Classic Apple Pie

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I don't know who Genevieve Riordan was, but apparently she was a good enough cook to be featured in a Craig Claiborne New York Times cookbook back in the 1960s, and from what I've been able to find on the internet, it seems she was just a woman who owned a pie stand somewhere between New York City and wherever Claiborne's beach house was located. Honestly, it's a simple recipe with a classic apple pie flavour, but the classics are classics for a reason, right?*

Because this recipe is pretty simple (I mean, as simple as any apple pie recipe can be- you still have to peel and slice a load of apples, but there's no parcooking, no prebaking the crust, and no watery filling to contend with at the end), I opted to go fancy with my crust, making a plaited decoration that took me ages to finish but was really fun to do.

If you're looking for a more traditional alternative for your pi(e) day celebration this week than the sugary wonder I presented to you last week, this is your pie. Make it and enjoy by itself, warm with ice cream, or, as Eleanor's family always did, with a slice of cheddar cheese. Happy pi day!

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*On an episode of The Great British Bake Off focused on American bakes, a food historian was interviewed who posited that when British soldiers in World War II were asked why they fought, they claimed 'King and country' as their motivation, but when American soldiers were asked the same question, their response was 'mom and apple pie.' I feel like maybe Americans need to broaden our mindsets a little?

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The verdict:

5 spoons out of five. Slice those apples as thin as you can and your finished pie will be dense with apple flavour and toasty cinnamon.

one year ago: Mocha Cake with Caramel Frosting
two years ago: Honey Chocolate Cake
three years ago: Dressed-Up Tomato Soup

the recipe:

Classic Apple Pie

the directions:

Make your pastry according to directions, then divide in half.
Roll out one half of dough and line a 9-inch pie plate.
Refrigerate the remaining dough until needed.
Fill a large mixing bowl halfway with very cold water and set aside.
Peel and core the apples, then chop them into quarters and slice lengthwise as thinly as possible.
As you work, put sliced apples into cold water to keep them from browning.
Once all apples are sliced, drain the water, add ½ c sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Stir well, then set aside.
Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
Blend the flour with remaining sugar, then sprinkle over the bottom crust of the pie, rotating pie pan to coat dough evenly.
Pour apples into prepared pan, then dot with butter and sprinkle lemon over.
Roll out the second half of the crust, wet the rim of the bottom crust and lay top crust over the whole thing.
Press any air bubbles out, then seal the edges to avoid leaks.
Use a sharp knife to slice vents into the top crust, then bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown and fragrant.

Apple Kuchen

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It may be a new year but we've still got a Recipe Box full of mystery dishes and there's bound to be some disasters in there... so it should come as no surprise that I already found one, on only the second week of the year. The thing that DID come as a surprise to me is that this disaster is an apple tart recipe. In the history of my baking life (admittedly not an illustrious history, but a history nonetheless) I have neither baked nor tasted an apple dessert I do not like.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not an apple fanatic- I'd choose Anything With Frosting or Most Things with Chocolate over an apple dessert most days- but the great thing about apple desserts is how reliable they are. They're always tasty, they're always cosy and they make your house smell amazing when you bake them; you can reliably make one anytime of year without waiting for the fruit to be in season; they often work just as well for a luxurious breakfast as they do for a dinner-party worthy dessert; many taste as delicious warm from the oven as they do at room temperature; most people like them and I've never met anyone allergic to them to date.

All that said, I finally found an apple dessert that is just not worth it. I made this one recent frosty morning when outside was so cold that the ice on the ground still hadn't melted from days before and I just wanted something warming in my kitchen. This kuchen was supposed to do the trick but it lied to us, dear reader.

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First of all, this cake requires that you make a dough (yes, a dough, not a batter) and then line a springform pan with it. This should have been hint #1 that things would quickly go south, but I thought I was experienced enough to handle a freeform tart so I went ahead with it. The dough is then pressed into the bottom of the springform and up the sides of it, but there wasn't nearly enough dough so it was almost impossible to get the dough more than ½-inch or so up the sides without making bald spots on the bottom of the pan. Once that's done, you fill the middle with a cooked-apple mixture you've already made, and which is so full of juice that the pan is basically just a bowl of liquid.

Then you bake it, praying the whole time that it doesn't leak hot caramelised apple liquid onto the bottom of your oven (for once, it didn't!) and when it's done, you try to saw through it with every serrated knife you own. The cake portion of this cooked up thin and crunchy, but, like, not in a good way. The texture was cardboard-y and flavourless, except for the filling. The really unfortunate part about this kuchen is that the filling is actually delicious... so delicious that we may or may not have scooped the apple-cherry filling out and stirred it into a bowl of porridge for breakfast on the morning after I made this ill-fated recipe... and again every day until we ran out of filling.

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As always, despite the fact that it's a disaster, I'm including the full recipe. Don't make this cake, but if you're in the mood for the best porridge of your life, make this filling. It works on pancakes, in porridge, in yoghurt and also probably in ice cream, but I didn't get around to testing that for sure before I ran out of filling.

If you're on the hunt for a better apple recipe, check out the others (all better than this!) over here.

The verdict:

2 spoons out of five. I can't give it any less because of how good that filling was, man.

After making a Load of newspaper recipes from this box, it's a little embarrassing how fast i was able to identify the woman on the bottom right as Betty crocker.

After making a Load of newspaper recipes from this box, it's a little embarrassing how fast i was able to identify the woman on the bottom right as Betty crocker.

One year ago: crazy crust apple pie
two years ago: Happy New Year!

the recipe:

Apple Kuchen

the directions:
filling:

Simmer apple slices and raisins or cherries in just enough water to cover them until apples are just tender but still retain their shape (about 10 minutes).
Meanwhile, combine sugar, cinnamon and orange zest.
Drain fruit, then stir sugar mixture into fruit.
This will immediately make a syrup, but that's ok.

dough:

Preheat oven to 210C/425F and grease an 8-inch springform pan.
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
Work in butter by mixing at low speed.
Beat in eggs, then stir in milk JUST until combined.
Spread dough on bottom and up sides of prepared springform pan.
Pour fruit mixture into pan along with any syrup that has formed.
Bake 45-50 minutes, until crust is deep golden and filling is firm-ish and bubbly.

the ingredients:
the filling:

5 c (600g) apples, peeled, cored & sliced thinly
½ c (75g) golden raisins or dried cherries
2/3 c (134g) sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp orange zest


he dough:

1 c (120g) flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
2 ½ tbsp (35g) butter
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp milk

Battle of the Apple Cakes: Apple Nut Coffee Cake vs French Apple Cake

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It's officially fall here in Edinburgh- I mean, obviously, it has been for awhile, but we've had a bit of an Indian Summer here and it's been great. Judson and I have been taking the dog for long walks in crunchy leaves that she loves to pounce around in, and she's totally camouflaged when she goes frolicking in them. I've gotten out my tonka beans and my tiny nutmeg grater, have had my annual desire to spend an afternoon peeling and chopping apples and have finally given up on stone fruit and have started experimenting with pork chops, roasts, pies and anything I can think of with potatoes in it.

I've gotten really into having friends over for brunch lately- this new habit has two root causes: 1) the brunch scene in Edinburgh is fine, but it doesn't compare to the brunch scene in any other city I've ever lived in, so there aren't a lot of options outside of my own kitchen (or at least, not options for breakfast foods I enjoy) and 2) I now have a doggo who gets me up every Saturday morning at... well, not the crack of dawn but awfully close. Which means I've got time in the morning to put the finishing touches on brunch things I prepped the night before, like quiches and fruit salads and baked eggs and loads of danishes and coffee cakes.

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My rules of thumb for planning a brunch are as follows, made up entirely by me so don't take these as etiquette gospel, but they've served me well in two cities in two countries for countless brunches with my lady friends, so you should probably still write this down:

  1. One savoury dish (usually egg-based; baked eggs en cocotte are my current go-to, but in the past I've been really into quiches laced with bacon, cheese, mushrooms or onions, and I'm about to host my first large-scale poached egg brunch)
  2. One salad (berries with mint or greens with bitter vinaigrette).
  3. One sweet dish (pound cake or homemade danishes or muffins or a sweet bread or one of these apple cakes)
  4. Hot drinks: coffee and tea
  5. Cold drinks: OJ and sparkling water
  6. OPTIONAL booze: prosecco or bloody marys or Bailey's to add to the aforementioned coffee

While banana bread or pumpkin squares or pound cake or gingerbread are all great options for a sweet dish because you can prepare them the night before, there's something about apple cakes that make your entire house smell like fall- a smell that somehow always persists until the next morning, and anyone who cooks always knows the faff that is peeling/coring/chopping a billion pounds of apples, so I feel like you enjoy it more because you know you worked for it.

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So here are two different recipes for apple cakes- one marginally simpler than the other, both delicious, one coffee-cake bar-style and the other bundt-pan, sliced and served with sauce style, but both totally worth serving the next time you have weekend guests or friends coming over on a Sunday morning or you just need a treat to reward yourself for making it through another harrowing week.

The verdict:
Apple Nut Coffee Cake:

3 spoons out of five. This is very much my own preference, because this cake was great. Crunchy cinnamon mixture on top; pillowy-soft cake underneath? What's not to like? The answer: Nothing, I just liked the other one better.

French Apple Cake:

4 spoons out of five. I knocked a spoon off because the first time I made this, it broke coming out of the pan. Since then, I've made it successfully about a billion times, but I feel like I should provide you with the warning. Caramel-y and sweet with a brown sugar toastiness you'll love, this cake is everything I love about breakfast in the autumn.

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One year ago: Red & White Delight
two years ago: Baked Noodles Romanoff

the recipe:

Apple Nut Coffee Cake

the directions:

Grease a 13x9 pan and preheat oven to 175C/350F.
Cream together shortening and sugar.
Add eggs and vanilla, then beat well.
Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream.
Fold in apples, then spread in prepared pan and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine nuts, brown sugar and cinnamon.
Stir in melted butter, then sprinkle nut mixture over pan.
Bake 20-30 minutes until cake batter is cooked through.

the ingredients:

½ c shortening or Stork
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 c sour cream
2 c apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
½ c pecans, coarsely chopped
½ c brown sugar, packed
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp butter, melted

the recipe:

French Apple Cake

the directions:
cake:

Grease and flour a 10-inch tube or bundt pan.
Preheat oven to 175C/350F.
Beat eggs.
Add oil and sugars, then beat for another three minutes.
Sift together brown sugar, white sugar, cake flour, baking soda and cinnamon, then add slowly to creamed mixture, stirring constantly.
Fold in apples, nuts and vanilla.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 55-60 minutes until a wooden pick inserted in the middle comes out slightly sticky (if in doubt, poke the cake a few times as batter will look thinner if you poke a piece of apple).

Glaze:

While cake cools, make the glaze.
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and slowly bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
Turn off heat and allow to cool completely, stirring occasionally, before drizzling or pouring over cake.

the ingredients:
the cake:

2 eggs
1 ¼ c oil
1 c brown sugar, packed
1 c sugar
3 c cake flour (or 3 cups minus 3 tbsp flour, plus 3 tbsp cornflour)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
3 c apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
1 c pecans, chopped
2 tsp vanilla

the glaze:

½ c butter
1 c brown sugar, packed
¼ c milk
1 tsp vanilla