Archive for the 'fruit' Category

French Apple Tart

November 22, 2011

This tart is basically the perfect last minute Thanksgiving dessert.  It’s perfect because it basically takes seconds to make (okay, about 30 minutes, if you make your own pie crust – which I will encourage!  It’s Thanksgiving, after all).  It’s super pretty – it looks like it came directly from a bakery.  And it has “French” in the name!  There literally is nothing else in a dessert that will impress a crowd.

But oh man, the flavor is what will impress the most!  This is an apple pastry in all that a pastry should be.  It has all of its ingredients highlighted in their purest form: apple, butter, sugar, so you can be sure to really taste all of them.  This is a true apple dessert.

I mean, let’s talk about this.  I’m not gonna lie.  I am a cinnamon fiend.  I will sprinkle cinnamon on just about everything, and to me, an apple pie isn’t real until it gets some spices to really dress the apples.  But no, this was apple at its best, and if I dare say it, my favorite apple dessert to date.  Make it.  Today, actually, because you don’t have much time left until Thursday!  Your guests will love you.

French Apple Tart (ever so slightly adapted from Saveur)

A couple notes: I had a 9 inch tart pan, so I made a big tart and a mini tart out of this.  But, how about not making a tart at all?!  I think that you could easily make this into a galette.  Also, the original recipe called for 7 apples.  I definitely did not need all 7, but make sure that you use the 4 listed.

Pie Dough

1 1/4 cup flour

12 tbsp. unsalted butter, cold and cubed, divided

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 cup sugar + 1 tbsp., divided

3 tbsp. ice water

4 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1/2 cup apricot jam

Whiz flour, 8 tbsp. butter, salt, and 1 tbsp. sugar in a food processor until it’s crumbly like cornmeal.  Add the iced water and process until the dough forms into a ball.  Take out of food processor and wrap in plastic wrap for about an hour.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into a 13 inch circle.  It will be thin.  Transfer to an 11 inch tart pan.  Trim the edges and chill for another hour.

Preheat the oven to 375.  Tightly layer the apple slices to form any design you want.  Make it tight enough so you use all of the apples.  Sprinkle with the 1/4 cup sugar and dot with the remaining 4 tbsp. of butter.

Bake for about 60 minutes, or until the apples and the crust has turned a deep golden brown.

Warm the apricot jam in a small saucepan over low heat, until it is loose.  Pour through a strainer.  After the apple tart has cooled for about 10 minutes, brush the warmed jam on top of the apples as a glaze.  Let cool completely before slicing.

Coconut Pecan Berry Cobbler

August 25, 2011

I know, people.  I know what you’re thinking.  I’ve been a bit berry happy this summer.  And if not with berries, I’ve certainly incorporated fresh summer fruits in just about everything that I’ve posted lately.  But this post is trying to fool you!  It’s not at all about the summer produce!  You can substitute frozen berries when they’re no longer in season.  I’m letting you do that!  Because this, my friends, is about the coconut flour.

Coconut flour is my latest obsession.  I first used it in a gluten free cake recipe, and it was divine.  Ingenious, really.  Because it took this plain cake and turned it into a coconut cake without the fuss of a coconut syrup, coconut extract, coconut rum or coconut custard.  And that’s just plain amazing – I say this from experience.  Coconut flour basically just tastes like dried up coconut, but looks like a flour and has flour-like abilities.  If it had its own wikipedia page, I’d really be able to confirm what it is.

What I do know is that the coconut flour puts a slightly sweet and unique spin on the regular ol’ cobbler, which you’re probably tired of making this late in the game.  So go track some down, whip it out and allow yourself to be swept away on this new-found journey with coconut flour!  The possibilities are endless.

Coconut Pecan Berry Cobbler (adapted from Simply Recipes)

The drawback to the coconut flour is that it is expensive…and hard to find.  So because I don’t really understand what it is quite yet, I suggest the following: use regular all-purpose flour to replace the coconut flour.  And for the coconut, grind up shredded coconut to a powder until you have 1/4 cup.  And use just the regular shredded coconut, unground, for the other 1/4 cup.  And then throw in another handful of the shredded coconut for good measure.

Filling –

4 cups mixed berries (I used a mix of strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries), fresh or frozen

1/4 cup + 1 tbsp. granulated sugar

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp. instant tapioca

Topping –

1/2 cup coconut flour (see headnote)

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

4 tbsp. butter, softened

Preheat oven to 375.  Mix together all of the ingredients of the filling and pour into an ungreased 8×8 or equivalent sized baking dish.  To make the topping, stir together all of the dry ingredients.  Add the butter and rub into the dry ingredients.  Sprinkle the topping on to the filling in the prepared pan.  Bake for 35 minutes until the topping has turned golden brown.  Cool on wire rack for 30 minutes and then serve.

Summer Strawberry Cake

August 18, 2011

Right around this time, every year, I get this sinking feeling that summer is ending.  I mean, it is, obviously.  But I really start to feel at the end of August: when all of the back to school sales are over because schools are actually in session; when you start to see  pumpkins growing in gardens; when boots are appearing in store fronts; and saddest of all, when summer produce starts to fade away.

So for the past couple of weeks, during my weekly trip to the farmers market, I’ve been trying to keep a positive attitude about the gradual disappearance of the corn and watermelon.  I’m ready to get my fall flavors on, I tell myself!  But then, last week, all of a sudden, out of the blue, the farmers market was selling strawberries!  The same strawberries that typically have a season until mid June!  I haven’t seen these guys since spring!  Cute, little itty bitty strawberries that just had ohh so much flavor!  Best ever.

What does this mean!  Well, I think an argument could be made for climate change.  But let’s just say that summer wants to hold on for just a bit longer.  At least long enough for me to make this delicious cake.  This seriously is one of my most favorite cakes: it’s simple, sweet and highlights the fruit.  It’s delicious with strawberries, which is my fruit of choice for this cake, but really, you can use anything you want.  Especially because, apparently, summer lives on.

Summer Strawberry Cake (adapted from here)

6 tablespoons butter, softened, plus more for pie plate
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved
2 tablespoons raw sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 or 10-inch pie plate. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a bowl.  Mix together milk, egg and vanilla into a separate bowl.

Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and 1 cup sugar for 3-4 minutes, until pale and fluffy.  Reduce the speed and beat in milk and egg mixture.

Reducing the speed of the mixer to low, gradually beat in the flour mixture until it’s well incorporated.  You may have to use a wooden spoon at the end.  Pour into the prepared pie plate.  Arrange the strawberries decoratively, cut side down, on cake batter, gently pushing in the strawberries.  Sprinkle the raw sugar on top of strawberries.

Bake cake 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake until cake is golden brown and firm to the touch, about 1 hour to 1 hour, 30 minutes.  Let cool in pie plate on a wire rack.

Sweet Corn and Berry Ice Cream Tart

August 4, 2011

Things I learned this week: 1. Avoid making cupcakes for a barbecue during a nation-wide heat wave.  The frosting will surely melt, resulting in near-disaster.  2. Homemade ricotta is tasty on just about everything.  If you spread it on a different thing every night, you will have dinner for a week.  3. Corn and berries make a brilliant flavor pairing.  No joke.

Allow me to elaborate on point number 3 specifically.  Now we all know that corn is used in desserts often: corn pudding, and sweet cornbread, and even just plain sweet corn ice cream.  It actually seems pretty probable to use corn in desserts – it has a natural sweetness that works easily with sugar.  And it also adds a delectable smoky flavor.  Mmm.

But with berries!  That’s the unexpected kicker that works so well with this sweet, sweet grain.  It’s not so intuitive until you actually think about it: berries are sour, corn is sweet – sweet and sour is an age-long flavor combination, and ta da!  Everything makes sense.  The two are actually so lovely together that I may have corn on the cob with a side of raspberries at the next barbecue.  Or maybe not, but that’s not the point.  The point is that this ice cream works and it’s totally delicious.  You should give it a whirl…or a churn!  Ha.

And you can!  Another interesting point that I didn’t learn this week but I will share with you anyway!: I made this ice cream without an ice cream maker.  It’s a tad time consuming, but not particularly difficult.  Just follow the instructions found here.

Sweet Corn and Berry Ice Cream Tart (adapted from New York Times)

A couple more things: I made some extra graham cracker tart shells after making a key lime pie last week, so I filled the ice cream in there.  Delicious, and super easy to serve, but obviously not necessary.  I’m adding the directions below if you choose to make it.  Also, you can swirl the berry sauce into the ice cream while it’s freezing, as indicated below, or you can always just serve it on top of the scoops.  Different methods, same delicious taste.  A final note: I thought that an extra boost of corn flavor would be necessary, so I added some leftover corn kernels into the ice cream.  First of all, that was not true because the ice cream had tons of corn flavor.  But second of all, and more importantly, the corn added a not-so-pleasant crunch.  Bottom line: don’t do it.

Graham Cracker Crust

7-8 graham crackers, crushed into crumbs

1/2 stick butter, melted

2 tbsp. sugar

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix together all of the ingredients until well incorporated.  Press on the bottom and up the sides of either 4 mini tart pans, or 1 9 inch tart pan until it the crust is spread evenly.  Bake for 10 minutes and allow to cool completely.

Ice Cream

2 cups + 2 tbsp. whole milk

4 tsp. cornstarch

3 tbsp. cream cheese, softened

1/4 tsp. salt

1 stalk of fresh corn, husked

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

scant 2/3 cup sugar

2 tbsp. honey

In a small bowl, mix together corn starch and 2 tbsp. milk until well incorporated.  Set aside.  In another small bowl, whisk together the cream cheese and salt.  Set aside.

Prepare an ice bath – fill a large bowl half way with ice.  Have a smaller bowl ready with a strainer.

Slice the kernels from the cob, making sure that all of the juice is also extracted from the cob.  In a large pot, combine the 2 cups of milk, heavy cream, corn kernels and the cob, sugar and honey over medium high heat.  Allow it to come up to a boil and let it boil for 5 minutes.  Discard the cob and strain the mixture into the prepared bowl, making sure that you press down on the corn to extract the flavor and juices.

Pour the mixture back into the pot.  Over medium high heat, slowly whisk in the corn starch mixture until it is full incorporated.  Allow it to come to a boil and let boil for 1 minute.  Turn the heat off and whisk in the cream cheese mixture until fully incorporated.

Pour the mixture back into bowl and let it sit on top of the ice in the ice bath.  Stir occasionally until the mixture has become cold – about 45 minutes.  Follow the instructions in the link above to make the ice cream without an ice cream machine.  If you have a machine, follow the instructions to churn into ice cream.

Berry Swirl

1 cup blackberries

1 cup raspberries

scant 1/2 cup sugar

juice of 1 lemon

Combine everything in a small pot.  Stirring occasionally, boil for about 7-8 minutes.  Strain into a bowl, pressing the berries to extract the flavor and juice.  Refrigerate until cold.

To make tarts: Place a spoon full of berry sauce on the bottom of a tart shell, until the bottom is completely covered.  Spread the ice cream on top, and fill to the top of the tart shell.  Spoon some more berry sauce directly into the center of the tart, on top of the ice cream.  Using a butter knife, swirl the berry sauce into the ice cream.  Wrap with plastic wrap and freeze until firm.

To make a berry swirl, pack the ice cream into quart size containers.  Layer into container, alternating between ice cream and berry sauce.  Freeze until firm.

Blueberry Brown Betty

July 21, 2011

If I happened to be savvy with my words, I wouldn’t call one of these desserts a Blueberry Brown Betty, but rather an Easy-Peesy Blueberry Mini Openfaced Pie-Tart.  Yes, well, alas, Betties, they are.

But they really are insanely easy!  And almost completely unexpectedly easy.  Which is just so much better than knowing how easy these are going to be before you go into it.  So, here we are and I’m sorry to have burst your bubble.

But try these, with any fruit you want.  Because besides the fruit, you may already have all of the ingredients in your household.  Because, if I haven’t already mentioned it, these babies are easy to make.  And they are just so tasty.  Right out of the oven, and a couple hours later at room temperature, and toasted the next day.  These mini pies are tart from the fruit with a delicately sweetened filing, and they showcase just how awesome summer (and its produce!) is.  Delicious.

And the last best thing about this (besides the ease and the taste, of course), is when you serve it to your friends and they comment on how yummy and unique the “crust” is.  That’s when you silently laugh inside and think about how you just rolled out white sandwich bread as the crust, and your friends just don’t have a clue.  Trust me, that’s the last best thing.  You will see.

Blueberry Brown Betty (adapted from here)

1 stick unsalted butter

3 tbsp. granulated sugar

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

9 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed

1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 tsp. lemon zest

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup panko

2 cups blueberries

powdered sugar, for serving

Brown the butter: Place the stick of butter in a medium saucepan and melt over medium heat.  Keeping an eye on it, watch as the butter melts, foams, clears and then begins to brown and smell almost nutty.  It will take about 5-7 minutes.  Take off heat.

Make filling: Mix together the panko, salt, lemon zest, and brown sugar.  Add blueberries and toss to coat.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 350.  Using a brush, butter 9 muffin cups of a muffin tin.

Roll out each piece of bread until completely flat.  Brush each side of bread with browned butter and sprinkle each side with the cinnamon and sugar mixture.  Gently fit it into the muffin tin.  Repeat with the remaining slices of bread.

Pour the remaining butter into the blueberry mixture.  Stir to combine.

Evenly distribute filling into each of the bread cups.  Cover pan with aluminum foil.  Bake for 20 minutes with the foil on.  Take foil off and bake for an additional 20 minutes.  Let sit in pan for about 10 minutes before unmolding.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Cherry Clafouti

July 14, 2011

One day in high school, soon after receiving my driver’s license, my mom sent me to the grocery store to get a few items for dinner.  Always eager for a drive by myself, I happily obliged.  When I arrived at the grocery store, I saw these beautiful fresh red cherries staring back at me.  As if to further assert my independence, I strayed from the list and got, well, a lot, to make sure that my entire family would have enough.  I knew that my mom would be proud of me for getting something so nutritious for once!

I got back home, dropped the groceries on the counter and went to my room.  My mom immediately called me downstairs.  She had taken the receipt out of the bag to notice that the cherries cost $12.99/lb, and I happened to purchase a whopping three pounds of them (I had no concept that credit card = money at that time).  My best friend of a mother, who is possibly the least intimidating person in the world ever, coldly stared at me with steely eyes.  I silently gulped as she told me that I should have every intention of eating every single one of those cherries because each of them is like gold.*

What resulted from this is that I rarely baked with cherries.  Cherries were meant to be seen and not bought.  I exaggerate.  I bought them to eat, of course (with my mom’s permission, even after high school), but I never thought that I could appreciate “every single one of them” if they were baked into a cobbler.

This is all until last week when I saw that cherries were on sale!  I had never seen such a sight!  I picked two 2lb. bags of cherries, having every intention to bake with them.  I’ve never had such freedom to use cherries in my life!  And it was so so sweet.

As was this clafouti, which is like a big, thick pancake like cake.  Very eggy, sweet and satisfying.  But most of all, to my surprise, I think that I valued every single cherry that was thrown into the pan, in this cherry-filled treat.  And savored every last one of them.  Thanks to my mom, of course.

*In defense of my lovely mother who will not be so appreciative of this post, I stretched the truth a bit here.  She was not so scary at the time (c’mon, “steely eyes”??), though I did learn my lesson.  Did you like the truth in the story?  I didn’t either!  Exaggerated story wins.

Cherry Clafouti (recipe found here)

This is a Julia Childs’ recipe!  Not one to be messed with.  But I did, anyway.  Ever-so-slightly.  Which was a mistake.  I noticed that all fresh cherry recipes have just a smidge of almond extract in it.  So I added 1/2 tsp.  What was I thinking?!  I don’t even like almond extract!  It gave this a bit of a artificial taste, which was, well, not pleasing.  But I will suggest this: this recipe was very very sweet.  Almost too sweet to the point where you were not able to taste the freshness of the cherries.  I am tempted to say that you may want to cut the sugar by half.  That’s a lot, I know.  But this clafouti is screaming for a sprinkling of powdered sugar after it’s baked.  And you can adjust the sweetness level there.

1 1/4 cups milk

1/3 cup sugar, divided in half (original recipe called for 2/3 cups – see headnote)

3 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup all purpose flour

3 cups fresh cherries, pitted

powdered sugar, for dusting after baked

Preheat oven to 350.  Butter an 8 cup casserole dish.  In a blender, mix together milk, half of the sugar, eggs, vanilla, all purpose flour and salt, until completely smooth.  Pour a 1/4 inch layer of the mixture into prepared pan.  Bake for 10 minutes until almost set.  Sprinkle cherries evenly over baked mixture.  Sprinkle the remaining sugar evenly on top of cherries.  Pour the rest of the batter on to the cherries.  Bake for about 50-60 minutes until browned, set and tester comes out clean.  Let cool for about 10-15 minutes.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar, slice and serve.

Barley Scones with Strawberry Balsamic Jam

June 16, 2011

Scones are kind of the perfect brunch food.  They fulfill the sweet and carby necessity of any brunch, but they aren’t so high maintenance.  You can whip them up, stick ’em in the oven and focus on the making the mimosas.

People are so quick to judge scones, though.  They’re too dry, or moist, or something to do with not a “tender enough crumb”.  Poor scones.  They are always picked on.  They’re such an easy target.  And they’re almost never invited to a party.  Which is unfortunate when it fulfills such a huge part of any brunch.

But these scones, these scones are the perfect solution.  First, you’re making a homemade jam to fill the inside of the scone, (you’ll get points for impressiveness), which will make the scones incredibly moist.  Second, and here’s the secret, they’re made with barley flour.  Friends, there are a lot of people that do not know what barley flour is supposed to taste like (sweet and nutty, in case you were wondering), and if you happen to mess these scones up, barley flour can easily take the blame.  It is there to take some pressure off the scone, itself.  And let’s be honest, even scones need a break from time to time.

But no one will know that it is exactly the barley flour that makes the scones so perfectly delicate and substantial.  Bake them perfectly, and you have such dreamy scones that they will never be questioned again.

Barley Scones with Strawberry Balsamic Jam

Strawberry Balsamic Jam (slightly adapted from here)

3 cups fresh strawberries, washed and sliced

1 cup sugar

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

Heat all of the ingredients over medium to medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.  Mash the strawberries to incorporate into sugar.  Let it continue to cook until it reaches the consistency of a thick honey, about 25 minutes.  Let cool completely.  Place into refrigerator until ready to use.

Barley Scones (recipe from Good to the Grain)

1 cup + 2 tbsp. barley flour

1 cup all purpose flour

¼ cup dark brown sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 stick butter

1 egg

½ cup buttermilk

½ cup strawberry balsamic jam

1 tbsp. melted butter

2 tbsp. turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray.  Sift together flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Crumble in the brown sugar until well incorporated into the dry mixture.

Cut butter into ½ inch pieces and rub into the flour mixture until the butter is still pea sized.  Do not overmix.  Mix together the egg and buttermilk.  Pour into the butter mixture until incorporated.  Split dough in half.  Shape both of the pieces into 7 inch discs.  Place one disc down on parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Spread jam on top of the disc, leaving a 1 inch border.  Place the second disc on top of jam and let the dough sink in.  Brush the melted butter on top of the scones.  Sprinkle the sugar on top.  Score the scone disc sandwich into 8 pieces (like a pie).  Bake for 25-30 minutes until the jam is oozing out and the scone is browned.  Take out of the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes.  Cut completely through the scored scones.

Whole Orange Cake

March 16, 2011

On the spectrum of fruits that I enjoy, oranges come somewhere in the middle.  They are nowhere near the top with summer berries and mangoes, but I wouldn’t put them on the bottom with honeydew and cantaloupe either (can we talk about how disappointing restaurant fruit salads are when they are filled with melons??).  It’s not that oranges are not tasty; it’s just that they’re not always consistent.  Plus, let’s be honest, they just seem far too labor intensive to eat when the flavor is hit or miss.


That is until I discovered honeybell oranges.  They are the one and only exception when it comes to oranges.  Every year, right in the dead of winter, my parents send us a carton of honeybell oranges.  These oranges are only available for a short time during the year, but are seriously the juiciest, most flavorful oranges that I have ever encountered.  For someone who is typically so blasé about oranges and thinks that they are just mediocre in the fruit chain, the discovery of honeybell oranges was a very big deal.


This year, I may have expressed more excitement than usual because my parents did not think that 4 cartons of oranges would satisfy my need.  They sent us EIGHT cartons of oranges – I was left with NINETY-SIX oranges!  Huge, juicy, can’t-eat-more-than-one-at-a-time oranges!


After my initial shock, denial and disbelief, I gathered myself together, found space for the oranges in my apartment, and decided that this is a very good thing.  Instead of just using the oranges for fresh-squeezed juice in the morning, as a daily snack in the afternoon and as a replacement for milk in my oatmeal (have you ever tried that?  fruity and divine – try it), I realized that I could use these incredibly flavorful oranges in my baking.  I found a cake that used the entire orange, skin and all (no peeling involved!).  It was moist, light, and incredibly orange-y.  And in my unintentional effort to post gluten-free desserts, here’s one more for the list!

Whole Orange Cake (recipe from Scandi Foodie)

I added mini chocolate chips to the cake batter because I truly believe that the orange/chocolate combo is one of the best, but feel free to leave it plain, or add nuts, perhaps.  Also, I was nervous that the bits of orange peel would leave a slight bitter taste.  It did.  Not unpleasantly, but it was there in that marmalade kind of way.  But if you happen to plan in advance, this is one of those cakes that develops more flavor as it sits, and will lose any of that even slight bitter taste.

Ingredients

2 oranges
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
3 cups almond meal
1 tsp baking powder

1 cup mini chocolate chips, mixed with 1 tbsp. flour (gluten-free or otherwise)

Method

Wash the oranges, place them in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain, then return to pan, cover with water and bring to boil. Let simmer another 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Drain and chop the oranges discarding any seeds.

Place the oranges in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth.

Whisk the eggs and the sugar until thick and pale. Add the orange, almond meal, and baking powder and fold until just combined. Add the chocolate chips/flour mixture and fold in.  Pour into a greased, 9 inch round or springform pan and bake for about 45 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

Fresh Apple Layer Cake

October 12, 2010

A game that I like to play with my Indian Gujarati grandmother is the “How do you say this in Gujarati” game.  It’s quite fun, actually.  I get to learn ridiculous Gujarati words that I would never use in everyday language, while simultaneously hangin’ out with my awesome g-ma.  A win, win.  One day, as we were playing and thinking of the most obscure words, I realized that I had no idea how to say the word “apple” in Gujarati.  How strange.  So I asked my grandmother for the translation.  She looked at me thoughtfully, slowly took a deep breath,  and deliberately said, “ap-ple.”

Oh.


This is when I had the apple epiphany: there is something so quintessentially American about apples.  Apple pie is served at Thanksgiving, the true American holiday.  State fair wouldn’t be complete without caramel apples, and apple bobbing is a real…American past time.  Okay, that may be a stretch.  But apples are ingrained in our American culture.  That’s why I’ve noticed that so many people have a family apple cake recipe that is passed down for generations that is made at just about this time every year.

I, however, do not have a family apple cake recipe for obvious reasons.  But after going apple picking and coming back with over 30 lbs. of apples (eh..oops), I realized that it is time for me to find one.  I wanted to make an apple cake that had an apple punch to it.  I do love cinnamon cakes with a slight addition of apples, but I wanted something to really bring out the apple flavor.  With five sliced apples, this recipe was perfect – amazingly moist and deliciously spiced with a lovely apple flavor.  Try it, love it, take it to your grandmother, and add it to your family recipe collection.

Fresh Apple Layer Cake (adapted from here)

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour a tube or bundt pan.

5 apples, of mixed variety, peeled, cored and sliced
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1.5 tsp. nutmeg

Toss all ingredients together and set aside.

2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup apple cider

Blend all of the ingredients together with an electric mixer until combined.

Sift in:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda

Continue to blend with mixer for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is thick and well combined.

Pour 1/3 of the cake batter into the prepared pan.  Evenly spread 1/2 of the apples onto the cake batter.  Continue with another third layer of cake, the remaining apples, and ending with the cake batter.  Bake in center rack for about 1 hour, 15 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Let cool in pan for 45 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.  Let cool completely.  Serve, sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Fig Galette

September 30, 2010

When you have a sweet tooth that is as big as mine, there are some days when you feel that you have to cut back.  Some days when you feel like you have to lay off the butter, sugar and eggs for a while, and go for something more natural.  So when I saw that figs are well in season and are abundantly being sold in grocery stores and farmers markets, I was more than satisfied to forgo my weekly dessert option and have figs as my post dinner sweet ending.

Sounds like a stellar plan, right?  Well, it was.  Until I found a recipe for a fig galette.  I mean, you really can’t blame me.  Figs dressed in a simple sprinkling of sugar tucked into an all-butter pastry crust coated with apricot jam!  Or…figs.  Just by themselves.  Who are we kidding – there wasn’t much of a choice.  At all.

The guilt did set in a little bit, though, so I decided to use a whole wheat, oil based crust instead of more traditional butter version.  Which surprisingly turned out to be quite flaky and delicious.  And the rest of it is basically just fruit!  ..And sugar and jam.  But who’s counting.

Fig Galette (adapted from Simply Recipes)

This recipe was a tad too sweet for me.  I remedied this by sprinkling a bit of sea salt on top of the entire galette after it baked.  But I included mixing it in to the filling in the directions.

Ingredients (for crust)

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 3 tbsp. milk

Whisk together all of the dry ingredients.  Mix in the wet ingredients until dough forms.  Roll into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in fridge for at least 30 minutes.  Take out and roll into a 12 inch diameter circle and place onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Place into freezer while making filling.

Ingredients (for filling)

  • 1 1/2 pints mission figs, tips cut off and discarded, quartered
  • 1 tsp. flaked sea salt
  • 2 tbsp. sugar, divided
  • 2 tbsp. apricot jam (or another jam)

Preheat oven to 375.  Stir together figs, salt and 1 tbsp. of sugar.  Spread the jam onto the chilled pastry, leaving a 2 inch border.  Arrange the fig filling on the crust, directly on to the jam.  Sprinkle with remaining tbsp. of sugar.  Fold over the 2 inch border of dough over filling, pleating as you fold to ensure the filling won’t escape.  Bake for about 45-50 minutes until golden brown.  Let cool for about 20 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.