“Easy as” Apple Pie

I have been thinking about this post for a while now. Mostly because I made my first apple pie and the phrase “easy as pie” has baffled me ever since.

I like to think that the person who coined that phrase was one of those wonderfully hospitable southern ladies.  She may have also coined the terms “fixin’ supper” and “mad as a wet hen.” And when you ask her if she likes something that she thinks is atrocious, she will respond with “it’s lovely.”

I have some questions for this woman. One, have you every made a pie? I’m not saying it’s over-the-top complicated or difficult. But if I were to coin a phrase about something being easy in the baking realm, I might have chosen cookies.  My next question to her would be, have you ever made cookies?

Maybe she mean to say “easy as pie fillin’.” Because that part is pretty darn easy.

But what I don’t think she meant was “easy as pie crust.” Y’all. I want each of you to make a pie crust. You can do it! I know you can. But I’m not going to lie to you and say it was so easy.  It’s just a delicate process that requires patience and maybe a glass of bourbon.

That step right above, though. That was fun. piling apples inside of the pie crust you just mastered… I’m not sure I can name anything more rewarding.

Also, including a heart cut out can really seal the deal on why making a pie may not be easy, but is totally worth it. That, and eating it.  And because I am a rockstar, I forgot to take a picture after it baked.  It was delicious. I was even proud of the flakiness of my pie crust which I’ve been told can be elusive. So sometime in the near future, I implore you to try something you’ve never tried because you thought it’d be too hard.  And maybe that is something like making a pie. You can do anything good, I promise! (although it may do you well to arm yourself with bourbon.)

For the crust:

2.5 C flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

2 sticks cold butter, cubed (maybe even throw it in the freezer for a couple minutes after cubed)

1/4 C vegetable shortening, chilled

1/3C + 1 tbs ice water (I filled a large bowl with ice water and dip into it as needed)

1 whisked egg yolk

Combine the flour, salt, and sugar and mix well.  Then work the butter and shortening into the flour and mix with fingers until butter is pea sized chunks.  If the butter starts to get shiny, that means it’s getting too warm so throw it in the fridge for a minute or two before continuing. 

 Drizzle the 1/3 cup ice water into the mix and mix until just combined.

Turn dough onto floured surface and press dough together into 2 thick disks.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refridgerate for 30 minutes.

For the filling:

6 apples of your choice (fuji or gala are usually recommended. I used fuji)

1 tbs lemon juice

1/4 C light brown sugar

1/2 C sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt

2 tbs butter

2 tbs cornstarch

Peel, core, and slice your apples into 1/4”-1/2” thick slices. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. (Told you that was easy).

Preheat oven to 425.

When you’re crust is nice and refridgerated, take it out and dust with flour.  Use a rolling pin to roll each into about 1/4” thick disk that will fully cover a 9” pie pan. Now, carefully fold the pie crust in half, and then in quarters so you can easily move the crust to the pan.

Repeat the rolling with the second crust. This one will be the top. What to do with the top crust is up to you. Maybe you just want to cut some slits, or maybe you want to use a small circle cutout or maybe a heart! Go wild.

Fill your pie with the apples, and repeat the folding steps to move your second pie crust on top. (I thought i’d be a hero and just lift the second one on top. It completely fell apart. Trust me on the folding method).

Use your fingers or a fork to press the crusts together on the edges. Brush with the egg yolk and bake for 45-55 minutes at 425. You may want to place a pan under your pie in the oven to catch any juices. Also, you should see juices bubbling up inside your pie. If you don’t, it’s not done yet! If you do. Take it out and resist burning your whole mouth. Let it cool a bit and then serve.

ENJOY!

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Homemade Oreos

Weekend highlights:

Granola for dinner. French fries for dessert.

Reading The Help.

Dinner with Cleo Delphine and Vida Jewel (and Seleta and Jesse).

Oversized hat optional.

Cuddles. Flowers. Flours.

Morning runs.

Baseball.

Dinner from the grill (and bleu cheese grits):

Dinner for two

Oh, and homemade oreos. Definite highlight.

What surprised me most about these cookies is how easy they were. Something about homemade oreos seems like it would be complicated. Probably because if you look at the ingredients label of real oreos it’s kind of scary. What exactly is high oleic canola oil? Vanillin? Oh and don’t forget the high fructose corn syrup (because sugar wasn’t enough).

Listen. I love real oreos as much as the next girl. I’m just saying. Do yourself a favor and reduce the amount of high fructose corn syrup in your diet. Make these instead.

These chocolate cookies alone are gooooood. And the oreos keep surprisingly well! In fact, I think they might even be better after a couple of days. Like wine… a cookie that gets better with age.

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Cookies:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room temp butter

1 large egg

Filling:

1/2 stick butter

1/4 cup vegetable shortening

2 cups sifted confectioners sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

For the cookies:

Preheat oven to 375. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Put flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder in the bowl of your mixer. Mix on low to fully combine. While on low speed, add your butter then the egg. Mix and mix until dough comes together in a ball.

Place rounded teaspoons of dough on cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Now, I don’t usually use a measuring spoon for cookies but for these I did because I wanted them to be small and I usually get a little carried away 🙂 Slightly flatten the tops of the cookies (my friend had a good idea if you have a cool stamp, you could try stamping the tops like an oreo!). Bake for 8-9 minutes, rotating halfway. Let cool for a minute on the tray and then transfer to a rack.

While the cookies are cookin, use a mixer to mix together the butter and shortening. Gradually mix in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for a few minutes to make it light and fluffy.

Use a knife or small spatula to apply about a tablespoon of filling in between two cookies. The filling recipe makes just about the perfect amount of filling for all the cookies.

Get a glass of milk and enjoy!

PB Sammy Cookies

Can we talk about peanut butter for a second?

Is that even a real question? As you may recall, I. Love. Peanut Butter. I cannot imagine children who are allergic to peanuts. It must be tramatizing.

Sorry. That was mean. I just can’t imagine my life without pb! Something as good as peanut butter deserves a top-ten list:

Top 10 Reasons I love Peanut Butter:

10. You can pair peanut butter with meat.

9. You can pair peanut butter with vegetables.

8. You can pair peanut butter with fruit.

7. You can pair peanut butter with grains:

Put peanut butter in your oatmeal! Do it!

6. You can pair peanut butter with dairy. (That’s every food group I just paired peanut butter with!)

5. Peanut butter can be eaten with lots of different devices: knives, spoons, forks, fingers

4. There is a peanut butter for everyone!

I like the fake kind for baking

3. I eat peanut butter when I’m happy!

2. I eat peanut butter when I’m sad!

1. Number one reason I love peanut butter? It can be nutritious. It can be unhealthy. It can be anything you want it to be! What’s not to love?

These cookies are kind of like home-made Nutter Butters.

I’m into that.

I’m going to go ahead and confess right now that I used granulated sugar in the filling by accident (as opposed to confectioners). It was grittier. But no less delicious. Peanut Butter. Somethin to stand for:

Recipe from here.

1/2 cup (1 stick)

butter, at room temp

3/4 cup smooth peanut butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

Filling:

2 cups crunchy peanut butter

1/2 cup butter, at room temp

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375. Line baking sheets with parchment.

In a mixing bowl, mix butter and peanut butter until fully combined (about 2-3 minutes). Add granulated sugar and brown sugar and mix until light and fluffy. Then add the egg and beat for another minute.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Gradually add to your peanut butter mixture with mixer on low speed. Refridgerate for 30 minutes.

While the cookie dough is chillin, make your fillin:

Beat together peanut butter, butter, and heavy cream for about 2 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until fully combined.

When the dough is chilled, drop about 1 tbs of slightly rounded dough onto cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Dip a fork in granulated sugar and press down slightly on the tops to get your fork-marks. Bake for 7-10 minutes.

Let the cookies cool for as long as you can stand it on a rack. Use a knife to put about 1.5 tbs (or as much as you like!) on the bottom side of one cookie and top with the bottom side of another cookie! This just got good! (I had pleeenty of leftover filling so don’t be shy with it!)

Bon Appetit!

Chocolate Glazed Sprinkle Doughnut Cupcakes

Hiya, hi! Hope you’re having a good Monday. I am still soaring on a weekend high and have yet to feel the Monday duldrums which is why I should write this post now as I’m sure by the end of today my tune may change… Best. Weekend. Ever! Spent lots of time with friends and family. Seleta is in the area, friends! Got to visit her in her new casa and meet Miss Vida Jewel. I neglected to take any photos this weekend which I am now regretting. But Vida is the cutest! And Miss Cleo the Clam! She’s a little hambone with lots to tell you about and lots of books to have you read. AND THE GIRL CAN SPELL. She’s not even 3 and she can sound words out and spell them. She is the smartest person I know.

After a night on the “town” (if you can qualify the nightlife of Walnut Creek as such) on Saturday, Brett, his friend Cory and I took an impromptu trip to Point Reyes on Sunday! Here’s why I love California. It’s 1 in the afternoon on a Sunday and you can decide to hop in the car and within an hour be in GORGEOUS Northern Cali–Land of delicious oysters and cheese! Again, no pictures. That was dumb. But we stopped in the town of Point Reyes Station and walked around a bit. Had some delicious lunch on the patio and then went to the beach. Cory made driftwood beach art and Brett hunted for seashells while I laid in the sand just taking it all in. Northern Cali beaches are not sunbathing beaches. They’re adorned with cliffs and fog and a brisk breeze. There are signs warning you that waves are too big for swimming (including something called “sneaker waves” which I really appreciated that title of) and there are SHARKS. But we were the only people on the beach! Where else does that happen?

Update: Brett managed to sneak a few phone pics:

There are so many sweet towns in Northern Cali I can’t wait to explore. But wait. Let’s talk doughnut cupcakes. I decided to make these as the dessert I brought to Seleta’s because Cleo loves cupcakes and doughnuts so this seemed like a perfect solution! I think next time I’d use a little less nutmeg but everyone seemed to enjoy them. The chocolate glaze and sprinkles really sell them. Heck, that combo could sell anything.

There is barely any butter in these which, as a girl from the south, made me skeptical. But it worked out wonderfully.

This recipe only makes 8 cupcakes which for this occassion was a good amount. But we were a little sad not to have any leftover. There’s no frying of these, what makes them doughnut-y is their texture. They’re light and springy. Seleta said it best: think cake doughnuts…

And then of course there’s the glaze and sprinkles that makes  them doughnut-y! YUM. It makes extra glaze which I tried to save for a couple days but I couldn’t figure out what to do with it (besides eat it by the spoonful). Any ideas?

Voila! Glazing them was fun. Sprinkles were a little hard to figure out. I ended up dumping a bunch in a shallow dish and dipping the cupcakes in them.

Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker:

For the doughnut muffins:

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp nutmeg (maybe a little less)

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 tbs unsalted butter, chilled and cut into about 8 cubes

1/4 cup milk, scalded

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg, beaten

For the chocolate glaze:

1/4 cup unsalted butter

2 tbs milk

2 tsp light corn syrup

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Sprinkles!

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease muffin pan (again, only makes 8 muffins).

Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, sugar. Add the cold butter cubes and work in with your hands. Make sure to work it in really well (don’t be afraid of butter warming because of your hands) so that it’s a slightly-finer-than-coarse meal. Set aside.

In a small pan, heat the milk until almost boiling and remove from heat (keep a close eye as this can happen quickly). Whisk together yogurt, egg, and vanilla. Add milk (test the temperature of the milk to make sure it’s not hot enough to cook the egg… but still warm).

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients all at once. Stir together with a spatula until just incorporated. This is especially important with these cupcakes as you’re really trying to get a springy texture and over-mixing will make them dense.

Spoon the batter into unlined cupcake tins (filling about half way). Bake for 8-10 minutes (I did more like 12) until muffins are lightly golden, springy to the touch, and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Let the cupcakes rest while you make the glaze:

To make the glaze:

In a small pan over medium heat, combine milk, butter, light corn syrup, and vanilla until butter is just melted. Remove from heat and add your chopped chocolate and stir until chocolate is melted. Then whisk in the powdered sugar until you get a well incorporated glaze.

Dip the tops of the cupcakes into the glaze and let rest on a cooling rack for a few minutes to let the glaze set just a little. Then dip the tops into the sprinkles and ta-da! Chocolate glazed sprinkle cupcakes! Enjoy!

Ode to the crab