“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!

Advertisements

Dream Weaver Banana Bread

I know everyone has a different story on their dreams. Some people never remember. Some always remember. I go through phases where I remember them a lot and then other times where I don’t remember them at all.

Right now, I’m in one of those places where I remember them. Vividly.

Luckily, there haven’t been any nightmares (unless you count last night’s dream where I was a server at Houstons again as a nightmare).

I had a dream where I met Joy the Baker and Tracy Shutterbean and we were getting our nails did! Sometimes dreams are awesome.

I am mostly just fascinated with dreams when I remember them. All of that was going on inside my head and I didn’t even know!

I planned to make banana bread about a week ago. But here’s the thing about banana bread. You have to wait and wait for those nanas to turn practically black:

I probably could have waited another day. But you know what happened in the time I was waiting? Joy the Baker went and blogged the banana bread she made! Do you think we have a subconscious connection?! (I sure hope so.)

Well it’s not the same recipe but here it is!

Adapted from The Grand Central Baking Book:

1.5 cups whole wheat flour

2 cups all-purpose flour

1.5 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

2 cups sugar

2/3 cup vegetable oil

2.5 cups banana mash (I used 3 medium sized bananas)

4 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup cooked quinoa

Preaheat oven to 350. Lightly grease two 9×5 loaf pans.

Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a bowl. Set aside.

Beat together sugar, oil, and banana mash for a few minutes on medium high speed.

Crack the eggs in another bowl and whisk together with vanilla. With mixer on low, gradually add egg mixture until fully combined.

Add one-third of the dry ingredients and mix briefly then add half of the buttermilk. Continue alternating dry and buttermilk until all ingredients, ending with dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Mix in quinoa last. You could also use another grain (brown rice? millet?) just to throw in fiber. Mostly because you can.

Divide the batter into two loaf pans. Bake for 25 minutes. Rotate pans and bake for 25 more minutes. Turn oven down to 325 and bake for 10-15 minutes more until bread is a golden brown with a cracked top and a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Good for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert!

Strawberry Country Cake

So. I hear it’s been hot on the east coast. How have I heard? oh, well mostly because about 73% of my facebook newsfeed has been dominated by my east coast friends telling me how hot it is. I get it, yall. You want Satan to take his weather back. And here’s what I have to say about it:  Is this really that unusual for DC? I feel like we always get temperatures over 100 and they tell little old ladies to stay inside and drink lots of water and stay out of the heat if you can. Did the rest of you just block that out of your memory? It’s DC. That’s what you’re getting.

My other thought is: hey. It’s DC. That’s what you’re getting! Your own fault for living on the east coast in a city where it will be satanically and humid to boot. Which is why you should all probably plan a mass exodus to California. Exhibit A:

Yep. Currently in Walnut Creek it is 63. High of 83 today. Sunny. Wonderful. People here of course find a way to complain. But the fact of the matter is I do completely and entirely sympathize with you, East Coast. I lived that my whole life… worse even! Try mowing the lawn in Georgia once a week when it’s hot and humid and miserable. I get it. Which is why the weather forecast here amazes me. And I think is reason enough alone to get everyone off the East Coast and come to the Best Coast. I mean, West Coast…

I pulled this cake together amidst preparing a meal for a dinner party and it turned out great! The original recipe calls for enough batter to make two cakes. That’s unnecessary which is why I’m going to do my best to half it so you just make one cake… Unless of course you want to make two… then go here.

I don’t know what it was exactly that I loved so much about this cake. I feel like it’s one of the first cake recipes I’ve used in a while that felt like the cakes Mom and I used to make.  You know, where you had to use eggs at room temperature. And you need to sift the dry ingredients. Good old fashioned cake. Tastes like childhood.

For one cake:

6 tbs butter (3/4 stick) at room temp.

3/4 cup plus 2 tbs sugar

2 large eggs at room temp.

1/4 cup plus 2 tbs sour cream at room temp.

1/4 tsp lemon zest

1/4 tsp orange zest

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup all purpose flour

2 tbs cornstarch

pinch of salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 and butter a cake pan (8” or 9”).

Cream together butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add eggs, one at a time. Then add sour cream, zests, and vanilla and beat until combined.

Sift together flour, cornstarch, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients slowly and mix until just combined and smooth.

Pour the batter into the pan and smooth over the top. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 30 minutes.

For the filling:

1 cup heavy cream, chilled

2 tbs sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced

1/2 pint fresh blueberries

Whip the cream, sugar and vanilla until firm.

Slice the cake in half horizontally with a long knife. Use a spatula to spread half of the whipped cream on top of one of the 1/2 cakes. Top with half of the strawberries. Then place the other 1/2 cake on top and spread the rest of the whipped cream on top. Top the cake with the rest of the strawberries and then the blueberries. Enjoy immediately!

 

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Yall! It’s FRIDAY! I thought I’d share these (very lemony) muffins with you! I love muffins mostly because they’re an excuse to have dessert for breakfast! Yum. They’re also super easy and quick. No mixer required. Bonus!

I anticipate this post will have lots of exclamation points! Because it’s Friday! I am finishing a very rough week at work/in life. Sleep deprivation has taken me off my A game which is why there are only two things on this weekend’s to-do list:

1. SLEEP!

2. BLOG!

#2 is particularly important. I will be baking a cake! For my brother’s birthday! However, he lives in Virginia and so I will only be able to share it with him via le blog. But he probably likes the internet more than he likes eating baked goods. And I don’t mind eating cake for two people. win-win.    !

Let’s talk more muffins:

That is in fact pink wine, ladies and gentlemen. It goes very well with all shades of baking! I can’t remember why I needed this bottle of wine. I just remember that I drank it. All. And if you know me, you know I’m the kind of person who will choose a wine on its label. This one was no exception! And! PINK! WINE!

Lemon Sugar!

You’re gonna have this step where you use your hands to mix lemon zest with sugar. It’s really satisfying. I don’t know why. It starts to feel like wet sand. And it feels great.

Batter! yum!

Dessert! For breakfast!

 I adapted this recipe:

2/3 cup granulated sugar

zest and juice of 1 lemon

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup buttermilk or sour cream

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 stick butter, melted until browned and cooled

2 Tablespoons poppy seeds

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 400. Line muffin pan with muffin liners.

In a large bowl, use your hands to mix together the zest and sugar to make lemon sugar. Whisk in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix together the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, butter, and lemon juice.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and fold together. Add poppy seeds at the last second and mix in.

Divide batter into muffin cups (about 3/4 full). Sprinkle tops with 2 tbs sugar.

Bake for 15-18 minutes until tops are golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Let cool for a couple minutes in the pan, and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!

 

Raspberry Coffee Cake

 

 

Admittedly, that is a pretty sad picture of the what was a very gooey coffee cake. I’ll admit it, I forgot to take a picture of it completed until there was only one piece left and I insisted Brett eat it off of this plate to make it fancier.

Whoa. Sorry. I got a little ahead of myself there. You’ve probably been wondering where the heck I have been! (That is, if you’re even still there!) This past 2 months has been much crazier than I would typically prefer. A brief run down: We moved the weekend of May 1st. I think you know this already. But moving is much more than just the weekend you move. It’s all the unpacking and figuring out that goes on after that takes just as much energy! The following weekend was Mother’s Day! I hosted a brunch (which is why I made this coffee cake)… not the most succesful hosting of my life, but the mom-of-honor was happy and that’s all that really mattered. The weekend after that? 16 hours in a class about how to conquer the LSAT. I don’t recommend this to anyone. It is terrible for your sanity. I think it literally took me 2 weeks to fully regain 100% brain function. Then a friend came in town. Then Brett’s family came in town. Then the LSAT happened (IT’S OVER THANK GOODNESS). And then I had my first real weekend in months. And now we’re here!

Which means no more excuses! I’ve been catching up on my blog reading which has inspired me to come back to you. And of course the fact that I love you!

Berries mingling.

Look at those raspberries, mingling with sugar and cornstarch.

I could have eaten this whole thing raw. Oh. And let it be known. I’ve decided I don’t trust a person who doesn’t like raw dough. Mmmm it’s good to be back.

Here’s the recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the rhubarb filling:
1/2 pound raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp ground ginger

For the crumbs:
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 3/4 cups flour

For the cake:
1/3 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup  flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbs softened butter, cut into 8 pieces.

Preheat oven to 325. Grease an 8 in square dish.

Prepare your filling: Toss the raspberries with sugar, cornstarch, and ginger. Set aside.

Make crumbs: Whisk together sugar, spices, and salt into melted butter until smooth. (Fully dissolve the sugar!) Add flour with a spatula. It will look and feel like solid dough. Leave it pressed together at the bottom of your bowl.

Make cake: Stir together sour cream, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Now using a mixer, add butter and a spoonful of the sour cream mixture a mix until flour is moistened. Increase your mixer speed and beat for about 30 seconds, then add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches.

Scoop half of the batter into the prepared pan. Spread the raspberries over the batter. Dollop the rest of the batter on top of the berries (see above picture).

Now use your fingers to break up the crumbs into about 1/2 inch pieces. Sprinkle over cake (I had leftover crumbs…) Bake 45-55 minutes. Cool completely before serving (this is an important step. I made mine the night before and decided to pop it back in the oven to warm it up. I think I let it sit in there a little too long which resulted in goooooey coffee cake that needed a fork to eat. Although still delicious!)

ENJOY.

Strawberry Oat Scones

Hi friends. Sorry I’ve kept you waiting on a post. Life has been busy as I’m getting ready for (another) move. However, Jesus resurrected on Sunday and I made sure to celebrate with some baking.

As I was up early to make some Easter scone treats, I reflected on the fact that this was my first Easter without my mom in my 24 years on this earth. As most of you know, I’m not terribly religious. But I do enjoy the excuse for a family gathering and lots of food. It’s safe to say that everything I know about baking, I learned from my mom and it was hard not to bake with her yesterday. So, I’m gonna dedicate this post to Sandals (scandals to some). Thanks, Mom. For everything.

Ok ok. Enough sentimental goodness. Let’s get down to the real stuff:

strawberry fields

This recipe has a lot of similarities to the Sunday Morning Biscuits. So if you made those, these are a great follow up! Additionally it’s a quick and easy recipe to whip together. I might experiment with whole wheat flour next time.

Use your hands to mix in the strawberries… it will be messy, but well worth it…

Recipe adapted from here:

1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup sugar plus a little extra
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 cups fresh strawberries, chopped
1/2 cup butter, cold, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 400.

Whisk together buttermilk and egg. Set aside. Combine flour, rolled oats, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or your hands until it looks like crumbs. Stir in the buttermilk/egg mixture with a spoon (or your hands) until just blended. Add the strawberries and gently mix.

Knead dough 8-10 times on a floured surface and pat into a disk about 1.5 inches thick. Slice into whatever size/shape scones you desire. Place on greased baking sheet. Top with a little extra sugar (turbinado if you have it). Bake for about 20-22 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool on wire rack. Enjoy!

Home Grown Lemon Bars

California smells good in the spring.

More importantly, California has a spring. I’ve been living on the east coast where I feel too often we jumped straight from cold to hot. It’s been in the 60’s for about a month here. Flowers are blooming and oh so fragrant.

But wait, it gets better: there are citrus trees everywhere! I’m not kidding! It is such a treat to see them all around… as common as daffodils on the east coast!

So when your boss brings in a bag of 20+ lemons from his backyard… you make lemon bars.

If that’s not a good enough reason, here are a few more: they are the perfect spring time treat, you will get lemon juice all over your hands and then smell like lemons for the rest of the day, and they are the happiest yellow you’ve ever seen.

I knew the happy yellow would win you over…

Crumbly dough for crust

Main squeeze.

Lemons proved to be very photogenic and love to have their pictures taken!

Filling so good you will want to drink it.

If you’re like me, you may be expecting the filling to be more curd-like. But really it’s going to be quite viscous. I recommend trying not to dip your finger in for a taste as you will then be overwhelmed with the urge to drink the whole thing.

Letting it cool for 30 minutes before slicing... longest 30 minutes of my life.

Recipe (adapted from the Grand Central Baking Book):

Crust:

2.5 cups flour

3/4 tsp salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Filling:

6 eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups sugar

1/4 cup plus 1 tbs flour

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 6 lemons)

1 tbs lemon zest (I recommend zesting before you squeeze the lemons!)

1/2 cup milk

1/2 tsp salt

confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350. Generously coat 9×13 pan with spray or butter

Make the crust: Whisk flour and salt together. Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (hint: I never remember to put my butter out to let it get to room temperature. Stick it in the microwave for 15-20 seconds to soften works just as well… be careful not to melt it though!). Add vanilla and mix. Add dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated, yet still crumbly (see picture above)…

Put your crumbles in the pan and distribute evenly. Don’t press the crumbles too much along the bottom, but do push up on the sides (about half way up the pan) to contain the filling. Bake for 25-30 minutes until browned and a little toasty.

While the crust is baking, make your filling! Whisk together eggs, flour, and sugar. Stir in lemon juice, zest, milk, and salt. That’s it! (how easy was that?!)

When your crust is done, turn the oven temp down to 325. Whisk the filling a little to remix it before pouring it over the warm crust (it will sizzle a little, which is strangely rewarding).

Stick that puppy back in the oven (use two hands!) for about 20-25 minutes. The filling should be firm to the touch when done. A good way to judge is when you move the pan, the filling should be pretty solid and not slosh around. Let them cool to room temperature on wire rack (or oven coils in my case), about 30 minutes (I know. Torture.). Cut into whatever size you desire your squares to be. Dust generously with confectioners’ sugar and devour. I’m so excited for you to get to this point! YUM!