Sunday, July 5, 2009

Joy of Baking Apple Pie

For our 4th of July BBQ, a friend brought over an amazing apple pie. Sadly, this was the only picture I got of it, which isn't very good... if you look in the corner, you can see my dog, looking crazy. Anyways, I didn't make this, but it was amazing. However, my friend said that it was a pain to make. It does take a long time, according to the recipe, but I think it is worth it, because it was amazing. Good luck!

Apple Pie (from

Pate Brisee (Short Crust Pastry):
2 1/2 cups ap flour
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. granulated white sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

In a food processor, place the flour, salt, and sugar and process until combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal (about 15 seconds). Pour 1/4 cup water ina a slow, steady stream, through the feed tube until the dough just holds together when pinched. If necessary, add more water. Do not process more than 30 seconds.
Turn the dough onto your work surface and gather into a ball. Divide the dough in half, flattening each half into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about one hour before using. This will chill the butter and relax the gluten in the flour.
After the dough has chilled sufficiently, remove one portion of the dough from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry into a 12 inch (30 cm) circle. (To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards).) Fold the dough in half and gently transfer to a 9 inch (23 cm) pie pan. Brush off any excess flour and trim the edges of the pastry to fit the pie pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.
Then remove the second round of pastry and roll it into a 12 inch (30 cm) circle. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator.

Make the Apple Filling:
2 1/2 pounds apples (about 6 large), peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 thick (about 8 cups sliced)
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch

In a large bowl combine the sliced apples, sugars, lemon juice, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and sal. Let the apples macerate at room temperature for about two hours. Then, place the apples and their juices in a strainer that is placed over a large bowl (to capture the juices). Let the apples drain for about 15-30 minutes or until you have at least 1/2 cup of juice. Spray a 4 cup heatproof measuring cup with a nonstick vegetable spray, and then pour in the collected juices and the 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Place in the microwave and boil the liquid, on high, 6 to 7 minutes or until the liquid has reduced to about 1/3 cup and is syrupy and lightly caramelized. (Alternatively, you could place the juices and butter in a small saucepan and boil over medium high heat on the stove.)
Meanwhile, remove the top pastry crust from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes so it has time to soften and become pliable. Transfer the drained apple slices to a large bowl and mix them with the cornstarch. Then pour the reduced syrup over the apples and toss to combine. Pour the apples and their syrup into the chilled pie crust. Moisten the edges of the pie shell with a little water and then place the top crust over the apples. Tuck any excess pastry under the bottom crust and then crimp the edges using your fingers or a fork. Using a sharp knife, make five 2-inch (5 cm) slits from the center of the pie out towards the edge of the pie to allow the steam to escape. Cover the pie with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill the pastry while you preheat the oven.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Place the oven rack at the lowest level and place a baking stone or baking sheet on the rack before preheating the oven. Place a piece of aluminum foil on the stone (or pan) to catch any apple juices.
Set the pie on the stone or pan and bake for about 45 to 55 minutes or until the juices start to bubble through the slits and the apples feel tender (not mushy) when a toothpick or sharp knife is inserted through one of the slits. Make sure to cover the edges of the pie with a foil ring to prevent over browning after about 30 minutes.
Remove the pie from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 3-4 hours before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or softly whipped cream. Store at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.
Makes one 9 inch (23 cm) pie.

What can I say, but... good luck?

Lemon Meringue Pie

For our 4th of July BBQ, I decided I would make the hamburger cupcakes (below), and lemon meringue pie. I had never made one before, so I was nervous. Lemon meringue pie is always rumored to be difficult. But really, it just looks and tastes like it was really hard to make, because it was easy. The only thing is that when you wait for the curd to come to a simmer, it might take longer than the recipe said, so don't worry. In the picture below you can see that the sugar did something weird and formed some little dots of liquid (update: I now know this to be weeping :D ). If this happens, don't worry, because it won't affect the taste at all, and, honestly, it makes the pie look pretty. Good luck with the recipe, and don't be scared!

Lemon Meringue Pie (courtesy of Emeril Lagassse,

1 recipe Sweet Pie Crust, recipe follows
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
5 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup milk
1/2 cup cold water
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 large egg yolks
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons limoncello (I left this out)
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

After following instructions for pie crust below, remove the dough from the refrigerator and on a lightly floured surface, roll out to a 12-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie pan, pressing gently to fit, trim the edge to within 1/2-inch of the pan, turn under, and crimp decoratively. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Line the pie shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights, dry beans, or rice. Bake until the crust is set, about 12 minutes. Remove the parchment paper and weights and bake until lightly colored, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before filling. Combine the granulated sugar, cornstarch, milk, water, and pinch of the salt in a large, non-reactive saucepan, whisk to combine, and bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally. As the mixture reaches a simmer and begins to thicken and turn clear, 4 to 5 minutes, whisk in the egg yolks, 2 at a time. Slowly add the lemon juice, whisking constantly, and add the zest and limoncello. Add the butter, 1 piece at a time, and whisking constantly, return to a simmer. Remove from heat and pour immediately into the prepared pie crust.
Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and remaining pinch salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beating constantly, gradually add the confectioners' sugar and beat until glossy stiff peaks form, being careful not to over beat, as this will make the meringue difficult to spread.
Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip. Working 1 row at a time, pipe the meringue across the top of the hot lemon filling in a zigzag pattern, alternating direction with each row. Cover the pie filling completely, going out to the pastry edges, so the meringue does not draw up or weep during baking. (Alternatively, spread the meringue evenly over the pie filling using a rubber spatula, smoothing out to the pastry edges. Make decorative peaks in the meringue using a dull knife or the back of a spoon.)
To quickly cook the meringue, preheat the broiler with the rack in the highest position. Place the pie under the broiler and cook until the meringue is set and golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes, watching carefully to avoid burning. (Alternatively, the meringue can be cooked in a preheated 325 degree F oven until set and golden brown, 14 to 16 minutes.)
Transfer the pie to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.

Sweet Pie Crust:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening (I used 8 tablespoons butter instead of 6 butter and 2 shortening)
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water, or as needed

Sift the flour, sugar, and salt into a large bowl. With your fingers, work the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add 3 tablespoons of the ice water and work with your fingers just until the dough comes together, adding more water as needed, 1 teaspoon at a time, to make a smooth dough, being careful not to overwork the dough.
Form the dough into a disk shape, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.

Yield: enough dough for 1 (9 or 10-inch) crust.

Have fun!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Burger Cupcakes

Has anybody seen Bakerella's hamburger cupcakes? They are so cute, so I decided to make some for our 4th of July BBQ today. However, I didn't make the sugar cookie fries :D These are basically vanilla cupcakes with brownie and "ketchup, mustard and lettuce" in the middle. I didn't put in the lettuce, though. They are topped with sesame seeds to look like hamburger buns.

        Hamburger Cupcakes

1 batch vanilla cupcakes
1 batch brownies
small batch soft cream cheese frosting
food coloring
sesame seeds

Cut the vanilla cupcakes in halves or thirds, depending on how thick they are. If cutting into thirds, discard the middle (or eat ;D )
Cut the brownies the size of the cupcakes. If you can't cut enough, make the scraps into patties. Stack a cupcake bottom, then a brownie. Dye the cream cheese frosting and pipe on mustard and ketchup or mustard, ketchup and lettuce. Stack on the top of the cupcake. Repeat with rest of the cupcakes.
Brush the tops with water and attach sesame seeds to the top.
Warning: Don't leave them uncovered overnight, because they will become stale.


Some friends from out of town were coming to have dinner with us, so I decided that I would make a totally american dessert; cheesecake made with cream cheese. The reason for the topping is that I forgot to grease the springform (bad idea), so the cheesecake cracked. I topped it with sweetened whipped cream, fresh berries, and graham cracker crust crumbs. I might do this in the future even if my cheesecake doesn't crack, because it added an extra level of yumminess. This recipe was on the back of a box of graham cracker crumbs. (Does anybody else know about those? Because I always thought that you had to crush the graham crackers...) This recipe is really good.

      New York Cheesecake

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
4 packages (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream

In a small bowl toss together graham cracker crumbs, margarine or butter and 2 tablespoons sugar. Reserve 2 tablespoons of crumb mixture for garnish. Press remaining crumb mixture onto bottom and 2 1/4 inches up sides of 9-inch springform pan. Chill in freezer while preparing filling.
In a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese on medium speed of electric mixer until fluffy. Add 1 1/3 cups sugar, cornstarch and vanilla. Beat until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined after each addition. Stir in sour cream.
Pour into crust. Bake at 325 F about 1 1/4 hours or until center is almost set. Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes. Loosen sides of pan. Continue cooling on wire rack for 45 minutes more. Sprinkle top with reserved crumbs. Refrigerate at least three hours. Garnish as desired. Store in refrigerator.
Yield 16 servings.

Bon Appetite! 

Teddie's Apple Cake

So a few weeks ago, my mom calls me and says that she just ate the best cake in her life. She told me it was called Teddie's Apple Cake. I said I would try to find the recipe. I googled it, and, sure enough, there it was. I looked at it - not one that I might decide to try, just because it seemed so ordinary. Boy, was I wrong. But my mom had said that it was the best - so I made it. Oh. My. God. SO GOOD! Seriously, go make this cake right now. Right now. DO IT!

Teddie's Apple Cake

3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups oil
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups peeled, cored and thickly sliced apples
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins (optional, but put them in!)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a nine-inch angel-food tube pan.
Beat the oil and sugar together in electric mixer until well blended and smooth. If you have a stand mixer, do this while doing the next step.
Sift together the flour, salt, cinnamon and soda.
Add the eggs and vanilla to the oil and sugar, and beat until the mixture is creamy.
Stir the dry ingredients into the batter. 
Add the apples, walnuts, and raisins, and stir to blend. 
Turn the mixture into the angel-food pan. Bake one hour and 15 minutes or until done.
Cool in the pan before turning out. 
Serve at room temperature.

Don't be worried when you notice that the outside is hard and dry. The inside will be extremely moist and yummy, and when you it, you won't notice the outside. I promise!

Go make it! I said go make it! NOW! You won't be disappointed. Go!