Saturday, September 21, 2013

Apple Pie with Oatmeal Crumb Topping

Tomorrow is the first day of fall season and I can already see there's a lot of fall fruit recipes on the Internet for at least a couple of weeks.  I guess we're ushering the fall with open arms and open mouth? :)   I don't want to fall behind in enjoying the in-season fruits so I made this apple pie with oatmeal crumb topping which is really a perfect ending in cooler weather trend.

Let's not forget that I love crusts.  Some people may gravitate more towards crumbles, crisps, cobblers, and the like; but I like to have flaky, tender padding at the bottom of the fruit and kind of the same closure on top as well.  What to do when you want to combine both?  The answer is of course to make the top crust a crumb topping.  This recipe originally uses Golden Delicious apples but all I had was Gala, some Granny Smith and SweeTango apples.  I decided to mix the apples and I found out the combination was pretty good.

When it's still warm, an apple pie is hard to resist.  As shown on the picture below, evidently I cut the slice when it's warm; hence the slight breakdown of apple slices and crust.  I just couldn't help it!

Apple Pie with Oatmeal Crumb Topping

Makes 8 to 10 servings

1 recipe for single crust pie crust (recipe below) or 1 crust of refrigerated store-bought pie crusts


7 cups peeled, cored, and thinly sliced mixed apples

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

Oatmeal Crumb Topping

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup rolled oats (old-fashioned or quick cooking)

2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

If you're using a homemade crust, let it chill until firm enough to roll for about an hour.

On a lightly floured waxed paper, roll the homemade crust into a 13-inch circle with a floured rolling pin.  Inver the pastry over a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie pan, center, and peel off the paper.  Gently tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching it, and sculpt the edge into an upstanding ridge.  Place in the freezer for 15 minutes.  If using a store-bought crust, simply drape the crust over the pie pan and sculpt the edge into an upstanding ridge; place in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Combine the apples, 1/3 cup of the granulated sugar, and the lemon juice and zest in a large bowl.  Mix well, then set aside for 10 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 400 degree F.  Place a rack at the bottom of oven.

In a small bowl, mix the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar with the nutmeg and cornstarch.  Add the mixture to the apples and stir the fruit well.  Turn the filling into the chilled pie shell and smooth with your hands to even it out.  Bake the pie for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the crumb topping.  Put the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor and pulse several times to mix.  Scatter the butter over the top.  Pulse repeatedly until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.  Empty the crumbs into a large bowl, and rub them between your fingers until you have large, buttery crumbs.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Remove the pie from the oven and reduce the temperature to 375 degree F.  Carefully dump the crumbs in the center of the pie, spreading them over the surface with your hands.  Tamp them down lightly.  Return the pie to the oven, placing it so that the part that faced the back of the oven now faces forward.  Just in case, slide a large aluminum foil-lined baking sheet onto the rack to catch any spills.  Bake until the top is dark golden brown and the juices bubble thickly at the edge, 30 to 35 minutes.  If necessary, cover the pie with loosely tented aluminum foil during the last 15 minutes of baking to keep the top from browning too much.

Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool for at least 1 hour before serving.

Note:  the crumb topping recipe yields more than you need.  If you don't want to use it all, simply keep it in freezer bag and freeze it for another pie or muffin recipe.

Basic Flaky Pie Pastry

Makes 1 single crust

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into pieces

1/4 cup cold water

Put the flour, sugar and salt in the food processor.  Pulse several times to mix.  Scatter the butter over the dry ingredients and pulse for 5 to 6 times to cut in.  Fluff the mixture with a fork, lifting it up from the bottom of the bowl.  Scatter the shortening over the flour and pulse 5 to 6 times.  Fluff the mixture again.  Drizzle half of the water over the flour mixture and pulse 5 to 6 times.  Fluff the mixture and sprinkle on the remaining water.  Pulse 5 to 6 times more, until the dough starts to form clumps.  Overall, it will look like coarse crumbs.  dump the contents of the bowl into a large bowl.  Test the pastry by squeezing some of it between your fingers.  If it seems a little dry and not quite packable, drizzle a teaspoon or so of cold water over the pastry and work it in with your fingertips.

Using your hands, pack the pastry into a ball.  Knead it once or twice, then flatten the ball into 3/4-inch thick disk on a floured work surface.  Wrap the disk in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight before rolling.

Source:  Pie by Ken Haedrich

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Pop Art Raspberry Icebox Cake

This is an embarrassingly late post about a birthday cake for a birthday which happened in August.  Back when August was warm and sunny--and I love everything that took place in August--my son made (and I helped) this cake for my birthday.  Over the years, and especially since I've lived in Oregon, August has become a happy and glorious month to be in, and not just because it's my birthday month :)  Sun, peak of produce, road trip, lazy days, crickets at nights, roasting marshmallow on the fire; that's just to name a few things that August has to offer.  So yeah, this cake recipe should've been posted sometime last month; but no matter, it is still gloriously good--like the month of August in every slice.

The idea to make this cake is of course the simplicity of an icebox cake; something that my son could make with little help from me.  Tastewise, the texture is smooth with lots of raspberry flavor, a little crunch from the seeds, and enough chocolaty-ness from the cookies.  My family loves this and perhaps yours will do too!

Pop Art Raspberry Icebox Cake

Serves 6

27 Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafer cookies

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

3 tablespoons cold water

One 12-ounce bag frozen raspberries

3/4 cup sugar

2 cups heavy cream, chilled

2 tablespoons framboise (raspberry liqueur)--optional

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line a 9 1/2 x 4 x 3-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, making sure the wrap is tucked into all the corners and there is at least 1 inch overhanging the top of the pan on all sides.  Working with one cookie at a time, spread the more rounded side of 9 of the wafer cookies with a thin layer of melted chocolate and place 3 of them, chocolate side down, on the bottom of the pan.  Place another 3 cookies against each long side of the pan, chocolate-coated sides facing the pan.  Place the pan in the freezer.

Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a small bowl and let soften for 2 minutes.

Combine the raspberries and sugar in a medium-size heavy saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring a few times, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is warm to the touch.  Stir in the gelatin mixture.  Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Combine the heavy cream, framboise (if using), and vanilla in a large bowl and using an electric mixer, whip until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold in the cooled rapsberry mixture, taking care not to deflate the cream.

Remove the pan from the freezer.  Pour all but one-fourth of the mousse into the pan.  Smooth the top with a rubber spatula.  Insert the remaining 18 wafers into the mousse, arranging them vertically in three rows of six so they are lined up with the chocolate wafers on the sides of the pan.  Spread the remaining mousse over the wafers and smooth with the spatula.  The pan should be full to the top.  Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until completely set, at least overnight and up to 1 week.

To unmold, gently tug the plastic wrap that lines the pan to loosen the cake.  Place a serving platter over the pan and turn over.  Gently tap to release.  Carefully peel the plastic from the cake.  Cut into slices and serve immediately.

Source:  Icebox Desserts by Lauren Chattman