• Classic Apple Pie

    Welcome to another week! Today’s recipe holds a very special place in my heart, it’s my family’s apple pie! As you can probably gather from many of my previous posts (see here, here, HERE, and here lmao), I LOVE pie, but no pie will ever compare to this one. I have such strong memories of eating this pie at every Thanksgiving and Christmas, and words can’t even describe how comforting it is to have a house smelling like apples and cinnamon while this is baking.

    Some notes about this recipe: it comes from my Great Aunt Anna, who I don’t remember meeting (I was a wee baby), but I trust her with my life because I will never use another apple pie recipe. This pie uses equal parts Macintosh and Granny Smith apples, a perfect combination of sweet and tart. Also, I don’t know where you all stand on the soft apple vs. hard apple debate, but these apples will bake soft which, in my opinion, is the best way. Hard apples in pie make me feel like the pie isn’t finished baking, right?

    When it comes to apple pie, I think the simpler the better, which is why the filling of this pie has 5 ingredients, including the apples. Because apples are high in pectin, a natural thickener, you only need a tablespoon of flour to keep the filling together, this pie practically makes itself!

    Before we start, I haven’t forgotten our 5 things to be happy about today, so let’s see:

    ONE. Learning how to knit.
    TWO. Houses that go above and beyond with their Halloween decorations.
    THREE. Adding pumpkin into everything: like coffee, cakes, and pasta.
    FOUR. Finally getting to break out your fall sweaters
    FIVE. Fuzzy socks.

    Okay let’s go!!

    Makes: 1 9-inch pie (serves 8-10)
    Prep Time: 30 minutes
    Bake Time: 1 hour

    Pie Crust Ingredients

    3 cups all purpose flour
    1 tbs sugar
    1 tsp salt
    12 tbs (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, very cold
    1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening
    ½ cup ice water

    Filling Ingredients

    8 apples, 4 Macintosh + 4 Granny Smith, peeled and diced
    Juice of 1 lemon
    ½ cup white sugar
    ½ tsp cinnamon
    1 tbs flour
    2 tbs butter, cut into pieces, to top the filling before the top crust

    Steps

    ONE. Preheat your oven to 400ºF. To make the pie crust, combine flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse 2-3 times to make sure everything is evenly mixed. Add in the butter and shortening in uniform cubes so that they get dispersed throughout the dough. Pulse the food processor 10 times, or until the butter is the size of peas.

    TWO. With the processor on low, continuously drizzle in the ice cold water, and run until a single ball of dough forms. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour. *You can also do this without a food processor and just work the butter and shortening into the flour by hand, but this way is faster and I find it yields a crisper crust.*

    THREE. To roll out your crusts, divide the dough in half. On a floured surface, roll out the first half (your bottom crust) so that it is at least 2 inches larger that your pie plate. Fold the dough in half carefully, then in half again (this makes it much easier to transfer to the pie plate without ripping or tearing), then unfold into the plate. Roll out your top crust now as well, so that it’s ready when the filling is. If need be, put the rolled out crusts back in the fridge while you chop apples to keep everything cold.

    FOUR. In a large bowl, toss the diced apples with the lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, and flour until evenly mixed. Transfer this filling immediately to your pie plate with the bottom crust in it, if it sits too long with the sugar, the fruit will get too juicy and could produce a soggy pie!

    FIVE. Dot the filling with butter and then place the top crust over everything. Crimp the edges and cut 4 vents in the center of the pie to release steam, and then put the whole pie on a rimmed baking sheet, in case there are any drips.

    SIX. Bake the pie on the lower rack of your oven at 400ºF for the first 20 minutes. This will give you a nice golden top. Then, lower your oven temperature to 350ºF and bake for another 35-40 minutes. Keep an eye out on the color of your top crust, it shouldn’t get too much darker in the 40 minutes, but if your crimped edges seem to be getting too dark, you can always cover them with tin foil or pie crust protectors to finish the bake.

    SEVEN. As tempting as it might be to dig right in (your house will smell heavenly by now), allow the pie to cool completely to allow the filling to set. To serve, reheat for 10 to 15 minutes at 300ºF, and top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

    Enjoy!!! XoxoxoxoxoD

     

  • Raspberry Opera Cake

    HELLO! This may be one of the most ambitious projects I have ever attempted, but the results were well worth it I promise you! I mean, just LOOK at it. I have never felt more like a contestant on the Great British Bakeoff and it was so fun. The other day I was scrolling through Instagram as one does, and came across this masterpiece by Zoë François of the blog Zoë Bakes and I immediately began plotting. The recipe below was adapted from that very recipe, with a few minor flavor changes including raspberry jam instead of blackberry, and dark chocolate for the ganache. Be warned, this is not a quick recipe, and there are a lot of different pieces and parts, so prepare to have a whole day set aside for this. Put on your comfiest clothes, put on a movie (I watched Solo while I baked this and simply had a blast) or your favorite cooking music, and have lots of iced coffee at the ready, you GOT this.

    This weekend was completely free of obligations and plans, which are my favorite kinds of weekends. I get to tackle so many baking and cooking projects in two days it feels like I might as well move into the kitchen. Saturday’s projects were this cake and some shrimp scampi for dinner, and Sunday brought this fall’s first of many apple pies (recipe for that coming soon, it’s my pride and joy)! Now if only the weather outside matched my fall mood. All in good time I guess!

    Before we start, here are your 5 things to be happy about today!

    ONE. Hot apple cider with mulling spices.
    TWO. Marathoning a movie series on a rainy day.
    THREE. Switching out your summer wardrobe for your thickest sweaters.
    FOUR. Running through a corn maze as an adult and having just as much (if not more) fun.
    FIVE. Homemade breakfast sandwiches with the crispiest bacon.

    Serves: 6 to 8 people
    Prep/Assembly Time: 1 hour
    Bake Time: 12-15 minutes
    Inactive Time: ~2 to 3 hours

    Almond Joconde

    3 eggs, room temperature
    90 grams sugar
    3 egg whites
    30 grams sugar
    115 grams almond meal
    28 grams flour

    Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

    ½ cup egg whites (from 3 to 4 eggs)
    1 cup sugar
    3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
    Kosher salt (a pinch!)
    1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
    ¾ cup raspberry jam

    Dark Chocolate Ganache

    12oz. dark bakers chocolate
    12oz. heavy cream

    Meringue Topping

    ½ cup egg whites
    1 cup sugar
    1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)

    *Fresh Raspberries for topping

     

    Almond Joconde Steps

    ONE. Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Line an 11″ x 16″ baking sheet with parchment paper, then brush with butter to prevent the cake from sticking. In a large bowl, sift together the almond meal and flour, then set aside.

    TWO. In the bowl of your stand mixer, whip the whole room temperature eggs and the 90 grams of sugar until the mixture has tripled in size and, when drizzled, forms ribbons that hold their shape momentarily before disappearing back into the rest of the egg. It should take about 7 to 8 minutes. Gently fold this mixture into the almond meal mixture.

    THREE. In the clean bowl of your stand mixer, whip the three egg whites and the 30 grams of sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold this mixture into the rest of the cake batter. Pour into the prepared baking sheet and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the top is lightly golden. Allow to cool completely.


    Raspberry Buttercream Steps

    ONE. In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix the ½ cup egg whites and the 1 cup of sugar until thick and combined. It will be very grainy. Set this bowl over a pot of boiling water (a double boiler situation!), and heat, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula, until the sugar has completely dissolved.

    TWO. Transfer the bowl back to the mixer and beat the egg whites until stiff, glossy peaks form and the egg whites are back down to room temperature.

    THREE. Once the egg whites are the right texture and temperature, add the butter in, two tablespoons at a time, until completely incorporated. Some notes about this: if the egg is still too hot and the butter starts to melt, put the whole thing in the fridge for a while to cool it down. If, while you’re adding the butter, the mixture begins to look like it’s curdling, don’t panic!! This happens, but if you keep mixing, it will fix itself.

    FOUR. Once all the butter is added, continue to mix for another minute, until the frosting is thick and glossy again. Add in the vanilla, salt, and raspberry jam and mix with a rubber spatula until fully incorporated.

    FIVE. Dollop the frosting over the completely cooled cake and spread with an offset spatula. It’s important that the frosting is as even and flat on top of the cake as possible, as it will make stacking much easier later. Chill the cake until the frosting is set.


    Chocolate Ganache Steps

    ONE. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the heavy cream until simmering, then remove from heat. Add in the chopped chocolate and swirl to ensure that all the chocolate is covered by the hot cream. Allow to sit for 3 minutes.

    TWO. After 3 minutes, whisk the mixture together, as the heat from the cream will have melted the chocolate by now. Let the ganache cool before spreading on the cake so as not to melt the frosting.

    THREE. When the ganache is cool and the cake is set, spread the ganache evenly over the buttercream and smooth with an offset spatula. Chill until the chocolate is solid.


    Cake Assembly Steps

    ONE. Once the cake is chilled and completely set, run a hot knife around the edges to loosen the cake and the chocolate from the tray. Wrap the top of the cake with plastic cling wrap, and place another (same size) baking sheet on top of this, with the bottom of the baking sheet touching the plastic wrapped top of the cake. Flip the whole thing upside down so that the ganache side of the cake is now on the bottom. Remove the original baking sheet and peel the parchment paper off the bottom of the cake.

    TWO. Flip the cake back to right side up by placing the bottom of the original baking sheet on top of the cake and turn upside down again, then peel the plastic wrap off the ganache side of the cake. At this point, you should have your cake sitting on an inverted baking sheet (to make it easier to slice) with the ganache on top and the cake on the bottom.

    THREE. Using a heated knife (keep a large glass of boiled water nearby to dip your knife in as you slice), trim off any uneven edges of your sheet cake so that all the sides are perfectly straight.

    Shot from my snapstory, gotta get those angles you know??

    FOUR. Using a ruler to keep measurements exact, turn your tray so that the long side is vertical. Cut the cake into thirds on the long side (the 16″ side), so that you have three long strips of cake. Then, turn the tray so that the long side is horizontal, and slice in half so that you have 6 even rectangles of cake. *If at any point the ganache starts to get soft, place  the cake back in the fridge until everything is set again.

    FIVE. To assemble, take a long spatula and place one cut rectangle onto your desired serving tray. Repeat with each rectangle, making sure that the sides all match up and the cake doesn’t end up lopsided. Top the finished cake with even rows of raspberries.


    Meringue Topping Steps

    ONE. This step is optional, but it looks so pretty so 10/10 would recommend. In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix together the egg whites and sugar until stiff and glossy. Mix in the vanilla extract/ vanilla bean paste. Dollop or pipe the stiffened meringue over the raspberries, making spikes and swirls with the back of a spoon. Using a kitchen torch, toast the meringue until golden.

    You DID IT!!! I’m so proud of you, it’s been quite a journey!! xoxoxoxoxoxD

  • Applesauce Cake

    Hello hello! Here we are at another Tuesday, and here I am with another dessert recipe, ready for fall! This weekend, my sisters and I (all 5 of us!) met up in NYC for dinner, and I had some of the best pho of my LIFE from a restaurant in Greenwich Village called Pho Bar. A ginormous bowl of beef pho and a Vietnamese Iced Coffee (espresso with sweetened condensed milk), are really all I need to be happy. Here in New York, the past few days have been cold and rainy, which quite honestly, is my FAVORITE kind of weather. What better excuse to cook all day and watch a lot of Netflix?? This Sunday, pretending that we were further into Fall than we were, I made Beef Bourguignon, which you can find here, and this applesauce cake.

    This place was so yummy and fancy!

    A story about this cake- this recipe comes from my amazing Grandma Marcella, who used to make this all the time when we came over for dinner. My grandparents have lived three doors down from us my entire life, so walking down to their house for dinner and a slice of this impossibly moist cake was a DREAM. As the years went on, my mom and then I started to take over some of the dinner and baking responsibilities, but somehow, this recipe fell by the wayside.

    You can see that this copy of the recipe is well loved!

    Cut to many years later, I was in my senior year of college and doing everything in my power to procrastinate during finals week (as one does in college, you know), and SUDDENLY I thought about this recipe and could think of nothing else. I called my mom immediately and begged her to look through her recipe books to see if we had a copy written down, and, sure enough, 5 minutes later I had a picture of the recipe and was en route to the grocery store at 9pm. Honestly, god bless my roommates, I didn’t have a car in college, and somehow someone was always willing to drive me to the store. Probably because it meant they would get baked goods, but still. It was just as delicious as I remembered when I made it that night in college, and words can’t describe how important it felt to make this cake and serve it to my grandma at family dinner the other night and make her proud.

    This is the most expensive Le Creuset item that I own and I’m not kidding when I say it’s my prized possession (it’s LAVENDER) and I just wanted to show it off okay THANKS

    Some notes about this recipe: the applesauce makes this cake SUPER moist without any extra oil, which is a win if you ask me. It’s best to start with unsweetened applesauce, that way you can control how sweet the cake turns out, but if all you have is sweetened, lower the brown sugar amount maybe to ½ cup. Also, I’m not the biggest fan of raisins, so if I were to make this on my own, I would lower the amount to ½ cup, but the original recipe as made by my grandma specified 1 whole cup.

    Before we start, I’m getting into these 5 things to be happy about bits, so here are 5 more for today:

    ONE. When the temperature drops below the 70ºs for the first time in AGES.
    TWO. Beginning a binge of fall movies and TV, just to get you in the mood for what’s to come.
    THREE. Having a favorite mug and refusing to use anything else to drink tea and coffee out of.
    FOUR. When you’re so sleepy that, upon getting into bed, you fall asleep immediately.
    FIVE. Family board game nights.

    Anywho, let’s goooooooooooo!

     

    Ingredients

    1 cup applesauce, preferably unsweetened
    ¾ cup brown sugar, less if you’re using sweetened applesauce
    1 stick butter
    ¼ tsp cinnamon
    ½ tsp vanilla extract
    1 cup flour
    ½ tsp baking soda
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 egg
    ½-1 cup raisins, depending on preference
    2 tbs fresh lemon juice
    5-6 tbs confectioners sugar

    Steps

    ONE. Preheat your oven to 350ºF and generously butter a 9″ x 9″ pan. Set up a double boiler on the stove*, and in the top bowl, add the applesauce, butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is almost bubbling. Allow to cool slightly before proceeding. (My grandma would place the bowl in the sink with a little cool water in it to speed up the cooling process!)

    TWO. Once cooled, stir in the flour, baking powder, and baking soda until everything is combined, then mix in the egg and incorporate.

    THREE. In a small bowl, toss the raisins with about a tablespoon of flour, this will keep them from all sinking to the bottom while baking. Stir the raisins into the batter until evenly distributed, then pour the whole thing into the prepared pan.

    FOUR. Bake for 15 minutes at 350º, then after the 15 minutes are up, turn the heat down to 325º and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Before removing from the oven, test with a cake tester or knife to ensure doneness, the cake should be moist but not wet and the tester should come out clean. Cool completely before glazing.

    FIVE. In a small bowl, mix together the lemon juice and confectioners sugar into a thick, pourable glaze, adjusting the amounts as necessary until you have a thickness that you’re happy with. I like mine on the thin side, I find that it seeps into the cake more this way, but it’s totally up to you! To glaze, slice the cake into 9 slices, then pour the glaze over it so that it completely covers the top and starts to sink down the cut sides.

    Best enjoyed with as much glaze as you can get on top of each piece!! xoxoxoxoxoD

    * To make a double boiler, fill a saucepan up half way with water and turn the heat up on the stove to bring the water to a boil. Place a large heat-safe bowl on top of the saucepan, making sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t actually touch the water in the saucepan. As the water boils and releases steam, it heats the contents of the bowl without direct heat, so nothing in the bowl can be burned or overcooked!