Lately, I've been spamming my family with photographs of all the sweet things I bake. I've sent them pictures of braided bread, of croissants, of cookies and of apple turnovers, but they haven't yet had the chance to try any of it. Time to make them some surprise treats!
one = apples + buttermilk pie crust
The apples on my counter and the buttermilk pie crust in my freezer combined perfectly into a warm and fragrant apple pie. The crust was a leftover from when I made Joy the Baker's apple cranberry crumble pie a little while ago. This pie was a hit among my friends, so I saw no need to venture very far. Since I didn't have any cranberries on hand, though, I decided to make it all apple. As it turns out, Joy had also done this before, be it in a double-crusted version. I combined both of her recipes. When it comes to pie, there's always a little room for play.
I was slightly amazed at how elastic the dough was after its time in the freezer. I can't remember it being so easy to work with last time around. There was no need for excessive flouring, no sign of any tears and I easily got this tiny ball of dough to fit my 26 cm tart pan. This made me happy, but also a little suspicious. I've never known pie crusts to work in my favor. In fact, they are the source of most of my kitchen freak-outs.
Before I could figure out whether this cooperative pie crust was a blessing in disguise, there were apples, syrup and crumble to tend to. I followed Joy's apple pie recipe for the apples and syrup, and her apple cranberry pie recipe for the crumble topping. I did halve the crumble recipe, though. Last time, after loading my pie with as much of the crumble as I could, I still had quite a lot left over, so I figured half of it would suffice. It did, but it was really close. A little bit more would've been perfect. If you don't mind doing some math, I'd suggest you go with 3/4 of Joy's original recipe. If you do make a full batch, I'm sure you can find some things to sprinkle the remaining crumble over. Oh, and I also had the marvelous idea to use almonds instead of pistachios for this apple-only pie... It's a pity I only had that idea after I'd already chopped a bunch of pistachios. Mental note for next time.
The pie came out of the oven with a golden color and a gentle whiff of cinnamon, but also with a slightly soggy bottom. Perhaps, this is the downside of my overly cooperative pie crust? Or, it's because I didn't place my pan on a preheated baking sheet. (It didn't fit.) This would've gotten the heat to the pie bottom quicker, so I guess it would've helped at least a little bit.
Get over it. Move on.
two = butter + almond caramel
Sharing a pie is great - yes, even with a slightly soggy bottom - but I also wanted to give my family something they could take home with them. Time for cookies.
I took my favorite cookie recipe from baking class so far: a recipe that combines a simple butter roll-out cookie with an almond caramel filling and that comes pretty damn close to an old favorite of mine. These cookies are rich, crispy and ridiculously easy to make... if you don't mind getting your hands dirty, that is.
The recipe below makes around 80 cookies. There's no doubt that they were meant to be shared. The recipe for the almond caramel filling is actually only 1/4 of the original recipe, so excuse the strange quantities. But trust me on this one, it's enough.
butter coronets w/ almond caramel filling
recipe from baking class (syntra west)
makes ca. 80 cookies
for the 'coronets'
150 gr unsalted butter
125 gr caster sugar
(lemon concentrate - see recipe)
1 egg yolk
250 gr all-purpose flour
For the almond caramel filling
31 gr glucose
31 gr unsalted butter
62 gr granulated sugar
18 gr heavy cream
75 gr almond flakes, roughly chopped
for the 'coronets'
1. Weigh and prepare all of the ingredients for the butter coronets. That lemon concentrate I parenthesized? It's not lemon zest, but something we use in baking class to enhance the flavors in our cookies. I've never seen it in grocery stores, though, but there are alternatives. I cut a lemon in half and rubbed a sugar cube against the cut until it soaked up all the juices and started to dissolve and crumble. I mixed those bits in with the rest of the sugar.
2. Take the butter and use your hand to knead it until it becomes a little elastic. Add the sugar and lemon concentrate and knead until it's more or less incorporated. Now, this is where things get really gooey... Add the egg yolk, knead and follow up with the flour. Continue kneading with your hands until the flour is incorporated, but be sure not to over-knead. Once everything is incorporated, shape your dough into a log, wrap in cling film and refrigerate. You want the butter to be cold when those cookies go into the oven.
for the almond caramel filling
1. While your dough cools, prepare the almond caramel filling. Combine glucose, butter, sugar and heavy cream in a saucepan and warm over medium heat. You want the butter to melt and everything to mix, but you don't have to wait for it to caramelize. This will happen in the oven. Once everything is dissolved, take it off the heat and mix in the almonds. It will look like a lot of almonds, but it's supposed to be a very thick mixture.
1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C and line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. To assemble the cookies, cut off about 1/3 of the dough, knead it a little bit to soften and roll it out on a lightly floured work surface. Roll it out to around 3 mm thickness and use a round or crenulated cookie cutter (with a diameter of circa 5 cm) to cut out shapes. Transfer these to your baking sheet. Next, use a smaller, round cookie cutter (with a diameter of circa 2 cm) to cut out the center of these cookies. Once you fill up a baking sheet, place it in the refrigerator until you've cut out all of your cookies.
3. Cut off another piece from the log of dough in the refrigerator and knead this with the leftover dough from your first round of cutting. Roll it out and repeat the cutting process. Continue cutting, combining and re-rolling the dough until you've used it all. This can take a little while, so if you get sick of it, simply wrap the leftover dough and freeze it for later use.
4. When you've finished cutting out the coronets, dollop a little bit of the almond caramel filling in the center of each cookie. It really doesn't have to be much. Any excess filling will spill over.
5. Bake the cookies for about 8 to 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them, because they go from perfect to over-baked in a heartbeat. Also, they'll continue to brown a little after you've taken them out of the oven. With my first round, I was waiting for the caramel to get this lovely deep brown color, but I ended up over-baking the cookies because of it. If you like your caramel a little dark, like I do, I'd suggest you let the caramel mixture heat a little longer in the saucepan instead. Either way: keep an eye on those cookies!
bonus = apple pie + sponge cake
As you can imagine, there were many happy faces at the family table when I went to visit them that evening. Cookies and apple pie? Great! But there was more. Since these were surprise treats, and since my mother is one of les filles, she had already prepared a dessert of her own. (The pressure!) Hers was a layered sponge cake filled with custard and apricot jam and topped with whipped cream and peaches. Yum.
Yes, a light and fluffy sponge cake paired with a bold apple pie makes for a strange couple. There's no denying that. But who turns down a double dessert?