Apple · Bread · Recipes

Falling for Apple Fritters

My favorite baking season is here! I’ve been doing less baking but still trying to squeeze some in, here and there. This time last year, I was baking and sharing all kinds of recipes. I haven’t gone as crazy this fall because, well, COVID and everyone in my house is trying to eat super healthy to keep our immune systems in a place to help fight off that horrible virus. Also, depending on the day, we’re not eating gluten or dairy. Sometimes, we’re strict vegans and other days we’re not. Kind of all over the place!

Carrie was off school Friday and we decided to make our annual trip to an orchard where they also sell apple fritters. First of all, everyone in NE Ohio was off school and flocked to that place! I didn’t feel comfortable being there so we grabbed our fritters and went right back to the car to eat them. I was so excited! I took my first bite and it was disappointing. Second bite, bland. Third bite, stale. I PUT THE APPLE FRITTER BACK IN THE BAG and decided it was definitely not worth eating. It was disappointing but not the end of the world. I knew right then and there that I’d just make my own apple fritter experience.

This morning, Carrie and I made our own. I had this recipe saved from Half Baked Harvest (my true love!). I bought local apples at Countryside Farmers’ Market on Saturday and I was ready to have my fritter moment.

I NEVER fry anything. I made an exception today and embraced all the elements of the recipe. It was 100% worth it!

These Apple Fritters are light, full of warm spices and the apples cook just enough and are bursting with flavor! Carrie didn’t want the coffee glaze the recipe calls for so we just left that out and I added a tiny bit of lemon juice to the glaze to cut the sweetness a little. They are beyond delicious! They’re little bites of glorious fall flavors.

Little pillows of apple goodness!

After eating (inhaling) the first one, I took them over the top by adding a little homemade apple butter. I’ll just be here all day eating these!

Get the recipe (Half Baked Harvest), avoid all the crowds and stale, dry fritters and make them while all the juicy apples are in season. You won’t regret it!

From the heart,

Shannon

Apple · Bread · Recipes

Apple Cider Doughnuts

It’s finally feeling chilly here in NE Ohio and we’re drinking tons of warm apple cider! Carrie takes a mug of it to school almost every day. I enjoy it with a cinnamon stick, splash of bourbon or both. We make our annual trek to Patterson Fruit Farm to get apples, pumpkins, fritters, doughnuts and apple cider. I’m crazy about their apple cider doughnuts and only indulge one time a year. I thought I’d try making my own. I’ve made baked doughnuts many times but never made apple cider doughnuts. What have I been waiting for?

This recipe is super quick and easy. It’s a good one to make on a weekend morning for your family, or get together with friends for brunch OR simply make them for yourself! There’s nothing better than fresh doughnuts!

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My vision for this Saturday morning was similar to the spreads you see in food magazines this time of year. You know the ones. The family is hanging out around a little fire in matching plaid shirts, cute winter hats, hands cupped around their warm drinks, smiling because they’re outside among all the changing leaves, eating doughnuts. It’s a nice picture, isn’t it?

My plan: Get up early, write in my gratitude journal, shower, make these doughnuts, take some quick pictures for the blog, pack up the doughnuts along with freshly brewed coffee and steaming hot chocolate and hit a local trail with the family. Get in a brisk walk then reward ourselves with a yummy fall treat. Doesn’t that sound so fun?

It didn’t happen. Carrie woke up complaining of a sore throat and headache which put a real wrench in my plan. Casey just doesn’t eat in the morning and he wasn’t making an exception today. Mama’s gotta roll with it so, we (Carrie and I) enjoyed a more slow-paced breakfast at home. The Apple Cider Doughnuts seemed to help me forget Plan A. That isn’t completely true but I do think they lifted Carrie’s spirits a little and that’s worth way more than cute plaid shirts and morning hikes!

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These doughnuts are baked and come out light and fluffy. The ingredients are likely things you already have on hand: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, egg, apple cider, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and plain yogurt. Also, you’ll a donut pan. I love mine from USA Pan.

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Step one is to boil the cider to reduce it so it has a more intense flavor. This only takes about 10 minutes and it’s worth it. Once reduced, let it cool. You’ll use this in the dough and the glaze.

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Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another larger bowl. Add the dry to the wet and mix just until it all comes together.

I like to use a pastry bag to pipe the batter into the doughnut pan. You could also use a baggie or just spoon it in.

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As I was taking the photo above, there was cute Daisy Mae eating her breakfast! This also reveals the high tech photo studio I have in my kitchen! 🙂 I’m just keeping it real and it’s not ideal but I’m working with what I have! See that beagle?

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Pipe the batter and bake the doughnuts at 350 for about 8-12 minutes. Transfer from pan to wire rack.

Melt butter and add some of the apple cider reduction. Dunk the doughnuts in the butter cider combo then they get a dusting of cinnamon and sugar. Not great lighting here. There’s no window near my counter.

EAT THEM WHILE THEY’RE STILL WARM!

Apple Cider Doughnuts are a delicious start to the day or weekend. Maybe, you’ll even be eating these outside while wearing a plaid shirt and cute hat, sipping a warm drink! If you’re like me and life doesn’t always go as planned, you’ll appreciate these little pillows of fall flavors even more! Actually, just make a double batch!

From the heart,
Shannon

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Apple Cider Doughnuts

Ingredients:
Doughnuts
1 cup apple cider-reduced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 TBSP plain yogurt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Pinch cloves
Pinch salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder

Cinnamon Sugar Coating
3 TBSP unsalted butter
2 TBSP of the reduced cider
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Instructions:
Doughnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one 6-cup donut pan.

In a small saucepan, heat the apple cider over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it comes to a simmer. Continue to simmer, stirring every minute or two, until it is reduced by about half, around 10 minutes. Take off the heat, whisk in the butter until melted and combined, and set mixture aside for a few minutes to cool. Use 1/2 cup of the reduced cider for the doughnuts, and a couple tablespoons for the glaze.

In a large bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the reduced cider/butter mixture, sugar, egg, yogurt, and vanilla until well-combined.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients – flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt, baking soda and baking powder.

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet, and stir to combine. Do not over mix.

Fill a pastry bag or large size baggie with the batter and snip off the end. Fill each cavity about 2/3 of the way full.

Bake for 8-12 minutes, until risen and browned on the edges. Set aside to cool for 2-3 minutes, then remove to a wire rack set over parchment paper or a baking sheet.

Cinnamon Sugar Coating
While the doughnuts are baking, whisk together 2 tablespoons of the reduced cider with 3 tablespoons melted butter in a small bowl (big enough to dip the donuts in). Whisk together sugar and cinnamon in another similar sized bowl.

One by one, dip one side of the warm doughnuts into the butter/cider mixture, then into the cinnamon sugar mixture. Sprinkle extra cinnamon sugar on as you wish!

Recipe modified and adapted from other recipes (Sally’s Baking Addiction and Food Network)
Apple · Pie · Recipes

Pie Crust + Apple Pie with Caramel Sauce and Ice Cream

Bring on the fall pies! Pie baking season is in full swing and I’m ecstatic! I adore every kind of pie; I don’t have a favorite. It’s fun to make pie all year long and use what’s in season or put together something you’re craving.

I’ve been counting down the seconds to share my trusty pie crust recipe with you. While I’m at it, I’m also going to share my apple pie recipe. Apples are coming in strong and I eat my weight in them this time of year. Honeycrisp apples. No words needed! I usually use a 2-3 varieties of apples in my pie. I love the different textures and flavors.

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I’ve been making this crust for several years. There are many pie crust recipes out there and lots of opinions about shortening, butter, knead, no knead. Trust me, pie crust doesn’t have to be complicated or stressful. This recipe is easy and reliable! I love that it’s not super sweet and it’s there to simply enhance all the delicious filling.

Flour, butter, sugar, kosher salt and apple cider vinegar are all the ingredients you need!

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Pie crust tip #1: COLD! The butter should be cold. I cube and refrigerate a portion and freeze the rest. While I’m measuring, cutting and separating butter, I prep enough for 4-5 batches of crust. The butter is what gives the crust all that flaky goodness. The water should be ice water. Cold is your friend here.

When I made this batch, I used whole wheat pastry flour from Mud Run Farm. Pastry flour has less protein than all purpose flour. Pie crust doesn’t need all the strength from protein/gluten that’s in AP flour. It’s light and soft and makes amazing crust! You can certainly use unbleached all purpose flour but I highly recommend pastry flour. I put everything in the food processor except the frozen butter and water.

Pulse a few times until the mixture resembles the texture of sand then add the frozen butter and apple cider vinegar/ice water and pulse just until the mixture holds together. It will not look like dough at this point. You should still see pieces of butter. That’s your flaky crust insurance!

Dump it all out on the counter and work the dough until it gets smooth. You should still see pieces of butter. Split the dough into two portions, form into discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Depending on when you need it, refrigerate or freeze. If you freeze it, let it thaw in the fridge  a few hours or overnight before you’re ready to make your pie.

Pie crust tip #2: MORE IS BETTER! When I have the food processor and all the ingredients out, I go ahead and make 4 to 5 batches of crust and stick them in the freezer so I have them available whenever the pie making urge hits (which for me is quite often). It’s so worth it since you have to clean up the mess anyway. I don’t clean the food processor in between, I just keep cranking out the crust!

Like I said, I’ve had great luck with this crust for many years. I got apples at Countryside Farmers’ Market on Saturday and couldn’t wait to make my first fall apple pie of the year! I find it therapeutic to make a pie. It’s a process and it requires extra time but the end result is so worth it. Also, pie just feels special and comforting. You gotta really love someone to make them a pie! Okay, that may be a little too far but pie does feel loving to me and that’s a nice way to spend a fall afternoon!

I’ve experimented with many apple pie recipes. This is my standard and it includes zest and juice from an orange and lemon and warm spices: cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. I think fruit pies taste best when kept simple.

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Carrie enjoys making pie with me so after history homework, we got busy prepping the beautiful apples. Nice, thin slices and the addition of sugar, citrus and spices make for a beautifully balanced filling. You can peel or not peel your apples. She got to choose so the peels came off.

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Once the apples are loving their life in the sugary goodness, start prepping the crust. First, the pie dish.

Pie crust tip #3: DISH! Lightly butter and flour a pie dish. It gives the bottom of the crust a chance to brown evenly because it keeps all that butter that was worked into the dough a chance to stay in the dough.

Next, take one of the prepared pie dough discs and place it on a floured surface and gently roll it out. Place it in the bottom of the prepared pie dish. Gently coax the crust to settle into the dish using your hand.

Pie crust tip #4: CRUST DUST! Equal parts of flour and sugar sprinkled on the bottom of the crust. It creates a nice layer to ensure a non-soggy crust! Also, it’s a perfect spot to share your love note! I keep a jar of crust dust handy at all times.

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Pour the apples into the prepared crust, dot with butter, roll out the top crust and place on top of the apples.

Next, we tuck in the apples! That’s what I’ve always said to Carrie and now that’s her favorite part! Fold the top crust under the bottom to seal it and then crimp the edge.

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Brush the top with milk or cream and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. If you don’t have that sitting around, granulated sugar works too! Cut a few slits so the steam can escape, place on a baking sheet to catch any drips and pop that beauty into a hot oven.

While you wait, don’t ignore any apples that didn’t make it into the pie…

I bake at a high temp first to set the crust. I lower the temp for the last part of the baking time and cover with foil if it starts to get too brown. Once your pie is finished baking, let cool on a rack for several hours.

I made caramel the same day I made crust. Because why not!? Here’s the recipe for that. Just go ahead and make some. It really sets this whole thing off! Plus, you can use the caramel for so many other fall baked goods.

I never have apple pie without ice cream. I picked up some Mitchell’s Vanilla Bean and Saturday night dessert was all set! Who wouldn’t feel loved with this plate sitting in front of them?

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It was so delicious! Carrie and I just kept cleaning up the edge of the pie that was in the pie dish. Those bites don’t count, right? If you really want to welcome in the fall flavors, make an apple pie with fresh, local apples. Go the extra mile and make the crust and caramel. Enjoy the process and feel all the love!

From the heart,
Shannon

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Pie Crust
Ingredients:
Butter: Diced into 1/2” cubes: 9 TBSP in the fridge; 5 TBSP in the freezer
Pastry Flour: 2 1/4 cups
Kosher Salt: 2 1/4 tsp
Sugar: 1/2 TBSP
Apple Cider Vinegar: 1 TBSP with 1/2 cup cold water

Instructions:
Place 9 TBSP cold butter and all dry ingredients in food processor and pulse until it resembles the texture of sand.
Add in the frozen butter cubes and start with 5 TBSP of the apple cider water and pulse until it holds together.
Dump it out and work the dough on the counter until it holds together and is smooth.
Divide in half and form into discs and wrap separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate (preferably overnight). You can also freeze at this point.
Remove dough from fridge to soften a little. Place disc on floured surface and roll out.
Butter and flour pie pan. Once bottom crust is in prepared pan, sprinkle bottom with Crust Dust (equal parts of flour and sugar).

Apple Pie
Ingredients:
6-7 cups apples peeled, quartered, and cored. Local are best; use a variety of baking apples.
1 lemon, zested
1 orange, zested
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 teaspoon to sprinkle on top
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Pie crust for bottom and top
Milk or cream and turbinado sugar for top crust

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Combine sliced apples in a bowl with the zests, juices, 1/2 cup sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.
Roll out half the pie dough and drape it over a 9- or 10-inch pie pan to extend about 1/2-inch over the rim.
Fill the pie with the apple mixture.
Top with the second crust and tuck in the apples! Gently tuck the edge of the top crust under the edge of the bottom crust and crimp the 2 together with your fingers or a fork. Brush the entire top crust with a little milk or cream, sprinkle with sugar, and cut slits.
Place the pie on a sheet pan and bake for 30-35 minutes to set the crust. Lower temp to 375 and bake for 20-25 minutes longer. Check the pie often through the window to make sure it isn’t getting too brown.  If it is, cover with foil and bake until it’s bubbling.
Serve with a drizzle of caramel sauce and ice cream.