Thursday, September 18, 2014

Red bean sesame cookies


I hope to avoid being a stereotypical poor grad student, yet somehow keep up my baking habit. After doing the math, I should be just fine, but still, I can't go wasting ingredients. After recipe though (especially a more unique recipe), I often have leftover ingredients that aren't commonly used in other recipes. I hate to see that food to go waste, so my solution has been experimenting with new recipes that use up what I have.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Blueberry lemon cheesecake bites


Living in my new dorm-style apartment in grad school reminds me a lot of the college days, but I actually don't mind that. There are quite a few building events every week (usually involving free food) and it's a great way to meet new people in a new environment.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Peanut butter apple cookies


We are still working through the massive pile of apples we brought from last week's apple picking, but luckily we're not sick of apples yet! Naturally, to help speed along the apple-depleting process before they all rot, I decided to bake with them. Again.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Salted caramel apple pie


The last couple of weeks have been hectic. Fun and exciting for sure, but super busy. Moving across the country and settling down in a new place isn't easy, but it's been pretty great so far. There were some slight hiccups in moving logistics, but as of today (knock on wood), everything is mostly taken care of.

Starting grad school kind of feels like starting college all over again. So many orientation events (with free food!) and lots of new people to meet. So far, I've been on a Boston Harbor cruise, gone hiking in the White Mountains, and (the reason for this blog post) went apple picking! No, seriously, we somehow managed to pick around 20 lbs of apples. They are all sitting in the fridge right now and probably will comprise most of my diet for the next few weeks.


Knowing me, I immediately began thinking of ideas to bake with these apples too. For my first blog post since moving to Boston, I decided on a traditional apple pie - with a sweet twist. The recipe on Sally's Baking Addiction includes a layer of delicious salted caramel in the pie that I had to try.

Since I was short on time and kitchen space (my new kitchen is seriously tiny), I cheated and used a pie crust mix for the crust. Simply add water, mix, and you have ready-to-go pie crust. I rolled out half of the dough for the bottom layer and saved the other half to weave on top.

The salted caramel was actually relatively easy to make - I just melted sugar in a saucepan, added butter, followed by the whipping cream, and finally salt to taste. The key was to do this carefully so that the sugar begins to caramelize, but doesn't heat up so much that it begins to burn.


The apple filling was also straight forward. I cored and peeled and sliced around 7 apples of four different varieties, ranging from sweet to tart, because I wanted a range of different flavors in the pie. The apple slices were tossed with lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves and then loaded up into the pie tin. The salted caramel sauce was generously drizzled all over the apples.

To top it off, I rolled out the remaining pie dough and cut thin strips from it. Using this strips, I created the lattice weaving pattern by criss-crossing the strips over each other. I didn't really weave them - I just alternated putting the strips on. For the finishing touches, I brushed the top with a beaten egg and dusted sugar over the whole thing.

Making the apple pie was simple enough. Baking it, in my old temperamental dorm-issue oven? That was a little trickier. For starters, I think my oven heats up to hotter than what the set temperature is, but I haven't confirmed this. It's also tiny and barely fits my cookie sheets. The crust of the apple pie also cooked up a lot faster than the filling, so halfway through, I had to cover the top with tin foil to allow the inside to keep cooking without the crust burning.

It was slightly stressful, but in the end, I managed to produce a decent looking apple pie! And from the feedback I got from my new classmates, it was pretty delicious as well! Here's to more baking adventures in grad school!


Salted Caramel Apple Pie (makes 1 9-inch pie)
Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

Crust:

  • 1 box of pie crust mix (I used Betty Crocker)
Filling:
  • 6-7 medium-large apples (I used a mixed variety)
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup (31 g) of flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) of white sugar
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • sugar for sprinkling on top
Caramel sauce:
  • 1 cup (200 g) white sugar
  • 6 Tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tsp salt
  1. Make the caramel sauce now or ahead of time! Melt sugar in saucepan on medium heat. Stir constantly. Sugar will begin to clump up and eventually melt into a brown liquid as you stir. Don't let it burn!
  2. Add the butter and continue mixing until all is combined. (The mixture will bubble, this is normal!)
  3. Slowly add the whipping cream and let the mixture boil for one minute (it will bubble up and this is normal too!)
  4. Remove from heat and add the salt. Let cool before using. 
  5. Preheat oven to 400F.
  6. Follow the instructions on the pie crust mix to make the dough. Divide dough in half. Roll out one half until it's a circle slightly wider than a 9 inch pie tin. Press the dough into the pie tin.
  7. Wash/peel/core/slice the apples. Toss apple slices with lemon juice. Mix flour, sugar, and spices in separate bowl first and then toss with apples.  
  8. Fill pie tin with apple filling. It might seem like too much, but it will all fit in there. Stack the apples up high, if need be. 
  9. Pour caramel sauce (about 1/2 cup worth) over the apples. 
  10. Roll out remaining dough and cut into strips. Layer strips over apples and press ends of strips into the bottom layer of dough to make it stick. 
  11. Brush beaten egg over the top of the pie. Sprinkle with sugar. 
  12. Bake pie for 20 minutes at 400F. (Tip: place pie tin on a cookie sheet to catch any escaped pie juice). 
  13. Remove pie, cover top with tin foil, turn down oven to 375F, and then continue baking for another 40-50 minutes. 
  14. The pie is done when the filling begins bubbling up. 
  15. Let cool and enjoy!

Monday, August 11, 2014

The great macaron marathon of 2014


For the past year that I've been baking, I've always brought something into work at least once a week, and people have definitely noticed. Free food (especially free baked goods) is always a welcome sight at the workplace. About a month ago, one of my coworkers approached me and asked if I could make macarons for his upcoming wedding, since his fiancĂ©e loves them. Being the ambitious baker that I am, I said yes.