Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rustic Apple Tart

I love making pies. Really, they are one of my most favorite items to make. I just love the whole process of it...rolling out the bottom layer, layering in the fruit, crimping the top layer, and seeing how beautiful and shiny the egg wash makes it. I will admit, though, that it can be a little time consuming. Last week I held a bake sale, in which I made everything that was sold (and can you believe I took no pictures? Bad blogger!) I decided to take a different pie route and make some rustic tarts (peach, in that case.) I whipped up a bunch of them in no time, and they sold out quickly. I had some pie dough left, and also some odd sized apples that didn't get made into caramel apples for the bake sale table, so today I decided to whip up a rustic apple tart. The results were fabulous. Unfortunately I'm the only one at home that eats apples....darn, just when my shorts were starting to fit again!

Aunt Delia's Perfect Pie Crust
4 1/2 c. flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 c. shortening (*see note!)
1 Tbsp. white or cider vinegar
1 large egg
1/2 c. cold water
Place flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl and mix well. Cut in shortening. In a separate bowl, beat together vinegar, egg, and water. Combine with dry ingredients. Stir until all is moistened. Wrap and chill for 1/2 hour.
*I never use all shortening. I used to use all butter, but recently had a "duh!" moment and realized that was why the crust wouldn't hold it's shape. For the rustic tarts, I used 1 c. shortening and 3/4 c. butter. The results were great; the dough held it's shape perfectly, and the taste of the crust was out of this world.
Once you have your dough, the sky is the limit for the filling. I rolled my dough out into a circle, spread out some brown sugar, sprinkled on cloves and cinnamon. Then I arranged thinly sliced apples within about 3/4 inch of the edge of the dough, sprinkled on more brown sugar, cloves, and cinnamon. Then I just folded the dough around the edges, and brushed on a french egg wash (egg mixed with heavy cream.) My tart was then ready to head into the oven. This apple tart I baked at 400 degrees for about 1/2 hour.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Speckled Pan Brownies

Attention, attention...ladies and gentlemen, I have a very important announce-ment to make (yes I'm being corny, but hear me out...) After weeks....months....years of searching for my perfect brownie, my quest has ended today. Yes, I know...the excitement can hardly be contained. After having one failed attempt today at a recipe that I've actually already made (ok, I will completely admit to failing at more than one baking project this week...I've started to question myself a little!) I went back onto Allrecipes, and found this recipe. Normally, I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to brownie recipes that use cocoa as the main source of chocolatey-ness, but the stack of brownie recipes that I've tried (and not liked) that use melted chocolate told me that maybe I needed to change up my strategy. I found this recipe; it had great reviews, so I gave it a try. Without changing it up. (Yeah, I know...I was a little amazed that I actually followed a recipe.) They are actually called Brooke's Best Bombshell Brownies, but that's a little too many "b"s for me to remember, so I'm calling them Speckled Pan Brownies, since I used my brand new (and completely awesome) red and white speckled pan from At Home America. This pan is larger than the 9x13 that the recipe called for, but that's ok...I like bar cookies a little on the thinner side.

Speckled Pan Brownies
1 c. butter, melted
3 c. white sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla
4 eggs
1 1/2 c. flour
1 c. cocoa
1 tsp. salt
1 c. chocolate chips
Combine butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add eggs and mix completely.
Add flour, cocoa, and salt (I would recommend sifting the cocoa; I didn't and had a little bit of a difficult time getting lumps out) to wet mixture. Stir until blended. Add in chocolate chips.
Spread batter evenly into a prepared baking pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until they reach your desired fudgy-ness; baking longer will produce a cakier brownie. I baked these for about 20 minutes, but my batter was spread a little thinner due to the larger pan.