Baking adventures with Andreah

I am not a great baker.

I once wanted to be a chef, but I never liked baking all that much. That, and whenever I think about baking I think of the mess I have to clean up after…not pretty.

But I do have a few choice recipes in my repertoire that I like, and a good, simple applesauce cake is one of the best things I can bake.

This one has no eggs and I also made a lot of it as a quick breakfast for Joe, because apparently he doesn’t like cooking in the morning (silly man).

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I made my own applesauce out of a jar of homemade pie filling my Elena gave me. But any applesauce can be used.

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Really simply done, you just boil it down and mash it/blend it.

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Mix together the butter and sugar and applesauce.

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Flour!

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It looks more like dough than a batter; strange, but at least you can see it will be spongy!

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See? Spongy!

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After 40 minutes you have deliciousness.

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So yummy and moist!

I’m a basic baker, but this one has minimal cleaning, so it’s one I don’t mind.

I hope, dear readers, you get to eat cake!

~ Andreah

Simple Applesauce Cake

  • Servings: however many pieces you'd like!
  • Difficulty: easy-peasy
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Ingredients

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 and 1/2 cups chilled applesauce
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 /2 tsp of allspice
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Grease and flour a 6×13 inch or 8×8 in pan. Cream butter and sugar together. Add applesauce and mix well. Stir in flour, baking soda and spices. If you’re using nuts, fold them in gently. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Enjoy hot or cold!

Adapted from Joanna’s Applesauce Cake I 

My name is Julia. And I love pie.

I do.

Oh, hi innocent-looking flour

Oh, hi innocent-looking flour

I LOVE PIE.

Mmm...salt. Totally healthy.

Mmm…salt. Totally healthy.

I don’t care who knows it.

Just a spoonful of sugar...and then some more.

Just a spoonful of sugar…and then some more.

I don’t care what cake hears me.

Ben's favourite cooking tool...the humble fork...doing some 'whisking'

Ben’s favourite cooking tool…the humble fork…doing some ‘whisking’

I will take a pie over a cookie, over a cupcake, over a croissant, over a bagel, over anything any day of the week. Because pie, for me, is IT.

Butter. 'Nuf said.

Butter. ‘Nuf said.

When I was younger, I attended the funeral of a lady I didn’t know (I knew the family and was there to be a support). Often what happens when you get to hear loved ones speak of the person who passed away, you wish you had known them. That you could have seen them in action because (generally) you don’t talk about the crappy stuff at funerals. You focus on all the good stuff (and usually it’s a lot) that you’ll miss.

Ready for some cold water!

Ready for some cold water!

One of the things that was mentioned over and over again was how this particular lady was famous for her cakes. That you would hear that she would be bringing her cake to an event, and you couldn’t wait to try it.

Oh, it's happening...

Oh, it’s happening…

I wanted that. I wanted to be known as the lady who brings…pie. 

It happened.

It happened.

Growing up pie was feared. Not revered.

And then there were two.

And then there were two.

I vividly remember my mom trying to make pie and crying because her crust was breaking or not working.

Five cups of each, Granny Smith and Gala

Five cups of each, Granny Smith and Gala

As a kid, one of the scariest things ever is to see your parents cry. Your parents are supposed to have it all together. And my mom was losing it.

Getting 'er done

Getting ‘er done

Over pie.

Peeled...sliced...

Peeled…sliced…and Lillian’s hand…

So when I set out to make my first pie (because who doesn’t like a challenge), I remember being terrified.

Sha-zam!

Sha-zam!

I remember thinking that if at any point I’d start to cry I would just give up. And throw away the dream of being The Lady Who Brings Freaking Awesome Pie.

Sugar and apples...

Sugar and apples…

Thankfully, I made my first pie when I had no children. And therein lies the rub.

Sugar and spices and lemony goodness and apples, oh my.

Sugar and spices and lemony goodness and apples, oh my.

I’m pretty sure my mom wasn’t crying because the pie wasn’t working. I’m pretty sure she was crying because the children were screaming, and she wanted to do something nice/had to bring something nice somewhere, and was trying to make pie in a kitchen that didn’t have enough counter space/air conditioning/clean dishes/patience, and the crust wasn’t working and her life was hard because she had four young children and…yeah.

Bringing back our first star

Bringing back our first star

I would cry too.

Ta-da!

Ta-da!

Ben asked me once while I was making the crust, taking my time putting in tablespoon after tablespoon of water, how I could have patience for it.

All wrapped up with a place to go

All wrapped up with a place to go

Some people get to that zen place doing yoga…

Not an empty pie plate anymore

Not an empty pie plate anymore

…or creating pottery.

Round two!

Round two!

For me, making pie is so relaxing…

Because I love pie, ya'll.

Because I love pie, ya’ll.

…at least it was, before I had children.

Gotta let the steam out

Gotta let the steam out

Now I work very hard to keep the stress out of my shoulders and neck so it doesn’t go into my pie.

Don't forget the apples!

Don’t forget the apples!

I don’t know if that’s a real thing, but I don’t have enough time or energy to try baking an angry, anxious pie and a happy, peaceful pie and then perform a taste test and tally the results and write a report and…so, let’s just go with I try hard to be a merry pie-baker.

Another wrap of love.

Another wrap of love.

Not a grumpy one.

Unfurling some magic

Unfurling some magic

Some of them have turned out underdone (blueberry seems to be my most not-cooked-enough pie, for some reason) and had to be popped back into the oven.

So darn pretty...yet a little undone still.

So darn pretty…yet a little undone still.

Some of them have had a crust that looked too brown (putting foil around the edges and pulling it off for the last bit of baking seems to help…also baking in an oven that’s not trying to be a volcano also helps…).

Tucking everyone in for the big bake.

Tucking everyone in for the big bake.

Some of them need lots of attention (like lemon meringue…holy high maintenance. This one I tried baking with just Sophie around. STRESSED does not even begin to cut it).

Edgy AND (about to be piping) hot!

Edgy AND (about to be piping) hot!

Some of them, like this apple pie, just require some assembly.

Some brushing...

Some brushing…

But all of them have been yummy.

...some magic...

…some magic…

SO YUMMY.

...and we're ready.

…and we’re ready.

Did I mention that I love pie?

Because I do.

*sigh* *swoon* *drool*

*sigh* *swoon* *drool*

I’m just not sure how pie fits into my current weight-loss quest. Maybe if I think about it while baking another pie the answer will come to me.

~ Julia

Deep-dish Apple Pie

  • Servings: 8-16
  • Difficulty: tricky
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Ingredients

Crust (for two-crust pie)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3 tsp white sugar
1 cup (1/2 pound) frozen butter, grated (I used salted)
ice-cold water
milk
white sugar

Filling

10 cups peeled, sliced apples (I used Gala and Granny Smith)
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp flour
zest and juice from 1 lemon
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
butter (I used salted)

To make the crust:

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Put the grated butter into the flour mixture and toss it gently together with your hands, being careful not to over-toss or over-warm the butter. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring the dough with a fork until the pastry can be formed into two balls, but is not too wet. If the dough is crumbly and isn’t sticking together well, add more water a tablespoon at a time. If the dough is too wet and sticky, add flour a little at a time until it isn’t so sticky (it shouldn’t feel overly wet). Cover the bowl with the two balls of dough with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for at least a 1/2 hour.

To make the filling: 

Combine all ingredients into a bowl, minus the butter, and toss gently until all the apples are coated evenly. This will smell heavenly. Avoid eating all the apples before you get them into the pie.

To make the pie: 

Preheat oven to 400°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one ball of the chilled dough until it is a circle large enough to cover the bottom, sides, and the lip of the pie plate. Place dough into pie plate (I wrap the dough around the rolling pin and unroll it into the plate). Pour in your yummy apple filling (the leftovers, anyway) onto the dough. Dot the top of the filling with butter (at least 1 tbsp of butter, not more than 1/4 cup of butter). Roll out the second ball of chilled dough on a lightly floured surface until you have a circle roughly the same size as the first. In the centre of the dough, cut an x or use a small cookie cutter to make a hole. Place dough on top of filling, making sure the hole is in the centre of the pie. Tuck the top crust edges under the bottom crust edges and using your fingers crimp along until the pie is sealed. Brush milk all over the top of the pie. Sprinkle white sugar over the crust. Place a pan on the rack below the pie in the oven to catch any drippings, and bake pie for 10 minutes. Turn the temperature down to 375°F and bake for 40 minutes, or until you can see bubbling in the hole in the centre of the dough. Let cool for at least one hour before eating. ENJOY.

Crust recipe adapted from: Michael Smith’s Old-Fashioned Apple Pie

Filling recipe adapted from: Anna Olson’s Country Apple Pie