Lovely food blog I’ve just discovered.
A round-up of ones I’m eyeing to make:
Peanut butter-filled chocolate cookies by Wonderland Kitchen
Deep dark chocolate cookies by Divine Baking
Fig and date swirls by Lottie and Doof
Nutmeg maple butter cookies by Smitten Kitchen
(all photos linked to recipes)
Though I’m not entirely convinced everyone seemed to get the whole point of Thanksgiving - the part about giving thanks - it was still an absolutely wonderful day. Phil and I spent weeks planning and preparing including seven hours the night before of baking/chopping/mixing/cooking things and it all paid off when we were enjoying the meal with family and friends.
It didn’t however go off without a hitch or two, the worst of which was the apple pie. I ventured away from my Mom’s recipe to one from a favourite food blogger. I followed the instructions to a T, and yet though the pie came out looking beautiful, I realised an hour later that the bottom was still completely raw. Panic ensued as it was now past midnight and I had been moments ago patting myself on the back for being so organised. Phil came to the rescue reminding me we only needed more apples and that I could make a new one in the morning.
Attempt number two I went back to Mom’s original recipe that hasn’t failed her in years of pie baking. That plus a few additional adjustments and tips lead to a completely edible and tasty pie. Here’s what I learned in attempt #2:
- Use cooking apples, bramley or granny smiths. They hold their shape, release less liquid and have a tart flavour to balance the sugar.
- Freeze your butter. It’s still workable and this ensures that it stays as cold as possible.
- Chill the dough after each step. This helps to keep the butter solid (so it flakes when it bakes) and to relax the pastry (so it doesn’t shrink while baking).
- Vinegar supposedly helps with making a flakey pastry. I used it and mine turned out well, but I don’t have a comparison, so I suppose it doesn’t hurt.
- Slice the apples evenly so they bake evenly.
- Sprinkling graham cracker crumbs on the bottom of the pie before the apples helps to absorb some of their liquid, keeping your bottom baked and not soggy.
- Heat the oven to about 475F and once the pie’s in turn it down to 400. this helps to shock-bake the pastry shell.
- Bake the pie on the floor of the oven for half the cooking time. This will ensure it is baked through and evenly.
- Remember to check the top and cover it with foil in case it starts to go too dark.
- If you have a pizza stone, bake the pie on this to keep the bottom cooking throughout (remember to preheat it with the oven)
As you can tell, most of my issues the first time around were with the bottom of the pie. Making all these little changes made a huge difference, though there are a few more I want to try to get to that perfect slice of pie. Someday I hope mine are as good as my Mom’s.
When I told Phil I was making zucchini bread, his reaction was that of total indifference. But, much to my satisfaction, when I handed him a slice straight from the oven, he had a look of sublime happiness as he finished it in two bites. I’m guessing it’s not as popular here in the UK, and it is one of those recipes people have to taste to believe it’s good. This is the version I made from Oh She Glows, (that I de-vegan-ified) which doesn’t use any butter or oil (except in the topping) and still is lovely, light and has a hint of fall that is already blowing in.
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 egg
- 1 & 1/4 cup shredded zucchini (leave skin on), packed - about one medium courgette/zucchini
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp pure maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener like honey)
- 1 & 1/4 cups milk
- Cinnamon Streusel topping: 2 tsp butter, 1 tbsp coarse sugar, 1 tbsp flour, 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 375F/190C/Gas Mark 5. Oil and line a regular-sized loaf pan.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients (flour, powders, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, raisins, and walnuts).
3. In another large bowl, combine the wet ingredients (egg, shredded zucchini, lemon zest & juice, maple syrup, milk).
4. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just mixed. Be careful not to over-mix the batter.
5. Spoon the batter into prepared loaf pan and spread out evenly. Prepare the cinnamon streusel and then sprinkle on top. Bake for about 35-40 minutes at 375F/190C/Gas Mark 5 or until toothpick comes out clean and the loaf gently springs back when pressed.
EAT and ENJOY!
image source: OhSheGlows.com
With all my running lately I’ve been on a mission to find the perfect home made granola bar to fuel my workouts. Home made means I can tailor them to my tastes, add extra protein and cut back on the sugar while skipping the preserves entirely, which is important to me. After a few tests (and sad failures), I have found two kind of similar ones that I think serve me well. First the the simple peanut butter oat bar from Have Cake, Will Travel:
1 cup corn syrup - I subbed Honey, but any syrupy substance will do
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter - used smooth b/c I don’t eat crunchy
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats - if you only have rolled oats like me, put them in a food processor and pulse a few times to cut them up to quick-cooking size
1 cup wheat germ
1/3 cup raisins
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly coat an 8-inch (20-cm) square baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Combine wet: corn syrup, applesauce, & peanut butter in a small saucepan, until melted and emulsified. Combine dry: oats, wheat germ, raisins, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Fold wet ingredients into dry, and combine until coated. Press mixture into the prepared pan, bake for 20 minutes.
Place the pan on a wire rack to cool. Chill in the fridge while still in pan for an easier time slicing into bars.
Yield: 8 bars
These were good with just a few ingredients I always have on hand, and they quick to make. However, my second recipe from Smitten Kitchen is kind of a heartier version of the above which I like like slightly more:
1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
1/2 cup granulated sugar- I used less b/c other ingredients were not sugar-free
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor) - used whole wheat flour b/c I didn’t feel like above step; probably lead to a cakeier texture in the end which I was fine with
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts - a place to get creative, but for my first batch I used up all the dregs of bags of nuts and dried fruit in my pantry, so it was a ‘kitchen sink’ kind of bar
1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter
6 tablespoons melted butter - subbed in apple sauce for whole amount and I think it made the bars more moist which I enjoyed
1/4 cup honey, maple syrup
1 tablespoon water
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan.
Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (inc. peanut butter). Toss the wet ingredients with the dry until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. (A piece of plastic wrap can help with this, as you press down on the back of it.)
Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan but do not worry, they’ll set completely once completely cool.
Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack. (Alternately, after about 20 minutes you can use your parchment “sling” to lift and remove the bars, and place them in their paper on the rack to cool the rest of the way. This can speed the process up.)
Once cool, cut the bars into squares. If bars seem crumbly, chill the pan of them further in the fridge for 30 minutes which will fully set the “glue”, then cut them cold. To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container.