Saturday, September 30, 2017

Easier Apple Strudel

Strudel, in German means, "whirlpool or eddy" and it has long since, in the world of pastries seem unassuming.  Pretty much you take a piece of dough, the size of a brick, and stretch it until it measures 4-feet long x 4-feet wide.  It's said, "you should be able to read a newspaper through it."

Well, the dough is such an ordeal, few homemakers attempt it because it requires so much counter space and we end up buying it in a bakery.  However, I came across a recipe in Cook's magazine that used phyllo sheets and I was able to accomplish the most delicious strudel I've ever had.

With Fall upon us and wonderful apple varieties, I made strudel.  The recipe called for Golden Delicious, but I found a new variety called "Ginger Gold" and decided to try it.  Not only was the substitution of the phyllo making this an easy dessert, but a few other tricks I learned to prevent a gummy filling and avoid gaps.  The crust remained flakey and the apple filling stayed put!

Easier Apple Strudel

1 3/4 pounds Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 T granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. salt
3 T golden raisins (for my friend who hates raisins, you can use dried cranberries!)
1 1/2 T panko bread crumbs
7 T unsalted butter, melted
14 (14 by 9-inch) phyllo sheets, thawed
1 T confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting the strudel after it's baked

Toss the apples with the sugar, lemon zest & juice, cinnamon, ginger, and salt together in a large bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and microwave until apples are warm to touch, about 2 minutes, stirring halfway through microwaving.  Let stand for 5 minutes. Transfer apple mixture to a colander set over a bowl and let drain, reserving liquid.  Return apples to the bowl and stir in raisins and panko bread crumbs.

Preheat oven to 375F-degrees.  Spray a rimmed baking sheet with a vegetable oil spray.  Stir in 1/8tsp of salt into the melted butter.

Place one sheet of parchment paper, 16 1/2-inch x 12-inch on the counter (or use a bread board).  Place one sheet of phyllo dough on the parchment and lightly brush with melted butter, then lightly dust with confectioners' sugar from a fine mesh strainer.

Repeat with 6 more layers of phyllo dough, dusting with the confectioners' sugar between each one.
(Seven sheets used--this recipe makes two strudels.)

Arrange half of the apple mixture on the phyllo sheets; You should have the mixture 2-inches from the bottom and both sides.
Fold the sides in first, then, using the parchment to assist, fold bottom edge of the phyllo over the filling.  Continue to roll strudel, using the parchment paper.  Brush folded sides with a little of the reserved liquid.  Use a thin metal spatula to transfer strudel to one side of the prepared baking sheet.
Repeat the process for the second strudel.  Lightly brush the top and sides of the strudel with some of the remaining apple liquid.  Bake strudels until golden brown, about 27 to 35 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through for even browning.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for 3 to 5 minutes.
Sprinkle tops with additional confectioners' sugar.  Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Cashew Ice Box Cookies

Ice Box cookies bring back such fond memories of both my grandmother and mother.  It was a favorite recipe since you can mix up the dough and have it handy to bake later...just slice the logs and warm cookies will soon be ready to eat.

September is going by so fast and now it's Autumn.  One of my friends on FB even posted there is only 13 weeks until Christmas--Yikes!  I don't remember the months/years going by so fast when I was younger:-)

A little inspiration for the season that I created using some of my dies; Dahlias and a Sunflower, along with some colorful woodland leaves.

Cashew Ice Box Cookies
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups King Arthur All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup chopped cashews

2/3 cup chopped cashews to roll the logs in

Cream the butter, shortening and brown sugar together.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.

Add the dry ingredients and 3/4 cup chopped cashews and mix just until combined.

Divide dough in half and sprinkle half of the 2/3 cup of chopped cashews on plastic wrap.  Roll one of the halves of dough into a log, approximately 10 inches long.

Roll the log into the chopped nuts and wrap tightly.  Repeat with the other half of dough.  Place in the refrigerator about 4 hours or overnight.  You can also place these rolls in a plastic bag and freeze for later.

Preheat oven to 375F-degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Use a serrated knife to slice the rolls into 1/4-inch slices.  Place on the parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
I love the flavor of the Cashews, but I also loved when my grandma and mom made them with pecans or walnuts.  Choose your favorite nut and try these ice box cookies. Enjoy!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Pumpkin & Chocolate Hazelnut Rugelach

Is it ever too early for pumpkin desserts?  Well, our Kelly would have said, "never."   That's exactly what I thought when I made these unique rugelach (nestled in my Raven's plate!...can you tell, I'm an Edgar Allan Poe fan!)

Rugelach is a traditional Jewish pastry found in most cafes and bakeries throughout Israel, as well as the United States.  Some sources believe that both rugelach and the French croissant have a common Viennese ancestor.  The crescent shaped shaped pastry celebrates the lifting of the Turkish siege in the Battle of Vienna in 1683. However, since the croissant didn't develop until the 19th century, it is considered a descendant of this pastry.

The cream cheese (or sometimes sour cream) and butter dough is usually filled with a fruit spread and nuts, however, I've made lots of these delicacies for my Christmas boxes with my favorite raspberry and chocolate filling, so it seems anything goes!

For today's pastries, I chose to add some pumpkin puree to the dough and spread Nutella over the rolled out round for an easy fall treat.

Pumpkin & Chocolate Hazelnut Rugelach

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1- 8oz. pkg. cream cheese (not low-fat!) at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt

Nutella (Chocolate Hazelnut Spread)

Egg Wash--1 egg beaten with a 1/2 tsp water

Cream butter and cream cheese together until fluffy, scrapping down the sides of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.  Add the next four ingredients and mix until combined.  Add the flour and salt and mix just until combined...don't over mix or your dough will be tough!

Divide the dough into four portions and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 1-2 hours or up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.  Remove one of the disks from the refrigerator and roll out to a 9-inch circle, trimming edges to make a clean circle.
Spread approximately 3 tablespoons of Nutella on the circle, leaving about 1/4"-1/2" from the edges.

Divide the circle into 8-pie shaped pieces.  Roll up from the outer edge to the point of the triangle and place on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
Brush with the egg wash and bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before transferring to a rack to cool completely.
A wonderful way to welcome Fall; especially with a mug of hot chocolate or cuppa of tea. Enjoy!

One more thing:
Yesterday, I posted on FaceBook a "Rustic Sourdough Bread" I baked and a friend asked for the recipe:
Happily, this is a King Arthur recipe that I will post.  I purchased sour dough starter a week ago and after following the instructions, which comes with the starter to feed it, I was ready to make this quick loaf.

Rustic Sourdough Bread
1 cup "fed" sourdough starter
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 tsp. instant yeast
1 T granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp. salt
5 cups King Arthur unbleached All Purpose Flour

Combine all ingredients in a stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook. Knead until smooth and the dough pulls away from the sides, adding either a bit more water or flour to achieve this.

Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl to rise, covered with plastic wrap in a warm place, until doubled in size.

Gently divide dough in half.  Shape the dough into two oval loaves, long loaves, or as I did, one big loaf!  Cover and let rise until very puffy, about 1 hour.  Towards the end of rising, preheat oven to 425F-degrees with a baking stone in place.

Spray the loaf (loaves) with lukewarm water and make two deep diagonal slashes; a lame or serrated knife works well.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the internal temperature is between 190-200F-degrees.  Since I made just one big loaf, I lowered the oven temperature to 375F-degrees after 30 minutes and baked the bread another 10 minutes to achieve the correct internal temperature.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before slicing...RESIST!!

The crust is crunchy and the interior is soft and makes wonderful sandwiches.  Sour dough is really one of my favorites and there's so many recipes you can do with your starter--Pizza, waffles, or pancakes to name a few!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Applewood Smoked Cheddar~Cranberry Bread

The nights have turned chilly and there's definitely less humidity during the day, which makes me know that Fall is around the corner.  I love baking bread and this combination is a winner.

Bread has always been the center of each culture; from western Asia, where wheat was cultivated to Europe and North Africa.  Towns development as opposed to the nomadic lifestyle.  Similar to the rise of rice in eastern Asia and maize in the Americas.

The idea of a standing oven for baking bread is attributed to the Greeks and in the Middle Ages, it served as a staple food not only in the home, but in the trenches during warfare where a stale piece of bread sustained the weary soldier.

Today's bread, made in commercial bakeries, includes chemical additives to speed up the process of fermentation. Common additives include: L-cystine, sodium matabisulfate, and oxidants such as potassium bromate or ascorbic acid.  I don't know about you, but these additives are not something I want in my bread!

The Applewood Smoked Cheddar is the perfect accompaniment to the dried cranberries and this "brioche-like" bread is good plain, with butter, toasted, or as we had it the next day, as grilled cheese!

Applewood Smoked Cheddar~Cranberry Bread

4 1/2 tsp. (2 pkg. Red Star Quick Rise Yeast
3 T warm water (about 110F-115F-degrees)
2 T maple syrup
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup silken Tofu
4 large eggs
2 cups shredded smoked Cheddar or Gouda cheese
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
4 1/2 to 5 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Four
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries

In a 1 cup-glass measure, whisk together the yeast and maple syrup into the warm water.  Wait 5 to 10 minutes for the mixture to foam.

In a bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter, then add the silken Tofu and blend together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.

Beat in eggs, one at a time, again scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Stir in the cheese, salt, pepper, yeast mixture and 4 cups of flour; blend well.  Remove the paddle attachment and attach the dough hook.

Mix in cranberries and gradually add enough remaining flour until a soft dough forms and it no longer clings to the sides of the bowl.
Remove dough to a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic...about 8 minutes.  For me, this is the fun part and tends to really relax me:-)

Place the dough in a lightly buttered large bowl, right side down, then turn over and place plastic wrap over to cover.  Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Deflate dough and divide in half.  Shape into two 6-7-inch round loaves and place into two buttered 9-inch round cake pans.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise again for 35-45 minutes.  Near the end of the rising process, preheat oven to 400F-degrees.  Uncover and with a sharp knife or lame, make a 1/4-inch deep "X" slash across the top of each loaf.  (Just like when making Irish Soda Bread!)

Bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown, tenting with aluminum foil to prevent excess browning.  An instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the loaf should register 190-200F-degrees.  Remove from the oven and after a few minutes, turn loaves out onto a rack to cool completely.
Such a wonderfully scented bread that really topped off our Fall dinner.  Baking your own bread is so rewarding and a lot more healthy...except the fact it's so good you want to eat the whole thing. Enjoy!!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Apple Butter Bars & September's Give-Away Apron

Fall is definitely around the corner and that makes me think Apples!  Having lived in the Pacific Northwest for 12 years, apples were a big export and abundant.  It was the first time I tasted a Honey Crisp variety and have been in love with that one ever since.

Of course, living in Connecticut (yes, I've lived in a number of states!!), Washington, Connecticut was where I would go to pick apples with a friend, then come home to make applesauce, apple butter, and pies. Great memories.

These bars appealed to my taste buds and I did make the applesauce from scratch, which I will give you the recipe, but certainly "store-bought" would work as well.

Apple Butter Bars
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour, toasted
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats, toasted
6 T unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
3/4 cup Granny Smith Applesauce (recipe follows) or Store-bought Apple Butter

Apple Crumble Topping:
3/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour, toasted
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats, toasted
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt

Make the Apple Crumble Topping so it can refrigerate for 30 minutes while you're mixing up the base.  In a bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat on the ingredients at a medium speed, just until combined, 3 to 4 minutes.

Granny Smith Applesauce:
2 lbs. (about 5 large) Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored and chopped
1 cup apple brandy
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 T liquid fruit Pectin
1 tsp. vanilla paste
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground allspice
6 to 7 cinnamon sticks

For the applesauce: In a large stockpot, bring all the ingredients to a simmer over medium low heat.  Simmer until the apples are tender, 20-30 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature.

Removed the cinnamon sticks and used a handheld blender to blend until smooth.  Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding the apple skin.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using.  Can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Preheat the oven to 350F-degrees.  Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with baking spray w/flour, line pan with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flours, oats, melted butter, sugars, salt and allspice until crumbly.
Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Spread with the Granny Smith Applesauce or Apple Butter.  Sprinkle with Almond Crumble Topping.
Bake until golden brown and bubbly, 20 to 30 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Enjoy!

Now, believe it or not, I actually had September's apron done in August, but I've waited to post it wanted to make sure August's winner saw the previous post.  I've not heard from Shari, so Mary's name as been drawn and I hope to hear from her.

September is back to school for a lot of kids; my granddaughters just started back this week.  These fabrics grabbed my interest, not only in color, but in design.  If you would like to have this apron, simple comment on a post this month to be eligible.  Good luck!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Peanut Butter~Apple Cider Cookers and August's Apron Winner

I have said before, if it weren't for peanut butter, I would have starved as a child!  My mother was frustrated over my lack of interest in red meat, seafood, and poultry, but peanut butter sustained me...and still does.  Often, when I feel my blood sugar dipping, I grab a teaspoon of peanut butter and it sets me right.

Peanut Butter cookies are one of my all time favorites; probably right behind Snickerdoodles.  My mom baked wonderful cookies and I love that no matter whether it's at home or at a bakery, you can recognized them by the criss-cross pattern on top made with the tines of a fork.

George Washington Carver, who was a well-known producer of peanuts as a replacement crop for Southerns devastated by the boll weevil infestation of cotton.  He compiled over 150 recipes for using peanuts.  The early cookies, dating back to 1910, were thinly rolled and it wasn't until 1933 during a Pillsbury baking competition that the noticeable criss-cross pattern appeared.

Besides being every kid's favorite sandwich, peanuts pack a healthy punch of nutrients--Vitamin E, Niacin, folate, in addition to Protein and high in antioxidants.  I'm sorry so many kids have a peanut allergy and I'm sorry my grands can't take either these cookies or a PB & J sandwich to school.

Noticeably, these cookies have a little twist in that I added Boiled Apple Cider to the dough.  Peanut Butter and Apple Butter was a favorite combination in the Fall for lunch and it seemed like a good idea.  Also, I just received my latest issue of Sift magazine where there is an article on a family following the tradition of creating Boiled Apple Cider.  You can find it on the magazine rack at the grocery store or your favorite book store...or order a copy directly from King Arthur Flour, who publishes it.

Peanut Butter~Apple Cider Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 T Boiled Cider
1 cup chunky peanut butter
1 tsp. Apple Pie Spice
2 large eggs
3 1/4 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together.  Add the vanilla and boiled cider and beat to combine.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Add the peanut butter and Apple Pie Spice and mix again.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Again, scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add the dry ingredients and mix until the dough is combined.  Use a scoop to measure out the dough onto the parchment lined baking sheets.

Use a fork, dipped in granulated sugar, to make the familiar criss-cross design.

Bake in the preheated oven, 10 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan slightly while the next sheet is baking.  Transfer to a rack and cool completely.

Maybe your kids can't have these in their lunches, but wouldn't they be a nice treat when they got home?  Enjoy!

August's Apron winner is Sheri!  Please email me your address and I will get the apron sent to you immediately.

Tomorrow, I will have September's Apron up with the start of new recipes.