French Apple Tart

I had the opportunity to celebrate my very first friendsgiving this weekend and I had such a good time! Any excuse to get together with friends and celebrate is a good idea in my book. I got together at my friend Lindsay's condo to eat good food, have great conversation, and just enjoy being together before the busyness of the holiday season really picks up steam. We had a lovely meal, the main event being one of my all-time favorites, roasted chicken with clementines and fennel. Of course I had to make a dessert, and I decided to try my hand at a simple and elegant French Apple Tart. seasonal and beautiful in an understated way. It was the perfect way to end such a wonderful meal. 

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Of course I had to use local Jonagold apples from my favorite stand at the farmers market and they were perfect. The whole thing came together quite easily, and was fun to arrange. I made a frangipane to place under the apples which I think was a nice touch, but you can certainly make this without. Whatever you decide, apples, butter and sugar are always going to be a winning combination. 

 
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French Apple Tart
Adapted from Alexandra Cooks
Ingredients
Pate Brisee

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 3-4 tablespoons ice water

Tart

  • 5 to 7 apples, peeled, cored, and halved (I used jonagold, but really any apple will do)
  • 2-4 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter

Frangipane

  • 3/4 cup almonds
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter at room temperature
  • 1 small egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla, rum, brandy or bourbon

For finishing:

  • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving

Instructions
Making the pastry: Combine flour, sugar, 8 tbsp. butter, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse until pea­-size crumbles form, about 10 pulses. Drizzle in 3 tbsp. ice­-cold water and pulse until dough is moistened, about 3 to 4 pulses. (Do not pulse so much that the dough forms a mass — It will clump together when you form it into a disk.) Add more water if needed, but use as little as possible, just until the dough is just coming together. If you add too much water it will be tough and will shrink when baking. Transfer dough to a work surface and form into a flat disk; wrap it in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour, and up to three days. When ready to use, transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, flatten dough into a 13″ circle and then transfer to a tart pan with a removable bottom; trim edges; chill for at least 1 hour.

Meanwhile make frangipane: add all ingredients to a food processor and process until comes together into a smooth mass. This may take a little time and require some scraping down the sides of the food processor from time to time. Be patient and it will eventually come together. 

When ready to bake; heat oven to 375º. Spread a thin layer (about 2 tablespoons) of frangipane across the bottom surface of your tart shell. Working with one apple half at a time, thinly slice into sections, keeping slices together. Press sliced apple half gently to fan it out; repeat with remaining apple halves. Place 1 fanned apple half on outer edge of the tart dough, pointing inward; repeat with 7 more apple halves (or as many as you are able to fit — with a smaller tart pan, you won't be able to fit as many). Separate remaining apple slices. Starting where the apple halves touch and working your way in, layer apples to create a tight rose pattern. Fill in any gaps with remaining apple.

Sprinkle with sugar and dot with remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Place in the oven (I recommend placing a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil underneath the tart to catch any dripping butter that may otherwise fall to the bottom of the oven and burn) and bake until golden brown, about 70 minutes. Let cool completely before removing from pan and carefully transferring to serving platter. 

Buckwheat Applesauce Breakfast Cake

Cake for breakfast? Always a good idea in my book. While this recipe is not a cake in the traditional sense, light, airy and super rich, it kind of has an indulgent feel when topped with a yummy yogurt almond frosting. It's not a very sweet cake - dense and hearty in texture, yet still super moist thanks to the applesauce. The buckwheat flour really adds a unique dimension in both flavor and texture. There is a lovely bitterness to this cake from this flour which I love, but might take a little getting used to. And because buckwheat is not "wheat", it behaves differently in baking. It results in a cake that is almost a little sandy in texture, and more dense than a traditional baked good. 

I adapted the recipe (because I just can't help myself!). The original used almond flour in addition to the buckwheat, and coconut oil. I replace these with whole wheat flour and butter instead. This likely altered the texture somewhat but in the end I loved the results, so it doesn't really matter! I also used some liquid whey (leftover from homemade yogurt) instead of almond milk, but I'm sure buttermilk would also work Finally, I adjusted the spices somewhat based on my preferences, and the time of year and replaced the molasses with maple syrup along the same vein. Overall, this dense, somewhat bitter but very interesting "cake", topped with a healthy yogurt and almond butter frosting ticks all the right buttons for me. The most important thing being that it's delicious. In the end that's all that really matters!

Buckwheat Applesauce Breakfast Cake
Adapted from Edible Perspective
Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 c buckwheat flour (150 grams)
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk or liquid whey
  • 2/3 cup (170 grams) unsweetened applesauce, I used homemade (alternatively, can use several cups of grated apple, somewhere around 250 grams, the recipe is very forgiving)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons (42 grams) butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons (60 grams) maple syrup (or honey)

Directions
Preheat your oven to 350* F and line a 9x9 pan with parchment, or grease thoroughly.  Stir the buckwheat flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl until well mixed.  In another bowl whisk the eggs together.  Then whisk in the milk, applesauce, vanilla, butter and maple syrup until fully combined.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Pour the batter into your pan and spread evenly.  Bake for 38-40 minutes, testing with a toothpick for doneness.  You want the toothpick to be slightly sticky, not gooey or dry.  Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before slicing. Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar, or with almond butter frosting (recipe below). 

Almond Butter Frosting
From Delectably Mine
Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup (optional)
  • couple shakes of cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt (optional)

Directions
Mix together the almond butter and Greek yogurt until well combined and smooth. Add in the maple syrup, cinnamon and salt and stir to combine. Taste and adjust flavorings if desired, adding a little more almond butter if it is too tangy, a little more yogurt if it is too thick, or a little extra maple syrup if you want it a little sweeter. Spoon frosting onto each slice of cake, or spread in an even layer over the top of each piece. 

Apple Cinnamon Greek Yogurt Bread

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to spend the day with a community health worker in my home town. The day we spent together included a trip just outside of the city, out to the apple fields to check in on some of the migrant workers who were busy harvesting the yearly apple crop. It was the absolute perfect day; sunny and warm with a slight breeze. The trees were heavy laden with fruit and the apples were ripe for picking. Since apples are near the top of my favorite fruit I really enjoyed this day. Seeing how the fruit is picked and by whom. Watching the workers and their backbreaking work sure does put things into perspective. 

Probably the most exciting thing for me was that at one of the farms we stopped at the owner came by on his golf cart and handed us bags and told us to go ahead and pick as many apples as we wanted!! And the trees he directed us too? Yep, honeycrisp! I staggered home that evening with probably 20 lbs of honeycrisp apples, straight off the tree. I've been eating them daily since. They are the best apples I have ever eaten, crisp, sweet, juicy and amazing. I've now been ruined for life; there's no going back to those months old grocery store apples. I'll have to enjoy these while I can! 

With so many apples I knew I had to bake something right away. I went with a simple apple cinnamon bread. Nothing fancy, just apples, oats, cinnamon and yogurt. A wonderful combination, perfect for breakfast. One way to preserve the amazing bounty I was given. 

 
 
 
 
 

Apple Cinnamon Greek Yogurt Bread
Inspired by Running with Spoons
Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) plain whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup (50-55 grams) oil
  • 6 Tbsp (75 grams) brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (60 grams) old fashioned oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup (90 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup (30 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1 medium-size apple, peeled and cut into small dice or shredded

Directions
Preheat your oven to 350ºF and lightly grease a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs until the yolks break apart. Whisk in the yogurt, oil, sugar, and vanilla, mixing until smooth.

Stir in the oats, baking soda, spices, and salt. Spoon in the flour and give it a few stirs before adding in the diced apple. Fold everything together gently until just combined.

Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan, spreading it out evenly. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If you find the top browning too quickly, make a little tent out of aluminum foil, and lightly place it over the top of the pan at around 25 minutes.

Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before transferring it to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Muffins

Over the past year or so I have been doing more and more baking with fruit. Since I absolutely love fruit this really is a no-brainer. Any kind of fruit will do, I'm not picky. Due to the overwhelming number of banana bread/muffin/cake recipes out there I definitely end up using bananas most often. It doesn't hurt that they are cheap and freeze beautifully. But there are many other fruits that bake up well in recipes too. 

Today I'm sharing a simple yet wonderful cinnamon apple muffin recipe. The cinnamon apple combo is a pretty classic pairing, and it's easy to see why. The warming spiciness of cinnamon mixed with sweet and tart apples is a match made in heaven. I don't always like large chunks of apple in my baked goods, so instead of chopping it into pieces, I decided to grate it so it kind of melts into the batter and distributes evenly while still contributing it's apple-y sweetness. Add a little more spiciness with some nutmeg and allspice, and top the whole thing with a sweet buttery topping and you have a breakfast to be proud of. 

The original recipe called for coconut oil, so if that's your thing go for it, but I just used plain old vegetable oil. Next time I might even try melted butter, because why not? A blend of whole wheat and white flour gives the muffins a nice heartiness. I think some toasted walnuts of pecans would be a wonderful addition to these muffins as well. I guess I'll just have to make these again soon, what a problem to have!

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Muffins

Adapted from

Pinch of Yum

Ingredients

For the muffins:

  • 1 apple, grated
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

For the topping:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

To prep ingredients:  Add the vinegar to the milk and let it sit for a few minutes to let it curdle (or you can use real buttermilk instead). 

For the muffins: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk the oil, milk with vinegar, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Add the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Stir until just combined. Fold in the apples. Scoop the mixture into a greased or lined muffin tin.

For the topping: Melt the butter for the topping. Add the sugar and cinnamon; spoon over the tops of the muffins. You only need a little bit to get the crunchy top effect, but if you love those crunchy cinnamon sugar tops, I'd suggest making twice or three times as much topping as what's listed here.

Bake the muffins for 15-16 minutes, more or less by a few minutes depending on size. The muffins should be golden brown with big round tops that spring back when you press them.

Apple Bread with Oatmeal Streusel

I love having apples in the fridge, they are a perfect snack and easy to throw into a lunch. They seem to last forever in the fridge, although I usually end up eating them so fast that it doesn't matter any way. But as much as I love apples, not just any apple will do. I am very picky about which kind of apples I will buy. In the fall, when they are super fresh and straight from the orchard I love almost all of them, but golden delicious in particular are so good. But as the winter moves on, I usually end up buying just a few varieties from the grocery store, Fuji, Pink Lady, and once in a while Honeycrisp (but I don't generally feel like I should be spending $4 a pound on Honeycrisp when all the other apples cost half as much). 

A few weeks ago I accidentally picked up the wrong bag of apples. I ended up with 3 pounds of Paula Reds which I just couldn't make myself eat out of hand. They have good flavor, but are just too soft and mushy for me. Making applesauce is always an option, but this time I also decided to use some of the apples to do a little baking. While this recipe may seem like a fall recipe, I see no reason to wait until fall to bake something with apples. So grab a couple apples and head to the kitchen to throw this lovely loaf of cinnamon apple bread together. It's good regardless of the season!

This recipe starts with a wonderfully chunky streusel, and plenty of it, just how I like it. Then you just have to throw together a simple cinnamon bread, chop up an apple and mix it all together. Into the pan, streusel on top and into the oven. The bread turned out beautifully, soft and moist, studded with small pieces of apple and perfumed with cinnamon. The original recipe called for cinnamon chips which I didn't have, but I think they would have been great in this. I also ended up using almonds in the topping instead of the walnuts because that's what I had, and it was great. But walnuts would have been wonderful too, I even think it might be nice to put some walnuts directly into the bread. So as you can see, this recipe is very versatile, so give it a shot, you won't regret it. 

Apple Bread with Oatmeal Streusel
Adapted from Cookie Monster Cooking
Ingredients
For the streusel:

  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour 
  • ¼ cup rolled oats 
  • ¼ packed light brown sugar 
  • ¼ cup walnuts or whatever nut you have, finely chopped 
  • pinch of cinnamon 
  • pinch of salt 
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 

For the bread:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I did half whole wheat, 1/2 all purpose) 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • ½ teaspoon salt 
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar 
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar 
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • ⅓ cup melted butter 
  • ⅔ cup whole milk 
  • 1 medium apple (or a couple smaller apples), chopped into small pieces, or grated

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8 ½ by 4 ½ inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

To make the streusel - in a small bowl, mix together the flour, oats, brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon and salt until well combined. Add in the melted butter and mix until combined and evenly moistened. Set aside.

To make the bread - in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, granulated sugar and egg until well combined (it will clump together at first but just keep whisking and it will smooth out). Add in the vanilla, butter and milk and whisk again to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined. Gently fold in chopped apple. 

Transfer the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to smooth the top. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the top.

Bake for about 50 to 55 minutes, until a tester inserted into the middle of the bread comes out clean. If the top starts to brown too quickly, tent loosely with aluminum foil. Once the bread is cool enough to handle, gently run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Classic Apple Pie

I haven't always been a big pie fan. In fact, it's only been in the last year that I've really changed my tune and started to really like pies, a lot! (Don't worry cake, you will forever be my first love.) I was never a big fan of soft, warm fruit, and while it is still not on my top 10, when it's encased in a flaky and buttery crust, generously sprinkled with sugar, and baked until golden perfection it's difficult for me not to like. Since I've jumped on the pie band wagon I decided it was time that my Thanksgiving dinner included an apple pie, it just seemed right. No doubts here; this pie was tall and handsome, but more importantly the taste was spot on, the perfect blend of sweet and buttery, tender apples and flaky crust. A wonderful start to my holiday season.

First ever double crusted pie! I was a little nervous, but knew it would work. It baked up beautifully with no worries. I did cover it with foil about halfway through baking because I do not at all like over-baked crusts. I like a light golden brown, not dark and hard. The perfect ending for my delicious Thanksgiving meal.

Classic Apple Pie
Crust adapted from Martha Stewart
Pie Adapted from Williams Sonoma
Ingredients
Crust

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

Pie

  • 5 pounds apples, or about 14 apples (I used Northern Spy)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Directions
For the crust: using a cheese grater, grate the butter into a bowl and place in the freezer for a few minutes to freeze. In a large bowl mix together flour, salt and sugar. Add the frozen butter and quickly mix together. Add in the ice water a little bit at a time just until the dough comes together in a ball. Add as little water as needed, it's okay if the dough is a little shaggy. Split the dough into two pieces and shape into a disc. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least 2 hours.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out half of the dough into a 12-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch deep-dish pie dish and gently press the dough into the bottom and sides of the dish. Trim the edges and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Roll out the remaining dough disk into a 12-inch round about 1/8 inch thick.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling: In a large Dutch oven, stir together the apples, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and cornstarch. Set over medium heat, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are just tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Uncover and cook until the liquid has thickened and become glossy, 5 to 7 minutes more. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice and let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven, place a baking sheet on the rack and preheat the oven to 400°F.

Transfer the apple filling to the pie shell, and gently invert the top over the pie. Trim the edges flush with the rim of the dish and press the top and bottom crusts together to seal. Brush the entire top crust with egg wash and sprinkle with the granulated sugar. Cut a couple of slits in the dough to allow steam to escape.

Place the pie dish on the preheated baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking until the crust is crisp and golden brown, about 40 minutes more, covering the edges with aluminum foil if they become too dark. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool for at least 1 1/2 hours before serving.