I have never made a pie of any kind before but today I did and I think that it was a good effort.

My mum came visiting and in her usual style she arrived with enough food and fresh fruits and veges to feed an army for at least 3 years. It was a similar food deluge that inspired me to make mango ice cream 2 years ago and she literally drove me bananas when I was surrounded by more bananas than any normal human should have

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The good thing is that the produce didn’t go to waste and because of her generosity I have turned out some pretty amazing meals.

Making apple pie filled me with trepidation but I plunged in head first.

I must admit that the whole process from start to finish was somewhat time consuming; in fact the combined time of labour for my two children was shorter. I had my children in 3.5 hours! This pie took the better part of 5 hours and this doesn’t include the time I had to leave it to cool and set after it was baked!

However, it is worth it! I feel like I have accomplished a lot today.

So, here you are; Apple pie!

Ingredients
For the Pie Crust:

2 1/2 cups (350 grams) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoon (30 grams) granulated white sugar

1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces

1/4 to 1/2 cup (60 – 120 ml) ice water

Apple Filling:

1.1 kg apples (about 6 large), peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 inch thick (I used a mix of Granny Smith and golden delicious)

1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar

1/4 cup (55 grams) light brown sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (optional) the cloves lent it a mild earthiness; omit if you don’t like strong flavours.

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter

1 1/2 tablespoons (15 grams) cornstarch (corn flour)

I used a food processor to make the dough and the steps are as follows

Add 1 1/2 cups flour, salt and sugar (optional) to a food processor. Pulse 2 to 3 times until combined.
Scatter butter cubes over flour and process until a dough or paste begins to form, about 15 seconds. (There should be no uncoated flour).
Scrape bowl, redistribute the flour-butter mixture then add remaining 1 cup of flour. Pulse 4 to 5 times until flour is evenly distributed. (Dough should look broken up and a little crumbly).
Transfer to a medium bowl then sprinkle 6 tablespoons of ice water over mixture. Using a rubber spatula, press the dough into itself. The crumbs should begin to form larger clusters. If you pinch some of the dough and it holds together, itโ€™s ready. If the dough falls apart, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of extra water and continue to press until dough comes together.
Remove dough from bowl and place in a mound on a clean surface. Work the dough just enough to form a ball. Cut ball in half then form each half into discs. Wrap each disc with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour. The can keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

So while the dough is chilling, you need to prep your filling.

Usually, the apples are sliced and bunches straight into the pie shell but the process I followed required macerating the apples, this helped to intensify the flavours as well as drained the apples of excess liquid thereby reducing the incidence of shrinking filling as the pie bakes.

In a large bowl combine the sliced apples with the sugars, lemon juice, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to three hours. Then, place the apples and their juices in a strainer that is placed over a large bowl (to capture the juices). Let the apples drain for about 15-30 minutes or until you have about 1/2 cup (120 ml) of juice. Place the juices and butter in a small saucepan and boil over medium high heat on the stove until it is caramelized and reduced to about 1/3 cup. Set aside for a moment.

To roll out the dough.
Remove one of the dough discs from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes.
Lightly flour work surface, top of dough and rolling pin. Then use rolling pin to roll out dough to a 12-inch circle (about 1/8-inch thick). Be sure to check if the dough is sticking to the surface below โ€” add a small amount of flour when necessary.
Check for size by inverting pie dish over dough round. Look for a 1-inch edge around the pie dish.
To transfer dough to dish, starting at one end, roll dough around rolling pin then unroll over dish.
Gently press dough down into dish so that it lines the bottom and sides of the dish. (Be careful not to pull or stretch the dough). Then, use a knife or pair of kitchen scissors to trim dough to within 1/2-inch of the edge of the dish.
Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.

Then remove the second round of pastry and roll it into a 12 inch (30 cm) circle. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and return to the refrigerator.

After you may have prepped the filling and pie crusts, it is time for the magic to happen by assembling it all!

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Remove the pastry filled baking dish and top pastry crust from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes so it has time to soften. (Only the top pastry is left to sit, the pastry case should be filled with the apples as soon as possible).

Transfer the drained apples slices to a large bowl and mix them with the cornstarch (corn flour). Then pour the reduced syrup over the apples and toss to combine. Pour the apples and their syrup into the chilled pie crust. Moisten the edges of the pie shell with a little water and then place the top crust over the apples. Tuck any excess pastry under the bottom crust and then crimp the edges using your fingers or a fork. Using a sharp knife, make five- 2-inch (5 cm) slits from the center of the pie out towards the edge of the pie to allow the steam to escape. Cover the pie with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill the pastry while you preheat the oven.

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Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C) and place the oven rack at the lowest level and place a baking sheet on the rack before preheating the oven. Place a piece of aluminum foil on the sheet to catch any apple juices. Set the pie on the sheet and bake for about 45 to 55 minutes or until the juices start to bubble through the slits and the apples feel tender (not mushy) when a toothpick or sharp knife is inserted through one of the slits. Make sure to cover the edges of the pie with a foil ring to prevent over browning after about 30 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 3-4 hours before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or softly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

If this pie is not demolished immediately, it can keep for about 2 days at room temperature.

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Phew! There you have it!

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Next stop pumpkin pie! Yes, there was a pumpkin amidst the foodstuff my mum hauled over.

FFF Top tip: It helps to use ceramic knives to peel and core apples. It minimises discoloration. Also, using lemon juice preserves the peeled apples.

I have been in a baking frenzy for the past few days. For some reason, that I can’t quite explain, I have been churning out batch after batch of cookies.

Perhaps I am secretly the cookie monster sans blue fur and bulging eyes. Lol.

Anyway these recipes are too good not to share. They are easy and require very little preparation.

You should get about 24 – 30 cookies out of these depending on how big you portion them.

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
280 grams butter
2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 2 teaspoons almond extract (the almond is optional)
1/4 cup white sugar for decoration (I used coloured sugar)
1/4 chopped walnuts and 1/4 slivered almonds

Directions

Preheat oven to 175 degrees Centigrade. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. In order to justify eating these cookies I opted to cream the butter and sugar by hand. In 34 degree C heat I am not sure how wise a decision it was but on the upside I got some good tone on my biceps ๐Ÿ™‚ By all means use an electric mixer; it should get the job done in about 4 minutes. It took me the better part of 9 minutes by hand.

After my hard labour, the sugar and butter mix looked like this

Hand creamed sugar and butter

Hand creamed sugar and butter

Things get so much easier as you beat in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla and almond extracts.

Add eggs and extracts

Add eggs and extracts

Gradually stir in the dry ingredients until just blended.You really don’t want to over work the dough. If you are not in a mad rush you can rest the dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes, covered in cling film.

Add dry ingredients and mix through

Add dry ingredients and mix through

Roll the dough into walnut sized balls and roll the balls in remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets/parchment paper and alternatively insert almonds and walnuts into each ball.

Cookie prep6

You may opt not to roll every ball in the sugar. Personally I liked the idea of having som cookies uncoated.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until lightly browned at the edges. You could bake for up to 12 minutes if you want a crunchier finish to your cookies. Again, because I like variety, Iย  made some cookies chewy and some crunchy. It just makes it more fun to eat ๐Ÿ™‚

Just out of the oven

Just out of the oven

Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Grab a cold glass of milk, sit back and enjoy the fruit of your labour.

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Not even my little one could resist! So why should you? ๐Ÿ™‚

 

cookie tobi

Since the holidays, I have had a pressing need to bake something and in the last few weeks, I have baked all manners of cakes, muffins and cookies.

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Today, I just had to make a recipe that I had developed in my head. I had been meaning to make coconut macaroons but wanted something a little different.

So I made coconut, almond and cranberry macaroons.

The cranberries added a tartness that countered the sweetness of the cookie. It was a nice balance and the chocolate rounded off the whole thing nicely.

Ingredients

3 cups shredded sweetened coconut
1 14 oz can of condensed milk
2 cups sliced almonds
2/3 cup dried cranberries
2 egg whites
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons rum extract (optional)

Topping

1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cream or condensed milk

The “How To”
Pre-heat Oven to 175 degrees centigrade and line two baking trays with parchment paper.

Whip egg whites till frothy with soft peaks and set aside.

Combine, flour, cranberries, coconut and almonds in a bowl. Then add condensed milk, vanilla, rum and almond extract and mix through thoroughly. Carefully fold In the egg whites until evenly combined. The rum extract adds an interesting dimension to the overall flavour profile. Next time I think I might try soaking my dry cranberries in actual rum. That should really be something!

Using a small ice cream scoop or wet hands from small balls and place on the lined baking sheets at least 2 inches apart.

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Put them in the oven for 15 minutes or until the edges a golden. Take them out immediately and cool to ensure that they retain crunch on the outside and moistness within. Don’t worry they’ll feel gooey at first but as they cool they’ll firm up.

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For the chocolate topping, simply place chocolate chips in glass heat proof bowl or metal bowl. Place bowl over a pot of boiling water and stir as chocolate melts. Because it’s dark chocolate you’ll end up with stodgy mixture add cream or condensed milk to thin it out and even out the texture. Take off the heat and drizzle completely cooled treats with chocolate. You may also opt to dip the macaroons in the chocolate mixture.

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That’s it! Enjoy!!

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