Monday, October 26, 2020

Caramel Apple Slab Pie with Melted Butter Crumb Topping from Pie Academy

It is pie season and I had a review copy of Pie Academy: Master the Perfect Crust and 255 Amazing Fillings, with Fruits, Nuts, Cream, Custards, Ice Cream and More by Ken Haedrich, from the publisher through NetGalley. It comes out October 27, which is the day after this post goes live. 

 If you think the title is long, you should try getting through the cookbook! I'm not sure I've made it all the way yet, but no matter, this is a book to consult for any ingredient you might make into a pie. I honed in on the apple pie CHAPTER when I came home from the NC orchards with a big bag of Mutsu apples. Would I made apple pie with cheddar cheese crust? I made a double crusted version of that 12 years ago. There were single crust pies, mock apple pies, pies with crumb and more. Despite my abiding affection for the Smitten Kitchen slab pie, I landed on the Caramel Apple Slab Pie with Melted Butter Crumb Topping.

Slice of caramel apple slab pie displayed on fall leaf plate with fall decor

One bonus I noticed in this cookbook is a wide range of new techniques. It might be daunting to someone new in the ktichen but for someone who has baked her whole life, learning new techniques is a good experience! There were multiple crumb recipes to draw from, and I had the impression one could mix and match, but I did make the one designated for this recipe, the melted butter crumb. It is made with melted butter, crumbled over a sheet pan, and frozen before use. It can also be made in larger quantities and saved in the freezer for multiple, crumb-bearing toppings. I was in love!

Side view of caramel apple slab pie on orange plate

Caramel Apple Slab Pie with Melted Butter Crumb Topping

Slab Pie Dough and Shell (from cookbook)


7 cups peeled, cored, and sliced baking apples
1/2 cup raisins
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Big pinch of salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp lemon juice

Melted Butter Crumb Topping (from cookbook)

  1. Prepare the slab pie dough and make the slab shell in a jelly-roll pan. Refrigerate the shell until needed.
  2. Adjust the oven racks so one is in the lower position and another is in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C)
  3. Combine the apples, raisins, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt, cream, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Mix well; with so much filling, I like to mix with my hands. Spread everything out evenly in the shell, taking care to smooth over any apple tips, which have a tendency to scorch in the oven. Spread the topping evenly over the apples; you'll probably need all of it. 
  4. Put the pie on the lower oven rack and bake for 25 minutes. Lower the heat to 375 F (190 C) and move the pie up to the middle rack, rotating it 180 degrees. Bake for 30-35 minutes longer, until the juices are bubbly and the topping is golden brown. If the topping starts to get to brown, cover it with aluminum foil.
  5. Transfer the pie to a rack and cool for at least 1 hour before serving. I prefer it lukewarm or at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate leftovers after 24 hours.

Notes from JennyBakes:

I did not have a jelly-roll pan of the right size (15x10) so I slightly downsized the recipe.

He adds a note about making sure the pan you use has at least 1" on the sides so it doesn't bubble over. Mine still did a little, so maybe a pan underneath would be smart. I didn't move my pie around to different racks so could have used something to catch the one bubble. I did rotate it 180 degrees.

I used light brown sugar because it's what I had; I left out the raisins because I didn't have any but I'm not sure I wanted them in there anyway. 

I did use all the crumb topping!


Monday, October 19, 2020

Apple Cream Cheese Cobbler (grain-free, lower-sugar)

I recently had an advanced reader copy of a new cookbook, Skinny Southern Baking: 65 Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Refined Sugar-Free Southern Classics by Lara Lyn Carter, which offers lower sugar versions of southern recipes and flavors. I took one of the recipes and adapted it slightly for a smaller dish and fewer servings, but taking advantage of the apples I can only get in the fall. Part of the challenge of baking this way is the look and feel of the final result. The pictures in the cookbook are accurate representations of the recipes, even when that means the bread doesn't rise as high or the coconut sugar turns your crumble pretty dark.

All to say, this dessert may not win any beauty awards, but it was really tasty. And the cream cheese in there is more like a pudding than a cheesecake, in a good way. It also keeps it from being all sweet.

Apple Cream Cheese Cobbler
(Credit: Lara Lyn Carter)

For the cobbler:

3 large sweet apples, cored and cut into 8 large slices*
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
2 packages (8 oz each) plant-based cream cheese*

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees and spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. 
  2. Arrange the apple slices in the bottom of the baking dish.
  3. Whip the honey or maple syrup and cream cheese together until smooth and spread the mixture over the apples. 

For the topping:

3 eggs
2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon*
1 tsp nutmeg*
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

  1. Combine all ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Pour the mixture over the apples and cream cheese mixture; bake for 45 minutes.

*Notes from JennyBakes:

I made a thirdish of this recipe by using one large Mutsu apple, the cream cheese and maple syrup as described, and roughly a third of the topping.

I'm not too invested in non-dairy, plus that's just hard to find where I live in the south. The reason I used this recipe in the first place was that I had a brick of cream cheese I needed to use. Regular old cream cheese works fine here (the eggs in the topping make it non-vegan anyway!)

I have this apple pie spice in my spice drawer that I always use with apples in place of the cinnamon and nutmeg. 

I added some walnuts but only to half the topping since my husband is mildly allergic.


Skinny Southern Baking
by Lara Lyn Carter

13 October 2020

Other recipes I've marked to try, because this is how we eat at my house:

-Ginger Cookies
-Pumpkin Spice Cookies
-Peanut Butter Banana Coffeecake
-Pumpkin Cranbrerry Nut Bread
-Almond Flour Pie Crust
-Chocolate Pie Crust
-Coconut Flour Pie Crust
-Pumpkin Cornbread
-Spinach and Feta Muffins
-Herb biscuits

(Can you tell I'm so ready for fall?! Get ready!)

Monday, October 12, 2020

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

This recipe comes from the new cookbook from Alex Guarnaschelli, Cook with Me.  I had a copy of the book from the publisher through Edelweiss, and when I review a cookbook, I always make at least one recipe! I love how she talks about learning to cook from her mom a lot in this one too. And along with that theme, many of the recipes are spins or just really good versions of traditional dishes, but sometimes that's what you want to learn from a real chef, at least I do.

I always tend to hang out in the baked goods and dessert sections of cookbooks but the picture of this dessert captured me immediately. I made it for our 20th wedding anniversary back in June, but waited to share it with you until it was closer to release date. This is so delicious, like a cross between a candy bar and a very rich cheesecake. I would make it for a large gathering because a small piece is very rich and satisfying. See at the bottom for a few tips from my experience making this!

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
(from Cook with Me by Alex Guarnaschelli)

Makes 16 pieces

11 tbsp (1 stick + 3 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups (8-9 oz) finely ground chocolate crumbs*
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
16 oz full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup (8 oz) smooth peanut butter
3 1/2 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (a generous 1/2 cup)

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Make the crust: Brush the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with about 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. In a medium bowl, combine the rmaining butter with the crushed cookies and cinnamon, and stir to combine. Transfer the crumbs to the buttered pan and press them into an even layer on the bottom of the pan (not up the sides.) Use a cup measure or a glass to press the crumbs down firmly. Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake until the crust is firm, 15-18 minutes. Set the pan aside to let the crust cool for at least 20 minutes.

Make the peanut butter filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium-high speed until completely smooth, 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs and peanut butter, and beat on medium-high speed until smooth. Pour the filling over the cooled crust, using a spatula to spread it out evenly, and place the pan back in the oven. Cook until the filling is firm and doesn't jiggle when you gently shake the pan, 12-15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and set it aside to cool for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.

Make the chocolate top: In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl, set it over the saucepan like a makeshift double boiler (the bottom of the bowl shouldn't touch the cream), and shut the heat off completely. Stir the chocolate from time to time as it melts. When the cream is warm and the chocolate is somewhat melted, take the bowl off the saucepan, pour the cream over the chocolate, and stir until blended. If the cream and chocolate are similar in temperature, the result is a glossier ganache!* Gently spread the chocolate over the peanut butter layer in the springform pan and refrigerate until the chocolate is firm, at least 2 hours.

* Notes from JennyBakes
  1. For the chocolate cookies, I used the wafer cookies that at my supermarket are shelved near the ice cream, not with the rest of the cookies and crackers. I prefer them to Oreos because they are straight dark chocolate with no cream.
  2. You could do this ganache process that would require 2 bowls and 2 pans but to be honest I just zapped it in the microwave a bit and stirred in between. And I thought the end result was good enough, if not as glossy as it could be.  
  3. I think if I made this again, I would try to convert it to a square or rectangular contained. The recipe calls itself bars but it is in a circle, so really unless you cut it in a strange way you end up with wedges. And something about rectangles of these layers seemed more appealing, so I cut the circle strangely to get them.

Other recipes I've marked to try:
-Beet and Brown Rice Burgers
-Quinoa Pilaf
-Sheet Pan Blackened Salmon
-Macaroni and Cheese*
-Lentil Soup
-Exceptional Scrambled Eggs*
-Poached Eggs on Cheddar Biscuits
-Ninth Avenue Childhood Baked Ziti
-Chickpea and Celery Salad
-Red Velvety Strawberry Cake
-Tiramisu Swiss Roll

*Like I said above, I love to try all versions of classic dishes from chefs I admire.

Monday, October 05, 2020

Grain-free, lower-sugar version of my Grandma's Apple Cake

My Grandma's Apple Cake recipe is one that we make every year in my family. It heralds the fall, it's simple, it can be made so easily with pantry ingredients, and it requires no frostings or glazes or anything more than itself. But it also has a lot of sugar! This year I decided to see if I could make a grain-free, lower-sugar version of the cake, and that recipe is below. The picture is not super glamorous, and I think I should have baked it longer, but overall it was a successful experiment. (Next time I might add 1/4 cup more almond flour, or maybe try adding a bit of coconut flour in there to absorb more of the liquid.)

Frances's Apple Cake, modified to be grain-free and lower-sugar

1/2 cup oil
1 3/4 cup coconut sugar
2 eggs
5 cups apples, diced (I used Mutsu, my favorite baking apple, but you can try any combination)
2 cups almond flour
3/4 cup tapioca flour/starch
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp apple pie spice (optional)
1/2 cup walnuts

This recipe came to me with just ingredients, but in general I mix the diced apples with sugar, then the beaten eggs and vanilla, then mix in the dry ingredients, nuts last. I often leave out the nuts or use hazelnuts instead.

Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes to 1 hour in a 9x13 pan.