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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Skillet Graham Cake with Peaches & Blueberries

I have been looking for an excuse to make this skillet cake since last summer. Graham crackers… peaches and blueberries… streusel topping… and baked in a cast iron skillet? Irresistible. I finally had to make it after having too many ripe peaches on the counter. 😉 What an excuse!

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Chicago chef Stephanie Izard. (I have loved her since she won Top Chef.) The cake is baked on the grill in the original recipe. Delicious!

Yield: Serves 10 to 12

For the Streusel:

Make the Streusel:

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat all of the ingredients together at medium speed until crumbs form.
  2. Press together to form a large mass.
  3. Transfer to 
a bowl and break into clumps.
  4. Refrigerate until chilled, about 15 minutes.
Prepare the Fruit:
  1. Preheat an oven to  300° F, preferably on convection.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the peaches with the blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch.
  3. In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Remove from the heat.
  4. Scrape the fruit and any juices into the skillet.
Make the Cake:
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk both flours with the graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with both sugars and the honey at medium speed until fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then beat in the buttermilk, oil and vanilla.
  4. Scrape down the side of the bowl and beat in the dry ingredients until just smooth.
  5. Spread the batter in the skillet in an even layer.
  6. Scatter the streusel evenly on top.
  7. Place the skillet on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes, until 
a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. (The cake is cooked off of the heat in a grill for the same amount of time in the original recipe.)
  8. Let the cake cool for 1 hour. Cut into wedges and serve with vanilla ice cream.

I’m bringing my special skillet cake to share at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #184, co-hosted by Jhuls @The Not so Creative Cook and Petra @ Food Eat Love. Enjoy!

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Fresh Strawberry Gelato

I am always a little apprehensive to make strawberry ice cream. In the past, I’ve tried various strategies to keep the berries from becoming icy and hard in the finished product. Pureeing the berries in this gelato was the perfect solution. My beautiful freshly picked berries may have helped too. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Katrina and Carmelo Turillo, owners of La Divina Gelateria in New Orleans, via Bon Appetit. I didn’t strain the puree, chilled the base overnight in the refrigerator, and churned the gelato for 25 minutes in my ice cream maker. I may add some vanilla extract next time. It was excellent!

Yield: Makes about 4 cups
  • 3/4 cup sugar (preferably organic)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 1/4 cups sliced hulled strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
  1. Prepare a large bowl of ice water.
  2. Stir sugar and cornstarch in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk in milk and cream.
  3. Whisk over medium heat until gelato base thickens and begins to bubble, about 5 minutes. Pour into bowl.
  4. Immerse bowl in prepared ice water to cool, stirring occasionally.
  5. Puree strawberries in processor. Stir into gelato base.
  6. Mix in pomegranate juice.
  7. Chill 3 hours or overnight.
  8. Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  9. Transfer to container. Cover surface directly with plastic wrap and the container lid; freeze until firm, at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.

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Lattice-Top Strawberry Pie

One of our family traditions is to go strawberry picking in June. This year, we were able to pick them at the organic farm that produces our CSA share. The berries were absolutely perfect. The farm also grows many different varieties of berries, so it was fun to pick from different areas of the patch. We kept buying more containers to fill! We went home with eight quarts. 🙂

First, I made the “mandatory” Strawberry-Vanilla Bean Jam and Strawberry Shortcake Cookies. I also make strawberry pancakes and strawberry muffins. Of course, I had to try something new to make with my precious berries. This lattice-top pie was it. Lucky for us, I also had enough berries to make Strawberry Gelato as well. All delicious!

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times. I adapted the recipe by using an all-butter crust from Martha Stewart. I also used an additional cup of berries in the filling, used a 6-piece lattice crust, and sprinkled the top crust with turbinado sugar prior to baking. I also covered the edge of the pie throughout the baking time to prevent over-browning.

Fresh and fabulous. 🙂

Yield: one 9-inch pie, serves 8 to 10

For the Pate Brisee:

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • coarse salt
  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 to 2/3 cup ice water

To Prepare the Crust:

  1. Pulse flour, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt in a food processor until combined.
  2. Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds.
  3. Drizzle 1/3 cup ice water (5 tablespoons) evenly over mixture. Pulse until mixture holds together when pressed between 2 fingers (dough should not be wet or sticky). If dough is too dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse.
  4. Shape dough into 2 disks, and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. (I made the crusts a day in advance.)

For the Filling:

  • 2 ½ pounds fresh strawberries, hulled and halved to make 6 to 7 cups
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh, strained lemon juice
  • 4 T cornstarch
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

To Finish:

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
  • vanilla ice cream, optional, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Make the Filling: In a large bowl, toss together the strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Between layers of plastic wrap or on a lightly floured surface, roll out one dough round to fit a 9-inch pie plate.
  4. Fit the dough in the pie plate and spoon in the filling. Scatter the butter evenly over the top.
  5. Roll out the remaining dough, cut it into 1-inch strips (I cut mine into 6 pieces with a fluted pastry wheel) and weave a lattice top over the filling. Trim and crimp the edges.
  6. Brush the egg over the crust and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
  7. Cover the edge of the crust to prevent over-browning.
  8. Place on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips and bake for 15 minutes.
  9. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Continue baking until the crust is nicely browned and the filling bubbles thickly, 40-50 minutes.
  10. Place on a rack to cool completely, at least 3 hours and up to 1 day. Cut into wedges and serve, with or without vanilla ice cream, as desired.

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Sour Cream & Blueberry Coffee Cake

I love an excuse to make a special breakfast. This time, it was a cold and rainy Saturday morning at home with my daughter. Perfect.

This recipe was adapted from San Francisco’s Hobee’s Restaurant via Mario Batali’s Big American Cookbook: 250 Favorite Recipes from Across the USA. I loved that Batali noted that this coffee cake is “suspiciously under the heading ‘Light Bites'” on their menu. 🙂 I suppose it doesn’t incorporate that much butter… 😉

I adapted the recipe by incorporating whole wheat pastry flour, increasing the baking time, and modifying the topping. Instead of using a 9×9-inch baking pan, I used an 8×8-inch equivalent baking pan (it has a berry pattern on it!), which was a little bit too small… Still yummy, thank goodness.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

For the Cake:

  • 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

For the Brown Sugar Topping:

  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 T unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Spray a 9×9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  3. Make the Cake: Rinse the berries in cold water and then toss them in 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour.
  4. Place a sieve over a mixing bowl, and pour the berries into the sieve. Shake the excess flour off into the bowl; set berries aside.
  5. Add the remaining 1 cup all-purpose flour and whole wheat pastry flour to the bowl, along with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to incorporate.
  6. In a separate bowl or stand mixer, beat together the eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and granulated sugar until well combined.
  7. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until a smooth batter forms.
  8. Pour half the butter in the pan and scatter most of the berries over.
  9. Pour in the rest of the batter and drop the rest of the berries on top.
  10. Make the Brown Sugar Topping: In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Combine throughly using a pastry blender.
  11. Spread topping over the top of the batter.
  12. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the top is uniformly brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  13. Let cool before serving.

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Apple-Cider Doughnut Cake

I had my first apple-cider doughnut this past fall at a beautiful farm on the East end of Long Island. It was freshly made, hot, and delicious. Naturally, this recipe caught my eye. It is a giant version of fabulousness- even incorporating whole wheat flour and olive oil.

This cake was magnificent. I will make it again in the fall, although I think it is truly season-less. The olive oil and applesauce made it incredibly moist as well. This recipe was adapted from A New Way to Bake, via Martha Stewart Living. I reduced the baking temperature because my Bundt pan has a dark non-stick coating. I also reduced the amount of cinnamon sugar topping. We enjoyed it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Yield: One 10-inch Bundt Cake
For the Cake:
  • room temperature unsalted butter, or melted butter, for the pan
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups natural cane sugar or granulated sugar
  • 1 cup fresh apple cider
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream, for serving, optional

For the Topping:

  • 2 T natural cane sugar or granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees if using a dark pan, or 350 degrees in a standard pan, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. (This step in incredibly important in a Bundt pan- make sure all of the crevices are coated.)
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, baking powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups sugar, cider, oil, applesauce, vanilla, and eggs. Add egg mixture to flour mixture; whisk until combined. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
  5. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet; let cool 15 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, mix together 2 T sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.
  7. Invert warm cake onto rack. Brush with melted butter, then sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar.
  8. Let cool completely before serving. Cake can be stored, covered, at room temperature up to 2 days.

French Apple Cake

I’ve had baking a French Apple Cake on my bucket list for a long time. A celebratory Valentine’s Day dessert was my excuse! ❤ This version was custardy and absolutely wonderful. We ate it with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream but it could also served with a dollop of softly whipped cream.

This recipe was adapted from Marie-Hélène Brunet-Lhotse, a top editor of Louis Vuitton City Guides (and a restaurant critic for the Paris edition), published in Around my French Table: More than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, via Epicurious.com.

Greenspan emphasized the importance of using diverse fruit in the cake to include crisp, soft, sweet, and tart apples for the best result. I used a combination of Fuji, Granny Smith, Envy, and Opal apples. I also increased the vanilla, and substituted apple cider for the rum. Delicious!

Yield: Serves 8

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • 4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum or fresh apple cider
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • whipped cream of ice cream, for serving
  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, preferably on convection.
  2. Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan and put it on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and put the springform on it.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl.
  4. Peel the apples, cut them in half and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1- to 2-inch chunks.
  5. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they’re foamy.
  6. Pour in the sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend.
  7. Whisk in the rum/apple cider and vanilla.
  8. Whisk in half the flour and when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather thick batter.
  9. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it’s coated with batter.
  10. Scrape the mix into the pan and poke it around a little with the spatula so that it’s evenish.
  11. Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean; the cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.
  12. Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan. (Open the springform slowly, and before it’s fully opened, make sure there aren’t any apples stuck to it.)
  13. Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled, then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.
  14. To Serve: The cake can be served warm or at room temperature, with or without a little softly whipped, barely sweetened heavy cream or a spoonful of ice cream. Marie-Hélène’s served her cake with cinnamon ice cream and it was a terrific combination.

Note: The cake will keep for about 2 days at room temperature. (The flavor may even improve with time!) The cake is too moist to cover completely; leave the cake on its plate and just press a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper against the cut surfaces.

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