Thursday, March 5, 2015

Salted Caramel Apple Pie : Bake-Along #76

Bake-Along #76 bake is Salted Caramel Apple Pie, selected by Zoe to bake-along with Lena, myself and anyone who wishes to join us in our Bake-Along.

This apple pie uses an old-fashioned crust pie with shortening and butter in it's ingredients. I am not a fan of shortening, but really wanted to try this "old-fashioned crust", so I have used half of what the recipe calls for, and make up the balance of the amount with butter.

I've used the food processor to mix the dough. To roll out the dough, I used a method I learnt from one of my favourite master baker, Nick Malgieri, from one of his books, is to use the base of the removable pie pan and place the dough in the middle. Roll in out to desired size. I have been using this method for making pies and tarts, and I find that this method is the easiest way to handle pie crust dough, as most of the time, I have problems transferring the dough to the pie pan, without them tearing! 

I sprinkle some flour on the edges of the crust dough all around (to prevent sticking),  fold them in gently and carefully place the base into the pie pan.

Unfold the sides gently and press the dough to the sides of the pan, trim off the excess, leaving about 1" overhang all around. Use the dough as directed in the recipe. 

To make the caramel; Stir sugar and water over a medium heat until all the sugar dissolves. Continue to boil without stirring until the syrup becomes a medium-dark amber caramel. Immediately remove from heat, stir in butter and heavy cream.

Lovely colour of the caramel, but it will be rather thin in texture. Whisk the caramel in the stand mixer until it has thicken to a thick delicious gooey sauce. Transfer to a container and keep aside.

For the apples, I have used Fuji apples, sliced to thin slices, toss with lemon zest and lemon juice. Mix the spices together, and toss with the apples slices.  Place the apple slices onto the pie crust, pour 1/4 cup of the caramel over the apples. Brush the sides of the crust with egg wash all around.

Cover the apples with the second pie crust, press the edges to seal, crimp and brush with egg wash all over. Sprinkle some turbinado (I've used demerara) sugar and bake as directed in the recipe.

Could not wait to cut a slice, but according to the book, best let it cool for at least 4 hours before serving, to allow the juices and caramel to thicken. What a long wait, my daughter asked several times whether is it time yet to slice! 

Finally! A slice of Salted Caramel Apple Pie. (I actually sliced it after 3 hours!)

The crust is flaky, the apples slices are full of spice flavour, a little too strong for me. The next time, if I make this, I would omit all the other spices, and use only cinnamon. Overall, this pie is lovely. And the gooey, sticky caramel goes really well with this pie, as the pie is not too sweet, and the sweetness of the caramel is just right. The caramel thickens considerably when cooled, a quick reheat in the microwave is all it takes, to make it a little runny and served it warm over the apple pie.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie
(adapted from "Back In The Day Bakery Cookbook", Cheryl Day & Griffith Day)
1 recipe Old-Fashioned Flaky Piecrust, unbaked ** (refer below)

For the Caramel :
1 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons fleur de sel
12 tablepsoons (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons heavy cream

For the Apple Filling :
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
6 large apples, such as Granny Smith, Pink Lady, or Honey Crisps, or a combination, cored, peeled, and thinly sliced
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup turbinado sugar, plus more for sprinkling

1 egg, beaten, for egg wash
Fleur de sel for sprinkling
Ice cream for serving (optional)

To roll out the dough : Dust your hands and your rolling pin with flour. On a lightly floured piece of parchment, roll out the chilled dough into a 12-inch round. Roll the dough from the center out, rotating it slightly as you roll to prevent sticking and to keep it round. Dust off any excess flour using a dry pastry brush. Roll the dough onto the rolling pan and place it in the pie dish. Carefully arrange the dough to slump inside the dish and press it into the edges. Trim the excess dough with kitchen shears, leaving about a 1-inch overhang. Wrap and place the pie dish in the refrigerator to chill the dough for at least 30 minutes.

Roll out the remaining disk of dough on parchment and transfer it to a baking sheet. Wrap in plastic wrap and return the dough to the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes.

When ready to bake, position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400F.

To make the caramel : Combine the granulated sugar, fleur de sel, and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved. Wash down any crystals from the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush. Turn the heat down to medium and cook, without stirring, until the syrup becomes a medium-dark amber caramel, about 15 minutes, you can carefully swirl the pan around to check the colour.

Carefully remove the pan from the heat, and immediately stir in the butter and heavy cream. Be careful of hot steam when the heavy cream is added, and do not worry if the butter starts to separate - it will come together once the caramel is cooled.

Transfer the caramel to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or to a medium mixing bowl, if using a handheld mixer) and beat on low speed until the caramel cools and starts to come together. Set aside.

To make the filling : Put the lemon zest and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add the apples and toss gently.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cardamom, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon and turbinado sugar. Gently toss the apples with this mixture.

To assemble the pie; Place the bottom piecrust in a 9-inch pie pan and prick the bottom of the crust gently all over with a fork. Layer the apple mixture in the crust, making sure there are no gaps between the apples. Pour 1/4 cup of the caramel mixture on top of the apples. Reserve the remaining caramel for serving.

Place the top piecrust on a work surface and cut 4 to 8 vent holes in the center with a mini cookie cutter in whatever shape you like. Reserve the cutout pieces for decorating the crust. Brush the rim of the bottom piecrust with the egg wash to create a seal. Place the top crust over the pie filling and seal and crimp the edges, trimming the excess dough. Decorate with the cutout pieces, and brush the entire crust with the egg wash. Sprinkle lightly with turbinado sugar and a pinch of fleur de sel.

Place on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Turn the oven down to 375F and bake for an additional 45 to 60 minutes, until the caramel blossoms into big, thick, syrupy bubbles and the crust turns golden brown; test the apples with a small paring knife to make sure they are tender but not mushy. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 4 hours before serving to allow the juices and caramel to thicken. The pie is best served the same day, but it can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 3 days.

To serve, slice the pie into wedges and top with a drizzle of the caramel sauce, and if desired, a scoop of ice cream.

**Old-Fashioned Flaky Piecrust
makes two 9-inch piecrust (or 1 crust for a double-crust pie)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour (not self-raising)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large egg
1/3 cup plus 2 to 3 tablespoons ice water, plus more if necessary
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into cubes
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar and salt; set aside.

In a large measuring cup or a small bowl, beat the egg with 1/3 cup of the water and vinegar.

Add the shortening and butter to the flour, and, using a pastry blender, cut it in until the butter resembles small peas. Add the egg mixture, gently tossing and mixing with your hands or a fork just until the dough comes together in a ball. If the dough seems too dry, add a little more ice water, about 1 tablespoon at a time as necessary.

Gather the dough together on a lightly floured work surface and divide it evenly into 2 balls. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and flatten with the palm of your hand into a disk. Chill for at least 1 hour. The dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. Follow the instructions for making the Salted Caramel Apple Pie, as above.


Do stop by Lena of Frozen Wings and Zoe of Bake For Happy Kids, and all our friends who has baked along with us in the linky below :

For our next Bake-Along, we will be baking based on a theme; "Theme - Viennese Shortbread". Please do join us, bake any Viennese Shortbread recipe, and link your post to our linky which will start on 23rd April till 2nd May. Everyone is welcome to join us! Only current post please.


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Monday, March 2, 2015

Homemade Spinach Noodles (from homegrown spinach)

I made some Spinach Noodles a couple of weeks ago for January's Little Thumbs Up Noodles event hosted by Anne of My Bare Cupboard, but did not quite make it on time. So, I'm sharing it today :)

My homegrown Chinese spinach, harvested from my potted garden. I was a little late in harvesting these veggie, and they are a little old to stir-fry, so I used the leaves and stems to make Spinach Noodles.

  1. Roughly chop the leaves and stems. Place them in a blender with a little water and blend to a puree.
  2. Strain the blended spinach over a sieve into a bowl to collect the juice.
  3. Press the residue with the back of the spoon to extract as much juice as possible.
  4. Amount of lovely spinach juice collected.

  1. Add the spinach juice into a bowl of flour.
  2. Mix them and knead to a smooth dough. 

  1. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and keep aside for about 45 minutes.
  2. Divide the dough into 6 pieces and roll each piece into a thin sheet. Sprinkle with some flour on both sides.

  1. Place the sheet of dough through the pasta maker to roll it out thinner (or to desired thickness).
  2. Cut them into long noodles using the pasta maker.

Toss them in some flour to prevent sticking. Blanch the noodles in hot boiling water, drain and refresh briefly in cold water, and dip them again briefly in hot water. Ready to use and cook as desired. 

I've served the noodles with cooked minced pork, fish balls and some veggies.

Homemade Spinach Noodles
(serves 6)
150gm Chinese spinach (amaranth)
3/4 cup water
3/4 tsp salt
550gm plain flour
  1. Roughly chop the leaves and stems of the Chinese spinach. Place them in a blender with a little water and blend to a puree. (Do not add more water than necessary. If the juice is not enough after straining, additional water can always be added during kneading).
  2. Strain the blended spinach over a sieve into a bowl to collect the juice.
  3. Press the residue in the sieve with the back of the spoon to extract as much juice as possible.
  4. Mix the salt and flour in a large mixing bowl, make a well in the centre and add in half the spinach juice, gradually adding the remaining juice as you knead, to make a smooth dough. If the dough is dry and all of the juice has been used up, add in a tablespoon of water at a time until the dough comes together. Knead until the dough is smooth, it should not be too soft.
  5. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and keep aside for about 45 minutes to rest.
  6. Divide the dough into 6 equal portions, roll them out flat, and pass them one by one through the pasta maker to thin them out evenly. Cut the flattened dough to desired size noodles using the pasta maker. 
  7. Toss the noodles with some flour to prevent sticking. Cook in hot boiling water, refresh in cold water and cook as desired.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Fenugreek Chicken (Methi Chicken)

"February Potluck", the theme for this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). For our potluck week, we are free to cook with our current or previous featured chefs. I've decided to cook with Madhur Jaffrey for our Potluck week, with one of her many dishes that I've bookmarked to try (one off the list now!), Fenugreek Chicken.

Fenugreek Chicken is a dish that I've been wanting to cook for ages. This lovely recipe is from her book "Curry Nation" and can also be found here. The recipe uses chicken thighs, but I''ve used chicken breast meat instead as that was what I had. And I've used a small tomato instead of chopped canned tomatoes, as I've ran out of canned tomatoes and only have one small tomato in my fridge. I've added a tablespoon of tomato paste to make up for it. The next time I would make sure that I have some canned chopped tomatoes ready or at least a few fresh ripe tomatoes available, as this dish is really nice, and I'm sure that the gravy would taste even better with more chopped tomatoes. The other changes I've made was to add a little more of chilli powder and garam masala and an additional tablespoon of dried fenugreek leaves, than the recipe calls for, as I'm all for bold flavours in a curry or spicy dish.

Dried Fenugreek Leaves (Kasuri Methi)

Have you used dried fenugreek leaves before? They are called as Kasuri Methi and are the dried leaves of the fenugreek plants. These dried leaves are really nice, they have a strong herby aroma with a distinctive taste, and provides delicious flavour to the gravy, hence the extra tablespoon!  This dish is easy to cook, and delicious! I love the taste of the dried fenugreek leaves in the gravy. The distinctive taste and aroma of the leaves really stands out, but in a very delicious way. This chicken dish is very good eaten with plain white rice and some side veggies. Yum!

Fenugreek Chicken (Methi Chicken)
(adapted from "Madhur Jaffrey's Curry Nation")
serves 4-6
4 tablespoons olive or sunflower oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon finely grated or crushed garlic
1 teaspoon peeled, finely grated root ginger
700gm (1 lb 9oz) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-1/2 centimetres (1 inch) chunks
4 tablespoons roughly chopped canned tomatoes
3-4 hot green chillies, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1-1/2 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)

Set a 25 centimetre (10 inch) pan over a medium heat. Add the oil and, when it's hot, tip in the onion. Stir and fry for 10 minutes, or until it is light brown, then add the garlic and ginger. Stir and fry for two minutes.

Now add the chicken and brown for two minutes. Put in the tomatoes and green chillie. Stir for two minutes, then add the salt and turmeric. Mix well for five minutes before adding the chilli powder and garam masala. Stir and crumble in the dried fenugreek leaves. Mix in 360ml (13fl oz) of hot water, or enough just to cover the chicken, and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes, then serve.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week "February Potluck"

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