November 5, 2017

Dutch Apple Pie


If you've made apple pies before then you've probably encountered the same issues that I have after they're baked.  The dreaded air pocket between the filling and the top crust.  This normally happens because the apple filling shrinks as the pie cools.  Don't get me wrong, it doesn't impact the taste in the least, but the Virgo in me (aka perfectionist), is chagrined.

Dutch Apple Pie is the solution!  Don't know why I didn't think of it sooner.  It's perfect because there's no top crust to contend with, therefore no air pocket.  And who doesn't love the buttery crumb topping?  Genius!


If you were following my InstaStories then you know that this pie was actually my second attempt at making Dutch apple.  In the initial recipe I tested the filling came out too watery and the crust was a bit too gummy.  I went back to the drawing board and mashed up a few components from different recipes to get to this beauty you see here before you.

Without a doubt my favorite pie crust of all time is the foolproof one from Cook's Illustrated that contains vodka.  It is seriously no fail and bakes up crispy and flaky every single time.   For the filling I piggybacked off my Honeycrisp Apple Pie but tweaked it ever so slightly.   Everyone knows Dutch apple pie is all about the crumb topping and Cook's Country has the best version around.   

When combined, all three components were culinary magic.  I'll definitely be making this pie again for Thanksgiving.  I recommend you do too!

October 21, 2017

A New England trip and some Apple Cider Donuts


I just returned from a five day trip with my family to the Northeast where the main items on the agenda were leaf peeping and experiencing a New England autumn.  Living in California, and especially San Francisco, late September to mid-November normally signals Indian summer so witnessing the fall colors has been on my bucket list.  The visit really exceeded my expectations.  So much in fact that I'm thinking of making it an annual outing going forward.  



Something I absolutely had to do on this trip was go apple picking and of course sample freshly made cider donuts.  I discovered Cider Hill Farm when I was researching online for u-pick farms.  Its location was ideal because it was only about an hour north of Boston (our home base) and in the general direction of New Hampshire where we were headed for leaf peeping. 


We got to Cider Hill just as it opened at 8am and as soon as we approached the farm shop the smell of freshly made apple cider donuts filled the air.  Absolute heaven!   After gobbling down a half dozen with some hot cider we set about focusing on the task at hand - picking apples!  

There were so many different varieties to choose from and the countless rows of trees were bursting with ripe fruit.  In the end we decided on Empires, with a few Ambrosias thrown in.  One hour and a half bushel of apples later and we left the farm fully satisfied.  


When I got back home to SF all I could think about were those delicious apple cider donuts.  Normally I avoid deep frying at home but in this case I had to make an exception.  I found a recipe from Smitten Kitchen, a highly trusted source, so I felt confident they would be great.   I wasn't wrong - they had a crispy, crunchy exterior with a soft cake-y interior.  So delicious!

The next time I make this recipe I'll probably just make the donut holes.  I actually prefer the smaller portions because you don't feel so bad eating a few in one sitting.  My favorite way to enjoy them?  With a cup of piping hot apple cider, of course!  


September 13, 2017

Washboards from ATK's The Perfect Cookie & a Giveaway



If you follow my blog then you already know how much I love everything that comes out of America's Test Kitchen.  I'd even wager to say I'm their #1 fan, albeit a self-appointed title to be sure!  So when they reached out to me inquiring if I was interested in reviewing their new baking book, The Perfect Cookie,  there was no hesitation on my part whatsoever.   


 
If ever there was a cookbook with my name written all over it, this was it.    As I flipped through the countless pages of beautiful imagery I noted that almost every foolproof recipe you could imagine was covered.  No doubt you'll be like me, reaching for this tome again and again when you've got those cookie cravings.  [Notice the myriad of Post-Its peeking out from my copy!]


Since I've been baking along with ATK for ages now I've made quite a lot of their cookie recipes already.  For this review I wanted to try one that was new to me.  I'm a sucker for coconut in baked goods so I was immediately drawn to the Washboards.  Crispy, crunchy and lightly sweetened with coconut flavor, these would be the perfect treat to serve along with ice cream or a cup of tea.


Even better, because they were "slice and bake" cookies I could make the dough days in advance and bake them off whenever I wanted.   Forming and shaping the washboards couldn't be easier and the ridges on top are made using a fork.  The cookies baked to a gorgeous golden brown and after a cool down I devoured three of them straight away.   The texture and flavor actually reminded me of a coconut flavored Biscoff cookie....so delicious!   As far as I'm concerned ATK is batting a thousand with this recipe and the new cookbook. 


To celebrate the release of their newest publication ATK was kind enough to host a giveaway for 2 copies of the cookbook.  Here's how you can enter:

1) Blog: comment on this blog post with your email address 

2) Instagram: Follow me @treatssf and ATK @testkitchen, then like the giveaway post

RULES: 
  • Giveaway ends at 11:59pm PST on Saturday Sept 30, 2017
  • Winners chosen at random and have 48 hours to respond, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
  • Only open to U.S. mailing addresses 

August 6, 2017

Bacon & Maple Syrup Scones


Sometimes you go to a restaurant and there's one item on the menu that really stands out and forever sticks in your mind.  When I went to Frenchie Covent Garden this past July that thing turned out to be their snack of Bacon Scones with Maple Syrup.  

 
One bite and I was a complete goner.  Salty, sweet, smoky and savory....what more could I ask for?  They were so good, in fact, that I not only had them as my starter but later on as my dessert!  Don't get me wrong, the entire meal and service at Frenchie was fantastic, but one month on and I am still dreaming about those amazing scones.    



Lucky for me the recipe for their signature dish was readily available on the internet.   The ingredients are easy to gather and the dough comes together super quick.  Try and use the best maple syrup you can find for this recipe.  I finished off the glazed scones with a light sprinkling of smoked Maldon sea salt to further enhance the smoky flavor.    

 
While the restaurant's version will always taste best in my mind, I think these homemade beauties are a pretty good substitute - and I don't need to travel 5,000 miles to get them!

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