Category Archives: Baked Goods

bring back fall…with apple pie

This fall has been somewhat disappointing weather wise going from unseasonably warm to cloudy rainy weather to freak October snow storm. The weather has played apart in delaying my pie making, but today, I’m going to bring back fall with an apple pie. My first apple pie in college was a success, followed by a mediocre pie during the holidays. For every pie that succeeded, there was a failed pie and today was another attempt to break the curse. I consulted Smitten Kitchen to try an all butter crust recipe, because the crust is always the biggest player in pie. This also gave me an opportunity to use my pastry blender, which had been collecting dust (cleaned before use? Yes). In recent years, I’ve been making use of a food processor for my pie crust needs. Fast and clean, but more clean up required.


A Call to Arms

Double Pie Crust (because a single layer pie crust would be cutting corners)
2 1/2 cups AP flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 sticks very cold unsalted butter cut into small cubes
1/2 cup + a few extra tbsp very cold water

Blend flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add cold cubed butter and mix with pastry blender until pieces of butter are smaller than a pea and texture of mixture is crumbly. Add 1/2 cup water and bring dough together with 1 hand. Add additional tbsp cold water until dough comes together. Separate into two portions, flatten into a disc shape between plastic wrap and cover completely with the same plastic wrap. Place dough into fridge for at least 2 hours.

For the filling, I used Food Network Kitchen’s recipe since my best pie post college used this recipe

Apple Pie Filling
1 lemon
3 lbs. peeled baking apple slices (7 to 8 apples, I used Golden Delicious)
2/3 cups sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
2 tbsp butter melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 to 3 tbsp AP flour
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter cut into small cubes
1 egg plus 1 tsp water
sugar to sprinkle

Toss the juice of 1 lemon with apple slices, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a large pot, melt 2 tbsp butter and cook apple mixture on medium high heat until sugar mixture starts to bubble, lower temperature to medium low heat and cover pot. Cook until apples are tender (about 15 minutes). remove from heat and add vanilla and flour. Mix and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll out dough from the fridge into 2 circular layers 11 to 12 inches in diameter. Place 1 layer into 9 inch pie tin and mold along the edge. Fill with apple mixture and top with cubed butter. Take egg and mix with a little water to make egg wash. Brush egg wash along the edge of the pie. Place second layer of pie dough over the top of the pie. Press edges of the pie until the crust is sealed. Cut off access dough 1 inch from the edge of the pie tin. Fold the 1 inch of access dough under the edge of the pie so the it rests on top of the edge of the pie tin. Flute the edges of the pie. Cut 6 slit above the pie to let steam come out as it’s baking. Brush egg wash over the pie and top with sprinkled sugar. Place pie on foil covered cookie sheet in case of overflowed filling. Bake for 15 minutes and reduce temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake an additional 50 minutes. Let cool and serve warm.

My pie turned out butt ugly so the streak of unfortunate pies shall continue. At least I’m positive that the crust is flaky. Let’s hope it tastes good.


In sales, this is called “Rustic”

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the great cookie off


Do I have your attention?

If you’re thinking what the hell is bacon doing in Katie’s great cookie off post, then you and I are not cut from the same cloth my friend.   In my world, bacon is always an honorary guest at any of my parties.

For anyone who knows me personally, you’ll know that I cook to decompress.  I’m also an accountant and it is now my busy season.  Let’s hear it for 9/30 year end businesses!  As a numbers girl, I would stereotypically throw myself into the zone of exact measurements and precise timing.  At the height of my busy season, my fellow auditors and I have decided to have a cookie off.  This time last year, we did a chili off and I managed to nab the win.  I’ll share that recipe once we’re in the heart of winter and I start craving warm, meaty chili.

This year, I decided to load an extra challenge on my plate, which was to bake gluten free.  One of our team members has celiac disease and can never enjoy any of my baked goods.  Boo urns.  I figured this was the perfect arena to showcase my potential science project.  Immediately, I was giving myself headaches about rice flour and xantham gum.  Enter, Joy the Baker.  Joy’s adapted recipe from The Gourmet Cookbook includes a simple flour free peanut butter cookie loaded up with bacon!  The bacon immediately grabbed my attention… as did the absence XANTHAM GUM!  Cue the hallelujah chorus.

This morning after my anticipatory trip to the gym, I immediately got my 6 slices of thick cut bacon into my skillet on medium heat until crispy.  Once done, I put them on a paper towel lined plate and waited until cool enough to handle before chopping.

In the meantime, I preheated my oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  I creamed together 1 cup of smooth peanut butter with 1 cup of half granulated sugar and half packed brown sugar in a large mixing bowl.  The brown sugar is so nice in this cookie because it gives a maple syrup like caramelization that pairs very nicely with the bacon.  After 2-3 minutes, I added 1 extra large egg and 1 tsp of baking soda.  Fold in bacon and roll the dough into walnut sized balls and place on parchment lined baking sheets.  Make criss crosses on the balls to flatten and in the oven they go.


Chop up your cooled bacon

The smush

10 minutes later, you’ll have golden brown, very tender cookies.  Allow to cool before you remove them from your baking sheet.  Eat one for quality control, then into my tupperware they went for tomorrow’s work day.

I also snuck in some salted chocolate chip cookies for the boy’s return tomorrow.  Will post about those and the results of the cookie off next time!

cookies ‘n cream cupcakes

Since I changed jobs earlier this year, I’ve been looking for the baked good that would be the new favorite in the office. At my last job it was the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, which I made 10 or so times over the span of 2.5 years. I made those twice so far (once in the form of a muffin), but they haven’t gotten the same rave reviews, so I started hunting for something better. Maybe flashier?

As I was searching through my inventory, I noticed a bunch of unused cupcake liners and realized that I hadn’t made cupcakes since college. Since I was going for wow factor and a crowd pleaser, I thought about an Oreo cupcake and searched cookies and cream cupcakes. It led me to this beauty. The frosting may become the basis of all my cream cheese frosting until the end of time. Let me also tell you that those half Oreos on the bottom blew peoples’ minds. THEIR MINDS. BOOM. INTERGALACTIC SONIC BOOM.

The only adjustments I made were using skim milk I had on hand instead of heavy cream in the frosting and opting to not use crumbs to decorate because I had to assemble these at the a co=worker’s birthday party. The recipe also only gave me 20 cupcakes because I used a couple of Oreos less than what was stated. The batter was looking rather loaded with cookies.



Cupcakes:
20 Oreo Cookie Halves, Twisted with Cream
2 1/4 cups AP Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
8 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature
1 2/3 cups Sugar
3 Large Egg Whites, Room Temperature
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 cup Milk
12-15 Oreo Cookies, Coarsely Chopped (Quartered)

Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz. Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
6 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature
1 tbsp. Vanilla Extract
4 cups Confectioners’ Sugar, Sifted
2 tbsp. Milk

Garnish:
20 Oreo Cookie Halves, Cut Down the Middle

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Line regular size cupcake pan with paper liner. Place twisted Oreo half on the bottom of each liner, cream side up. In bowl, combine dry cupcake ingredients and sift/whisk/blend with fork until mixed. In a separate bowl, using a hand or stand mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium speed. Blend in egg whites one at a time. Pour in vanilla. Turn speed to low and slowly incorporate half the dry cupcake ingredients. Add milk until combined and then add remaining dry ingredients. Remove bowl from stand mixer and fold in chopped Oreos with a spatula.

Divide batter evenly into cupcake liners and bake for 18-20 minutes. Rotate half way for even baking or adjust as needed if your oven has hot spots. Test done-ness with toothpick and let cool for 10 minutes. Transfer to wire rack until cooled completely.

For the frosting, combine cream cheese and butter and mix on medium-high speed until smooth. Add vanilla extract until combined. Slowly add in confectioners’ sugar until incorporated. Add the milk and beat on medium-low speed just until incorporated. Whip on high speed until light and fluffy. Add more confectioner’s sugar, if too wet and milk, if too dry. I placed the frosting in some zip lock bags so that i could easily bring them to the party and pipe onto the cupcakes. Add a half Oreo cookie to garnish.

the pumpkin king

Attention, sane people — it is September 20th and I’ve already whipped out my Halloween sprinkles and harassed friends for canned packed pumpkin (thanks Kate!).  Apparently, canned packed pumpkin is seasonal and now is not the season.  LIES!

Pumpkin Cupcakes With Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe by David Leite

Yields 20 cupcakes

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 extra large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk mixed with 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 15 oz can of solid packed pumpkin

Frosting
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Make the cupcakes:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with fabulous Halloween cupcake liners.

2. In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, add the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and pepper into a medium bowl.  You may choose to sift the dry ingredients together, but I typically skip this step because I’ve had no idea where my sifter’s been for the past 7 months.

3. Add the eggs one at a time to the mixer, scraping down the sides after each addition. Alternate adding the flour and milk mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat in the pumpkin until smooth. Scoop the batter among the cupcake liners — you’re looking to get them 3/4 full. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on racks completely before frosting.

Make the frosting:
In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat all the ingredients on medium until fluffy. To assemble the cake, frost the top of one cake, place the other cake on top. Frost the cooled cupcakes and decorate with any crazy sprinkles and Halloween candies you have around.

These cupcakes are tremendous.  They are moist, super delicious, and so season appropriate (especially if you’re a crazy early bird like me!).  As you can probably tell, I had a very fun time decorating them. I even bought those damn pumpkin candies that I hate.  Those didn’t make it to the picture because I was having an inner debate whether to add them.  I really don’t like them… candy corn either.  Gross.  I did give in though, because they are just too cute to boot!

If you like pumpkin pie and feel like mixing it up a bit, definitely give these bad boys a try.

As a side note, yesterday was my 25th bday.  WOOOO! I went to Menton, a Barbara Lynch restaurant (of course).  I snapped some pretty snazzy pictures of the tasting menu goodies, so be on the look out for that in an upcoming post.

Sowa Open Market

On Sunday, I went to the Sowa Open Market for the first time to check out the food trucks and farmers market. After arriving around 10:30am, I took a stroll to see what was available and created a shopping list in my head. Corn, tomatoes, peaches and plums came to mind, yet I also left with string beans, cherry tomatoes and blueberries. Typical. This wasn’t like haymarket where food goes bad in 24-48 hours. I still have them going strong in my fridge and have been enjoying them all week. I spent a total of $21 for 3 ears of corn, 3 tomatoes, 2 peaches, a pint of blueberries, plums, cherry tomatoes, and about a half pounds of string beans.

Best Produce of the Summer So Far.

Lush, Full Herbs… Ways to Inaccurately Describe My Herb Garden…

When Pigs Fly Bread.

For people not in the Boston area, food truck business has been booming and they’ve been popping up all over town as permits and license restrictions have become more lenient. However, having food trucks gathered at a single location is a huge draw and they are at Sowa every Sunday. For lunch, I got a lamb skewer from Silk Road BBQ (which is actually a food stand), but was left disappointed since it cost $8 and was essentially 5 large chunks of lamb and left me hungry. It tasted decent, but wasn’t worth the price and was regretting passing up the chance to try M&M Ribs. However, the guy was friendly and also offered me a sample of pulled pork.