Adam and I are lucky to live in the same condo building as our friends. It sometimes feels as if we are living in a FRIENDS episode, bumping into them in the hallways and elevator, borrowing clothing, ingredients, pots and pans when needed and other miscellanious items such as muffin liners, glue guns, and staplers etc. It’s nice to know if you run out of something, or need to run out quickly someone is home to watch a little one, like we have done for our friends with a toddler. We’ve even relieved them of the little guy when they aren’t feeling well, taking the baby and the dogs out for a walk so they can get some rest. It’s nice to know people in the building, other than just a neighbor whom you pass by in the hallway with a nod. One of our friends lives only a few doors down, while the other live on the opposite side of the building. We get together for dinners as often as possible, knowing its only a short commute between houses, without worrying who is driving or what the weather outside looks like. It’s also nice that one of them is a Vancouver Police Officer, so if anything happens I know where to go! Haha. I was originally going to make another type of apple cake, to bring to Adam’s parents, that required eggs. Having only one egg left, and not wanting to get dressed to go to the store, I called our friend to borrow an egg. We were all still in our PJs. Afterwards, I found this recipe which I wanted to try instead, and of course, it did not require any eggs. Bonus for me, since I have a slight allergy.
Later that afternoon, we were waiting to go to dinner when all of a sudden the fire alarm in our building began to go off. We have had problems in the past of pipes bursting after cold weather, as they did last winter. Again, knowing people in the building really pays off, as our friends apartment was unfortunately flooded with water when the pipe burst, and luckily I was home along with our other friend who had a key to their place, and we were able to get in and try to control the water damage before the Firefighters got there. We figured this was the same instance, and got our jackets on to go outside and wait. However, when we entered our hallway we smelled smoke. This was an actual fire. Other neighbours told us there was a lot of smoke at the end of the hallway, and to call 911. We went back in, grabbed a couple items, like my computer (my life!) and went outside. Our friend, the police officer, was waiting for us to look after the little guy, so he could go inside and see what was happening, as his wife had just gone to the store when it happened. Our other friend had to wrangle their two cats into a carrier, much to their dismay, but humorous for us watching them trying to push their way out of it, met us outside. Luckily it was not a large fire, but rather someone had not watched a pot on the stove that caused it to smoke and sound the alarm in their apartment, to which they did not turn off, and then it caused the entire buildings fire alarm to set off. There was quite a lot of smoke, but luckily no one was hurt and no further damage was caused.
We went back in, got dressed and left for dinner, apple cake in hand. Adam is part of the strata committe, and had to attend a scheduled meeting that night. I’m sure they had more to talk about after the ‘fire’ incident. I sent the rest of the cake down with him to share with the other members. Another reason you should get to know your neighbours – they might bake you something!
This cake is subtley sweet, studded with tart chopped apples. You can bake it in a skillet, I decided to finally break mine in. Or, bake it in a cake dish, 8” or 9”.
Unfortunately I don’t think I can use our skillet for cooking on our stove, as we have a glass top stove and I’ve read some stories online of the cast iron causing it to break and crack. So, for now it will only be used in the oven.
Slighlty adapted from: Joy Of Cooking 75th Anniversary Edition
You will need:
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup buttermilk (or regular milk, with a squirt of lemon)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2-3 medium green or tart apples
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly season/grease your cast iron skillet. Alternatively, you can use an 8 or 9” cake pan.
Cut apples into segments, chopping up into smaller pieces, reserving some slices, leaving the peel on.
Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and spices in a large bowl thoroughly to remove any large lumps.
Add, the milk, oil and vanilla.
Add the chopped apples and mix until incorporated into the batter.
Scrape the batter into your prepared baking dish, and spread evenly. Arrange reserved apples slices ontop of batter in a pattern.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool on the counter on a cooling rack.
Once cooled, you can sprinkle with confectioners sugar. Serve warm or cold, with whipped cream or maybe a scoop of ice cream.
This would also be good with a crumb topping, a mixture of brown sugar and buter with oats.
The best thing about living in B.C is the local produce. Every summer I look forward to baking and cooking with fresh produce and fruit grown locally.
I have already visited Krause Berry Farms and sampled some of their delicious fruit and products. This past week my mom was in Osoyoos, the interior of B.C and Keremeos is also known as ‘fruit stand capital of B.C.’ There are tons of local farm markets you can visit and sample all the fresh and delicious fruit. Oliver is also the wine capital of Canada, an entirely different kind of fruit product ;)
When she came home, she said she had bought lots of fruit and was going to give me some. She brought back Peaches, Cherries, Transparent Apples, and green and yellow Zucchini.
The apples were very different than I had seen before, they felt as though they were made of foam! Very light and sponge like. She said they would probably be good for baking with. Translation: Make Pie.
I happily took home the veggies and fruit, and decided that I would make a pie to bring over for dinner the next night.
A Crostata is an Italian style pie. I have never made one, but thought since I’m Italian, I had better try it! :) Another pie I really want to try before the summer is through is a lattice-top :)
There are a couple differences for Crostata from a traditional pie dough. First, the addition of eggs. More specifically, egg yolks. Also, sugar. Lots of sugar. This creates an almost ‘cake-like’ pie crust, as Adam put it. It is more dense, but just as flakey and tender. It is really good! You could definitely serve this with a scoop of ice cream, or whipped cream. I simply sifted some icing sugar on top. You can serve it warm or cold, I had mine at room temperature and it was delicious!
Now, the apples I used were definitely not ‘hard’ apples. They were quite soft. So in the baking process, when you cook the apples first before baking it in the oven, they got extra soft. I think If I used a softer apple next time I might skip the first cooking process, and just bake it in the oven.
I also made my dough the night before, and let it sit in the fridge overnight.
I will definitely be making Crostata’s in the future. Maybe even mini ones! I think this would be great for Easter, or ‘Pasqua’ in Italian ;) I’m sure other fruits would be delicious as well!
Recipe Adapted from Martha Stewart’s New Pie’s and Tarts
- 3 Tbs. Butter
- 6-7 medium/large Granny Smith Apples, or Green Apples, peeled, cored and cut into cubes
- 1 1/2. Tsp. Lemon Zest
- 1/4 cup sugar
- Sprinkling of Cinnamon
- 2 1/2 cups Flour (WW or AP)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 sticks plus 1 tbs. butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
- 4 large egg yolks
- 3 tbs. ice water (use as needed)
Also: sanding sugar or granulated sugar for sprinkling, and one egg for egg wash
- To make the crust, mix flour, sugar, and butter on medium speed until mixture resembles coarse sand. Add the yolks; mix slightly. Add ice water one tbs. at a time. Mix until just combined. Form dough into disk; wrap in plastic. Chill for 1 hour or up to 3 days.
- To make the filling, melt butter in a large pan on high heat. Add apples, and zest stirring until coated. Sprinkle sugar, and saute, stirring, until sugar is dissolved, liquid has thickened, and apples are almost golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet, and let cool to room temperature.
- To assemble, flour surface lightly. Roll chilled dough into a 1/4-inch-thick circle. Place dough on cookie sheet ( I used a pizza pan!). Mound cooled apple mixture in center, leaving a 3-inch border. Fold edges of the dough on top of apples, overlapping and leaving about a 6-inch round opening. Feel free to ‘tear off” any large amounts of excess dough. You can trim it with a pizza cutting as well before placing on baking sheet. Refrigerate until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush edge of crust with egg, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until pastry is golden brown and apples are tender, about 30-40 minutes, up to 50 minutes if needed.Ciao~ Enjoy :)* I think the dough really makes this Crostata, but I may just use a regular apple pie filling next time, without the additional cooking, and butter. I also used two who eggs instead of four egg yolks this time, as I did not want to waste four egg whites =)
Lainey was helping too, of course. =)
These last couple weeks have been just crazy! Lots of school and trying to sort out my life. I am so excited that I’m going to be graduating next year with my Bachelors Degree. I have so much I want to do once I graduate and once I have more free time! I’m already planning on painting for the two weeks I have off between Spring and Summer semester. And I’ve also been doing some DIY projects around the apartment, as well as cooking and baking lots. I have been trying to re-do my website, and hopefully it will be finished in the coming months. I wanted to add some new pages for DIY projects, and other more general content rather than food related. I have a new addiction as well, Apartment Therapy. Have you been to it? You should. I do could spend countless hours on there. I just love decorating and all things home related. I’m noticing lots of bloggers have been posting about their homes, apartments etc and the before and after photos. I just can’t get enough of it. I could really spend every waking hour blogging, cooking, and re-decorating. But, school has to fit in there somewhere…and it is usually top priority. Usually.
I am also super super excited to start playing baseball again this year! I had played all my life, but of course once I graduated I stopped a year after. I tried to keep it up but lots of girls couldn’t fit it into their schedule and showing up to the field only to forfeit because there weren’t enough players sucked. So I hope this season is good. I mentioned that Adam and I went up to Whistler to celebrate his birthday last weekend, and now this weekend we are celebrating again. He’s spoiled. And he knows it ;)
I asked him what he wanted most for his birthday dessert, and he said pie. I couldn’t make anything on the night of his birthday due to school, although I did end up making homemade pizza and then some cinnamon rolls for dessert. I even put a candle in one and sang him happy birthday. But now we’re having some of our friends over for a ‘bring-your-own-toppings’ pizza party. And of course, what goes best with pizza pie? An apple pie of course!
I’ve posted in the past about the easiest pie dough, and it really is. It’s so simple. I actually had two dough batches frozen in the freezer, so it was even easier. I just took them out of the freezer last night, and left them in the fridge. I took them about for about 30 minutes prior to rolling them out and it was ready to go.
Today it’s actually sunny here in Vancouver. And it’s the opening day soccer game for the Vancouver Whitecaps! Great day for a game!
Basic Pie Dough
Yield: one 9-inch pie crust (double for double crusted pie)
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 8 tbsp. cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 3 tbsp. very cold water
- Combine the flour and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix briefly to blend. Add in the butter pieces and mix on medium-low speed to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse sand and the largest butter pieces are not much bigger than peas. Mix in the cold water on low speed just until the dough comes together.
- Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. (This dough can be frozen for up to 2 months.) Remove from the refrigerator. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Use as directed in your desired pie recipe.
Tips for Apple Pie
Over the years I’ve read lots of tips on how to make a great apple pie. Here are a couple I think are key
- Sprinkle a tablespoon of graham cracker crumbs on the bottom pie crust before filling it with the apples. This way, the crumbs absorb extra sauce from the apples and you won’t get a soggy bottom crust.
- Use lots of butter! And Shortening. I use a 1/4 cup of shortening as well as the butter it calls for. It makes for a super tender and flaky crust.
- I highly suggest an egg wash. In a small bowl, whisk together one eggs a dash of water and a few tsp. of sugar. Using a pastry brush apply it to the top of your pie crust. This will give it that golden look, and help keep it flaky without drying out. You can also sprinkle some extra sugar on top of it just before putting it in the oven to make it shimmer.
- Use lots of apples. Don’t skimp. It should have a slightly domed look once the top crust is on. And make sure you cut some ‘vents’ in the top as well.
All of these will provide you with a super delicious pie! And, of course serve it with some Vanilla ice cream!