Thursday, March 5, 2015

Little Salted Caramel Apple Pies (Back in the Day Bakery)

It is my turn to choose a recipe for this bake along with Joyce from Kitchen Flavours and Lena from Frozen wings and so I chose this...

In actual fact, I'm not the one who chose this recipe. It was my son. Based on the name of the bake, my son told that this salted caramel apple pie from the book, The Back in the Day Bakery cookbook must be super yummy and I have to bake this!

Yes, my little master. Mum will use this recipe...

Before informing Joyce and Lena my choice, I had a closer look of this recipe and thought that I really like it. I have noticed that I don't have to pre-bake the pastry or pre-cook the filling before baking the entire pie and also like the addition of salted caramel to enhance its taste.

So, this is how I baked my apple pie...

Instead of baking one 9-inch or 23cm round pie, I have used half amount of the pastry and one third amount of the filling to bake eight little 7 cm pies.

According to the recipe description in the book or here, the grandmother of the authors used to make this old fashioned flaky pie crust with lard. LARD!!! - I can see the beauty of this classic pastry ingredient but NO way that I'm using lard! Fortunately, this recipe has been changed to use a 1:1 ratio of shortening and butter. For my pastry, I have used a ratio of 1:5 ratio of shortening and butter instead and still managed to yield a lightly flaky pastry for my little pies.

salted caramel apple pies
Our Little Salted Caramel Apple Pies (adapted from Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook)
First, I made the pastry by cutting in the butter ans shortening into small peas.
Then, combine with eggs, water and vinegar to form a dough
While the dough is resting, I made the salted caramel and the rest...
Instead of using an electric mixer, I used a wooden spoon to beat the caramel until it looks combined.
These are the two gorgeous apples that I have used.
This step is easy - Just combine all filling ingredients together.
Roll and cut the pastry.
No blind-baking required. Just top the pastry with apple filling and a dollop of the caramel.
Assemble the pies with pie lids.
A final touch: Brush the pies with egg wash and sprinkle extra sugar and salt.
Beware!!! The bubbling-and-over-flowing caramel and the sprinkle of sugar might cause the pies to burn.
Cover the pies loosely with foil if the pies start to brown before the apple filling is cooked.
Gosh!!! Lucky me... Only one of my pies is slightly burnt.
salted caramel apple pies
The rest are beautifully baked!!!
Wait wait wait... The story of my bake is not over yet.
Do not throw away the leftover caramel!!! Place it in a piping bag...
salted caramel apple pies
... and drizzle on the apple pies when you are enjoying them!

Thanks, son! You are right! This is a fabulous recipe!
These little apple pies are super yummy!

Here's my adapted version from the book, The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl Day and Griffith Day or here and here.

For the old-fashioned flaky pie pastry:
150g unbleached all-purpose flour
75g unbleached cake flour (not self-rising)
1/2 tsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 large egg, about 70g each with shell and about 27g without shell
1/4 cup (60ml) ice water, plus more if necessary
1/2 tsp white vinegar
20g cold vegetable shortening, cut into cubes, preferably trans fat free Crisco
100g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

For the caramel:
65g caster sugar
40ml water
1/2 tsp fleur de sel or salt
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 tbsp cream with 35% fat

For the apple filling:
2 medium apples (I used Granny Smith and Pink Lady), peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2/3 tsp lemon zest
20ml lemon juice, freshly squeezed
12g unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
30g turbinado sugar

For brushing:
1 egg yolk + 2 tbsp milk, combine and beaten
fleur de sel and turbinado sugar for sprinkling

To make the old-fashioned flaky pie pastry:
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, combine egg, water and vinegar.

Add the shortening and butter to the flour mixture and use a pastry blender, two knives or your finger tips to cut or rub the added fat into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles small peas. Add the egg mixture, gently tossing and mixing with your hands or a fork just until the dough comes together in a ball. If the dough seems too dry, add a little more ice water, about 1 tablespoon at a time as necessary.

Gather the dough together on a lightly floured work surface. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hr. The dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

To make the caramel:
Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and cook over low heat and stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat to medium and cook the syrup without stirring until the syrup becomes a medium-dark amber colour (when the candy thermometer indicates 180°C or 350°F) and this step can take about 15 mins.

Carefully remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in the butter and heavy cream. Be careful of splattering caramel at this addition step. Do not worry if the butter starts to separate as it will come together once the caramel is cooled.

When the caramel is cooled to room temperature. You can either transfer it to the bowl and use either an electric mixer or a wooden spoon to beat the caramel until well combined. Set aside.

To make the apple filling:
In a large bowl, toss apples with the added lemon zest and lemon juice. In a small bowl, combine together flour, cardamom, cinnamon, and turbinado sugar and stir in the flour mixture into the apples.

To assemble:
Dust your hands and your rolling pin with flour. On a lightly floured piece of baking paper or any non stick mat or surfaces, roll out the chilled dough into pastry with 3mm thickness. Using a 10 cm round pastry cutter, cut the rolled pastry eight into rounds and line the rounds onto the 7 cm tart tins. Carefully press the dough onto the tins and trim any excess dough. Prick the lined pastry gently all over with a fork.

Layer apple slices into the lined pastry, making sure there are no gaps between the apples. Spoon a dollop of caramel (about 1 tsp) on top of the apples. Reserve the remaining caramel for serving.

Gather all the unused dough. Roll out the remaining dough into pastry with 3mm thickness. Using a 8 cm round fluted pastry cutter, cut the rolled pastry into eight pie lids. Using a really small cutters, cut 3-4 vent holes in the center of each pie lid and reserve the cutout pieces to decorate your pie. Place the pie lids over the pie filling and press the edges to seal. Place the cutout pieces of dough to decorate your pie lids. Cover the assembled pies with plastic or cling wrap and chill them in a freezer for at least 30 mins or a fridge for at least 1 hr. 

To bake:
When ready to bake, position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F or 200°C or 180°C fan forced.

Brush the pies with the egg wash. Sprinkle lightly with turbinado sugar and a pinch of fleur de sel. Place the pies on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for 10 mins. Reduce oven temperature to 340°F or 170°C or 150°C fan forced and bake for an additional 30 mins, until the apple fillings are thoroughly cooked and the pie crusts turn golden brown. If the pie crusts start to brown too quickly before the fillings are cooked. Place a layer of foil loosely on the pies and continue to bake until the fillings are cooked. 

Remove from the oven and allow the pies to cool slightly (about 10 mins) before transferring them onto a wire rack to cool completely. To serve, place the remaining caramel in a piping bag and drizzle each of pie as desired.

The pies are best served the same day, but it can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days or kept frozen up to 1 month. 

Here are our friends that have joined us for this bake-along. Please visit their blogs for more of their Salted Caramel Apples Pie baking.

Please submit your details if you wish to link your post with this bake-along. This linking tool is open from 5 to 14 Mar 2015.

For our next bake-along, we are baking Viennese Shortbread which is to be posted on 23 Apr 2015. Please bake-along with us! All you need to do is to bake your favourite Viennese Shortbread recipe and blog hop with us for the next 10 days.

To blog hop with us, simply copy and paste this linky HTML code into your blog post where you want the blog hop list to appear. Make sure you are in HTML view/mode when you paste in the code. get the InLinkz code

Before using this linky tool, please make sure that: (1) Your post must be a current post. (2) Please mention Bake-Along in your post and link back to any of our hosts' Bake-Along post, (Joyce, Lena or Zoe). (3) Appreciate if you can display the Bake-Along badge in your post when linking up with us. Cheers!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Easy and Moist Basic Banana Muffins with Nutella Swirl (made with less / minimal dishwashing)

Who love banana muffins?

Me me me me me ...

Who love Nutella?

Me me me me me ...

Who hate dishwashing?

Me me me me me ...

I must say that these delicious Nutella swirl banana muffins are super super super easy to bake. Best of all,  they are baked with minimal amount of dishwashing!!!

Thanks to Google! I have found these two fantastic basic banana muffin recipes from Cat Can Cook and Yammie's Noshery and also this brilliant less-dishwashing baking idea from Yammie's Noshery. These two basic banana muffin recipes are always the top two hits whenever I Google for banana muffin recipes. After I made a comparison of both recipes, I have found that Cat's ones contain slightly more banana than Yammie's and surprisingly, the slight difference in their contents can make such a difference in overall texture of the muffins. Having more banana, Cat's muffins are denser and more banana taste while Yammie's muffins are more cake-like with more tender crumbs. Personally, I like Yammie's more than Cat's but I think this preference can be very subjective as both can be equally super moist and yummy.

How did I bake these banana muffins with minimal washing? The original idea from Yammie's Noshery says that her muffins are baked without dirtying a single dish? Well, not exactly and I don't want to make too big claim for that because there is still washing to do but probably the least or minimum.

To bake these muffins, I have mashed the banana and mixed the batter using zip lock bags. By doing that, all I have to wash is one muffin pan and some measuring spoons and cups. If you uses plastic bags to contain the ingredients by weighing, you probably can wash a few less measuring spoons... LOL! And, if you use disposable baking cups to bake these muffins, you can avoid washing the muffin pans too. I usually use the disposable baking cups that I have for steaming cakes because I don't like to use them for baking due to their waxy interior... Sorry that I'm really fussy with this!

As I was tossing these plastic or zip lock bags into the waste bin, I must admit that this is not entirely an environment-friendly method to bake but I did save some effort and time from any extra dishwashing and also a little money from using less water and dishwashing detergent... LOL!

Now, who love banana Nutella muffins?

easy moist best basic banana muffins nutella swirl
Easy and Moist Basic Banana Muffins with Nutella Swirl
To bake the muffins, these are all I need to wash.
Shaking and squishing the contents in these zip lock bags can mix this batter very well.
Then, make a snip at the corner of the bag and squirt the batter into a lined muffin tin...
Want something extra with these muffins??? Nutella, please!
Squeeze about 1-2 teaspoonful of Nutella into each muffin. Use a toothpick to make a swirl.
Can't wait to try these muffins!
Muffin made with Cat's recipe. Fully packed with banana with denser texture.
Muffin made with Yammie's recipe. Although it is flatter, it is lighter with cake-like texture.

Here are the recipes that I have mostly adapted from Cat Can Cook and Yammie's Noshery

*Alfa One rice bran oil contains 0% trans fat.

Preheat oven to 375ºF / 190ºC or 170ºC fan forced. Line a standard 12 hole size (1/3 cup) muffin tray with baking cups.

Using a weighing scale, weigh sugar and flour in two separate plastic bags or use a 1/4-cup measuring cup and a 1/4-tsp spoon to measure all ingredients.

In a large Ziploc bag, mash the bananas. Add eggs, sugar, melted butter or oil (and vanilla if you are baking Yammie's recipe), seal the bag, and shake and squish until well combined.

Add in the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder (and cinnamon if you are baking Yammie's recipe). Seal the bag again and shake and squish again until well combined. Do not over-squash the bag at this stage as the batter is ok to be lumpy.

Make a snip at the corner of the bag and squirt the batter into a lined muffin tin. Don't make the snip too big as the batter can be runny. To avoid excessive mess, pinch and hold the corner of the bag while transferring from one muffin cup to another.

Bake for 20 mins or until a toothpick (not skewer so that you can throw away the toothpick without washing it) comes out clean.

Finding the banana muffins too plain???

These basic banana muffins are very delicious on its own. Although they are not too sweet, I reckon the sweetness is just right for us. If you find them too plain and simple, these are extras that you can add on ...

You can either:

1) make a lemon glaze like the one in Yammie's recipe for the muffins. Mix 1/2 cup icing sugar, 1 tbsp milk or lemon juice until your required consistency and pour it over the cooled muffins.
or 2) add walnuts and/or chocolate chips into the batter before baking.
or 3) make them like ours with Nutella swirl. To do that, you need to wash one more spoon to spoon Nutella onto the muffin directly or spoon tablespoonfuls of Nutella into a disposable piping bag and pipe about 1-2 tsp of Nutella onto each muffins. Then, use a toothpick to make the swirls.

Happy Baking

This post is also linked to the event, Little Thumbs up organised by Doreen from my little favourite DIY and me, Bake for Happy Kids, hosted by Faeez from Bitter Sweet Spicy at this post.

Our Little Thumbs Up event starts on the first Tuesday until the last day of the month. Please join us! To join, simply cook or bake any recipe with the theme of the month which is BANANA for March 2015 and link with us at this post anytime until 31st Mar 2015.

What after March 2015? Diana from The Domestic Goddess Wannabe will be the next hostess of April 2015 and her theme is CHICKEN! Unlike the usual schedule, her Little Thumbs Up event starts on the 1st Apr 2015.

Don't forget your thumbs up or display this badge! And make sure that: (1) Your post must be a current post preferably within this month. (2) Please mention Little Thumbs Up in your post and link back to Bake for Happy Kids, my little favourite DIY or/and Faeez from Bitter Sweet Spicy. For more details, please see this.