Tag Archives: honey

Apple Honey Cake

30 Sep

The Jewish New Year is upon us!  The Boyfriend’s family is Jewish and every year I beg to go to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services with them.  I love the traditions observed and, of course, all of the food.  The best combination of both of those is the Rosh Hashanah tradition of eating honey and apples to symbolize the hope for a sweet year.

So I rushed home today and grabbed some apples from the grocery store on the way.  I had to be ready to go in 45 minutes and would you believe that I was able to combine the ingredients, bake the cake, let it cool a little and take photos of it all before it was time to leave for Temple?  That should show you how easy and quick it is to throw this delicious little cake together.

Some notes: the cake will end up very thin, since the original recipe called for a smaller cake pan.  I used what I had and actually really liked it thin–it let the apple and honey flavors shine and made for a perfect light dessert instead of a one that makes you feel overly stuffed.  Also, I really suggest using a mandolin slicer for this project.  I got a great handheld OXO mandolin for just about $15 and it’s an amazing tool (slicing pizza toppings– just sayin’).

Happy New Year!  This Apple Honey Cake will guarantee it’s a sweet one.

Apple Honey Cake
Adapted from Taste of Home

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 2 Gala apples, very thinly sliced (use a mandolin if you have one)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon honey, plus extra for drizzling
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line an 8″ square baking pan with parchment paper (I forgot to coat the paper with nonstick spray, but it was fine without it, so no big deal if you don’t have any).  Sprinkle cinnamon in a light, even coat across the bottom of the pan.
  3. Arrange apple slices in whatever pattern you want.  I did three rows of 6 overlapping slices, the center row moving the opposite direction.  Fancy!
  4. Cream the butter and brown sugar until crumbly and fluffy, about 2 minutes, beat in egg, then milk and vanilla.
  5. Combine flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a small bowl, then add to butter mixture and beat until combined.
  6. Drizzle honey evenly all over the arranged apples in the pan, as much or as little as you like.  Gently pour the cake batter over the apples and honey and spread until entire bottom of pan is evenly covered.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean and the apples are soft.
  8. After taking it out of the oven, let the cake cool for 5 minutes or so and invert the cake onto the serving platter.
  9. Serve warm if you can, but no matter what the temperature, definitely serve it with whipped cream!


James and the Giant Bourbon Honey Peach Pie

21 Sep

When I saw KCRW & LACMA were holding a pie contest, I was interested.  When I saw that there was a category just for pies inspired by Tim Burton, I was hooked.  I instantly started churning out ideas and sketching them out on scraps of paper….Jack the Pumpkin King Pumpkin Pie, Sweeney Todd “Meat” Pie, the Queen of Hearts’ Strawberry Tarts….the possibilities were endless!  I couldn’t have asked for a more inspiring and creative special category and I was disappointed to find out we could only enter one pie per category.  So instead of disguising my cast-off Tim Burton creations to be suitable for other categories (fruit, nut, savory, or cream/chiffon), I decided to focus all my creative and baking energy to making one really great pie: James and the Giant Peach Pie.

I felt, despite the fact that the judges were a total all-star panel, that pumpkin and strawberry and meat pies are so subjective to a judge’s mood on any given day…but that no one can actually turn down a really good peach pie, no matter what their mood.  Since it was for Tim Burton, I knew I had to go all out on themeing the pie and if there’s one thing I love it’s a challenge that combines baking and crafting.  In “James and the Giant Peach,” the characters live inside a peach floating across the English Channel, at one point being pulled by a large flock of birds.  So I went to the co-op, found the largest peach in the bin, and proudly carried it home, knowing it would be my centerpiece.  I held up the line at FedEx-Kinko’s while the guy at the desk and I printed out the characters in a few different sizes for me to experiment with (and mirror images of them, so no matter what side you looked at the pie from, you wouldn’t be staring at the white back of paper).  And I dashed through the craft store, wondering if I really needed a pair of needle nose pliers and wire cutters to pull off this project (I did).  The final result was a “giant” peach, the cast of characters merrily perched on top, being pulled by birds through waves of the English Channel pie crust.

There were some hurdles to jump first, though.  I admit, though I love making pies, I normally have no patience for pie crust and just use frozen crust from the store (it could be because I make most of my pies around Thanksgiving when I have other things to worry about, like if I remembered the cranberries for the stuffing).  These pies had to be 100% homemade and, truthfully, I’m glad for it, because the process reminded me that crust really is so simple to throw together that I should take the time to do it more often.  The other hurdle was that in order to pull off my design element, I needed a little stand to hold the peach up at crust level and I didn’t know a single pizza store that still used those plastic stands to keep the box from drooping into the cheese.  Imagine my delight when the hero boyfriend called from a conference he was at in San Fransisco to say that he had triumphantly found and saved two pizza box stands and he would be home on Friday with them!

So with all challenges behind me and nothing left to do but bake a pie, I plunged ahead, making the crust on Saturday night and the pie early on Sunday morning, hoping it would cool off enough before having to bring it to LACMA for judging.  And when all that was said and done….

I placed first in the Tim Burton category!  My very first blue ribbon!  I was so nervous seeing my pie up on the judges’ table, but after my name was called, I was absolutely jumping for joy and so proud of what I had accomplished.  The boyfriend had been hiding inside the pie tent so that he could have first dibs at tasting some of the 250 pies entered in the contest, but came out to celebrate with me and join in my first paparazzi moment (after 3 years in LA, it’s about time, eh?).  I’m so grateful to all the friends who showed their support either by coming to the event or just offering moral fortitude for my first baking contest–it certainly paid off!  And now, dear readers, I pass the recipe on to you to share with your family and friends.  Award Winning Bourbon Honey Peach Pie, submitted for your pie-eating pleasure:

Bourbon Honey Peach Pie
adapted from Gourmet, July 2009 via Sassy Radish
crust adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Pie Crust (enough for 2 crusts, a top and bottom)

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/2 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening , cut into 4 pieces
  • 4 tablespoons vodka , cold
  • 4 tablespoons ice water

Filling

  • 3 lb ripe peaches
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • heaping 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • heaping 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 egg white
  • sugar for sprinkling
  1. Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar together in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses.
  2. Add butter and shortening and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 10 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds with some very small pieces of butter remaining, but there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade.
  3. Add remaining 1 cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.
  4. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Flatten dough into 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
  5. Place a foil lined baking sheet on the middle rack in your oven and preheat to 425 degrees.  This will ensure ,when you put the pie in the oven to bake on the already hot sheet, that the butter and shortening will melt and coat the flour faster, before the peach juices get to the flour.  If the butter and shortening melt first, you’ll get a flaky crust.  If the peach juices get to the crust first, you’ll get nothing but a soggy crust.  If you have been chilling your dough overnight, pull it out now so that it can soften.
  6. You can choose to peel the peaches or not.  If you do want to peel them, blanching them will make the process a lot easier.  I personally just didn’t want to take the time to peel them and the pie was, obviously, fine.
  7. Slice the peaches into 8 pieces per fruit, tossing them in a bowl as you go.
  8. Pour the lemon juice over the peaches slices.
  9. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Pour the mixture over the peach slices and toss the peaches until evenly coated.
  10. Bring 1/2 cup sugar, honey, vanilla, and bourbon and water to a boil in a 1 1/2- to 2-qt heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved.  Boil without stirring, swirling pan occasionally so the mixture darkens in color evenly, until dark amber, about 5 minutes. (Tricked you!  You’re basically making vanilla honey caramel here!  But we’re not going all the way to caramel, instead we’re just cooking the sugar long enough to deepen the flavors and give it a hint of caramel flavor.)
  11. Remove from heat and add butter, swirling pan until butter is melted. Pour over fruit and toss the peaches until evenly coated.
  12. Sprinkle a generous amount of flour on top of the first dough round and roll out 1 piece of dough into a 13-inch round on a generously floured surface.  Gently roll the dough around the rolling pin and then unroll it into the pie plate, gently lifting the edges and settling it into the plate (at this point it is suggested that you chill the pie plate and crust while you roll out the other crust but truthfully, I was rushing and forgot and it was fine).  Roll out the second pie crust using the same flouring methods.
  13. Spoon (or dump) the peaches into the pie crusted plate and lay the second rolled out crust on top.  Trim the overhand so there’s just about a 1/2 inch left.  Going around the edge, you’ll seal the juices in best if you fold the edge of the crust underneath itself before crimping or decorating it.  Cut a hole about 2″ wide in the center of the top pie crust for steam to vent out.
  14. Brush the crust with the egg white and then sprinkle with sugar.  Both will make the crust shiny and delicious!
  15. Bake pie on hot baking sheet 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Continue to bake until crust is golden-brown and filling is bubbling, about 50 minutes more–tent tin foil over the top of the pie if the crust starts to brown too much. Cool pie to room temperature, 3 to 4 hours.

French Cruller Doughnuts with Maple Vanilla Bean Glaze

17 Aug

Who on earth thought you could make doughnuts at home?  I always just thought they were something that magically appeared in boxes labeled “Krispy Kreme” on Sunday mornings.  Even once I actually went to a Krispy Kreme store and saw the factory machine churning out glazed doughnuts, it still felt more like a Disneyland attraction than actually connecting in my brain as the creation of food I was about to eat, much less food that I might be able to make at home myself.

I can’t remember how I came across this recipe on a great blog, Not So Humble Pie, for French crullers, but I do know that something struck me about this recipe.  It was the first recipe for doughnuts that I came across that I actually felt I could make at home.  Bonus: Crullers are the healthiest doughnut you can enjoy because they’re so airy which means fewer calories.

As always a few notes before beginning:  you’ll need a pastry bag with a star tip.  I bought a little kit for $5 from Sur la Table–50 disposable pastry bags and 3 plastic tips, including a star tip.  The recipe says to let the doughnuts cool before glazing them.  Truthfully, I think the texture was much better when they were still warm, so I would advise you have the glaze ready to go before you start frying up the doughnuts (just whisk briefly if it starts to harden up).  If your honey has been sitting on the shelf for too long like mine had, 20 seconds or so in the microwave will liquidize it again.  Finally, this recipe is certainly a long process the first time you give it a go, so don’t plan on having these ready before the rest of the household wakes up.  Go into it knowing that and you can have them good to go for a nice brunch.

French Cruller Doughnuts with Maple Vanilla Bean Glaze
Adapted from Doughnuts: Simple and Delicious Recipes to Make at Home via Not So Humble Pie

  • 1 cup water
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour, sifted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  1. Mix butter, sugar, salt and water in a medium sauce pan and to a rapid boil.
  2. Have a wooden spoon in hand and be ready because this next step goes quickly: add the flour to the pot of boiling mixture, stirring like crazy to make sure the flour is fully incorporated.  It will go from liquid to dough almost instantly.  Keep stirring and mushing it around the bottom of the pot for about 4 to 5 more minutes.  You’re going to get a film coating the bottom of your pot, but it’ll clean up easy later.  Not So Humble Pie pointed out the reasoning is to remove as much moisture as possible so the pastry is lighter than air so cook until there is no steam coming from the pastry any more.
  3. Transfer the pastry to a mixing bowl and beat it with your electric mixer for a minute or so to cool it off, then beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure the egg is completely incorporated before adding the next.
  4. The amount of egg white you add will change with each recipe.  You want to add enough egg white to make the batter glossy (egg white will make the doughnuts light and airy later).  Add too much egg white and the dough will be too soft and the pretty piping won’t hold and your doughnuts will be flat.  Truthfully, I just added both egg whites and didn’t worry about it and my doughnuts ‘wilted’ just a little.
  5. Cut out four 3″ squares of parchment paper (we’ll be reusing them) and lightly grease them.
  6. Heat 2″ of oil to 375 degrees.  Keep your instant thermometer in the oil the whole time so you can keep a close eye on the temperature and keep it as close to 375 as you can.  Also, don’t get impatient and just crank up the heat to get the oil hotter faster–once it reached 375 I turned down the flame, but it kept soaring up past 400 and I just had to wait for it to cool down again.
  7. While the oil is heating, line a table with a stack of paper towels and set out a wire cooling rack.  Also, whip up the glaze by mixing the powdered sugar, vanilla, honey, and adding 3 tablespoons of milk.  If the glaze is not pourable, add one more tablespoon of milk.
  8. Back with the doughnuts, fill a pastry bag fitted with a star tip with the dough and pipe it into a ring shape on each square of greased parchment paper.
  9. Once the oil is hot enough, take one square of paper and gently drop it into the oil, doughnut side down.  The paper will magically unstick and float off the doughnut in just a few seconds; use tongs to pick it up out of the oil and let it drain on the paper towel lined plate.  Fry the dougnut for a few minutes on each side–they should be a deep golden brown color all over.  Transfer completed doughnuts to paper towel lined plate and then over to the cooling rack while you finish the others.
  10. Luckily, you won’t have to grease the squares again, considering they’ve been sitting in a vat of hot oil.  Continue piping rings of doughnut dough onto the squares and frying them until you’re out of dough.
  11. Glaze the doughnuts by flipping them upside down and dipping them in the glaze.  Set them back on the drying rack with some paper towels underneath so that the glaze doesn’t drip all over your table!  Let the glaze dry a little and then enjoy!
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