Apple Cake

This cake broke my heart.

It baked in the oven for a full hour and a half, filling my apartment with the enchanting, homey scent of apples and cinnamon and whiskers on kittens. With such a glorious aroma perfuming my home, I was convinced it would emerge from the oven absolutely perfect. When the timer finally rang, I was horrified to find, well, a mess.

The cake batter bubbled over the sides of the pan and dripped in messy, brown glops down to the cookie sheet underneath (thank goodness for the cookie sheet!). The remaining edges were done when the timer rang, but the center was completely raw.

Still, I have a really hard time calling this dessert a failure. The truth is it was delicious – sweet and moist, with crispy-chewy, golden brown edges. I made it for Handsome Greg’s birthday dinner, and we all loved it. Well, we loved the parts that were baked through. We ate the edges then put the center back in the oven to finish baking it through, about 40 minutes.

And the failure? Is my fault. The original recipe from Smitten Kitchen is perfect. I wanted desperately to follow it as written, but I didn’t have a tube pan, so I used a 9 x 13. And that was my downfall. I read the many reviews that said, “Oh, I made this in a 9 x 13-inch pan, and it came out perfectly.” I’m convinced those bakers have not only raw, runny apple cake, but also pants on fire.

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Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust and Bacon Streusel

I work in the Publishing department at Search, and our department is arguably the envy of all others. One of the best things about working in the Publishing department is the quality and frequency of potlucks. We have elaborate themed potlucks for every birthday.

For her 35th birthday/presidential campaign launch, my kooky boss, Tenessa, requested an all bacon and cheese potluck. Always up for a challenge, I volunteered to make dessert.

I like to think I’m pretty adventurous with food, but I admit, I was nervous about making an apple, bacon, and cheese pie. For one thing, I’d only made pie crust once before, and from what I’ve heard, pie crust can smell fear. Also? It’s an apple, bacon, and cheddar pie.

I love all those flavors together, but I hadn’t really thought of them in a sweet dessert.

My fears were unfounded. This pie is ridiculously delicious. If it weren’t such a pain in the ass to put together, I think I’d make this same pie once a week. Sweet, salty, smoky. Crispy cheese crust, like the best Cheez-It you’ve ever had. Tender, gooey apples. Candied bacon streusel.

Earlier this week, Tenessa announced her resignation from Search, and the Publishing department has been whining and moping ever since. Just imagine, dear Tenessa, how many ridiculous, over-the-top bacon and cheese dishes I have not yet made for you.

Oh, and congrats on the new job. If you need any help packing up your office, I’ll be here planning recipes and potluck themes, soaking Professor Meowington’s back with my salty tears.

Employees must wash their hands.

Recipe below the fold

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Apple Crumb Pie

Why do I ever doubt my mom? I should know better by now.

A few years ago, when Mom suggested we change up Thanksgiving dessert, and go with an entirely non-traditional apple pie recipe, I was SCANDALIZED.

I mean, it’s one thing to try out a funky, new pie recipe for an Arbor Day potluck. But Thanksgiving dinner?

Mom topping the pie, wearing my old Strawberry Shortcake t-shirt

I reluctantly agreed to go along with Mom’s evil plan to ruin Thanksgiving, fully assuming that following a dismal failure, we’d have learned our lesson, and we’d vow to return our Thanksgiving allegiance to chocolate mousse pie and blackberry pie and I totally forgot what I was talking about.

Pablo peeling apples

And then we made Martha Stewart’s Apple Crumb Pie. Holy crap balls. This is what apple pie aspires to. The filling is very, um, apple-y. It’s pretty much wall-to-wall apples, with very little goop.

The crust [THE CRUST] is ridiculously delicious. The almond crumb crust is salty, nutty, crispy, and with no pastry to deal with, it comes together as easy as, well, pie.

I will never doubt again.

Recipe below the fold

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Apple Cranberry Crostata with Mascarpone

Hey, y’know what’s great about the crostata recipe I posted last week? It makes two crusts!

Last month, the Fare for All groceries I share with Mom included three golden delicious apples. You can tell just from the name – golden delicious – that these apple suck. It’s like people who tell you that they’re funny. If you were actually funny, you wouldn’t need to tell me.

These apples are so happy to not be golden delicious.

The craptastic texture of golden delicious mushballs made them excellent candidates to fill that second crostata crust in my freezer.

This recipe is adapted only slightly from Yankee Magazine, and it’s ridiculously good. The mascarpone melts into the apple juices, and makes a tangy, gooey sauce. The sugar hardens on the crust, creating a satisfying crunch. And the tart cranberries and lemon juice keep it fresh and light.

Professor Meowington says: Don't forget the lemon juice!

The only thing I didn’t love about this crostata was the sugar cinnamon mixture. It didn’t completely incorporate into the apple and cranberry filling. Next time I’ll toss the apples in the sugar and spices, rather than sprinkling the mixture on top.

Recipe below the fold

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Caramel Apple Crisp

My schoolgirl days are long passed, but I still imagine that I live on an academic calendar. When autumn arrives, I feel like buying notebooks and pencils, and starting something new. So welcome to my start-of-the-school-year autumn project, Galley Kitchen. I’ll be sharing my own recipes, trying others’ recipes, and learning to take decent food photos.

The weather in Minnesota has just begun to cool off, and the summer humidity is lifting. The air is crisp, the skies are blue and clear, and the Minnesota State Fair is finally ending. I live a few blocks from the Fair, and for 10 days each year it’s the bane of my existence. The annual neighborhood takeover of cars and pedestrians makes me want to use angry emoticons.

For my inaugural food blog post, I’m stepping entirely out of character and making something simple: a commercial recipe that I’ve made before. In honor of autumn’s impending arrival, I’m making Caramel Apple Crisp, recipe courtesy of Kraft. (Don’t judge.) They’re very sweet and gooey, with a crispy oatmeal crust and topping.

The butter I left out on the dining room table to soften had some suspicious imprints in it, so I got another stick from the fridge and melted it in the microwave. If I was just cooking for myself, I’d probably go ahead and use butter that my cat had licked, but this is a dish to share.

After I added the melted butter to the brown sugar I combined all the ingredients in the crust/topping, and squished it all together with my hands, until it was soft and crumbly.

I’m a little slow at the peeling and chopping, so I tossed the apple chunks in lemon juice as I  chopped them to keep them from turning brown.

If Greg decides to go to the State Fair today, I’m going to be his Park-and-Ride to the fairgrounds. I’ll wrap up some apple crisp for him to snack on with Dusty in the middle of the night.

Recipe after the fold

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