sweets

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!

sweets

Lemon Meringue Pie (with a broiled top because my dumb torch didn’t have butane)

Welcome friends! Once again I find myself writing posts a whole week late because my concept of time management is just ridiculous. The weekends come and go in such a flash that I never seem to get anything done. (Also, time really flies when you accidentally sleep until 11:30 on Saturdays.)

ANYWAYS, today’s recipe is the classic Lemon Meringue Pie, something that I was hesitant to make after a disastrous attempt several years ago made me too afraid to try again. But after buying a fancy new blowtorch I was excited to see how it carefully toasted the peaks to perfection. Well. Of course things didn’t go to plan. BECAUSE after finishing the whole pie and taking out my torch to begin, I discovered to my dismay that it didn’t come with the butane I needed to get going. As you can see based on the title of this recipe, I’m DEFINITELY not still bitter about it and have clearly moved on. In hindsight, it probably should’ve been obvious that it wasn’t in there, and this could all have been prevented by be opening the packaging more than 30 seconds before I was planning to use it, but I’m not perfect so I made do!

Look at those clean cut lines!!!

In the end, I used the tried and true oven broiler to get the meringue top brown and toasty and, while this isn’t my preferred method (it starts to make the lemon filling too liquid if it heats up too much), it’s how I always remember my grandma making it, so that’s got to count for something! But I digress, let’s get baking!

(recipe adapted from The Fearless Baker + my grandma’s recipe cards!)


Pie Crust Ingredients

1¼ cups All-Purpose Flour
¼ tsp kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, very cold and cubed
3+ tablespoons ice water
1 egg white, beaten

Pie Ingredient Steps

1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Mix together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with your hands or a pastry blender until it’s evenly distributed and roughly the size of peas.

2. In the center of the flour mixture, add the 3 tablespoons of ice water to start and begin kneading with your hands until it comes together as a dough, sparsely adding water if necessary. You know it’s done when it can be gathered into a ball but still feels slightly dry- never wet or sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

3. When ready to blind bake, roll out the crust on a well floured surface until it’s a few inches wider than your desired pie plate on all sides, making sure to check that it isn’t sticking anywhere. Carefully transfer to your pie plate; I like to fold mine in half and then in half again, then unfold in the plate, but some people like to roll the dough around the rolling pin and transfer that way.

Okay but this is the neatest pie crust I have EVER made

4. Trim and crimp the edges as desired (I like a fluted crust myself), and prick holes in the bottom of the crust with a fork. Place a square of parchment paper larger than your crust in the middle and fill with pie weights, dried beans, or rice and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the crust is just golden.

It’s high time I buy myself some pie weights I think, I waste a LOT of rice doing this

5. Remove the parchment paper and weights and brush the whole crust with one beaten egg white, then return to the oven. Bake for another 12-15 minutes- watch your edges and cover if they begin to brown too fast! Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before filling.

Lemon Curd Filling Ingredients

12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) salted butter
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1¼ cups lemon juice (fresh squeezed, about 5 to 6 lemons)
10 egg yolks (save 6 of the whites for the meringue!!)

Lemon Curd Filling Steps

1. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and sugar, eliminating all lumps. Add this mixture to the melted butter, along with the lemon juice and the egg yolks, mixing until everything is combined.

2. Turn the heat to medium-low and mix constantly, this time with a silicone spatula so that nothing on the bottom of the pan starts to burn. The mixture will begin to thicken in 5-10 minutes, and is finished when it looks like it’s just about to start bubbling.

3. Strain this mixture through a sieve to get rid of any accidental cooked egg, and cool in the fridge with plastic wrap pressed directly to the surface to prevent a skin forming. While this chills, make the meringue.

That YELLOW! So fresh! So summery!

 


Meringue Ingredients

6 egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup white sugar

Meringue + Pie Assembly Steps

1. Before you start, make sure the bowl of your mixer and it’s whisk attachment are grease-free. Whip the whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks begin to form.

2. Gradually add in the sugar, allowing it to dissolve and be incorporated, then beat the mixture on high until medium-stiff peaks form.

3. Fill your cooled pie crust with the chilled lemon curd spread evenly. Generously dollop the meringue on top and spread to the edges. I like mine piled high up and swirled so that when it toasts, the peaks and swirls are highlighted golden brown.

Obviously with a torch you’ll get a more controlled, even color, but all things considered I’d say this looks pretty delicious!

4. Once you’re satisfied with the look, you can use a kitchen torch to toast the meringue, or you can place the pie on a high rack in your oven and broil on low for 2-3 minutes- do NOT take your eyes off it, it can go from barely toasted to burnt in two seconds in the oven!

Now go bask in the glow of the compliments from your friends and family because this pie deserves them! xoxoxoxox

ALSO while we’re here, it is my dearest mom’s birthday today, so while we won’t be having this pie to celebrate, this post is dedicated to you. YAY!

Some pretty epic meringue height here!