Apple Pie

This year, in honour of Pi Day tomorrow (14th March, 3.14 – nerdy I know!), I made my first latticed apple pie. Heading into Autumn, apples are particularly sweet and delicious and they really shine in this pie. I’ve kept flavouring simple and traditional with just a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon to enhance the flavour of the apples. I used red apples because that’s what we had in the house, but it would work well with granny smith apples as well (but you may want to add in a little more sugar). Happy baking!

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Ingredients (serves 8)
Pastry
1⅔ cups plain flour
1 tblspn caster sugar
¼ tspn baking powder
180g cold butter, chopped
⅓ cup iced water
1 tspn vanilla extract

5 apples peeled, cored and chopped
1 ½ tblspns lemon juice
⅓ cup caster sugar
4 tspns cinnamon
1 tspn vanilla extract
2 tblspns almond meal
1 egg, lightly beaten
Caster sugar, extra

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Method
To make the pastry, place the flour, sugar, baking powder and butter in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. With the motor still running, add the water and vanilla and process until it comes together and forms a smooth dough. Wrap in Gladwrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

While your pastry is chilling, peel, core and chop your apples and grease a 22cm pie tin.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Place the apple pieces and lemon juice in a large, deep frypan and cook over a medium heat for 8 minutes or until tender. Carefully pour out approximately half of the liquid from the pan and then add the sugar, cinnamon and vanilla to the remaining mixture. Set aside to cool.

Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll out half of it with a rolling pin until it is 3mm thick. Carefully line the base of the pie tin with the pastry, trimming off any excess. Prick the bottom with a fork, then line with baking paper and top with pie weights or uncooked rice. Bake for 15 minutes and then remove the baking paper and pie weights and bake for another 10 minutes or until pastry is browned lightly.

Allow the pie base to cool slightly (around 5 minutes). Sprinkle the base of the pie with almond meal and then top with the apple mixture. Try to make the top as flat as possible to help with your pastry (you may have some apple mixture left over).

To make a lattice pie lid, roll out the remaining pastry until 3mm thick and cut strips of your desired width (I made 6 thick strips and 4 thin). Place strips evenly spaced on top of the pie, and weave them in a lattice design (see here for instructions). Cut off any excess and press down the edges of each strip so it links to the sides. Alternatively, roll out the remaining pastry into a large 3mm circle and drape it over the pie. Cut slits in the top of the pastry.

Brush your pie lid with egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until pastry is golden and crisp. Serve with cream or ice-cream and enjoy!

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Adapted from ‘High-Top Apple and Sultana Pie’ from Donna Hay’s Seasons.

Stained Glass Christmas Cookies

These gorgeous stained glass cookies are as fun to make as they are to eat! You can use any shaped cutters you like and could even join the cookies together to make a stained glass cookie wreath.

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Ingredients (makes approximately 50 cookies)
½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 small egg
½ teaspoon water
1 ½ cups flour
¾ teaspoons baking powder

Hard/boiled lollies (I used Melbourne Rock Candy Bo Peep collection)
White chocolate, melted

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Method
Cream butter, sugar & vanilla using electric beaters until well combined. Add the egg and water and beat until light and fluffy.

Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, mix sifted dry ingredients into wet ingredients until a dough forms. Divide into 2 roughly equal pieces, cover with glad wrap (or plastic wrap) and refrigerate for an hour.

Line 3 large trays with baking paper.

Roll out dough using a rolling pin until it is approximately 1cm thick. Use assorted cutters to cut out shapes from the dough, and carefully place them on the lined trays (no need to leave room for spreading as they don’t). Then line up the smaller cutter of the shape in the centre of each, and cut out the centre dough.

Preheat oven to 190-200°C  (180°C fan-forced).

Divide the hard lollies into colours and blitz them, one colour at a time, in a blender until they are fine crystals. Using a teaspoon, carefully sprinkle the crystals into the empty centres of the cookies ensuring that the centre is fully covered. Brush away any crystals not in the centre as these will discolour the cookies.

Bake cookies for 8-12 minutes, until lightly golden. Leave to cool on the baking trays for 5 minutes, before gently transferring onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Once they are cool, decorate by piping melted white chocolate onto the cookies.

Enjoy!

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Sugar cookie recipe adapted from ‘Alice & Lois.com’ – ‘The Best Valentine Sugar Cookies’
Design idea from Pinterest

Christmas Wreath Cupcakes

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Ingredients (makes 24)
24 cupcakes of your desired flavour (red velvetflourless chocolate or Christmas spice work well)
250g butter, softened
3 cups icing sugar
4 tablespoons milk
Optional: Peppermint essence
Green food colouring
Red mini M&Ms

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Method
Beat butter in a medium bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in icing sugar, milk, and, if desired, 1-2 drops of peppermint essence.

Spread thin layer of the frosting over each cupcake.

Colour remaining icing with 1-2 drops of green food colouring. Spoon into a piping bag with a star attachment and pipe icing in a ring around the edge of the cupcakes to make a wreath. Top with red M&Ms. Enjoy!

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Elsa’s Snowflake Cookies

These beautiful snowflake cookies look like something Elsa from Frozen would make, and are a fantastic way to get your kids involved in the kitchen. These are perfect for Christmas or for a Frozen themed Birthday party.

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Ingredients (makes around 40 cookies)
Equipment:
1 large snowflake cookie cutter
1 small snowflake cookie cutter

For the cookies:

½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 small egg
½ teaspoon water
1 ½ cups flour
¾ teaspoons baking powder

To decorate:
Blue hard lollies (we used Melbourne Rock Candy Bo Peep collection)
White chocolate, melted

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Method
Cream butter, sugar & vanilla using electric beaters until well combined. Add the egg and water and beat until light and fluffy.

Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, mix sifted dry ingredients into wet ingredients until a dough forms. Divide into 2 roughly equal pieces, cover with glad wrap (or plastic wrap) and refrigerate for an hour.

Line 3 large trays with baking paper.

Roll out dough using a rolling pin until it is approximately 1cm thick. Use the large snowflake cutter to cut out snowflakes from the dough, and carefully place on the lined trays (no need to leave room for spreading as they don’t). Then line up the smaller cutter in the centre of the large snowflake to cut out the dough – you can either bake these little snowflakes as cookies or put them back into the dough to cut out more large snowflakes.

Preheat oven to 190-200°C  (180°C fan-forced).

Blitz blue hard candy in a blender until they are fine crystals. Using a teaspoon, carefully sprinkle the crystals into the empty centres of the cookies ensuring that the centre is fully covered. Brush away any crystals not in the centre as these will discolour the cookies.

Bake cookies for 8-12 minutes, until lightly golden. Leave to cool on the baking trays for 5 minutes, before gently transferring onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cookies are cool, decorate by piping melted white chocolate onto the cookies.

Enjoy!

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Sugar cookie recipe adapted from ‘Alice & Lois.com’ – ‘The Best Valentine Sugar Cookies’

Design idea from Pinterest.

Warm Cinnamon & Rhubarb Muffins

It’s that time of the year again: swot-vac. While I always have good intentions, designing elaborate study timetables and carefully planning my time,  I often find myself procrastinating in one way or another and procrastibaking is my specialty. Fortunately, I work well with a rewards-based system where I treat myself to a baked item after doing a certain number of hours of study, and so baking is useful in that it provides me with much-needed study motivation (or so I tell myself).

Coincidence? I think not...
Coincidence? I think not…

These cinnamon & rhubarb muffins are perfect for this because they are heavenly, especially when fresh out of the oven or warmed in the microwave, just the thing to reward yourself after working hard. They’re so good in fact that I had to stop myself from inhaling them all right away. So go on… treat yourself to a batch of these perfectly seasonal study treats – I can assure you, you won’t regret it!

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Ingredients
For the rhubarb mixture
1 cup bunch rhubarb, washed, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sugar

For the muffins
1 cup rhubarb mixture
1 ¼ cups plain flour
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ cup buttermilk
¾ cup olive oil
1 egg

For the sugar-cinnamon crust
⅓ cup sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

How good is rhubarb?! Image credit: pipmagazine.com.au
How good is rhubarb?! Image credit: pipmagazine.com.au

Method
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan-forced. Line 2 muffin tins with 16 muffin cases.

Chop rhubarb into small, even pieces and cook with water and sugar in a small saucepan over a medium heat until the rhubarb is tender and the sugar has dissolved. Stand for 5 minutes to cool.

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Add flour, sugar and baking powder into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Carefully pour in the buttermilk, olive oil and egg and gently stir to combine. Mix in the cooked rhubarb, being careful not to over-stir (note: the mixture is supposed to be very wet, don’t worry!)

Spoon mixture evenly into muffin cases & top with mixed sugar and cinnamon.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.  Enjoy!

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Recipe from Grandma (from Sue Lowry)