November 20, 2014

Hey Mom, I signed up to bring…

…apfel kuchen.
Yeah -- like my son knows how to make an apfel kuchen to take to his post-marching-band-season party!
For some reason my boys are fascinated with German folk traditions & food. For an international dinner years ago in his 5th grade class, “we” made this kuchen:apfel kuchenI don’t recall the reason for these “we” baked a few years back, maybe for an Easter brunch:apfel (1)Here’s the one “we” baked for last week’s party:ejapfelkuchenThe recipe I came up with for the sweet dough is incredible! (It rises like you would not believe, too…) ejapfelkuchen11Here you go:
for the dough:
  • 4 c. flour
  • 2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 T. yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 c. warm water
My hands & arms weren’t in the mood for doing a bunch of kneading, so I tossed all the ingredients into the bread machine on the “dough” setting. I made sure the eggs & yogurt were room temperature before I started. I whisked together the flour, salt & soda in a bowl. The yeast, sugar & water were put in the bottom of the pan. I then put in about half the dry ingredients and started the machine. In went the yogurt, eggs & the balance of the flour mixture.
While that was going in the machine, I used my apple peeler/slicer/corer on 3 beautiful Honeycrisp apples and splashed them with a little lemon juice to keep from browning. I also tossed together the streusel ingredients:
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 4 T. butter, softened
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
When the dough was finished with its first rise, I divided it in half. Formed it into a sort of disk with a hole in the middle and pressed it into a tube pan (prepared with parchment on the bottom and well-buttered tube & sides…) A layer or two of apples and sprinkling of cinnamon sugar completed the filling. The second half of the dough was prepared same as the first, but this time topped with the remaining apples and covered with the streusel. The oven was set for 350° and the kuchen sat on the counter for its final rise. It more than doubled after 45 minutes, so I went ahead and baked it. After 30 minutes I put foil over the top to keep it from browning too much. Internal temp was 200° at around the 55 minute mark, so I took the pan out to cool on a bottle. ejapfelkuchen11-2The outer ring soon fell off, so the bread on the tube was put on a rack to finish its chill-out. After carefully removing the tube portion, I plated it then mixed up a little half & half/confectioners sugar glaze. Here’s your slice:ejapfelkuchen11-22
I know he’ll be unhappy with me, but here’s what my oldest returned with from their band party. I’ve included my pics of him in uniform so you can see what the certificate is referring to:AlecNPMB

Churros with #AngryOrchard Caramel Dip

What says “FALL” better than apples? Apple cider! And what food says “Cinnamon” better than churros? uhhhhhhh… nothing!?!ejaplcin
At the Improv Challenge hosted by Lesa, this month it was all about apples & cinnamon. I made the decision to create gluten free churros and an apple caramel dip. ejaplcin1Initially I planned to juice 3 varieties of apples and make caramel from that.ejaplcin2As “fun” as that process was, the resultant caramel came out a little lumpy & too sweet, for my taste.ejaplcin3I’d been seeing caramel recipes made from hard cider, so decided to give that a try.
The flavor was fabulous and I knew this caramel would be perfect with some hot churros!
I began by making the cinnamon sugar finishing “bath”.ejaplcin4Next I prepared my eggs so they’d be ready to add to the hot pâte à choux without any stray shells problems. I’d never prepared this with a mixer before -- I’ve always beat the eggs into the cooked flour mixture in the pan by hand. (That’s the way I learned in 7th grade Home Ec years ago…)ejaplcin5Next, the batter was spooned into the pastry bag so it could be piped into the oil heated in the cast iron skillet.ejaplcin6ummmmm  -- Pretty sure I need more practice; because it was quite difficult to juggle the heavy pastry bag in my right hand and the scissors to stop the flow of batter in my left. I could not pipe a straight 6-inch line to save my life!ejaplcin7I was quite surprised at the lovely texture of the fried dough! You would never know they were gluten free except for maybe a slight discernable flavor difference. ejaplcin8Happily the hubs, who is by no means a donut or cruller fan, proclaimed them very tasty & even had a few with his coffee the next morning.
for the caramel:
  • 1 bottle (12 oz.) Angry Orchard® hard cider
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons half & half (you could use cream Smile)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Boil the cider to reduce to about half. Stir in the remaining ingredients and cook until thickened. Control yourself while consuming! Winking smile
for the churros:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour blend (I used Pamela’s®)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Bring the water, butter, salt & brown sugar to a rolling boil. Remove from heat. Dump in the flour all at once and beat with spoon until well-combined & smooth. Transfer to mixer and add eggs one at a time, beating until shiny after each addition. Spoon into pastry bag fitted with large star tip. Pour about one inch deep oil in skillet, and heat to 350°. Pipe a 6-inch length of dough and fry both sides until brown. Drain excess oil and shake into cinnamon/sugar mixture. Try to let it cool before you bite into it!
So, I loved the incredible apple-flavored caramel sauce and I loved the cinnamon churros ~ however, together they were much too sweet for my taste… ejaplcin9But, try the recipes for yourself before you make that call! Open-mouthed smile You should also check out the other apple & cinnamon creations from my friends via the following links.

If you don’t mind, I would like to leave you with one last picture & ask you to pray for a sweet boy from our church. Nick is battling a nasty, terrible, ugly monster named Osteosarcoma. You can attribute this churro to my poor piping skills, but as I was emptying the last of the dough from the tip, this came out. 20141114_090606I was touched in my heart, because I had spent the morning praying for Nick & his family.

phone phun

Because the mister is involved with IT all day/every day; well let’s just say his condition is terminal & contagious! 'puterboysHe makes sure we are connected…connectedAdmittedly, we are a family of technerds.
Last month our mobile contract was up & 3 of our phones were eligible for free upgrade. So, now 3 of us have the exact same phone. ejcowphone4Well, except mine is white.ejcowphone3Which is great, except the OtterBox® cases are all three black.ejcowphone7Well not anymore! Thanks to masking tape, white spray paint & a good coat of Mod Podge® mine stands out a little.ejcowphone5In fact, the guys make sure they’re not caught dead with my phone…ejcowphone6But here’s the best part:

November 18, 2014

Here’s your birthday cheesecake, H!

For his birthday last year, Harrison requested this. A couple weeks ago when I asked if he wanted  me to bake or buy a cake to celebrate, he asked for chocolate cheesecake with caramel sauce.  I said oh, like last year’s? He said no, totally different -- I want a graham crust, chocolate cheesecake, and caramel sauce to pour over.  Smile
PicMonkey CollageThat’s the “back-story” -- here are the recipes:
for the crust:
  • 10 oz. vanilla wafer crumbs
  • 1 stick butter
Melt butter & stir in crumbs. Press into bottom of springform pan. Bake @350° for 10 minutes.
for the filling:
  • 24 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup dark cocoa
  • 12 oz. melted semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 eggs
Beat the softened cream cheese until smooth. Add the yogurt and beat some more. Blend in the brown sugar and beat until creamy. Sprinkle in the cocoa and beat until uniform in color. While the mixer is still running, drizzle in the melted chocolate.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. (Ensure springform will be waterproof for baking in water bath.) Scrape filling mixture onto crust. Bake @325° for around 90 minutes, until cake starts to firm in center. Turn off oven & let cool for an hour; then remove to rack to finish cooling. Free from sides of pan and refrigerate until serving time.
for the caramel sauce:
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
Heat all ingredients but vanilla for about 10 minutes, stirring gently, until mixture boils & thickens. Add extract and stir over heat for another minute or two.