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Arsip Tag: apple
For about five minutes — before we remembered that we have an infant, a 6 year-old, two full-time jobs, a not very big apartment, an international business trip this month (sadly, not mine) are now doubting we are actually made of whatever is required to pull this off — we thought we might have a Friendsgiving dinner party this year. I love Thanksgiving and I want more of it in my life, ditto to friends and also dinner parties. Everything about this was going to awesome. I didn’t have to plan the menu to my perfect Thanksgiving dinner because I wrote it in my head probably five years ago and from what I hear, Alton Brown’s turkey recipe is the only one you’ll ever need. (Or should I dry brine? Or maybe this lacquered thing? Or maybe a mash-up of all of them? Or maybe just import a smoked one from Texas and be the most chilled out host in the history of Thanksgiving, ever, amiright?) Right, well, I had everything else planned out:
And this is where the fun began. I decided that a new tradition required a new special cocktail that would forever be tied to a time and place. In general, I’m a classicist about sangria. Like most of us, I’ve endured all sorts of disturbing ingredients masquerading as sangria — Sprite, frozen lemonade, coconut rum, basil, a ton of sugar (whhhy) which are all ingredients I’ve pulled from just the first few Google results for sangria — and try not to mess with what’s always worked. But, it turned out, I didn’t have to upend tradition too obnoxiously to make the apple cider sangria of my dreams. For the red wine, I used a dry white. For the brandy, I used an apple brandy or Calvados. Instead of a splash of juice, I used apple cider, which I’d reduced so it would be more concentrated and flavorful. I kept the less traditional Triple Sec in place, because I like the hint of orange, but you can skip it if you are less of a sangria blasphemist. And for the fruit, we used a mix of apples, because like everyone else, we overdid it at the apple farms in October.
The result was even better than I’d hoped, and apple-y in an adult way: subtle and not terribly sweet. As our kids ran up and down the hallways in an sugar-demonic haze, trick-or-treating through a friend’s building last weekend, we grownups got to sip from glasses of, uh, grown-up candy. (While saving the actual candy-thieving for after they fall asleep, as is our parental privilege, of course.)
One year ago: Sticky Toffee Pudding
Two years ago: Perfect, Uncluttered Chicken Stock
Three years ago: Granola-Crusted Nuts
Four years ago: Baked Pumpkin and Sour Cream Puddings
Five years ago: Upside-Down Cranberry Cake
Six years ago: Moroccan-Spiced Spaghetti Squash
Seven years ago: Pepita Brittle
Eight years ago: Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Sauteed Apples
Nine years ago: Not Your Mama’s Coleslaw
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Liege Waffles
1.5 Years Ago: Fresh Spinach Pasta
2.5 Years Ago: Essential Raised Waffles
3.5 Years Ago: Bacon Egg and Leek Risotto
4.5 Years Ago: Creme Brulee French Toasts
Apple Cider Sangria
Psst, here’s the other reason I rather love having a big pitcher or two of a single, seasonally-perfect, agreeable-to-most cocktail at dinner parties: it saves you a lot of work. Sure, you might still grab a six-pack of beer or a bottle or two of wine or bubbly, but for the most part, most people will drink what you’ve mixed and you won’t spend any time fussing about with tonics and gins and juice and bourbon and vodka. A good cocktail is efficient.
Makes 1 pitcher (about 1 quart) sangria; definitely double for a crowd
1 cup apple cider (the fresh kind, not the fizzy alcoholic kind)
1 bottle dry white wine
1/4 cup calvados or another apple brandy
1/4 cup Triple sec or another orange liqueur
Mixed colors of apples, diced and tossed with lemon juice to prevent browning
Seltzer, sparkling water or sparkling apple cider to finish
Place the apple cider in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce about 3/4 of the way, until you have approximately 1/4 cup apple cider left; this will take 10 to 15 minutes. Pour into small bowl set over a bowl of ice water and stir; it will cool very quickly this way.
Pour reduced, cooled cider into pitcher. Add wine, apple brandy and triple sec. Add fruit and let sit in the fridge until needed. Add some fizz right before serving; a slotted spoon will help guests hold back the fruit while pouring their glasses, and spoon some on top, if desired.
I’d say this runs a tiny bit sweet (it’s supposed to) but if you think this might bother you, you could reduce the sugar in the filling by 3 tablespoons. Or, instead of ice cream, you could offset the sweetness with a spoonful of crème fraîche
, mascarpone or unsweetened whipped cream on top.
- 1/2 cup (115 grams or 4 ounces) unsalted butter
- 1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (200 grams) sugar, divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
- 3/4 cup (175 ml) whole milk
- 2 medium apples, peeled
- 3 small (I used Italian prune plums) or 2 medium plums, no need to peel
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Whisk together the flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and stir in milk. Mix until smooth. Pour batter over the butter but do not stir, even if it looks like a puddle-y buttery mess.
Cut apples into 8 wedges, small plums into 4 wedges and medium ones into 4 to 6. Space fruit over batter. Sprinkle with cinnamon and then remaining sugar.
Bake the cobbler until it is set and golden on top, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool slightly on a rack. Serve the cobbler warm or at room temperature.
I also found the halved size to be more suited to our needs, and a little less scary to handle. It bakes in a few minutes less time. The instructions below are for one full-sized strudel, however. If halving, you’ll want to stretch each half the dough into a 12-by-16-inch rectangle instead.
If yours leaks a little, don’t fret. Our first two did, my second two did not, i.e. it gets easier with practice. If it softens when it cools, you can re-crisp it in the oven, but most people will tell you it’s really at its best the first day.
Re, breadcrumbs: Weiss’s recipe calls for 1/2 cup and they clock in at 60 grams. I find panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs) to be an almost exact match for white bread that I’ve dried and ground, and use it instead. But it’s much lighter (less than 30 grams per 1/2 cup) which probably explains why I felt I needed more to both absorb the butter and hold the apples in place. If you’re not using panko breadcrumbs, you might find the original measurement better suits your needs.
Finally, vanilla sugar (vanillezucker)! Weiss notes that vanilla extract is unheard of in most of Europe, the vanilla sugar reigns supreme. [My mother informs me that my late grandmother, who almost never baked, still always had a jar of this around.] However, the commercial stuff is often artificial. If you don’t have a vanilla bean, you can add one teaspoon of vanilla extract to the apple filling below. However, if you’d like to make some, you’re in for a treat. Split one vanilla bean open and scrape seeds into 2 cups (400 grams) of granulated sugar. Use your fingertips to disperse it throughout. Stick the empty bean pod in the sugar too; there’s plenty of flavor left to be had. You’ll need less than half for this recipe but I promise you’ll enjoy having the rest around. It also makes wonderful gifts in a pretty glass jar.
- 1/2 cup (80 grams) raisins
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) dark rum
- 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons (150 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- Pinch of salt
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) sunflower, safflower or another neutral oil
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) water
- 2 pounds (905 grams) firm apples (about 5 to 6)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated sugar or vanilla sugar (see note above)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
- 8 tablespoons (115 grams) unsalted butter, divided
- 3/4 cup (40 grams) plain, unseasoned dried breadcrumbs (I used, and recommend, panko, see note above)
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar or vanilla sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- Lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving
Make the dough: The day of, combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add the oil and water and mix with a spoon or your index finger until a rough dough forms. Turn it out onto a very lightly floured counter and knead for 10 minutes. It sounds like it will be forever, but set a timer and chat with a friend, it goes quickly. After 10 minutes, the dough should be soft and silky to the tough. Form it into a ball, place it on the counter and upend the mixing bowl over it. Set aside for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the apples: Peel, halve, core and slice thin in one direction, then halve the slices crosswise, creating thin squarish rectangles of apples. Place them in a large bowl and toss with lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon, if using. Add the raisins and any rum left in the bowl.
Prepare the breadcrumbs: In a small skillet over medium-low heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter and add the breadcrumbs, sugar and salt. Stir to coat and cook, stirring frequently as they can burn quickly, until crumbs are an even golden brown and very fragrant. Don’t let them burn. Scrape into a dish (or they’ll keep cooking in the pan) and set aside.
Heat your oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Line 1 large or 2 smaller baking sheets with parchment paper.
Melt the remaining 5 tablespoons butter in a small dish.
Roll out your dough (these directions are for a full-sized strudel): Cover your work surface with a cleaning linen towel or sheet that’s at least 24-by-32 inches. The long side should be horizontal. Sprinkle the cloth lightly with flour. Place the dough in the middle, sprinkle it very lightly with flour and roll in both directions until it’s about 10-by-13 inches, or about as far as the rolling pin can take it. Make sure the dough hasn’t stuck to the cloth; reflour if it has. Now the stretching begins! Ball your hands to loose fists, put them under the rolled-out dough and gently start stretching the dough using the back of your hands. Alternate with pulling the dough gently with your fingers to continue stretching it, stretching the edges thin too. This is all much easier than it sounds, but be patient. If holes form, pinch the dough back together. Continue stretching until the dough is about 16-by-24 inches.
Assemble strudel: Brush evenly with about half the melted butter. On the right side of the rectangle, a few inches from the end, spread the breadcrumbs top to bottom in a thick line, leaving a little more than an inch margin at the top and bottom of the strip. Scoop the apples with a slotted spoon, leaving any accumulated juices in the bowl, and pile them over the crumbs. Gently pull the top and bottom edges of the dough over the apple mixture. Pull the right edge of the dough up and over the filling as far as it will go without tearing. Working carefully, use the towel to roll up the strudel all the way. Place the parchment paper from your baking sheet at the edge of the roll and roll the strudel onto it. Ideally, it should be breadcrumb side-down on the parchment, you can roll it again if it’s not. Use the parchment like a sling to gently place the strudel on the baking sheet.
Brush the strudel generously all over with some of the remaining butter. Bake for 15 minutes, then brush again and return to the oven in a rotated position. Repeat this once, baking a total of 45 minutes. (Half-size strudels seem to bake 5 or so minutes faster.) The finished strudel should be crisp to the touch and a deep golden brown.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes before serving. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and slice into pieces to serve.
Strudel is best the day it is made, but it keeps for 1 to 2 days at room temperature. I’ve also read that you can freeze it (am trying this as we speak, will give more notes once it defrosts). Before serving, you can crisp up leftover strudel in a 350 degree F (180 degree C) oven.
Things I Learned Hosting My First Friendsgiving
• As I realized last week, what makes big meals (we had 16 people) scary isn’t the cooking as much as the sheer volume of it all and the logistics required to manage them. I mean, who here has a kitchen that was built to feed 16? Trust me, it’s not you, it’s your kitchen making things hard.
• Thus the more time you spend plotting things out, the less stressful it will be. Because I’m Team Casserole, i.e. I prefer dishes that are deep and bubbly, can be made well in advance and reheat well, they’re all fairly forgiving of too long or short warming times. Too long, they get a little extra crunchy and toasted on top (yum), too little, they still pack a lot of warmth inside, even if they’re not bubbling hot. I warmed all of the dishes before the turkey went in and then slid in one or two while it roasted. When the turkey came out and we needed 30 minutes to rest and carve it, all the sides went back in to warm.
• Everything that can be done in advance, should be, and as early as possible. You’re doing it for you. When we have a lot of people over, this often leads to me quite over-exhausting myself the night before getting everything prepped that can be, but then I wake up rested and we’re 80% there. It’s not actually a stressful day, which means we’re far more likely to enjoy the party. If I can’t finish prep the night before, I’ll do it in the morning. It’s essential to me that there’s a little window of vegging/non-cooking time between prepping stuff and cooking the stuff that must be done at the last-minute. It’s also a great time to change into something fresh.
• All the pies were made earlier in the week and either went into the fridge (pecan) or freezer (pumpkin) until needed.
• Finally, I think we should all buy each other trivets for Christmukkah. I have… 4? What kind of Thanksgiving has only 4 hot dishes coming out of the kitchen? None we want to be at, thank you very much.
About That Turkey
• Turkeys are amusingly hard to find a week before Thanksgiving.
• Brining is a delicious nightmare. I know a lot of people don’t do it. I know you don’t need to. I know there are less-insane options, like dry-brining. But I am really not hugely into turkey to begin with because I always find it dry and often flavorless. And I don’t want a little overcooking to ruin it. Thus: brining. Oh, but what a comedy it was and by comedy, I mean cry-laugh emoji. It involved a 19.5-pound bird, 1 of these bags and 2.5 gallons of brine, which turned out to create a forceful enough pressure on the bag to pop it open. Mopping was involved. Then I got it into the fridge (40 pounds, no easy feat and yet somehow still easier than that time I had to carry my 20-pounder out of the grocery store sideways with an arced back… life math be crazy) and discovered that the bottom had a tiny hole in it and I don’t know if normal people whose mothers were not microbiologists list salmonella among their greatest fears, but raw turkey juice everywhere in the fridge dripping into the produce drawers required a hazmat-suit level of cleaning until I could stop worrying.
• Where’s the recipe, Deb? We were so happy with the turkey but I cannot in good conscience share with you a recipe for something so epic that I’ve only made once. I mean, what if I missed something major and ruin all of your holidays? So, I promise, it’s coming and it’s going to be worth the wait.
• Ina Garten’s Baked Fontina (I hope to share a more budgeted version of this soon)
• Corn Muffins (brought by a friend)
• A Giant Kale Caesar made with a riff on this dressing. I’d intended to make this salad, however.
• A Roast Turkey Mash-Up That Was About 50% Thomas Keller, 30% Gourmet and 20% Alton Brown
• Cathy Barrow’s Challah Stuffing With Mushroom and Celery with homemade challah, because crazy things happen in my freezer
• Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Onions (doubled)
• Roasted Delicata Squash with Brown Butter, Lime and Pepitas, except I ran out of time so they were just roasted
• Root Vegetable Gratin
• Baked Beans (brought by a friend)
• Ree Drummond’s Twice-Baked Potato Casserole (brought by a friend)
• Cranberry Sauce (brought by a friend, the one who taught me to make my own back in the day)
• Cheesecake-Marbled Pumpkin Slab Pie
• A Very Large Pecan Pie
• By the way, we made everything above except the gravy and obviously the turkey vegetarian simply by using vegetable stock; it wasn’t a challenge and nobody missed out on a thing. For the twice-baked potatoes, an area was left bacon-free on top.
• Do not underestimate the power of one really great, crunchy salad, the perfect contrast to all the butter-drenched and gluten-full wonders across the table. It goes quickly. I’m sharing today the salad I’d intended to make; I think it’s the perfect last-minute addition to any menu and so easy to bring with you from home. I guarantee the host will appreciate it.
• Finally, ask me anything! I feel like I know 100x as much about Thanksgiving as I did 72 hours ago and most of what I did is very fresh in my head. I’m happy to answer any questions you have in the comments below. I’ll probably attack them mostly this evening, so don’t fret if you don’t get an immediate response.
One year ago: Roasted Leek and White Bean Galettes and Date Breakfast Squares
Two years ago: Classic Pecan Pie with Praline Sauce and Crispy Sweet Potato Roast
Three years ago: Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Onions, Apple-Herb Stuffing for All Seasons, Cauliflower with Brown Butter Crumbs and Parsley Leaf Potatoes
Four years ago: Cauliflower-Feta Fritters with Pomegranate
Five years ago: Gingersnaps and Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Biscuits
Six years ago: Creamed Onions with Bacon and Chives and Sweet Corn Spoonbread
Seven years ago: Sweet Potato and Buttermilk Pie, Creamed Spinach and Gingerbread Apple Upside-Down Cake
Eight years ago: Silky Smooth Pumpkin Pie, Home Fries, Apple Pancakes and Fennel Proscuitto and Pomegranate Salad
Nine years ago: Pumpkin Waffles and Creamy White Polenta with Mushrooms and Nutmeg-Maple Cream Pie
Ten! years ago: Three Cranberry Sauces and No-Knead Bread
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Roasted Carrots with Avocado and Yogurt and Almond Rhubarb Picnic Bars
1.5 Years Ago: Fake Shack Burger and Swirled Berry Yogurt Popsicles
2.5 Years Ago: Soft Pretzel Buns and Knots
3.5 Years Ago: Greek Salad with Lemon and Oregano
4.5 Years Ago: Vidalia Onion Soup with Wild Rice
Brussels Sprouts, Apple and Pomegranate Salad
This is a crunchy, bright abundantly November-ish salad that hails from Michael Solomonov’s Zahav cookbook. In the book, he calls it tabbouleh and explains that while in the U.S., tabbouleh is usually made with bulgur wheat, parsley and chopped tomatoes, in Israel, you’re unlikely to find it made the same way twice, and I’d say the same for Solomonov’s versions too. In the book, he’s swapped kale for parsley but I’ve also seen him do the same with shredded brussels. He says he enjoys swapping quinoa for the bulgur, and adding pomegranate when it is in season. In the fall, he said he enjoys adding apples and walnuts, and will sometimes even replace the grain entirely with walnuts. And it from here that we’ve ended up with a dish I won’t even call tabbouleh, so not to confuse anyone, but a salad, and an excellent one at that. Between his book and the various outlets that have published versions of this salad, I found almost no two recipes alike so I instead set out all the ingredients and added them at the levels I liked most. You, too, can and should adjust the flavors to taste.
- 1/2 large red onion, diced small
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons ground sumac
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to season salad
- 2 cups shredded brussels sprouts
- 1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds (from about 1/2 a large one)
- 1/2 a large unpeeled apple, cored and diced (I used Granny Smith, the book recommends Pink Lady or Honeycrisp)
- Juice of half a lemon, plus more to taste
- 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons honey, plus more to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3/4 cup toasted, cooled walnuts, lightly crushed or coarsely chopped
- Ground chipotle chile pepper, urfa biber peppers, hot smoked paprika or another chile flake, to taste
Combine all salad ingredients, including red onions and their pickling liquid, in a medium bowl and season to taste with salt and red pepper. Taste and adjust ingredients as desired — I’ve seen versions of the recipe with more honey, olive oil and lemon; I didn’t need them but you might find you do.
This salad can be prepped ahead, but I’d keep the dressing off of it until at most an hour before serving so it doesn’t discolor the sprouts.
One last note: I was convinced I had cut up too many apples (the amount below) and ended up with an underfilled pie. Don’t let this happen to you; use them all, even if it towers over the rim slightly before baking. It will all even out before it is done.
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt
- 2 1/3 cups (300 grams) all-purpose flour
- 14 tablespoons (200 grams) butter, diced, no need to soften
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) cold water
- 3 1/3 pounds (1500 grams or about 5 large apples) peeled, cored and sliced
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- About 1/2 cup (70 grams) raisins
- 4 tablespoons plain breadcrumbs (I used panko)
- 1 large egg, beaten, to finish
Filling and finish
At some point during this hour, make the filling: Combine apples, lemon, cinnamon, sugar and raisins in a large bowl and toss to combine.
Assemble crust: Coat a 9- to 9 1/2-inch (24 cm) diameter springform pan lightly with butter or nonstick cooking spray. Remove chilled dough from fridge and cut it roughly into thirds. On a well-floured counter, roll the first third to a circle the diameter your pan and fit it into the bottom. Roll out the second third of the dough and cut it into strips the height of your springform pan (usually 3 inches). Patch them up the inner sides of the springform. Use your fingertips to press and seal the sides and base together. If any holes form or there are spots you’re worried aren’t sealed well, patch in another pinch of dough.
Heat your oven: To 350°F (175°C).
Assemble pie: Sprinkle the bottom of the pie crust with breadcrumbs. Pour the apple-raisin mixture on top. Roll the last third of the dough into a large round and cut into thin strips. (Mine were about 1/2-inch wide.) Space them in a lattice pattern over the filling, either by arranging half in one direction and the second half in the other direction on top, or by getting cute and weaving them together. (Here is an ancient set of directions from me.) Trim the overhang so that the latticed top meets the walls of the crust, and press/pinch them together to seal it. Brush beaten egg over top crust.
Bake: For 60 to 70 minutes, until you can see filling bubbling slightly up between the latticed strips (use this to determine doneness, and the baking time as just an estimate), and crust is a deep golden brown. Let cool in springform on rack for 45 minutes or so before running a knife around the outside of the crust to ensure it isn’t sticking to the pan in any place, and opening the ring to serve it with an abundance of softly whipped, barely sweetened cream.
I did not intend to go on an apple pie making bender. I merely did what we always do in October: go apple picking, balk at the price of a bag, insist upon filling it way past the brim (because: economics) and then we ate some apples on the way home home and the bag was still overflowing. So I made an apple pie with 4.25 pounds of apples in it and the bag looked exactly as full as it had been at the orchard. Might they still be growing in there? It’s the only explanation.
NEW: Watch me make this on YouTube!
I started with the apple pie recipe that’s been on this site for 12 years, but over the years I’ve tweaked it a little at home in small ways (different spice levels, some brown sugar worked in, thinner slices). This time, with some help from the genius Bravetart book, I tweaked it a lot, and it was the best apple pie I’ve ever made. So I did the only rational thing and brought slices of my pie-brag to everyone I saw for a couple days and then I ran out of pie and made another one using the same tweaks and it, too, was the best apple pie I’d ever made, so I did the only rational thing and made a third one and now I think it’s time for us to talk about what I think has made it so much better.
Out of loyalty to the old pie recipe, I wanted to do talk about in a new post because I know there are people who make it yearly and I don’t want to change the way it’s written. But that pie is 12 years old — that pie recipe would be IN MIDDLE SCHOOL right now — it’s okay if it’s not the same person it was in its toddler years and no I’m not projecting, you’re projecting, this is about pie, okay? [WAAAH.]
Here’s what I do a little differently these days (and do skip right to the recipe if you’re not into the Inside Baseball of all it):
Time and temperature changes: Previously, I used the baking instructions from America’s Test Kitchen, which at the time were to heat the oven to 500°F, lower it to 425 after the pie was in, and then, 30 minutes later, reduce it to 375 for the remaining baking time, for about 60 minutes baking time total, which was also rarely enough. I bet you can guess what would actually happen every time I made this: I’d remember to reduce the temperature the first time, never the second, and it also looked overbaked before it was done. Stella Parks recommends baking the pie at a single temperature (400) for a longer period of time (75 minutes), and even gives you a suggested internal temperature if you’re nervous about doneness, and lo, it was perfect, with a crisp bottom crust (despite having no parbaking step) and with caramel-y juices. I haven’t looked back since.
I use more apples and I cut them thinner: One of the most frustrating things that happens when you make a pie is that you put in what seems like a massive amount of fresh fruit but after it slumps, shrinks, and nestles in as it bakes, you’re left with a very flat, if not concave, pie. Parks has a fantastic tip of having you mix your filling and let it macerate for a while so that the apples soften, allowing you to put a lot more in the filling and leading to pie slices stacked to the brim with apples. My original recipe calls for 3.5 pounds of apples; I’m now using between 4.25 and 4.5 pounds. Better to have too much filling (and bake it separately in a dish for the oatmeal or yogurt topping of champions in the coming days) than too little. I also cut the apples more thinly, a scant .25″ thick, which also allows them to nestle in more tightly so they don’t fall as much when baking.
Order of operations: Because we’re going to let the apples macerate a bit, I now prepare them first, and the pie dough second. They don’t mind waiting.
I like a mix of apples — usually: Most apple pie recipes, including my original one, want you to use hyper-specific amounts of hyper-specific kinds of apples, which is rarely what anyone has. I feel strongly that a mix of apples, ideally ones that won’t fall apart when baking, see this awesome page if you want more guidance as to which ones to choose, is the way to get the most nuanced and dynamic apple flavor in a pie. Nobody wants a one-note pie. That said, the orchard we were in had a ton of massive mutsu apples ready, and I made my last few pies with them only. Turns out they’re fantastic baking apples. “Uh, Deb, you just contradicted yourself.” Yes, and I want you, too, to go with the flow.
Flavor changes: Although I started skipping the lemon because we were out of lemons, when I didn’t miss the flavor at all, I never bothered putting it back in. Ditto with the lemon zest, which I found distracting. I also increased the cinnamon and added a little ground ginger (which won’t make it gingery, promise; it just seems to wake the pie up a little). Finally, I started swapping half, then more, of the sugar with brown sugar and I really don’t know why I wasn’t doing this all along. It’s lovely here.
Thickener changes: Over the last few years, as tapioca flour/starch (they’re the same thing) became more easily available (Bob’s Red Mill makes some, so check any store that stocks the brand, or here or here or here), I started using it as a pie thickener and never looked back. It’s clear and unchalky once baked, and doesn’t muffle the filling flavor the way I find some commercial thickening blends do. You’d never really know it’s there, which is basically the dream.
One year ago: Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
Two years ago: Baked Alaska, Indian-Spiced Cauliflower Soup, and Skillet-Baked Pasta with Five Cheeses
Three years ago: Broccoli Cheddar Soup, S’more Cupcakes, and My Old-School Baked Ziti
Four years ago: Latke Waffles, The Crispy Egg, Better Chicken Pot Pies
Five years ago: Miso Sweet Potato and Broccoli Bowl
Six years ago: Spaghetti with Broccoli Cream Pesto and Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Seven years ago: Cumin Seed Roasted Cauliflower with Yogurt
Eight years ago: Single Crust Plum and Apple Pie and Mushroom Lasagna
Nine years ago: Quiche Lorraine
Ten years ago: Black and White Cookies, Best Challah (Egg Bread) and Mom’s Apple Cake
Eleven years ago: Bronx-Worthy Bagels, Peanut Butter Brownies, and Arroz Con Pollo
[New!] Twelve years ago: Lemon Cake
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Fig Newtons
1.5 Years Ago: Cornbread Waffles, Mushroom Tartines, and Almond Horn Cookies
2.5 Years Ago: Spring Chicken Salad Toasts, Caramelized Brown Sugar Oranges with Yogurt, and Potato Pizza, Even Better
3.5 Years Ago: The Consolation Prize (A Mocktail) and Baked Chickpeas with Pita Chips and Yogurt
4.5 Years Ago: Dark Chocolate Coconut Macaroons
[Welcome to the second episode of the Sous-Chef Series, a sporadic feature on SK in which I invite cooks I admire over to my small kitchen to teach me — and thus, us — to make one of their specialties. Spoiler: I’m the sous! Previously: Making potato vareniki with Kachka’s Bonnie Frumpkin.]
Almost without fail, the more bafflingly short an ingredient list and the more stunningly delicious the outcome, the more likely it is to rivet me. I don’t need all recipes to have 5- or 10- or fewer ingredients — I fare poorly under arbitrarily restrictive confines — but doesn’t it just blow your mind that you can make the apple tarte tatin above with only apples, sugar, butter, lemon juice, and a sheet of defrosted puffed pastry?
Or, you should be able to. When made well, this upside-down apple tart looks like snug copper cobblestones on top of a rippling puff of flaky pastry. If you’re lucky, the apples will taste like they drank a cup of caramel and then napped in what they couldn’t finish. I love it enough that I’ve written about it twice (!) in eleven years but my efforts were… mediocre at best. I mean, just look at them — too thin, too sparse, too pale, apples either under- or overcooked, and way too many apples have dissolved long before the cooking time should have been up, despite being “good baking apples.”
I’d begrudgingly resigned myself a life of tatin mediocrity when I spotted one of the most stunning ones I’d seen to date on a magazine stand. And I had a feeling I knew who had cooked/styled it — my across-the-street neighbor. Her name is Susan Spungen and she’s a cookbook author and food stylist and whether you realize it or not, you’ve probably admired her behind-the-scenes handiwork on movies — see: that croissant scene in It’s Complicated, oh and everything Amy Adams and Meryl Streep cooked in Julie & Julia. It was on the latter project that she got very, very good at apple tarte tatins. She explains “It was a quick shot, but I worked hard to get the right look and technique, so I could make it over and over again, and have it look exactly the same each time, which is essential for a movie scene.”
I invited myself over and watched her make one in her tiny kitchen, not even breaking a sweat, and it was perfect. I thought it would fill me with the confidence I needed to replicate it at home. But two years later, it had not. So, this fall, I asked her to come to my place this time, I took 200 pictures and almost as many notes. I then made four more without her and all except the one I made with what turned out to be the wrong apples, looked exactly like hers. With this I knew it was time to write what I hope will be the last tarte tatin recipe you’ll ever need.
Here are a few things I learned from watching a professional, and basically making five tatins in two weeks:
1. The type of apple matters. You need one that holds its shape after it bakes. The internet is full of lists of “good baking apples” and “bad” baking apples and I cannot tell you which one will never lead you astray because there’s (believe it or not) a limit to my madness and I won’t be testing any recipe with every variety of apple. However, I was crazy enough to audition four here. I homed in on ones that I can buy at both grocery stores and local greenmarkets right now: Pink Lady, Fuji, Gala, and Granny Smiths. The first three worked great; the last one fell to mush. It may be because it was from a grocery store (I actually don’t find them at markets much) where they’re often very, very old, or maybe it’s just that they’re all wrong for this recipe. I don’t think it’s worth the risk to find out. If you make it with another kind with success, shout it out (and whether it procured locally or from a grocery store) in the comments.
2. You don’t need to cut them all crazy. I see recipes that call for halves (too big), quarters (too small), and some that call for thirds, which is about right but there’s no need to do exacting knife work to get every piece to be the same size, even if you have the patience to make finicky apple cuts. I’m using three sizes — a little less than half, a third, and about one-quarter in each that you see here — and cut them the way you would if you were snacking on an apple: imperfect and easy. A mix of sizes and shapes fits better.
3. Apples shrink a lot when they cook. If you’ve ever wondered why so many apples are called for in a 9- to 10-inch round tart, this is why. If you’ve ever made one and really thought you crammed the fruit in, only to have a tatin that looked like sparse apple cobble stones, ditto. It means that when you nestle the apples against each other before you bake it, you want each to lean onto the one behind it, overlapping it by one-third, so as it shrinks in the oven, they’re still tightly snugged together.
4. Three-quarters of the apple-cooking is done on the stove in the caramel; the rest happens in the oven. When the pastry is nicely browned and crisp, it’s done. This means that if the sautéed apples aren’t mostly cooked, that they’re still crunchy inside, it needs more time on the stove before it goes in the oven or the baked tatin won’t have perfectly tender apples.
5. Because of #3 and #4, you really want to use two pans make your tatin. Trust me — a person who will go to almost any length not to dirty two dishes when she could only dirty one — when I say that this is a place where it is unequivocally worth it. Almost every apple tarte tatin recipe makes life unnecessarily difficult by having you do the stovetop component (making the caramel and cooking the apples in it) in the same small pan as you’d might bake your final tart. Just look how many apples end up in the final tart, and that’s after they’ve shrunk. It’s very hard to cook the not-yet-shrunk apples evenly in caramel in a small pan. It’s much easier and will give you more consistent results if you use a big skillet. Then, arrange the apples exactly the way you want them in a smaller ovenproof skillet or standard pie pan. (And, it cools the apple mixture down a bit, essential because you don’t want to melt the butter in your pastry before it gets in the oven.)
6. Almost every apple tarte tatin recipe, including my previous ones, tells you to flip it out of the pan too soon. Give it time for the caramel and cooked apple juices to thicken up a bit. I found a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 60 worked well. It’s not ruined if you flip it sooner, but the caramel will be thinner and more likely to run off and puddle.
Six months ago: Austrian Torn, Fluffy Pancake
One year ago: Roberta’s Roasted Garlic Caesar Salad
Two years ago: Endive Salad with Toasted Breadcrumbs
Three years ago: Roasted Cauliflower with Pumpkin Seeds and Brown Butter and Apple Strudel
Four years ago: Oven Fries and Chocolate Peanut and Pretzel Brittle
Five years ago: Squash Toasts with Ricotta and Cider Vinegar
Six years ago: Spinach and Egg Pizzettes
Seven years ago: Apple Cider Caramels
Eight years ago: Homesick Texan Carnitas
Nine years ago: Spicy Squash Salad with Lentils and Goat Cheese and Buckeyes
Ten years ago: Baked Chicken Meatballs and Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats
Eleven years ago: Cabbage and Mushroom Galette and Peanut Butter Crispy Bars
Twelve years ago: Cranberry Caramel and Almond Tart and Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
Thirteen years ago: Not Your Mama’s Coleslaw
Cakes with fresh chunks of fruit taste good on the first day and fantastic on the second day, when everything has a chance to settle. In this case, the topping adheres better on the second day. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make it as soon as possible, just that it will reward you for planning ahead.
- 1 pound apples (3 medium or 2 large), peeled if you wish, cored, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/3 cup (65 grams) light or dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/3 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup (80 grams) sour cream
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
- 1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Powdered sugar, for dusting
Prepare apples: Toss apples with lemon juice, then cinnamon and sugar and set aside.
Make crumbs: Whisk butter, sugars, cinnamon, and salt together until evenly mixed. Add flour and mix until it disappears. It’s going to be very thick; set it it aside.
Make cake: Beat butter with sugar until lightened and fluffy. Add egg, sour cream, and vanilla and beat until combined. Sprinkle surface of batter with with baking powder and salt, and beat well to combine. Add flour and mix only until it disappears.
Assemble: Scrape batter into prepared cake pan and smooth it flat. Arrange apples on cake, slightly overlapped. I usually fit all but 2 wedges; those are cook’s snacks. Pour any cinnamon-apple juices in bottom of bowl over apples. Sprinkle crumbs over apple slices. For bigger crumbs, squeeze the crumbs into small fistfuls and break these up into a couple bigger chunks over the cake.
Bake: Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the apples doesn’t hit any crisp spots and if you look closely, you’ll see juices bubbling around some apples, about 50 to 55 minutes.
Cool to room temperature, if you can bear it, before cutting into squares or wedges. Dust generously with powdered sugar.
Cake keeps at room temperature loosely covered (in an airtight container, the crumbs eventually soften) for 3 days or in the fridge, well-wrapped, for 6 days.
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, my first cookbook, turns 10 years old in a few weeks, and inside it is what I call one of the best summer desserts I’ve ever made, peach dumplings with bourbon hard sauce. These were a whim that occured to me one morning before dawn when my then-baby (and, as of 11 days ago, a Bar Mitzvah) woke up early and lacked interest in going back to sleep and my mind drifted, as it does, to things I’d like to cook.
The peach dumplings were modeled on old-fashioned apple dumplings and I’m not sure why it took me so long to reverse this process for fall, but now that I have, I don’t want to bake anything else. I’m absolutely obsessed with these perfect packets of apple pie. Everything I loved about the peach dumplings is true here too: The crust, unhindered by a heavy filling, expands and flakes like puff pastry. When you cut into each, a trickle of buttery brown sugar caramel floods your plate. And the best part of it is actually the mess — chunks of spiced baked fruit, buttery layers of dough, a mingled puddle of juices. And should you like a splash of whiskey with your apple desserts, you are going to swoon over it in the sauce, melting over the sides. Please make these soon. You’ll be so glad you did.
I did not mean to disappear on you, or the newsletter. As you might have guessed, I was thrown off course by that aforementioned Bar Mitzvah [“what’s a Bar Mitzvah?“] and 13th birthday — which seem impossible as he was just born, right? — and a few other exciting things. Smitten Kitchen Keepers, my third cookbook, will be out in 48 days, and a week earlier than originally planned. We are working on putting the final details together for the Fall 2022 Book Tour — I’ll have everything for you next Thursday, 10/6. I might even have another new recipe before then, since I was behind in posting, not cooking, hooray. Did I cover everything? I probably forgot something so away in the comments!
6 months ago: Simple Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 year ago: Big Apple Crumb Cake
2 years ago: Homemade Cream Cheese
3 years ago: Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan
4 years ago: Flapjacks
5 years ago: Tomato Bread + A Bit About Spain
6 years ago: How to Julienne and Plum Squares with Marzipan Crumble
7 years ago: Caponata and Zucchini Rice and Cheese Gratin
8 years ago: Chocolate and Toasted Hazelnut Milk and Herbed Tomato and Roasted Garlic Tart
9 years ago: Baked Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage
10 years ago: Baked Orzo with Eggplant and Mozzarella and Fig Olive Oil and Sea Salt Challah
11 years ago: Peach Butter, Roasted Eggplant with Tomatoes and Mint, and Red Wine Chocolate Cake
12 years ago: Grape Foccaccia with Rosemary and Linguine with Tomato-Almond Pesto
13 years ago: Cheesecake-Marbled Brownies
14 years ago: Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee, Bourbon Peach Hand Pies and Raspberry Breakfast Bars and Braised Romano Beans
15 years ago: Hoisin Barbecue Sauce and Lemon Layer Cake
16 years ago: Silky Cauliflower Soup and Summer Squash Soup
- 2 1/2 cups (325 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) fine sea or table salt
- 1 cup (8 ounces or 225 grams) unsalted butter, very cold
- About 1/2 cup cold water
- 3 large apples (about 3″ across), any kind you like to bake with
- Half a lemon
- 1/2 cup (110 grams) light or dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- A few gratings of fresh nutmeg, or a couple pinches of ground
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) butter, cut into 6 pieces, kept cold
- 1 large egg, for glaze
- 2 tablespoons (1 ounces or 30 grams) butter, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon whiskey, milk, or lemon juice
- A dash of vanilla extract (optional)
- Make the crust:
- By hand : In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Work the butter into the flour with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles a coarse meal and the largest bits of butter are the size of tiny peas. (Some people like to do this by freezing the stick of butter and coarsely grating it into the flour, but I haven’t found the results as flaky.) Add cold water and stir with a spoon or flexible silicone spatula until large clumps form. Use your hands to knead the dough together, right in the bottom of the bowl. If necessary to bring the dough together, you can add another tablespoon of water.
- With a food processor: In the work bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt and sugar. Add butter and pulse machine until mixture resembles a coarse meal and the largest bits of butter are the size of tiny peas. Turn mixture out into mixing bowl. Add cold water and stir with a spoon or flexible spatula until large clumps form. Use your hands to knead the dough together, right in the bottom of the bowl. If necessary to bring the dough together, you can add the last tablespoon of water.
- Both methods: Wrap dough in a sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours, or you can quick-firm this in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes. Longer than 2 days, it’s best to freeze it until needed.
Heat your oven: To 375°F
Assemble the dumplings: Peel and halve your apples. Use the large side of a melon baller, if you have one, or a tablespoon measuring spoon, to scoop the core out of each half. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the apples. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Mound a heaped tablespoon of the mixture in the scooped-out center of each apple half. Dot the top of each with a piece of the cold butter.
On a well-floured counter, roll your dough out to a 12-by-18-inch rectangle and divide into six 6-inch squares. If dough gets too soft or warm while you’re rolling it, continue to the square stage, but then transfer the squares to a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill them in the freezer for a couple minutes, until they’re semi-firm again.
Place a filled apple half, cut side-up, in the center of each dough square. Bring corners up to meet each other over the center – if it feels tight, or as if you’re short of dough, make sure that the dough underneath is flush with the apple curve; it holds a lot of slack – and seal the seams together, pinching with your fingertips.
Bake dumplings: Arrange dumplings in a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Whisk egg together with one teaspoon water to form a glaze. Brush glaze over the tops and exposed sides of dumplings. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until pastries are puffed and bronzed on top.
To finish and serve: While the dumplings bake, beat butter, powdered sugar, and whiskey, lemon juice, or milk together with vanilla until smooth. When dumplings come out of the oven, dollop each with a heaping tablespoon of the sauces, which will melt over the sides. Serve right away.
This will make almost double the crispy stuff you need for this salad, but I think you’ll be glad for leftovers. An an 8-10 ounce bundle of curly or lacinato/Tuscan/dinosaur kale with the woody stems and rib removed will yield the 5 ounces of leaves used here. I usually cut the apple right before serving, just in case it’s prone to browning (but not all are). The crispy nuts are adapted from the ones on the kale salad at Beauty & Essex in the Lower East Side.
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 3 tablespoons (45 grams) apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon smooth dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) mayonnaise or Greek-style plain yogurt
- 6 tablespoons (80 grams) olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup (115 grams or 4 ounces) sharp cheddar, coarsely grated
- 1 cup (85 grams) sliced almonds
- 2 tablespoons (15 grams) powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
- 5 ounces (140 grams) kale leaves, any variety, cut into thin ribbons [see Note]
- 1 large crisp apple, halved, cored, and cut thin
Start the dressing: In a medium bowl, combine shallot and apple cider vinegar and set aside while you make the crispy stuff.
Make cheddar crisps and sugared almonds: Line a large (half-sheet size) rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Scatter cheddar evenly over half the parchment, in about a 8×12-inch, 1/4-inch thick rectangle. Sprinkle with a little cayenne or black pepper, if you wish.
In a colander, rinse almonds under cold water (yes, really!) and shake off excess liquid. In a bowl, toss wet almonds with powdered sugar, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne until evenly coated. Spread on second half of parchment-covered baking sheet in a thin, even layer, leaving an inch around it bare so it can spread.
Bake almonds and cheddar together for 4 to 9 minutes, until the cheese is melted into a lacy, evenly deep golden brown crisp and the almonds are dark at the edges and lightly golden throughout. Please hear me on this: Watch it closely. Both the cheddar and the almonds will go from not-yet-golden to perfectly bronzed to burnt in what feels like a one-minute period. Check it at 4 minutes, then every minute or two thereafter until the pan is just right. Remove and let cool while you finish the salad.
Finish the dressing: To the shallots and vinegar in the bowl, whisk in dijon, mayo or yogurt, then drizzle in olive oil, whisking the whole time. Season dressing with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper.
Assemble: In a large wide bowl or salad plate, toss greens with 2/3 the dressing to start, then tasting and adding the rest if you wish. Arrange the apple over the greens, fanning out slices. Break off clustered of almonds from the baking sheet and scatter them over the salad. If the cheddar crisp seems very oily, you can blot it with a paper towel, before tearing or cutting it into large bite-size pieces and scattering them over the salad. Season the salad with additional salt and pepper and serve right away.
Do ahead: The nuts can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for a week. The cheese crisps are best kept the fridge, lightly covered. The dressing will keep for several days in the fridge. Washed and blotted dry kale keeps in a large zipped bag in the fridge for several days, provided you keep it out of the spots that are prone to freezing produce (or maybe this is just my terrible fridge).