Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie-Cake

August 30, 2010

I don’t know about the other parts of the country, but my CSA box has been loaded with apples since July. We’ve been eating them raw–but for just the two of us, we needed to find creative ways to use them up as well, so you will be seeing a couple more recipes using apples. I asked Red to find a recipe that he would like to try using apples, and he selected this one. Neither one of us has really ever tried anything that is a pie-cake like dessert, so we thought that we’d give this a shot.

I am not sure if I would use the word “love” with this recipe–but this recipe definitely delivered to its promise. It’s a cake-like dough and topping, with a pie-like filling in the middle. The cake itself was in the drier side, but I also used dairy-free butter when I tested this so I wasn’t sure if it contributed to that or not. It definitely tasted better warm, so I reheated mine. If you have tried this or something similar to this, let me know what you think!

Adapted from  Baking: From My Home To Yours

Ingredients

For The Dough

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 lemon
3 1/4 – 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

For The Apples
10 medium apples, all one kind or a mix (I like to use Fuji, Golden Delicious and Ida Reds; my grandmother probably used dry baking apples like Cordland and Rome)
Squirt of fresh lemon juice
1 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden)
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Sugar, preferably decorating (coarse) sugar, for dusting

Directions

To Make The Dough: Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes more. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the baking powder and salt and mix just to combine. Add the lemon juice – the dough will probably curdle, but don’t worry about it. Still working on low speed, slowly but steadily add 3 1/4 cups of the flour, mixing to incorporate it and scraping down the bowl as needed. The dough is meant to be soft, but if you think it looks more like a batter than a dough at this point, add the extra 1/4 cup flour. (The dough usually needs the extra flour.) When properly combined, the dough should almost clean the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each half into a rectangle. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or for up to 3 days. (The dough can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months; defrost overnight in the refrigerator.)

To Make The Apples: Peel and core the apples and cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick; cut the slices in half crosswise if you want. Toss the slices in a bowl with a little lemon juice – even with the juice, the apples may turn brown, but that’s fine – and add the raisins. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together, sprinkle over the apples and stir to coat evenly. Taste an apple and add more sugar, cinnamon, and/or lemon juice if you like.

Getting Ready to Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375F. Generously butter a 9×12-inch baking pan (Pyrex is good) and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Remove the dough from the fridge. If it is too hard to roll and it cracks, either let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes or give it a few bashes with your rolling pin to get it moving. Once it’s a little more malleable, you’ve got a few choices. You can roll it on a well-floured work surface or roll it between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper. You can even press or roll out pieces of the dough and patch them together in the pan – because of the baking powder in the dough, it will puff and self-heal under the oven’s heat. Roll the dough out until it is just a little larger all around than your pan and about 1/4 inch thick – you don’t want the dough to be too thin, because you really want to taste it. Transfer the dough to the pan. If the dough comes up the sides of the pan, that’s fine; if it doesn’t that’s fine too.

Give the apples another toss in the bowl, then turn them into the pan and, using your hands, spread them evenly across the bottom.

Roll out the second piece of dough and position it over the apples. Cut the dough so you’ve got a 1/4 to 1/2 inch overhang and tuck the excess into the sides of the pan, as though you were making a bed. (If you don’t have that much overhang, just press what you’ve got against the sides of the pan.)

Brush the top of the dough lightly with water and sprinkle sugar over the dough. Using a small sharp knife, cut 6 to 8 evenly spaced slits in the dough.

Bake for 65 to 80 minutes*, or until the dough is a nice golden brown and the juices from the apples are bubbling up through the slits. Transfer the baking pan to a cooling rack and cool to just warm or to room temperature. You’ll be tempted to taste it sooner, but I think the dough needs a little time to rest.

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Easy Zucchini Bread

August 26, 2010

Who doesn’t have access to great zucchini in the summer? As expected, we found a couple of beautiful zucchinis in our CSA share a couple of weeks.  As soon as I saw them, I knew that I wanted to make them into bread. While I really enjoyed this Zucchini Bread’s recipe from Heidi Swanson, I wanted something a little bit quicker, and it’s always good to have a quick go-to recipe for your busy summers. Happy eating!

Slightly adapted from Betty Crocker’s New Cookbook

Ingredients
1-1/2 cups of shredded zucchini, squeezed (~2 medium)
2 large eggs
1/3 cups of flavorless oil + 2 tbsp of unsweetened apple sauce
3/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
1-1/2 cups of white whole wheat flour (or if you use all purpose flour, omit the apple sauce)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup coarsely chopped nuts
1/4 cup raisins, optional (I used craisins)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Grease bottom of 8-1/2 X 4-1/2 X 2-1/2 inches pan. Mix the first five ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the rest of the ingredients together, do not over-mix.

Bake for 50-60 min (I would start checking at 40 min to make sure that it is not over-baked).

Yield: 1 8×3-inch loaf


Pickled Beets

August 19, 2010

Since we signed up with a local CSA this summer, thanks to a friend’s recommendation, we’ve had some fun getting new types of veggies that we don’t normally buy on a regular basis. These beets are the example. I had never worked with them, and the most I have ever eaten them was probably in a salad, which I can only vaguely remember. Red suggested that we pickle them since he loves them in a salad. And he was right, they turned out delicious! The beets were crunchy with enough hint of tanginess and had a burst of brightness. We enjoyed them on top of a bed of spinach salad sprinkled with feta cheese.., I hope you will give these a try!

Adapted from Alton Brown, as seen on Food Network

Ingredients
Roasted beets, recipe follows
1 large red onion, frenched
1 cup tarragon wine vinegar (I used regular red wine vinegar)
1-1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water

Directions
Remove the skin from the Roasted Beets and slice thinly.
Arrange in 1-quart jars alternating layers with the onion (I ended up with 2 pint-sized jars).
In a small pot boil the rest of the ingredients and pour over the beets.
Tightly lid the jars and place in the refrigerator for 3 to 7 days before serving.

Roasted Beets
6 medium beets, cleaned with 1-inch stem remaining
2 large shallots, peeled
2 sprigs rosemary
2 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large bowl toss all of the ingredients. Place into a foil pouch and roast in the oven for 40 minutes.


Strawberry Bread

August 17, 2010

To say that I am behind in blogging is an understatement. This is a recipe that I tried a couple of months ago but I had to share with you. So it may be a little bit late in the season for strawberries in some part of the country, but if you can still get gorgeous strawberries from your local markets… this is a recipe that you should try. I’m always in the lookout for new quick bread recipe that uses fruits, not too sweet, but hearty… and this one fits the bill. Let me know if you agree!!

Adapted from Cate’s World Kitchen

Ingredients

2 eggs
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 -1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 -1/2 cups fresh diced strawberries

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease an 8 x 4″ loaf pan.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until the evenly yellow (but not frothy). Stir in the yogurt, oil, and vanilla and stir until evenly mixed. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix until there are no longer traces of flour. Gently fold in the strawberries, then pour into the prepared pan.

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then run a sharp knife around the bread and turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.