Fall Is In The Oven
Updated: Jan 31, 2019
Apples are in their peak season and what better way for your taste buds to celebrate the coming of fall, then to bit through crispy, buttery, flakey crust sheltering those tender spicy apples. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar meld together with the apple juices. Together they meld creating an unforgettable bit of perfectly made crust giving way to tender spicy apples. My mouth is watering as I write this.
There are tons of apple pie recipes out there. Believe me I've tried them. I particular recipe was an assignment for the Escoffier baking school. Since, my course work, it has become my go to apple pie recipe.
Choose the best apples, careful to choose apples that will not turn to mush. The more sharp the apples, the more the apple will hold its shape while being baked. According to Escoffier, "Select Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Honey Crisp and Cortlands for a fresh and juicy taste perfect for your pie." Remember to keep the crust ingredients cold including the flour. This will deliver a crisp, flaky crust. You may be tempted to use extra spices, DON'T DO IT. A great apple pie is one that delivers the apple to come through. Escoffier says it best, "You don't want a mouthful of cinnamon." Use only a small amount of spices, 1/4 teaspoon per 4 pounds of apples."
Bake at 375°F
Cooking time: Bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown and apples are soft.
Materials: Baking Pie Dish, apple corer, vegetable peeler, sharp knife
RECIPE: PIE CRUST, Escoffier recipe
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 sticks of chilled butter (I cube the butter, place it in a baggy, then in the freezer until I'm ready to use it.)
6-8 tbs. iced water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Place flour, salt, and sugar in food processor. Pulse a few times to mix the ingredients. Add 1/2 of the butter, then pulse a few more times. Next, add the remainder of butter and pulse. Stop when the chunks of butter start to resemble the size of peas. With the processor on, add in 1/4 of the water. Continue to add the water as needed. Dough is done when it begins to mass. DO NOT OVER MIX. Scrape the dough out onto a work surface and proceed to fraisage. Meaning, with the heel of one hand rapidly press the pastry down on the work board and away from you in a firm and quick smear of about 6 inches. Gather the dough into 2 disks. Sprinkle lightly with flour, wrap with plastic or waxed paper. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
RECIPE: Apple Pie: Taken from Escoffier
Ingredients: 3/4 cup light brown sugar ¼ cup flour ¾ tsp. cinnamon ¼ tsp. nutmeg 4 granny Smith Apples 3 Golden Delicious apples 1 egg
Method: 1. Core, peal and halve the apples then slice thinly. 2. In a bowl combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle the mixture over the apples and toss together. 3. Make an egg wash by using 1 egg and a tablespoon of water and beat until smooth. 4. Place the apple mixture in an unbaked pie shell. Egg wash the rim and place the top crust to cover over the apples. 5. Press the edges together to seal them and make a vent whole or slits on the top. 6. Egg wash the top crust of the pie and cover with cinnamon sugar if desired. 7. Bake at 375 degrees for about 50 minutes or until golden brown and the apples are soft.
Allow to rest for 30 minutes, serve warm or cold with vanilla ice cream if desired.
GRAND MARNIER CROISSANT BREAD PUDDING: With a pecan caramel sauce.
Have you ever eaten something and you said, "Oh may! That tastes like Christmas or that tastes like Thanksgiving? Well, bread pudding is my all time favorite Christmas treat any time of the day. Actually, any day of the year. It's just one of those comfort foods that takes me back to my to my childhood.
Sadly, I've only had a few bread puddings that I can say were deliciously memorable. Most were dry, to much sugar, not enough custard, no depth of taste nor texture. My kind of bread pudding has a distinct orange surprise with a creamy vanilla custard bed. Yumm. Topped with a decadent pecan caramel sauce.
Obsessed with the idea of having that desired bread pudding, I set out to create my own. I created this master piece by adding orange zest, orange juice, and Grand Marnier.
The soft buttery the bread texture was from using stale croissants. The creamy custard was from adding more eggs than the traditional recipes. The pecan caramel sauce was made by using evaporated milk.
The results were so wonderful and enjoyable that I had to share. That's one thing about us home bakers, we love to share.
Voila! The sharing begins.
It all started when I spent 3 days making croissant dough. (Next time, I'll just buy them. My hands ached from just rolling and re-rolling.) And the truth, I'd rather leave it to the French. They do it better. Anyway, I had left over croissants and after a couple of days, I didn't want to throw them out. So, What do you do with left over croissants? You make bread pudding!!
GRAND MARNIER CROISSANT BREAD PUDDING: With a pecan caramel sauce.
Bake at 350°F in a water bain.
Materials: 9" x 3” round cake pan. Parchment paper to top the bread pudding
Cook time 40 to 55 minutes depending on the oven.
BAKING PLAN: Make sure that you have you parchment paper precut to the measurement of your baking pan. Have your water bain ready and make sure that the water is hot before you put in into the bain pan. Be prepared. Let the bread soak in the custard mixture over night for best results.
RECIPE: BREAD PUDDING
8 stale (2 -3 days old) croissants about 8-9 cups, cut into small bite size pieces (You don't have to use croissants. You can use any stale bread.)
The zest of one orange
6 eggs (this will add a nice custard balance to the pudding)
¾ - 1 cup of sugar (depending on your taste)
3 cups of heavy cream
1 tbsp of vanilla bean paste
1 tbsp of fresh juice from an orange
1 tsp of salt
¾ - 1 cup of raisins (Your choice)
1 tbsp of Grand Marnier
In large bowl beat eggs and sugar until creamy and light in color.
Add in cream, vanilla, salt, orange juice, Grand Marnier. Mix until well blended. Stir in raisins.
Add bread pieces into the cream mixture.
Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.
Set the oven rack in the middle position of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Before you pour the bread pudding mixture into the pan give the mixture a good stir to make sure that the raisins are not settled on the bottom.
Pour the mixture into the pan and place a circular piece of parchment paper over the top.
Place the pan into a hot water bain. Bake until the pudding is golden brown and firm to touch. About 40-55 minutes depending on your oven. Carefully remove it from the water bain and let it cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
Gently run a knife around the edges to release it from the sides. Place a dish over the top and invert. (I placed another dish over that and inverted it a second time to display the delicious golden top.)
Pecan Caramel Sauce:
1 cup – 1 ¼ cups of brown sugar
1 can of evaporated milk
1 tbsp of butter
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
½ to 1 cup (depending on your preference) of chopped pecans.
In a medium sauce pan mix sugar, milk, and butter. Stir over a medium flame until it starts to thicken.
Add in vanilla bean paste and pecans. Continue to stir until mixture starts to bubble.
Remove from heat and let cool. The mixture will thicken as it cools.
Pour over the bread pudding. Or, pour over each slice.
This pecan caramel sauce was taken off the internet. I tweaked it a tiny bit.
PEACH APPLE TARTE TATIN:
It's not to often that I get the chance to entertain my eldest daughter for dinner. She has flow the coop and she is now working on her career. But, when she does come to visit, I try hard to embellish our time together. That includes making her favorite meal and of course followed with a dessert that recreates delicious memories.
I couldn't decide if I should make a peach cobbler or tart tatin. So, I decided to put the two fruits together. The results were mind blowing. All I can say is, "I wish you could have been there to share it with us."
It's one of those desserts that tastes so delicious that your family and friends will think that you spent hours making it. But, it is so easy.
Here's a tip:
If you don't want to make the crust, just buy some ready made crust or buttery puffed pastry. But, please make sure that your fruit is fresh. None of that canned or frozen fruit will work.
Tarte Tatin Recipe adapted from: The Food of France a journey for food lovers.
My go to crust recipe is taken from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child.
Materials: 1 Tarte Tatin 10" pan or any frying pan that has a very low set handle. The reason for a low handle is because you will have to place a dish on top of the pan and flip the tarte over onto the dish. Therefore, it's best to have a pan where the dish can lay flush to the rim of the pan. Otherwise the hot caramel will run out of the edges of the pan while you invert it. Take caution not to burn yourself while flipping.
Preheat the oven 375°F
This is such an easy recipe and doesn't take a lot of work to get great a result! I usually plan on making this tart an hour before dinner is served. This assures that the tart will be served warm not hot. A great addition is adding a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream along side.
Plan on making the crust first. While the crust is in the refrigerator go ahead and prepare the apples and peaches. Cook the fruit as instructed. When the apples are soft and you see a light caramelization, start to roll out the dough.
RECIPES: PIE CRUST AND PEACH AND APPLES
Crust: Pâte Brisée, Short Paste, Pie Crust
I have included the original Julie Child pie recipe below, just so you can have it. I have made an adaptation to the recipe because I am not a fan of vegetable shortening. My recipe works just as well and I don't feel the guilt of eating vegetable shortening. It's your choice!! Also, you can make this crust in the food processor or by hand.
This recipe makes enough crust for a single bottom or top layer.
RECIPE: PIE CRUST, a la Julia:
1 cup all-purpose flour (5 ounces)
3 ounces (3/4 stick) chilled butter and 1 ounce (2tbs) chilled vegetable shortening
3 tbs. iced water
1/2 tsp salt
Place flour, salt, and sugar in food processor.
Pulse a few times to mix the ingredients.
Add butter, shortening. With the processor on add the water. Dough is done when it begins to mass. DO NOT OVER MIX.
Scrape the dough out onto a work surface and proceed to fraisage. With the heel of one hand rapidly press the pastry down on the work board and away from you in a firm and quick smear of about 6 inches.
Gather the dough into disk, sprinkle it lightly with flour, wrap with plastic or waxed paper. I just use a baggie.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 hours. You can refrigerate it overnight.
RECIPE: PIE CRUST, a la Cynthia:
I use the same proportions of dry ingredients. However, I change the fat. I substitute Nutiva Shortening for the vegetable shortening. (Nutiva shortening is organic superfood.) So basically, I just which out the vegetable shortening for the Nutiva and I maintain the same fat ratios.
RECIPE: Tarte Tatin, Adapted from the food of France, a journey for food lovers:
3 dessert apples, peeled and cored
3 peaches, washed and skin left on.
2 1/2 oz unsalted butter
3/4 cups caster sugar
1 quantity of tarte pastry
Cut apples and peaches into quarters. Put the butter and sugar in a deep 10" pan. Heat until the butter and sugar have melted together. Arrange the apples tightly, one by one, in the pan. Make sure that you place the fruit tightly together, trying not to leave any gaps.
Cook over low hear for about 30-35 minutes. Usually, the apples will become soft by 30 minutes. Baste the fruit with a pastry brush, so that the fruit will begin to caramelize as well.
Roll out the pie crust dough. Lay the pastry over the fruit and press down around the edges to enclose the fruit completely. Fold back the dough onto its self. This will give the tarte a nice crispy, buttery crust along the edges.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and cooled.
Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes before turning out.
Place a dish on top of the pan, hold the edges down with a dish towel, and quickly invert. Careful not to burn yourself.
So, what delicious concoction takes you to that place where you feel the comfort of home? To that place where you just can't wait to take a bite? Is it creamy custard desserts with apples and nuts, pumpkin bread, or apple pie?
I'd love to hear from you! Happy fall baking!!
BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CARROT EMPANADAS:
( CANNED PUMPKIN CAN BE SUBSTITUTED)
I'm not one of those lucky home bakers that can tell lovely stories about how their grandmother or mother inspired them to bake through the loving baking experiences in the kitchen. I'm just one of those people that loved to bake, since, I can remember. My love for baking probably just grew out of the desire to eat something sweet. Mom always said, "There's food in the house. You just have to make it yourself." Basically, she was referring to anything sweet.
My mother comes from a family of thirteen. They grew up in a very tough world, living the life as farm workers. They ate what was provided by the farmers and the little extras that they could afford. She grew up in a family where everyone had a job and worked hard at it. If grandma wasn't in the garden, she was in the kitchen. In the evening, after all the chores were finished, she could be found embroidering something special for the home.
I still love hearing about mom's childhood stories and about grandma's cooking. There wasn't anything fancy to eat just the staples were on the table. I will tell you, that group of relatives have lived long healthy lives. My mother is 91 and going strong. There is something to be said about eating your legumes, vegetables, and grains.
I didn't get to visit grandma often. But, when I did, I looked forward to the stacks of fresh flour tortillas for every meal. The smell of those steamy tortillas still haunts me.
As I was told, during carrot season there was an abundance of carrots. Mom recalls grandma cooking down the carrots with piloncillo (An unrefined sugar block in a cone shape, commonly used in Mexican cooking) and cloves. She mashed the carrots and added spices. Mom was unclear about the spices. I figured cinnamon, ginger, and cloves would be a nice complement to the carrots.
This is my attempt at duplicating grandma's carrot empanadas. I cooked the carrots in butter until soft. Then, I pureed them. Then, I added the spices. Realizing that I wouldn't have enough carrot mixture, I decided to peel and cook 1/2 of a butternut squash in butter. Once the squash was tender, I pureed it and added it to the carrot mixture.
Now, if this sounds a bit complicated, don't hassle it. Just open a 15oz can of pumpkin and you'll get the same results.
No pressure, I get it. You aren't emotionally attached to the carrot empanada story. It was just something I had to accomplish. And, the truth is I still don't really know what grandma's carrot empanadas tasted like. But, I was satisfied with my effort. For that reason I will post a delicious recipe that I found. I did make some minor changes with great results. I will note the changes as I applied them.
Materials: A 4" circular cookie cutter or bowl measuring 4 inches across, something sharp to cut around a 4" bowl if using one (I use a flutter pastry wheel), pastry brush, 2 large baking sheets lined with a silpat, or parchment paper.
Preheat the oven 350°F
This is such an easy recipe. Give yourself enough time to cut out the circles from the dough, and to stuff and fold over the dough. Prep time is anywhere from 40 minutes to 1 hour.
3 cups of all purpose flour
1⁄3 cup organic white sugar
1 1⁄2 tsp salt
1⁄4 tsp baking powder
1 cup vegetable shortening (I use NUTIVA Organic Shortening, rather than vegetable shortening) but it's your choice.
1 cup warm water
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree (If you decide to use butternut squash and carrots, the portion should equal 15oz. The squash and carrots must be cooked and puree)
2 large egg
1 cup white sugar (I use organic sugar)
1 tsp salt
1 1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon (I use 1 teaspoon, rather than 1 1/2)
1 tsp ground ginger
1⁄2 tsp ground cloves
1 egg, beaten
raw sugar for dusting (I sprinkle organic raw sugar because I love the crunch on the crust)
Cook 18-20 minutes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and baking powder. Cut in Nutiva Organic Shortening (or veg. shortening) into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water about 2 tablespoons at a time, just until the dough comes together. Knead a few times in the bowl, then scrape out onto a floured surface. Cut dough in quarters and cut each quarter into thirds to make 12 equal portions. Cut each portion in half again. They should weigh around 1 3/4 oz. Roll each piece of dough into a ball. Cover with a cloth and allow to rest while preparing the filling.
Mix pumpkin, 2 eggs, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves together until smooth. On a floured surface, roll out each dough ball into a thin circle about 4 inches across. Spoon about 1 1/4 tbsp. of filling into the center, fold dough over the filling to make a half-moon shape, and crimp the edges together with a fork. Carefully transfer empanadas to prepared baking sheets. Brush the top of each with beaten egg. Sprinkle raw sugar on top and side.
Bake for 18-20 minutes or until crusts are shiny and golden brown. I check 1/2 way through and turn the baking sheet mid way through the bake.
I had extra dough so I reformed a ball, let it rest for about 10 minutes. Then, I rerolled it and made more empanadas. Altogether I made 26 empanadas.
This Mexican Empanada recipe was adapted from KitchMe.com.
My next assignment will be empanada stuffed with caramelized apples and Boston Cream.
Stay tuned for the next post.