast and can spend the rest of your day watching a movie or sipping on hot chocolate. Well, at least reality hits and it's time to go back to work.

My daughter loved eating this bread. And while she claims that it's not chocolate-y enough (she's 6, so take that with a grain of a salt), I thought that the balance of flavors was just fine. I loved that this bread featured an entire can of pumpkin and used one batter to make the two layers. I didn't do a good job swirling the batters together but it still tasted amazing.

Here's to a happy, healthy and sweet 2017!

One bowl pumpkin chocolate marbled bread
  • 1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (I subbed with canola oil since I ran out of applesauce)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 can (15 ounces) canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white whole-wheat flour (can substitute with all-purpose)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tablespoons milk of choice
Directions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease or line a standard 9"x5" loaf pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, applesauce, eggs and puree until well combined.

Add in the salt, flours, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Mix until just combined.

Reserve 1 cup of the batter in one of your measuring cups and set aside.

Transfer about half of the batter into your prepared baking pan. Add the cocoa powder and milk into the remaining batter and mix well. Spoon this on top of the other batter in the loaf pan. Gently swirl with a knife or spatula. Spoon the reserved batter on top of the swirled layer and swirl the batter again.

Bake in your preheated oven for about 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing and serving.

Leftover bread should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: One 9"x5" loaf; about 8-12 servings

Source: Slightly adapted from Serious Eats

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