Double Apple Pie

I have never made an apple pie that I didn’t enjoy. Apple pie is delicious! 😉 But, I am still seeking a pie that I absolutely love- a pie that will end the search for the perfect pie.

This pie was lovely, with notes of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. I used a combination of apples and sliced them in a food processor. The pie crust incorporated vodka to ensure a flaky result; my Mother-in-law always utilizes this trick. The filling, thickened with tapioca and apple butter, held together perfectly. I baked it the day before Thanksgiving and it kept well at room temperature.

I served it at the end of our Thanksgiving feast along with my favorite Pumpkin Chiffon Pie and Pecan Pie Bars. Most of us eat small slices of whichever dessert strikes our fancy- topped with either whipped cream or served with vanilla ice cream. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark.

Yield: One 9-inch pie

For the Crust:

  • 2 ½ cups/300 grams all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon/2.5 grams coarse salt
  • 2 ½ sticks/20 tablespoons/285 grams unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 4 tablespoons/60 ml vodka
  • ¼ to ½ cup ice water

For the Filling:

  • 3 pounds/1 1/3 kilograms apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced crosswise (1/8-inch) (I used a combination of Sweet Tango, Envy, Granny Smith, and Fuji apples)
  • ½ cup/99 grams granulated sugar, more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons/30 grams dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons/30 grams quick-cooking tapioca
  • 1 ½ teaspoons/3 grams ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon/3 grams ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • pinch ground cloves
  • 1 ½ tablespoons/22 ml lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons/45 grams apple butter
  • heavy cream or milk, as needed
  • turbinado sugar, for sprinkling, as needed
  • vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, sour cream or crème fraîche, for serving
To Make the Crust:

  1. In a food processor, pulse together flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  2. Add butter and pulse until mixture forms 3/4-inch pieces.
  3. Mix vodka with 4 tablespoons ice water (or use 1/2 cup ice water).
  4. Add half the ice water mixture to dough, pulse a few times, then continue adding liquid a tablespoon at a time until dough just comes together (you might not use all the liquid). Dough should be moist, but not wet, and hold together when pinched. If there are visible pieces of butter in the dough, all the better.
  5. Between layers of plastic wrap or on a lightly floured surface, gather dough into a ball. Remove a third of the dough and form into a disk. Form remaining dough into a disk.
  6. Cover both tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 5 days.

To Complete the Pie:

  1. On a lightly floured surface, roll out larger disk to a 12-inch circle. Transfer dough to a 9-inch pie plate. Fold over any excess dough, then crimp edges. Prick crust all over with a fork, then chill crust for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
  2. While dough chills, heat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  3. Line chilled crust with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes; remove foil and weights and bake until pale golden, 5 minutes more. Cool on rack until needed. (You can bake the crust up to 24 hours in advance.)
  4. Toss apples with sugars, tapioca, spices, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the lemon juice. Fold in apple butter. Transfer apples to crust and press gently to make sure fruit is tightly packed.
  5. Roll out remaining dough disk to a 10-inch round. Use a knife to cut strips 1 3/4 inches wide (or desired width). Arrange strips over the filling in a lattice pattern.
  6. Brush top of crust with heavy cream or milk. Sprinkle with granulated or turbinado sugar.
  7. Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Bake 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling thickly, about 1 hour 15 minutes more.
  8. Let pie cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours before cutting.
  9. Serve with ice cream, whipped cream, sour cream or crème fraîche.

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Pumpkin-Orange Bread

I have to make some sort of pumpkin bread in the fall. This orange variation sounded lovely and resulted in a moist and tender loaf. My family didn’t appreciate the pepita garnish on the top of the loaf, but I thought that it added a nice crunch and contrasting texture. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I incorporated whole wheat flour and baked the loaf in my favorite Pullman loaf pan. Nice.

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 cups pure pumpkin puree (from a 15-ounce can)
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • grated orange zest from 1 large orange (about 2 tsp)
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice (from 1/2 large orange)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush a standard 9-by-5-inch loaf pan or Pullman loaf pan with butter and dust with flour, tapping out excess.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, and nutmeg, 30 seconds.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together butter, pumpkin, eggs, orange zest and juice, and vanilla until smooth.
  4. Make a well in flour mixture and pour pumpkin mixture into it.
  5. Stir together just until combined and no dry flour remains (do not overmix).
  6. Transfer to prepared pan and sprinkle top evenly with pepitas, pressing lightly to adhere.
  7. Bake until a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour, 10 minutes for a standard loaf or about 35 minutes for a Pullman loaf.
  8. Let cool in pan 10 minutes, then transfer loaf to a wire rack and let cool completely. Bread can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container or wrapped in parchment-lined foil, up to 3 days.
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Chocolate Chip Streusel Brownies

My indecisiveness can be crippling- that’s why I really love recipes like this one. It’s perfect for those of us who can’t decide if we should make cookies or brownies. 😉 I am slightly more partial to brownies… and this brownie base was made even more delicious by incorporating dark chocolate.

This recipe is from Martha Stewart Living. Rich and amazing.

Yield: Serves 16+

For the Cookie Dough:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used 72% cacao dark chocolate)

For the Brownie Batter:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into large pieces
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used 72% cacao dark chocolate)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  1. For the Cookie Dough: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Brush a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with butter; line with parchment, leaving a slight overhang on long sides.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a large bowl, beat butter with both sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 6 minutes.
  5. Reduce speed to medium-low and beat in egg. Beat in vanilla.
  6. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture; beat until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate.
  7. For the Brownie Batter: Melt butter and chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl set over (not in) a pot of simmering water, stirring until smooth.
  8. Remove from heat; whisk in granulated sugar.
  9. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until combined.
  10. Whisk in cocoa and salt.
  11. Fold in flour until combined.
  12. Pour brownie batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with an offset spatula.
  13. Crumble cookie dough evenly over batter.
  14. Cover with parchment-lined foil; bake until just set, 20 minutes.
  15. Remove foil and continue baking until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into center (avoiding chocolate chunks) comes out with moist crumbs, 27 to 30 minutes more.
  16. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Lift brownies from pan using parchment; cut into 16 squares. Brownies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

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Snickerdoodle Crumb Bars

I am drawn to cinnamon-sugary desserts in the fall. Especially if streusel is involved. 🙂 I wanted to bake this snickerdoodle-coffee cake hybrid dessert the second I saw the recipe. I was not disappointed! These cookie bars are not only delicious, they are versatile as well. They could be served for a special breakfast, snack, or dessert.

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. We ate them for dessert. They were extra-fabulous served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

For the Streusel:

  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 stick cold unsalted butter (4 tablespoons), cut into pieces

For the Topping:

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

For the Bars:

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for dish
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature

  1. Make the Streusel: Whisk together flour, brown sugar, and salt. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, cut in butter until small to medium clumps form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Make the Topping: Stir together cinnamon and granulated sugar; set aside.
  3. Make the Bars: Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Butter an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking dish and line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Butter parchment. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  4. Whisk together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together butter, both sugars, and eggs. Add flour mixture; stir to combine.
  6. Spread half of batter into bottom of dish.
  7. Sprinkle with half of cinnamon sugar.
  8. Dollop remaining batter on top; spread evenly with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.
  9. Sprinkle evenly with streusel, then remaining cinnamon sugar.
  10. Bake until a tester inserted in middle comes out clean, 25 to 28 minutes in a convection oven, or 30 to 35 minutes in a standard oven.
  11. Let cool completely. (In order to keep the layers intact, the cake must be completely cool before cutting it into bars.)
  12. Transfer to a cutting board using parchment overhang and cut into bars to serve, or store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

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Ina Garten’s Salted Caramel Brownies

My daughter has loved a book series about a girl named “Kylie Jean” since she starting reading them in first grade. In one of the books, Kylie Jean Fashion Queen, Kylie’s mom bakes caramel brownies. My daughter has been asking for them ever since. I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to comply! (She’s in 5th grade this year. :/ )

The recipe for these super rich, moist and delicious brownies was adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof via Food Network.com. I used large eggs, espresso powder, salted caramel sauce, and omitted the sprinkling of sea salt. We ate them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Decadent. Thanks, Kylie Jean! 🙂

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 14 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate (I used 72% cacao dark chocolate)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 T instant espresso or 1½ T instant coffee granules, such as Nescafé
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 T sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 to 6 ounces good caramel sauce (I used Trader Joe’s Salted Caramel Sauce)
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons flaked sea salt, such as Maldon (I omitted this because I used salted caramel sauce)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Butter and flour a 9 x 13 x 1½-inch baking pan.
  2. Melt the butter, 8 ounces of the chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate together in a medium bowl set over simmering water. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee, vanilla, and sugar.
  4. Stir the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.
  5. In a medium bowl, sift together ½ cup of the flour, the baking powder, and salt and add to the chocolate mixture.
  6. Toss the remaining 6 ounces of chocolate chips and the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour in a medium bowl and add them to the chocolate mixture.
  7. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.
  8. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Don’t overbake!
  9. As soon as the brownies are out of the oven, place the jar of caramel sauce without the lid in a microwave and heat just until it’s pourable. Stir until smooth. Drizzle the caramel evenly over the hot brownies and sprinkle with the sea salt.
  10. Cool completely and cut into bars.

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Soft-Baked Funfetti Cookies

While I’m sharing kid-friendly treats loaded with colorful sprinkles, it seems like the perfect time to post these funfetti cookies! 🙂 I made these for a special annual lunch that I have with friends from my former job. I miss them. ❤  All of our kids have known each other since they were babies- it is also wonderful to get them all together at least a few times a year.

This recipe was adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I doubled the recipe and reduced the baking time. They were a big hit. 🙂

Yield: 42 cookies

  • 1 cup (230 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (380 g) spoon & leveled all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 cup (80 g) sprinkles, plus more for sprinkle on top before baking
  1. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the softened butter for about 1 minute on medium speed. Get it nice and smooth, then add the sugar on medium speed until fluffy and light in color, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Mix in egg and vanilla. Scrape down the sides as needed. Set aside.
  3. In a medium size bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cream of tartar.
  4. With the mixer running on low-speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 3 different parts. The dough is quite thick and you may have to stir the rest by hand.
  5. Once combined, fold in 1 cup sprinkles.
  6. Using a large cookie scoop, scoop out dough and roll into balls. Make sure the balls are taller, rather than wide. Add a few more sprinkles on top of each ball dough.
  7. Chill the balls of dough on the cookie sheet for at least 2 hours and up to 48 hours in the refrigerator. This step will prevent spreading in the oven. (I chilled the balls of dough for 22 hours prior to baking.)
  8. Preheat oven to 350F, preferably on convection.
  9. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mats.
  10. Bake chilled cookie dough for 9 to 10 minutes. The cookies will appear undone and very soft. Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheets for 3 to 5 minutes and move to wire rack to cool completely.

Note: Cookies stay soft & fresh for up to 1 week at room temperature. They also freeze well. Cookies may be rolled into balls and frozen up to 3 months to bake at a later date.

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Easy Baked Cake Doughnuts

We seem to have less and less time to enjoy special breakfasts in my house. 😦 Overscheduled and overbooked, I’m afraid… Thankfully, we’ve made time to enjoy these baked doughnuts on a few occasions. Eating cake for breakfast makes up for less frequent indulgences!

This recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour. My pans made smaller doughnuts, so I adapted the cooking time. I made the vanilla glazed and powdered sugar-coated versions but included recipes for cinnamon-sugar coated, as well as for chocolate and apple cider glazes. I won’t stop until I’ve tried them all. 🙂 Such a treat!

Yield: 20 doughnuts

For the Doughnuts:

  • 4 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 T vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 to 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg, to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 11. 25 oz (319 g or 2 2/3 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk (I used 1 percent)
  • cinnamon-sugar, Confectioners’ sugar, or assorted glazes
  • sprinkles, toasted coconut, or chopped nuts, for topping, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F, preferably on convection. Lightly grease two doughnut pans with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl or stand mixer, beat together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugars until smooth.
  3. Add the eggs, beating to combine.
  4. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla.
  5. Stir the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined.
  6. Spoon the batter into the lightly greased doughnut pans, filling the wells to about 1/4″ shy of the rim. (I filled each well with 2 small cookie scoops of batter.)
  7. Bake the doughnuts for 7 minutes. Remove them from the oven, and wait 5 minutes before turning them out of the pans onto a rack.
  8. Finish with desired coating, glaze, and/or topping, as desired.
  9. For frosted doughnuts, see the three easy doughnut glazes (recipe below). Sprinkle the glazed doughnuts with sprinkles, toasted coconut, or chopped nuts, if desired.

For Cinnamon Sugar-Coated Doughnuts:

  1. For cinnamon doughnuts, shake warm doughnuts in a plastic bag with about 1/4 to 1/3 cup cinnamon-sugar.
Three Easy Doughnut Glazes: 
Yield: about 1/2 cup glaze each

For the Vanilla Glaze:

  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted to remove any lumps
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk or water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Stir the ingredients together, adding extra liquid or confectioners’ sugar to adjust the consistency as needed.
  2. Dip top of doughnuts in glaze, or drizzle glaze over doughnuts.

For the Chocolate Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Melt the ingredients together over low heat or in the microwave, stirring often. Add extra corn syrup if needed to make a smooth, shiny glaze.
  2. Dip top of doughnuts in glaze, or drizzle glaze over doughnuts.

For the Apple Cider Glaze:

  • 2 tablespoons bottled boiled cider
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 cup Confectioners’ or glazing sugar
  1. Stir all of the ingredients together, adding additional sugar or cream if needed to make the glaze the consistency of molasses.
  2. Dip top of doughnuts in glaze, or drizzle glaze over doughnuts.

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