Apple Pie with Crumb topping

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Apple Pie with Crumb topping

It’s snowing here in New England. You know what that means? An early trip to the grocery store.  I beat the crowds (it’s a sport here) and planned my baking day as I wandered. By noon I had already made giant blueberry muffins and an apple pie. APPLE PIE! Nothing makes the house smell so delightful. Such comfort food! I prefer an apple pie with crumb topping. More cinnamon and sugar for the win!! I have no magical pie crust recipe. I’m just not good at making pie crust…..butter? Crisco? Ugh. So, you can use your own recipe or cheat like me and buy a crust. Yup. I’ll say a few Hail Marys for my soul, but the crust is the just vessel of sweet cinnamon and cooked apples into my mouth. I’m not embarrassed. (Maybe just a little). I do make a great crust for apple galette that does not work well as a pie.

The secret to the crumb topping is to make it before you peel the apples and then let it sit in the fridge to harden. This technique makes it easier to sprinkle over the ready-for-oven pie.

5 Granny Smith apples

1 tablespoon all-purpose King Arthur flour, any brand will do

½ cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

Crumb Topping:

¾ cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ cup cold butter

1-9 inch Pyrex pie plate

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare the topping by mixing flour, sugar and cinnamon is large bowl. Add cold butter that’s been cut up in small pieces. I like to use a pastry cutter, but you can use a food processor, a fork or even your hands. Make sure it is all mixed. Place in fridge to harden a bit.

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Peel your apples. I like to do them in one spiral piece. It’s just something I like to do. There is more than one way to peel an apple. Next you will need to core your apples. If you don’t have an apple corer, just slice around the core. I cut the apples in half and then make 6 slices from each half. If the apple slices are too thick, the pie will take too long to cook. Just a helpful hint. When I was coring my apples, I pushed a core through my finger. It got stuck. I panicked. Then I realized this isn’t like the wrought iron rails on my parents front steps that I got my head stuck in….I mean my friend’s head…..I could eat my way out of this. How often can you say that?

Once peeled and sliced, I put the apples in a big bowl. If you don’t have a bowl big enough, you can use a clean pot. If you don’t have a pot big enough, just do half the apples at a time. I put a tablespoon of flour in with the apples to help thicken the juices. You don’t have to. I use about ½ cup of sugar and 1 tsp. of cinnamon in the apples. I like to toss them using a knife. It’s tradition. You can use your impeccably clean hands instead. Then taste an apple. Very important. If the apples need more sugar or cinnamon, now’s the time to add them. I read on the internet that the French don’t use cinnamon in apple desserts. If it’s on the internet it must be true! Oui?

Now the apples are ready for the pie shell. I crimped along the top of the crust with my fingers. Not artfully, may I add. You can press it down with a fork. There’s lots of ways to prepare your crust. Most people like to just dump the apples in the pie crust. I like to place the curved back of the apples along my pie crust. I systematically place the apples around the pie crust, in several layers. This may sound excessive, but it helps prevent the pie from collapsing after you bake it. The center of the pie should have more apples than the side, like a mound. If there is any of the cinnamon/flour mixture, sprinkle it over the top of the apples.

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Now it’s time for the crumb topping. Place your pie plate on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. You can also use aluminum foil. The topping will fall off and burn. You don’t want to clean that off your baking sheet! Sprinkle the crumb topping all over your pie. Have a taste or two! This recipe makes too much topping for the pie. I just haven’t done the math to reduce it. If you have any pie crust scraps, you can sprinkle this mixture over them and bake. It’s a treat for the kiddos! My mother used to sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over her pie scraps. It made us all so happy.

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Bake your pie at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Check your pie by putting a sharp knife into a cooked apple. If it goes in easily, the pie is done. If not, then cook for another 5-10 minutes. Another sign of doneness is bubbling juices in the pie. That makes my heart happy. Let pie cool before serving. You can have it plain, with vanilla ice cream or even whipped cream. Enjoy!

 

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Poppy Seed Muffins

Growing up within a Czech family, I was no stranger to poppy seeds. My father’s mother was a genius in the kitchen. She baked by feel and never measured. When she passed, my mother gave me her yellow mixing bowls. I have them hidden away in fear of them breaking. Maybe this year I will bring them out.  I don’t remember Grandma making these muffins, but she made amazing poppy seed pastries.  Every time I make these muffins I think of her…..

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                               Poppy Seed Muffins

 

2 cups of flour

¼ cup of Solo Poppy Seed Filling (it can be more than ¼ cup)

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp baking soda

1 cup of sugar

½ cup salted butter, softened

2 eggs

¾ cup sour cream

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 12 muffin tins or use papers in cups.

In a small bowl, stir together flour, salt and baking soda. In a large bowl beat sugar, and butter with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until blended; beat in sour cream and vanilla. Stir in poppy seed filling. Sometime for fun I add another small dollop of poppy seed filling…WHY NOT? Stir in the flour mixture until it’s well blended. This makes a thick batter.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups and bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. I also like to sprinkle sparkling sugar on top for crunch.

Place muffin tins on wire rack and cool for 5 minutes before removing muffins from cups. Finish cooling muffins on rack. Serve warm or cool completely and store in airtight container. These freeze well too. Makes 12 muffins.

You can find Solo Poppy Seed filling in the baking section near canned apple pie and canned cherry filling. Not every store carries them; you can also use just regular poppy seeds too. That’s what the original recipe calls for. I prefer the poppy seed filling!

 

 

 

 

Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

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Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

I discovered this recipe years ago in a church fundraiser cookbook. I tried it on a whim and found that it is a hit wherever I bring it. During the Christmas season, I shape it as a candy cane or a wreath. Easy peasy. I’ve adapted it a little.

4 oz. of cream cheese

¼ cup of butter

2 cups of Bisquick

1/3 cup of milk

½ cup of seedless raspberry jam

1 cup of powdered sugar

1-2 tablespoons of milk

½ tsp. vanilla extract

Let cream cheese and butter become room temperature. Cut the cream cheese and butter together. Add the Bisquick until the mixture is crumbly. I use a fork for all of this. Mix in the milk. Form the dough into a ball. Sprinkle some flour on your hands and the dough. Knead about 8 to 10 strokes. On a piece of lightly floured parchment paper, roll out the dough to approximately a 12” x 8” rectangle. If you do not have a rolling pin you can press this dough into shape just fine! Place the parchment paper and dough on a cookie sheet. Spoon the jelly down the middle of the dough lengthwise. Then you make 2 1/2” cuts at 1” intervals on the long sides. You fold over the strips crisscrossing them slightly over the filling. Pinch the ends to prevent jelly from oozing out.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes. The dough will start to brown.

Mix the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract together. I suggest you make it as thick as you can and still stir it. Once it’s mixed, drizzle over the hot coffee cake. Let it cool completely.

This recipe doubles wonderfully! Enjoy!