Thursday, October 12, 2017

Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake


In spite of it being apple, pumpkin, and everything autumnally nice season, I decided to be an outlier and make this Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake instead. The plainest, most humble, least ambitious, most ordinary, deceivingly ho-hum, borderline old-fashioned dessert in Yotam Ottolenghi's and Helen Goh's newest cookbook "Sweet".  Brilliance, as you will discover in your first bite of this cake, doesn't need to come only from complexity. It can and does come from simplicity. And generally speaking, this Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake, made with simple ingredients could not be any easier to make. If there was ever a cake you will find yourself making again and again for either legitimate or just because reasons, this will be the one. It's the kind of cake you want to serve to overnight guests, to bring on a weekend trip, to bring as a hostess gift, to make as a welcoming gift, to make for someone who makes you happy, to bring to a meeting, to serve at your book club.....okay I think you get the idea of this cake's versatility and impressibility. And as an added bonus, it can be made year round as it doesn't rely on seasonal ingredients. 


Before any of your friends discover the recipe for this Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake, you need to make it. More specifically, when anyone in your circle of strangers and friends hear the words 'Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake", you want them to associate you with it. Of course, you will defer the accolades and all flattering remarks and give credit to Helen Goh because it's the right thing to do. Your graciousness will only further serve to forever link you to this cake. 


As I had shared in a prior blog post, I have the European version of the cookbook "Sweet" (although I am seriously considering getting the American version as converting metric amounts to the familiar American ones can at times be challenging). In the spirit of full disclosure, I made this Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake using the ingredient amounts least familiar to me. But not to worry if you don't have a metric scale or milliliter measuring cup as the recipe below provides you with the cup and tablespoon amounts as well. Not to digress to much here or be more than my unusually redundant self, having a metric scale is worth it's weight in gold. If you don't yet have one, find any excuse to buy one for yourself or find a reason for someone to buy it for you. I promise you (meaning all of my American friends) will find yourself unable to live without it. Okay, done (for the moment).


For those you who haven't yet discovered a Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake having an excessively puckering sweet and sugary lemony flavor, it is your lucky day.

I know I said the ingredients for this cake are readily accessible, but when you look at the ingredient list and see 'caster sugar' listed, you might think I don't understand the meaning of word 'accessible' (but I do, really I do). Caster sugar is becoming one of those ingredients you find regularly sitting on the shelves in some grocery stores and many cooking stores. But if you can't find it, you have a couple of options: (1) Order it online (Amazon is one source); (2) substitute it with superfine sugar; or (3) process your granulated sugar in a food processor until it has a very fine consistency. If you opt for option 3, measure and/or weigh it after it has a superfine consistency. 


Unlike most other loaf cakes where you begin with creaming the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, this cake begins with whisking/beating together the eggs and caster sugar until frothy and pale in color. The whipping cream is added in next. The mixture is whisked/beaten until it becomes even more pale in color and slightly thickened. After a couple of minutes of beating, my mixture became ever so slightly thickened, although I don't think it achieved the consistency implied in the recipe. While it all seemed to work out in the end, I might consider whipping the cream to soft peaks first before adding to the egg/sugar mixture just to see if there is any discernible difference in either the texture or rise of the cake.


The dry ingredients are sifted together and folded into the egg/sugar/cream mixture until fully incorporated. But before you sift and/or add the flour/baking powder/salt, melt the butter, remove from the heat and stir in the poppy seeds and grated lemon zest. The poppy seeds should have some time to soften in the butter/lemon zest before they are added to the batter. Once everything is mixed together, the batter is poured into a prepared one pound loaf pan/tin (8 1/2" x 4 1/2") and baked for approximately 50 minutes in a preheated 350 degree (F) oven. Note: Set your loaf pan on a baking sheet before putting in the oven in the even there is any spillage.


While the Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake is baking, make the lemon glaze. To make it whisk together confectionary sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice until smooth.

Immediately after removing the cake from the oven, spoon over the lemon glaze evenly over the top. Continue spreading the glaze until it becomes transparent and no pools of glaze remain on the top of the cake. Note: Do not poke holes in the cake.


After topping the hot out of the oven cake with the lemon glaze, allow it to remain in the pan for 30-45 minutes. Then transfer to a platter and let it come to room temperature before serving.


This isn't the first poppy seed cake I have shared on the blog (Glazed Poppy Seed Cake), but it's the first lemon and poppy seed cake made in a loaf versus a bundt pan. While both cakes are delicious, they are very different from each other. In other words, you have room in your life for both of them. Particularly if you are fond of confections made with poppy seeds.


This soul and sweet tooth satisfying cake is tender, moist, and just the right amount of lemony. If you are looking to impress your family and friends without spending hours in the kitchen or shelling out a small fortune at the grocery store, make this Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake. Whether it makes an appearance at breakfast, at afternoon tea, for dessert, or as a night time snack, it's the kind of cake destined to be one your friends and family hope you bring or serve. Just make sure to put a piece away for yourself as its' not likely there will be any leftovers.

Recipe
Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake (inspired by the Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake recipe from the cookbook "Sweet" by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh)

Ingredients
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup and 2 Tablespoons (225 g) caster (or superfine) sugar (I use India Tree's Caster Sugar)
1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy whipping cream
5 1/2 Tablespoons (75 g) unsalted butter
1 generous Tablespoon (10 g) poppy seeds
1 Tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from 2-3 lemons)
1 1/3 cups (170 g) all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
7/8 cup (100 g) confectionary or icing sugar
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F) or 180 degrees (C). Line a one pound loaf pan (8 1/2" x 4 1/2") with parchment paper. Lightly butter sides of pan and parchment paper. Set aside.
2. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in poppy seeds and lemon zest. Set aside.
3. Sift together the all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
4. In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or in a medium sized bowl using a hand mixer), beat together the caster sugar and eggs at medium high speed until pale and frothy (approximately 2 minutes).
5. Add heavy cream and beat until the mixture has slightly thickened and mixture becomes even paler in color. Note: Alternately beat cream until soft peaks form, add to the egg/sugar mixture and continue beating until the batter has slightly thickened. 
6. Add the sifted dry ingredients and fold in using a spatula.
7. Fold in the butter/lemon zest/poppy seed mixture.
8. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
9. While the cake is baking, whisk together the confectionary/icing sugar and lemon juice until smooth to make the glaze.
10. When cake is removed from the oven, immediately spoon over the lemon glaze. Use the back of the spoon to spread the glaze evenly over the cake. Keep moving around the glaze until it has all been absorbed and no pools of glare remain.
11. Allow cake to cool for 30-45 minutes before removing from the pan. 
12. Allow cake to come to room temperature before serving. Cut into 1/2" slices when serving. Store cake covered at room temperature.


Harvest season in an Illinois cornfield.

Friday, October 6, 2017

White Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Shortbread Cookies


In the wide wonderful world of cookies, melt in your mouth shortbread cookies rank up there as my favorites. What is not to love about a buttery, borderline luxurious cookie that gets even better with age? Whether made simply with a dusting of sugar or dipped in white chocolate, left plain or studded with nuts, dried fruit or spices, shortbread cookies have an irresistible quality to them. They may one of the only cookies I find home made or store bought to be equally irresistible. Particularly if Walker's Shortbread is the store bought version. 


There are more versions of shortbread cookies on this blog than another kind of cookie. If hard pressed to pick a favorite, I couldn't. I love them all. Amy's Shortbread Cookies were one the very first cookie recipes posted to the blog. Made with chopped pistachios and white chocolate, they not only make an appearance around the holidays, but they have been known to make appearances year round.


Up until now I hadn't even considered tinkering with the original recipe. 


But then I had the idea of adding of dried cranberries to them. At first I thought about eliminating the pistachios, but then remembered just how much I love the flavor combination of dried cranberries and pistachios in the White Chocolate Dipped Cranberry and Pistachio Biscotti


Other than adding in a half cup of chopped dried cranberries to the batter, I reduced the amount of finely chopped pistachios from 1/2 cup to 1/3 cup. (See note in recipe.)

Some of my cranberries were finely chopped and some were a little more coarsely chopped. If using a crimped edge cookie cutter, finely chopping them will make the cutting process much easier.


Of the many things I love about this shortbread recipe is how easy the dough is to roll out as well as how forgiving it is. Scraps of dough can be balled up and rerolled out. Because they don't spread very much during the baking process, you can get alot of cookies on the baking pan.


In a preheated 350 degree (F) oven, the cookies bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden on the bottom and edges. However, baking time will change depending on the size and thickness of the cookie. Thinner, smaller cookies will have a shorter baking time than a thicker, larger cookie. 


With or without the addition of melted white chocolate, these Cranberry Shortbread Cookies reminded me why it's a good thing I don't have shortbread cookie favorites.

You definitely need to make these White Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Shortbread Cookies for all of the cookie monsters in your life. Especially the shortbread loving kind. 
Recipe
White Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Shortbread Cookies (a variation to Amy's Shortbread Cookies)
Makes 2 to 3 dozen cookies depending on the size of cookie cutter used.

Ingredients
1 cup (230 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (62 g) confectionary sugar
1 teaspoon high quality vanilla
2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (64 g) dried cranberries, finely chopped (could also use dried cherries)
1/3 cup (45 g) chopped pistachios, plus additional for sprinkling on top of cookies (Note: Could use up to a 1/2 cup of chopped pistachios)
9 ounces (255 g) white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. Sift together the flour and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or alternately in a medium sized bowl if using a hand mixer), beat butter and confectionary sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy (approximately 3-4 minutes).
4. Add vanilla and mix in.
5. With mixer on low speed, add sifted dry ingredients until incorporated.
6. Add in chopped pistachios and chopped cranberries. Mix until blended.
7. Divide dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one half of the dough to desired thickness (my preference is 1/4"). Using a cookie cutter of your choice, cut dough and place cookies on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. 
9. Bake cookies until lightly browned on the bottom (approximately 12-15 minutes, depending on the cookie's size and thickness). Allow cookies to cool for 3-5 minutes on pan before removing and transferring to a cooling rack. Allow cookies to cool completely before dipping in melted chocolate (approximately 30-45 minutes). 
10. Place a bowl filled with the chopped white chocolate over a pan of simmering water. Dip half or the top of the cookies into the melted chocolate. Place on a sheet of parchment paper. Note: While chocolate hasn't set, sprinkle with chopped pistachios if using.
11. Allow chocolate to set completely before serving and/or storing cookies in a tightly sealed container in a cool location.

Note: (1) I kept some of the cookies plan (no chocolate); dipped some of them in the white chocolate without topping with any chopped pistachios; and dipped some in the chocolate and finished with a sprinkling of finely chopped pistachios. (2) Cookies can be placed one inch apart on the baking sheet as they spread very little during baking.



Cape Elizabeth Light, aka Two Lights, in Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Monday, October 2, 2017

Chocolate Cake with Ganache Icing


Months ago I had read Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh were collaboratively working on a new cookbook. One completely devoted to those confections directly appealing to our sweet tooth. Aptly named "Sweet", I learned this destined to be classic cookbook would be released first in Europe (ultimately in September) and in the states (subsequently in October). Now if I lived somewhere in Europe I would have been thrilled to learn I would be amongst one of the 'firsts' to get my hands on this cookbook. But I live here in the states so my reaction was a bit different. Instead of experiencing some 'thrill', I shamelessly will admit I was a bit, well more than just a bit, envious of those living across the ocean, love to bake fellow foodies. As someone who has been known to put the word 'wait' into the same four letter word category we were once told were bad words, I began to wonder if there was a way I wouldn't have to. Wait, that is. I had once boldly called a book publisher asking for an early release of a book, but I had a really good reason for making a request they kindly granted. But calling the book publisher for an early US release of this cookbook would have been for selfish rather than selfless reasons. 

And then I wondered if I should ask one of my friends, who just happened to be going back to visit her family in County Mayo, if she might have any time to stop in a bookstore to pick up this book up for me. And then lug it back without incurring an over the weight limit luggage expense. Because with my luck, it would end up being one of the 'for no good reason' most expensive cookbooks I had ever purchased. If you have already guessed I asked for this favor, you would be right. However, little did I know at the time this favor would end up involving her sister making numerous trips to the bookstore. Not only to check on the cookbook's arrival date but in having it shipped to me. My obsession with getting a copy of "Sweet" before most everyone here in the states got theirs resulted in me being indebted to not just one, but two people. I don't yet know how I shall repay them, although I am fairly certain I will think of a worthy repayment for their kindness. Not just for gifting the cookbook to me, but for giving me the priceless 'thrill' experience. 


There will many cookbook reviewers, food bloggers, and bakers around the world weighing in and sharing their opinion on "Sweet". Other than telling everyone who loves to bake they should seriously consider buying this cookbook, I will let others do the reviewing. I would much rather tell you about this Chocolate Cake with Ganache Icing. One I finished with a bit of sea salt.


This isn't the first chocolate cake recipe I have shared on the blog. And maybe it won't be my last. But this one isn't anything like any of the others I have swooned over. If I told you it tasted more like a cake you would find in almost any bakery in Europe rather than some here in the states, that might not be enough to entice you to make it. Or even adequately describe it. If I told you it was a dense, chocolatey, perfect crumbed cake topped with a rich ganache lightly sea salted icing any chocolate cake lover would be over the moon, thrilled to eat, you might swayed to make it as some of those descriptors might resonate with you. But if I told you this swoon worthy, chocolate lover's dream cake was relatively easy to make, I wouldn't be surprised if it immediately went to the top of your 'must bake' list.


The bittersweet (70% cocoa) and Dutch processed cocoa along with the espresso granules (dissolved in boiling water) used in the cake batter are what gives this cake its' deep, rich chocolate flavor. Instead of baking powder or baking soda, this cake recipe uses self-rising flour. And while some adaptations of this chocolate cake recipe list granulated sugar as one of the ingredients, I used the recommended caster (superfine) sugar.  And because I had the European version of the cookbook, I measured all of my ingredients using either a scale or measuring cup with millileter markings. In other words, I tried to be 'ingredient' true to the original recipe as possible. Note: The recipe below provides both US and metric amounts.


In the original recipe, the butter, chocolate and hot coffee are combined in a bowl and stirred until the chocolate and butter melt completely. Instead, I placed those three ingredients in a bowl set over a pan over simmering water and stirred until everything melted. Before removing the bowl from the simmering water, I added the caster sugar and whisked until it melted. Because the mixture was 'warm' I was concerned adding the eggs to the chocolate mixture would result in 'cooked, curdled' eggs. To ensure this didn't happen, I first tempered the eggs by mixing them with a small amount (about 1/4 cup) of the chocolate mixture before adding them in. All of these adaptations worked.


After adding and whisking in the sifted dry ingredients, the batter is poured into a prepared (lightly buttered, parchment paper lined) 9" (23 cm) round cake or springform pan. This cake batter will seem unusually thin, but the recipe assures us not to worry about this consistency as this is how it should be. So don't worry.

The conversion of Celcius to Fahrenheit is a bit messy. 170 degrees (C) actually converts to 338 degrees (F). Most American gas ovens don't have this finite level of fahrenheit designation so there is a tendency to either round up or round down Celcius listed temperatures. Instead, I tried to gauge my oven setting slightly below the 350 degree (F) mark to get as close to what I thought might be the 338 degrees (F) temperature as possible. My baking time was just a couple of minutes longer than the recommended 60 minutes. But if you round up to 350 degrees (F), begin checking your cake around the 50 minute mark so you don't over bake it.

Unlike most other baked cakes, this one forms a top crust and has a cracked surface. Again, Ottolenghi and Goh tell us not to worry as this is how it should be.

While the cake bakes, begin making the chocolate ganache. It can be made in either a food processor or a bowl. I used both the food processor and the bowl. When all of the ingredients are mixed together, the ganache is very pourable thin. If you desire a cake to have a thin coating of chocolate, would recommend allowing the ganache to rest 10-15 minutes (just to slightly increase its viscosity) before pouring all over the cake. But if want the top of your cake to be slathered in a thick layer of ganache as I did, allow it rest for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Note: Regardless if you want to a thin or thick layer of ganache on your cake, allow the cake to cool completely before icing.


To keep the ganache from forming a film or drying out, cover with plastic wrap while resting. Ensuring the plastic wrap actually touches the top of the ganache.

This may be one of the most luxurious ganaches I have ever made. 


After icing the cake, I decided to sprinkle flakes of sea salt around the edge of cake. You can be a ganache purist and leave it off (although it was a great add) or you can top your cake with sprinkles or marzipan shapes. Be as simple or as fancy as your heart desires.


After serving the first piece of Chocolate Cake with Ganache Icing, I decided to serve the second piece with some vanilla ice cream. Lightly sweetened whipped cream or the recommended Espresso Cinnamon Mascarpone Cream would be great accompaniments to this cake.


If there was ever a cake to express your love or gratitude, this Chocolate Cake with Ganache Icing would be it. If there was ever a cake to make for anyone who has a serious affinity for a rich chocolate cake, this Chocolate Cake with Ganache Icing would seriously exceed their chocolate cake loving dreams. And if I ever get the chance to cook and/or bake with the woman who sent me the highly coveted cookbook containing the recipe for this chocolate cake, I will have it waiting for her when she arrives in my kitchen as a small repayment for her kindness.

Recipe
Chocolate Cake with Ganache Icing (a very slight adaptation to the Take-home Chocolate Cake recipe from the cookbook 'Sweet' written by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh)
Serves 10-12

Ingredients
Cake
1 cup plus 1 1/2 Tablespoons (250 g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 3/4 inch pieces (recommend a European or European style butter)
7 ounces (200 g) dark chocolate (70% cocoa) chopped into 3/4 inch pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso or instant coffee granules
1 1/2 cups (350 ml) boiling water
1 1/4 cup (250 g) caster or superfine sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons high quality vanilla 
1 3/4 cups plus 2 Tablespoons (240 g) self-rising flour
1/3 cup (30 g) Dutch processed cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Ganache
7 ounces (200 g) dark chocolate (70% cocoa) chopped into 3/4 inch pieces
3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy whipping cream
1 Tablespoon of golden syrup or corn syrup
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
Optional: Flaky sea salt for sprinkling on top of cake

Espresso Cinnamon Mascarpone Cream
1 1/2 cups plus 1 Tablespoon (375 ml) heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup (190 g) mascarpone
2 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso granules
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 1/2 Tablespoons confectionary sugar
Scraped seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions
Cake
1. Preheat oven to 338 degrees (F) or 170 degrees (C). Line a 9 inch cake pan or springform pan with parchment paper. Lightly butter top of paper and sides of pan.
2. Stir together the boiling water and espresso or coffee granules until completely dissolved.
3. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and kosher salt. Set aside.
4. Place butter, chocolate and hot coffee in a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of steaming water. Stir until everything is melted, combined and smooth.
5. Whisk in sugar and stir until dissolved.
6. Remove bowl from pan and pour into a larger bowl.
7. In a small bowl whisk together the eggs. Add a small amount of the chocolate mixture to combine (to ensure eggs do not cook). Add egg mixture to chocolate mixture, whisk until completely blended. 
8. Whisk the sifted dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture until fully incorporated. Note: Batter will very very liquidy, but this is the consistency it should have.
9. Pour mixture into prepared cake pan. Bake for approximately 60 - 65 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean or with just a few dry crumbs attached. Note: The top of the cake will form a crust and will be cracked. Again, not to worry as this is how it should look when baked.
10. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes before removing. Allow to cool completely before icing with the chocolate ganache.
11. Ice cake using the ganache. Optional: Lightly sprinkle the iced cake with flaky sea salt.
12. Serve with Espresso Cinnamon Mascarpone Cream (see below), lightly sweetened whipped cream or a high quality vanilla ice cream.

Ganache
1. Place pieces of chocolate in a small food processor. Pulse until finely chopped.
2. Heat cream and golden syrup (or corn syrup) in a small pan set over medium-high heat. As soon as bubbles begin to appear, remove from the heat. Slowly pour into the food processor. Process until the chocolate is melted.
3. Transfer mixture to a medium size bowl. Add butter and whisk until the mixture is shiny and smooth.
4. Cover the ganache with plastic wrap, with plastic wrap touching the entire surface of the ganache. Set aside until it has the consistency desired. For a thicker ganache, allow to set at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Note: If you want a thin layer of ganache over the cake, pour over the entire cake while the mixture is still liquidy and before it begins to set up.

Espresso Cinnamon Mascarpone Cream
1. Place all ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat for several minutes or until soft peaks form.

Notes: (1) The original recipe did not call for setting the bowl of butter, chocolate and hot coffee in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. But rather stirring the mixture in a bowl until all of the chocolate and butter is melted. Can use either method to melt the butter and chocolate. (2) If making the cake in smaller pans (3 inch, 4 inch, or 6 inch sizes), will need to adjust baking time. (3) I used the Ghiradelli 70% bittersweet chocolate for the cake and ganache. (4) As this is a very dense, chocolatey cake, would recommend serving with side of the Espresso Cinnamon Mascarpone Cream (see below), lightly sweetened whipped cream or a high quality vanilla ice cream.


Fall in Little Compton, Rhode Island


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Apple Crisp


Tomorrow is the meteorological arrival of autumn although we are in the midst of a record high heat wave. With temperatures in the 90s my plan to spend a day apple picking has temporarily been put on hold. Instead of handpicking apples off of the fruit laden trees in the apple orchard in order to create intoxicating aromas coming out of the kitchen, I had to settle for picking them out of the bins at the Farmer's Market. Yes, the effect was still the same. My grandiose plan of making my first apple crisp of the fall season using hand picked by me apples went belly up. Waiting another week until the fall weather arrived to make a romanticized version of an 'orchard to table' apple crisp was certainly an option. But when one (that one being me) gets a serious craving for something and there is a new recipe one (me again) can't wait to try, a week can seem like an eternity. Waiting has never been high on my list of virtues.


Two years ago I went on endlessly extolling the virtues of the Brown Butter Caramelized Apple Crisp and then four years ago I sang the praises of Shirley's Apple Crisp,. And now I am about to get on another soapbox and tell you about my newest favorite. This Apple Crisp isn't necessary better than the other two, it's different. An incredibly, mouthwatering, delicious, good different. And I am a fan of different.

Depending on your definition of an apple crisp you might think I am passing off a crumble as a crisp. If crisp and crumble (words often used interchangeably) were merged, there might such things as 'crimbles' or 'crusps'. But until such time either of these variations goes mainstream, I am going to stay with calling this a crisp even though oatmeal isn't one of the ingredients. And here's why.


According to Serious Eats, 'crisp and crumble are regional names often used interchangeably to name a crumb-topped baked fruit dish.' In other words, what you call it may depend on where you grew up. Generally, a crisp is a deep dish fruit dessert topped with 'a streusel made of butter, sugar, flour, nuts, oats and/or crumbs'. Crumbles, like a crisp and even a cobbler, have a bottom layer of fruit and a top crumb layer. The crumb layer in crumbles are generally made with butter, flour, sugar, sometimes nuts and always oats. The most significance difference between the crumble and crisp is the texture of the topping. Crumbles are clumpier and crisps are crispier. The cookie-like extra crispy topping of this Apple Crisp gives it its' 'crisp worthy' name. 


I never told you to use more than one type of apple when making the other crisp recipes posted to the blog. My bad. It took making this Apple Crisp with two different kinds of apples for me to see the error of my ways. 


I went with using three pounds of a combination of Honey Crisp and Granny Smith apples as I prefer the taste of sweet-tart apples. Both of these apples fall into that category, although their baked textures differs slightly. Honey Crisp being a little on the softer side and Granny Smith being on the little firmer side is what gives this baked crisp the best of both apple texture worlds. (See note below for other apple options.)


When using fresh apples, you can leave some of the skin on the apple slices. Or you can peel them so no trace of skin remains. If you choose to have a little bit of skin remain on your cut apples, make sure the skin isn't tough (which might happen with apples kept in the refrigerator for a long time). 


You can either core your apples before cutting them or cut around the core before slicing. Either way works. Cut your apples in slightly different thicknesses ranging from a generous 1/4" to a generous 3/8". For apples having a softer texture, cut them a little thicker (3/8") and for apples having a firmer texture, cut them in either or both of the aforementioned thicknesses. 


Sugar, salt, freshly squeezed lemon juice and the zest of a lemon are mixed together and poured over the sliced apples. After the apples are poured into your baking pan, mix in a sprinkling of cinnamon.


Unsalted butter, sugar, all-purpose flour, cinnamon and salt make up the topping. That's it. Just five ingredients.


The dough can be mixed in a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or with a handheld mixer. Once mixed it will have a texture similar to a cookie dough. To make the assembly of the crisp easier, I rolled the dough into a log, chilled it for an hour, and then cut in slices to top the apples. See note below for alternative way of topping the apples with the dough.


The slices of dough are layered over the apples. Leave a few gaps so the steam from the baking apples can escape during baking.


I topped this Apple Crisp with some White Sparkling Sugar. You could also top with either Sanding Sugar or Turbinado Sugar. Or you can leave the added sugar topping off altogether.

The original recipe recommended a baking time of 90 minutes in a 350 degree (F) preheated oven. My baking time was somewhere between 60 and 65 minutes. 

Allow the baked Apple Crisp to cool slightly if serving warm. 


What makes this Apple Crisp so endearing are its' flavors and textures. From the crunchy cinnamon cookie like topping to the caramelized apples, this crisp was beyond delicious even before a scoop of vanilla ice cream was added. It definitely ranks as one of the most satisfying comfort food desserts. It's one worthy of being served either after a causal or fancy dinner. 

There are so many desserts to welcome the fall season. But none may be better at embracing the change in seasons than a rustic, soul satisfying Apple Crisp. Especially this one. Starting making this crisp now, put into your baking rotation throughout the winter, give it a rest in the spring, and then let it make a repeat appearance or two in the summer. What I am trying to say is that THIS Apple Crisp could become habit forming. 

Recipe
Apple Crisp (a very slight change to Tartine's Apple Crisp recipe)

Ingredients
3 - 3 1/4 pounds of 2-4 varieties of apples (Honey Crisp and Granny Smith were used in this version)
1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
generous pinch of ground cinnamon

1 cup (225g) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 cup (200g) grunulated sugar
1 1/4 cups (170g) all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Sanding, Sparkling or Turbinado sugar for finishing
Vanilla Ice Cream

Directions
1. Place butter and sugar in a medium-large sized bowl. Using a hand mixer or standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment beat until smooth.
2. Add the flour, cinnamon, and kosher salt. Mix until mixture comes together in a smooth dough.
3. Flip the bowl over onto a long piece of plastic wrap. Using the plastic wrap, shape the dough into a log (about 12 inches long). Wrap tightly and chill in the refrigerator for one hour.
4. Peel (some or all) of the apples. Core or cut around core. Cut into slices of various thicknesses (e.g., ranging from a generous 1/4" to a generous 3/8") and place into a large bowl.
5. In a small bowl, sir together the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt. Add to apples. Toss together with a wooden spoon or with your hands.
6. Transfer the apples to a 9"x12" baking dish and shake until they are in an even layer. (Optional: Lightly butter pan before adding the apples.)
7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
8. Remove roll of dough from the refrigerator. Cut into 1/4" slices and arrange to cover the top of the apples. Note: Leave some small gaps in the dough rounds to allow the steam to escape during baking.
9. Sprinkles with sanding, sparkling or turbinado sugar if using.
10. Place pan in the center of the oven and bake for 60-65 minutes or until apples are tender and top is golden brown. 
11. Let cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature with or without vanilla ice cream.
12. The crisp will keep for up to a week if covered and stored in the refrigerator.

Notes: (1) Can use only variety of apple, but using at least two varieties (and up to 4) creates an apple crisp with a deeper flavor. Apple options include: Granny Smith, Greening, Gravenstein, Winesap, Gala, Fuji, Pink Lady and Honey Crisp. (2) Instead of forming the dough into the log and chilling, scoop up the dough into palm-sized balls, flatten each scoop to 1/4" thick as if you are making a tortilla and lay on top of the apples. (3) The thickness of the cut apple will affect baking time. Thicker cut apples may have a slightly longer baking time. However, if apples are cut too thin, their may dissolve into an applesauce like consistency.

Fall apples at the Farmer's Market (September 2017)