On to the plate

Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place


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Mini Apple Bundt Cakes

I had arranged for my sister and her family, and ourselves, to visit Dad on Father’s Day. We would bring afternoon tea.

I’ve been itching to use my mini Bundt tin ever since it arrived from the States some months ago. Dad loves apples and I wanted to make him a no-fuss cake. I came across a recipe for a Fresh Apple Cake (scroll down a bit as it’s not the first recipe) baked in a Bundt tin. I decided I’d convert the recipe to mini Bundt cakes.

Mini Bundt Cake

Mr Fussy doesn’t like nuts. I think we all know that by now. The original recipe called for a cup of walnuts. Yum. I decided to divide the batter, half with walnuts, the other half raisins.

I’m a real fan of the jumbo raisins you can find in the New World stores. Sadly I ate all the raisins myself, even though I specifically bought them for Dad’s afternoon tea. I had to buy more.

Juicy plump raisins

I love New World St Martins. It has so many different foods that I can’t find in our usual Countdown supermarket. Having said that, the baking aisle is sadly lacking, except this visit I spied every colour of Bakel’s fondant (I might have done a little dance) for the same price as the white. I’ve been buying coloured fondant online at $10+ (and postage) and all the fondant is just over $6 at the supermarket. Oh, and I found Stem Ginger, so now you can easily make the Double Ginger Cake I posted while on holiday in Nelson.

Filling the pan

The mini Bundt tin holds roughly 3/4 cup each. I wasn’t sure how full to fill them since the tin design went right to the top. I didn’t know how much the batter would rise, and whether I’d end up with all the design. But it worked out well. One cake was a smidge too full and closed up at the top (what becomes the bottom). I wanted that one. I was going to serve the cakes with the caramel sauce I’d made the previous weekend. I was looking forward to the well filling with gooey caramel and then flowing out as soon as I dug a fork in.

Caramel spilling out

The batter was sufficient for making 12 mini Bundt cakes, easily. I might have had enough to make 1 muffin, had I not kept spooning the left over mixture into my mouth 😉

The next photo down was really to show the difference in the crispness of the design between greasing the pan with CK Pan Grease and using Wilton Baking spray. There was a more noticeable difference with how much of the cake was left behind in the pan. I had to use a toothbrush to get into all the nooks and crannies. The Wilton Baking spray did a much better job. The cakes on the left are with the Wilton spray and those on the right with the CK pan grease. I think if you stare hard enough you’ll notice the difference.

Back to the cakes, There’s another ingredient Mr Fussy doesn’t like, but just a mere 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Honestly, I couldn’t tell it was there, and nor could Mr Fussy. If you like your apple cakes spicy, add more, quite a bit more. This makes a very generous cake.

Saturday evening we split one of the minis between the 3 of us. Then Mr Fussy and I shared one at Dad’s. Everyone was keen to have the raisin variety, and because Mr Fussy doesn’t like nuts I’d not yet tried the walnut.

We ended up bringing 4 home with us. As if we’d not had enough to eat at afternoon tea, we had a whole one each, leaving one for my BIL.

More definition

And I finally got a walnut one, in fact that’s the only variety that was left. Mr Fussy has not died eating it. He doesn’t have any allergic reactions to nuts, he just doesn’t like them. But he didn’t turn down another cake either.

My preference was the apple and walnut variety. The apple flavour seemed more pronounced. Though I wonder if I equally divided the chopped apple between the two bowls. And I might have put a few more than 1/2 cup of walnuts into the half batter. But I think that was all counteracted  by the more than generous drizzle of caramel sauce. We were so close to finishing the jar that I made it so.

Pouring caramel sauce

PS In case you’re wondering, I’m writing this post during lunchtime. All I need to do is drop in the photos (which I don’t have with me) and publish. This is how much I need WLW in my life, I installed it on my work computer so I didn’t have to use the in-built WordPress editor. Yeah I know, it makes no difference to you 😉

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Salted Caramel Apple Pie, a good use of caramel

I heart caramel

I’m on a bit of a caramel kick. I don’t need much of an excuse to add caramel to anything. Enter the Salted Caramel Apple Pie.

While the recipe I followed for the pie filling included a recipe for the caramel, I followed the recipe for Salted Caramel Sauce from the blog Two Peas and their Pod.

Sticky Caramel

Making a dry Caramel Sauce is the same no matter whose recipe you choose, and pretty much the proportions of ingredients are the same. The ingredients in the Pie recipe is half of what I made. I decided that if I’m going to go to the trouble of making caramel sauce I might as well make some to have left over.

It’s a messy job, or maybe it’s just me. I know, I’ll just have to keep practicing. I don’t really see a downside to that. Other than the spatulas that will give up their life for this glorious rich creamy sauce. I sacrificed two spatulas. I made caramel for the Salted Caramel Ice Cream yesterday and didn’t have a problem using the very same spatula. But today it took a lot longer for the sugar to melt. There was 50gm more sugar but that couldn’t have been it.

Anyway, I swapped the spatulas for the whisk, which is what is called for in the Caramel sauce recipe. Then we were back in business.

Caramel sauce mess

Back in business and making a mess. Oh the waste. Ok, I didn’t waste it, I scraped it up, most of it going straight into my mouth.

After mixing in the butter followed by the cream I ended up with some sugar crystals/lumps that would not remelt. I thought I’d strain the caramel as I was getting to the bottom of the pot. But it was cooling and no longer straining as easily, plus as you’ll notice the strainer is wider than the opening of the jar. It was bound to get untidy.

Sauce made it was onto the pie.

Ingredients

I can’t remember the variety of red apples that I bought, it’s a tart sweet apple. I don’t especially like Gala apples, I like my apples to have a little bit of a kick and be super crunchy. And with the addition of the caramel I expect a little less sweetness wont be missed. And perhaps it’ll make the caramel come out more (I haven’t yet had a piece!).

Turbinado sugar, as I discovered thanks to Google, is Raw Sugar, as we know it in New Zealand.

Pie dough

I made the pie dough on Friday night and left it in the fridge until this morning. You can read about my account of using this dough recipe in my post here.

Preparing the apple filling

Do not tell Mr Fussy there’s cinnamon in this recipe. He doesn’t need to know, and I’m hoping he can’t taste it, but if he can I’ll let you know.

I have an apple corer but I liked the way Adrianna detailed coring the apples in her blog, A Cozy Kitchen.

After peeling and slicing the apples I took 2-3 slices and then jabbed the corer through the middle. My corer is extremely difficult to push in and pull out of an apple, there’s a lot of brute force needed. And then I end up cutting myself trying to release the core from the corer part. I come off second best. Besides doing it this way I can see which direction the core is going and not waste good apple.

I mixed all my dry ingredients together first then sprinkled a little of it over the apple slices, tossed those around and added more of the mixture and repeated until it was all gone. It was a little messy, but I got a fairly even distribution.

Pie dough I rolled out the dough and used the other half with two sizes of heart cutters to make the top. I preferred to have the top mostly covered, and with my larger heart cutter still being smaller than Adrianna’s I knew I’d have enough space for a row or two of the small hearts that it would look silly and out of place.

Caramel layer

Then comes the exciting part. The caramel.  I probably used less than the recipe calls for. I didn’t measure it. Plus I’m serving this with Salted Caramel Ice Cream which I made last night, and I fully expect to pour some of that left over caramel sauce over the whole lot. I think there’ll be plenty of caramel, I’ll make sure of it.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie by A Cozy Kitchen

Ingredients

You’ll need 1/2 cup of Caramel Sauce, I used this recipe.

You’ll need a 9” pie dough, I used this recipe.

For the pie filling

  • 2 nine-inch pie crusts (homemade or store-bought)
    3 Gala Apples (You can use others too – like Russets or Orins)
    1 Granny Smith Apples (I used this for an added tartness – totally optional)
    1 lemon
    4 tablespoons of standard flour
    1 teaspoon bourbon (optional)
    3 tablespoons white sugar
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • Maldon sea salt (optional)

Instructions

  • Heat the oven to 170degrees Celsius.
  • In a small bowl add all the spices, sugar and flour and mix together.
  • Roll out half of the pie dough to fit a 9” pie dish. Return the dish to the fridge.
  • Roll out the remaining pie dough and cut into shapes putting the cut out shapes onto a baking tray and returning to the fridge.
  • Peel and core the apples.
  • Slice the apples and place them into a large bowl. Squeeze lemon juice over the apples to help prevent them from browning, or cut a lemon in half and rub the lemon over slices of the apple.
  • Sprinkle over the spice mix and the Bourbon if using it.
  • Toss the apples to evenly coat them in the spice mixture.
  • Take the pie dish out of the fridge and layer the apple rounds into the plate.
  • You may need to use a little extra apple to plug up the holes in the apple slices at the edge of the plate which will prevent the top dough from collapsing into the holes.
  • Pour around 1/4 cup of caramel over the apples.
  • Sprinkle the caramel with a little extra sea salt if you like.
  • Brush the sides of the pastry with water.
  • Lay the cut out hearts around the edge of the pasty and gently press them to make sure they’ll stick during baking.
  • Continue to lay hearts around on top of the apple slices as you desire.
  • Brush more caramel sauce on top of the hearts.
  • Sprinkle a little Raw Sugar and more sea salt on top of the pie.
  • Place the pie into the oven for 20 minutes.
  • Increase the heat to 175degrees Celsius and continue to bake a further 35-40 minutes. The top will have browned and the caramel will be bubbling when the pie is cooked.
  • Allow the pie to cool for around 5-6 hours to ensure you can cut a slice and have it keep shape. Or sooner if having a perfect slice isn’t necessary.

My Notes:

  • Sometimes one stab of the corer isn’t enough to get rid of all the core, just keep stabbing around the edges of the core until you’ve got the most of it.
  • I had to cover the pie loosely with a piece of tin foil at 20 minutes as the top was browning too quickly.
  • I also took this opportunity to turn the pie to allow more even baking.
  • Around 5 minutes before the pie had finished baking I removed the tin foil to ensure the top was evenly browned.

Hurry up dinner time, I want a slice, now!

I’ll be back with an update, and of course another photo of a perfectly sliced piece of pie with a scoop of Salted Caramel Ice Cream and a modest (cough) drizzle of more caramel sauce.

And the update. Crikey that was good. And it was filling, so filling, but then I did have 1 and a bit scoops of ice cream.

I took the photos before dinner and by the time I was done the ice cream had soften a lot and would be soup by the time we’d finished our meal so I tucked in. Wouldn’t you?

Caramel overload

Then I had just a little bit more ice cream with dessert because I wanted to drizzle some caramel sauce over it. I wanted the full experience, that seems only fair.

I really enjoyed the mix of spices in the apple filling. The caramel sauce in the pie was subtle, but possibly over shadowed by the full on, in your face caramel with caramel praline ice cream. There was absolutely no guessing what the flavour was. In a good way, it was just right, and the salty caramel praline, mmmmmm.

The pie dough really hit it’s best with the crust of all things. It was super flaky and it taste great, not that it has a real distinctive taste. It wasn’t one of those pie doughs where you leave the crust, we all ate the lot, our plates more or less licked clean. And we’re all suffering from BBS (bloated belly syndrome – I just made that up, I have no idea if there is such a thing).

Mr Fussy gave a pursed lipped smile when I asked if he liked the mix of spices. I told him what was in it, waited, then admitted there was cinnamon in it too. But he knew. I feel so sorry for him because the flavours were incredible.

Never let it be said that apple pie is plain. At least not this apple pie, not served this way.

A slice of pie

Oh look, there’s enough for another meal. Minus a slice which is going to my brother in law. He rings and talks to Mr Fussy every Saturday asking what I’m up to. I think he’s just making sure that come Monday, when my MIL visits him, he’s got something else other than company to look forward to.


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Apple Muffins–with lots of extras

Granny Smith Apples

Mr Fussy got growled at when he got up and started opening the curtains. This is my first time trying to get a good (by my standards) photo that’s got that moody dark look. No flash, just some clever (?) use of filtered light.

This post is about Apple muffins. Granny Smith apples, some sultanas, which I added at the last minute, cinnamon and walnuts. Lots of flavours and textures. And you know what? I’d pay for these. They were probably the best tasting muffins I’ve made, and certainly top those I’ve paid for in the past.

Just in case you think I wasted lots of time for one photo.

Shiney apples

Certainly taking photos of the apples showed up the bumps and bruises. Of course the apples might have toppled a couple of times as I moved them around, placed them in a pyramid and bumped the table. At least they didn’t complain.

Last night I was searching Google for an Apple Muffin recipe. I came across two recipes that I liked for different parts of them. And I thought how each would be improved if they just had a part of the other. So this is what I created.

I used this recipe from Martha Stewart for the muffin mixture, and this recipe from blogger Haniela for the apple mixture. And then I got all out of control and added a handful of sultanas, just because.

Apple Muffins

Ingredients

For the caramelised apples

  • 3 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 5 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • A handful of sultanas if desired

For the muffin batter

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 scant teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plain yoghurt, room temperature
  • 113gm butter, melted
  • Raw sugar for sprinkling over the prepared muffins

Instructions

For the caramelised apples

  • Melt the butter in a fry pan over medium-low heat.
  • Add the brown sugar, stir in and press any lumps out.
  • Add the cinnamon, lemon zest and lemon juice and mix until it is all combined.
  • Reduce the heat to low and add the diced apples.
  • Stir the apples to coat in the caramelised mix.
  • Add the sultanas if you’re using them.
  • Occasionally stir the apples over the course of around 6 minutes. The apples should be tender but not mush. They will continue to cook when baking the muffins so don’t over do it.
  • Take the apple mixture off the heat and leave to cool while you make the muffin batter.

For the muffin batter

  • Melt the butter and leave aside to cool.
  • Heat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
  • Prepare a muffin tin either with liners, or a light spray of the muffin tin.
  • Add all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and whisk to combine.
  • Add the chopped toasted walnuts to the dry ingredients.
  • To a medium bowl mix together the eggs, yoghurt and buttermilk.
  • Add the melted butter and stir into the other wet ingredients.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently fold until partially combined.
  • Add the caramelised apple mixture and continue to gently fold the ingredients. The batter may still be lumpy and the flour not completely incorporated which is OK. You don’t want to overwork the mixture which will result in a tough muffin texture.
  • Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin tin.
  • Sprinkle the tops with raw sugar.
  • Bake for 20-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, or a few dry crumbs.
  • Turn the pan half way through to ensure even baking.
  • Leave the muffins in the tin for around 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

My Notes:

  • Here’s a few extra tips. If the butter is still too hot and you add this to your eggs, you risk cooking the eggs.
  • If the yoghurt or buttermilk is too cold then the melted butter will begin to solidify.
  • You don’t need to be perfect with peeling the apples.
  • You can use all buttermilk like the original recipe. I had some yoghurt that was close to the expiry date so I used this up in the recipe.
  • Since all the rising is from baking soda you need to get the muffins into the oven as soon as you can. So don’t dither. Make sure the oven is at temperature before adding the wet and dry ingredients, and make sure your muffin tin is prepared before beginning.

Ingredients

My lemon had been sitting around for some weeks but it was really juicy. I absolutely loved making the caramelised apples. Each time I added another ingredient the aroma changed. Sadly for Mr Fussy I added the cinnamon just as he was entering the kitchen. I thought the aroma was magnificent. He tells me he knew at that point he wasn’t going to be having any of these muffins.

Then I added the lemon zest and the kitchen was filled with the intense smell of lemon. It was such fun. I loved making the caramelised apple mixture, even though it made these muffins a bit more work for a typical throw it all together in a jiffy, muffin.

Cinnamon Apples

I’m hoping from the photo you can see the consistency of the caramelised apples as the cooked. They still hold their shape but have softened. Don’t over cook them or you’ll end up with apple sauce. Apple sauce will taste delicious but it wont give you a nice bite of apple in the muffins.

Muffin liners and batter

Several people have asked how I make these tulip muffin liners. I don’t make them. Does that make me lazy? I never dreamt of making them. I’ve bought mine from Stevens but have found online that some supermarkets stock them. I’d never seen them at the supermarket before, but this week I found them on the very bottom shelf tucked away. They came in a cylinder of both white and brown tulip papers. Since they were about $3.00 cheaper, and I’d never seen them before, I bought them. If you look at that photo you may be able to spot the ONE liner I used from the supermarket pack. I have to say this is one of those times you get what you pay for. Even though there was nothing wrong with them per se, I’d rather spend a few more dollars at Stevens. Can you see that ONE liner that isn’t quite like the others?

The photo of the muffin mixture shows there’s still a little bit of flour that’s not fully incorporated. This is absolutely ok.

Toasted Walnuts

Have you toasted nuts before? I left these in the oven while it was heating up. I could smell them toasting and then gave the pan a bit of a Jamie Oliver flick so that the walnuts were tossed about. I put them back in for another minute of two. Don’t put them under the grill, just leave them on the oven rack in the middle or lower 1/3 of the oven. Once they were toasted I then chopped them up.

Baking muffins

Yum. For once it was me wishing I could take photos quicker so that I could sample a muffin.

Fresh Apple Cinnamon Walnut Sultana Muffins

I loved seeing the chunks of apple and the walnut pieces peeking through the batter along with the sultanas. These smelt so great. And I hadn’t had breakfast, and it was now close to midday. No wonder my tummy was rumbling.

Muffin texture

In case it wasn’t clear in my earlier writing, I really enjoyed these muffins, I had two. As I greedily ate the first one I was hoping that I’d get a mouthful with a bit of apple, walnut and sultana. I didn’t. But I wasn’t really disappointed. I thoroughly enjoyed these muffins. The flavour combinations, the smell, the light texture, they were all spot on.

Apple Muffins