Fall Baking

When the leaves start to turn brilliant reds, yellows & oranges, that means it’s time to take a trip to the local orchard and pick some fresh apples to do some yummy baking. Whether it’s for a family gathering, like Thanksgiving, or just because you have an afternoon that’s an “inside” kind-of-day (like yesterday was!), the smell of apples and cinnamon baking in the oven just gives you a cozy kind of feeling.  A few weeks ago, I went to Frootogo Orchard in Waterdown to do some apple picking and had a pretty fun time!  The trees are dwarf trees, so it’s easy to see what you’re picking, whether you’re 3 feet tall or 6 feet tall and there’s a very good variety of apples.  I, and when I say “I”, I mean the kidlets, decided on picking Honeycrisp and Cortland apples. I got home and picked out a few simple recipes with my mini bushel of apples.  First one, of course, was to make some yummy apple sauce – it’s a family recipe, so I wanted to see if I could make it taste just as good as I remember when I was a kid.  I don’t think it was as good, but for my first crack at it, it passed the “kid test”!  Plus, the aroma from the apples and cinnamon simmering on the stove filled the house!

Easy peasy apple sauce

Quick and easy apple sauce

Next, was apple crumble!  Now this is definitely one of my FAVOURITE desserts…..add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and I’m in heaven!  I got this delicious recipe from Martha Stewart’s website, although I chose the Apple Cranberry Crumble instead of the traditional “apple only” crumble. It was very simple to follow, didn’t take very much time at all and the pecans in the crumble added just that little extra bit of flavour. The only thing in the recipe that I changed was I used dried cranberries instead of frozen or fresh, even though she specifically said not to – I’m kind of a rebel that way  😉

Oh so delicious Apple Cranberry Crumble

Oh so delicious Apple Cranberry Crumble

There are so many different goodies to make with apples – they’re so versatile when it comes to baking and each type of apple creates a different taste too.  Just a bit of advice (from personal experience), if you’re following a recipe and it calls for a certain type of apple, for example, Honeycrisp, Empire or Fuji, be sure to use that type.  If you substitute the recipe with another type, like Red Delicious, your baking may not turn out the way you want it to or could even be mushy and lacking in taste.

Here’s a little humour to hold you over until my next blog – How do you make an apple turnover??…………………Push it down a hill     Hahahaha 🙂

Baking From the Heart

I know that for some people, something as simple as baking a cake seems like climbing Mount Everest, but for me, I could spend a whole day in the kitchen, baking everything from cookies to cakes to chocolate anything!  And there’s nothing that makes me happier than to watch someone take that first bite, see their eyes light up and the expression on their face when their taste buds explode with pleasure!

 

Now anyone who knows me, knows I’m not exactly a big Christmas person (I’m not a Grinch, but I’m certainly not a Who-ville citizen either!).  However, I absolutely LOVE doing copious amounts of baking at Christmas, it’s my escape from the craziness.  Yes, I know that Christmas is still 2 months away, but really, that’s only 8 more weekends, and unless you love baking as much as I do, you’re probably not going to want to, or be able to, give up one of those weekends to spend it in the kitchen!  From experience, doing a lot of Christmas baking does require a bit of planning ahead of time, and for me, it usually ends up being more than just a single weekend event!  I’ve already started planning my list of goodies that I’ll be baking for gifts to my family and friends.  There will be of course, my 2 traditional treats, which are both my own recipes and ones that I’ve been making since high school – my secret recipe shortbread and my chocolate truffles (my brother, who loves these, has another name for them, however, it’s not exactly blog-friendly! Haha).  Like with any recipe, it takes some tinkering to get them just perfect and with about 20 years of practice, I’ve been told they’re pretty close!

Cut & baked

My secret recipe shortbread

White chocolate and white sprinkled dark chocolate truffles

White chocolate and white sprinkled dark chocolate truffles

One of my recent and most challenging creations was Chocolate Ganache French Macarons, which I decided to make for a birthday gift.  Now these delectable treats either work out or they don’t, there’s no in between.  I ended up looking through a bunch of different websites – Allrecipes, Martha Stewart, Food Network and Popsugar, (to name a few), to find a recipe that caught my eye – and believe me, there are LOTS of different recipes out there!  I finally settled on one that didn’t have about 25 different ingredients and that wasn’t overly time consuming (meaning less than 3 hours from start to finish)  The recipe I chose to use was from Chowhound and they turned out great!  As I mentioned before, the look on my friend’s face when she bit into it, was all worth it!

Chocolate Ganache French Macarons

Chocolate Ganache French Macarons