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Showing posts with label autumn recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label autumn recipes. Show all posts

Monday, October 12, 2020

Persimmon Cinnamon Rolls


 

These are fabulous. You want these. You want them in your mouth, right now. These persimmon cinnamon rolls - or per-cinnamon rolls, if you will - are an excellent application of this beautiful fall fruit. I don't think it gets enough credit, but I'll talk about why I think that a little later... For now? Let's get to the recipe!

Per-cinnamon rolls

Dough

  • 400 g all-purpose flour
  • 5 g dry active yeast
  • 125 g sourdough starter
  • 150 g sugar
  • 30 g coconut milk powder
  • 200 g warm water, a little warmer than body temperature
  • 2 eggs
Filling
  • 1 cup persimmon puree
  • 2 tsp dried spiceberry bush berries, crushed
  • A few grinds of white pepper
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • A fat pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon 
Icing
  • 2 oz vegan butter substitute
    • I really love Earth Balance, or Miyoko's brand!
  • 6 oz vegan cream cheese
  • 1/3 c persimmon puree
  • Powdered sugar, as needed
    • Mine took about a cup and a half to get the right consistency
The night before...
Start by combining all of your dough ingredients, except for the eggs and salt, into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a hook attachment. Stir to combine and only to combine, which shouldn't take more than ten or eleven turns. Set a timer for 10 minutes and let everything sit together until the time has passed. When the timer goes, off, add your eggs and salt, and turn on your mixer to a low stir. Let this stir for about 5 minutes! Next, turn the speed up to medium and let stir for about 2 or 3 minutes, or until the dough is incomparably silky and smooth. 

Oil up a large plastic Tupperware container or a good-sized clean bowl that you can seal well with clingfilm. Turn your dough into this container, seal shut tight, and then let sit out for about 30 minutes, or until you can clearly see or smell that the yeast is working in your dough, though it should be noted that you shouldn't keep it out for longer than 45 minutes. While you're waiting, let's get you to prepare our cinnamon roll filling by simply combining everything with a whisk and storing in a large piping bag overnight with your dough. A ziploc plastic bag is fine, too!

Pop this gorgeous dough into the fridge and let sit overnight! It's important to note that if you want to have cinnamon rolls for breakfast, you must wake up early to do so, at least a couple of hours before everyone else eats breakfast to be safe. If you just want them as a morning snack, then wake up at your normal time and do this at your leisure. Shall we take this break to talk about persimmons?




First of all, I should tell you that I personally believe that they do not get hardly enough credit as a fall fruit. They possess a wonderfully sweet and complex flavor with a most-pleasant tang to finish. They're hard as rocks when they're unripe, but when they are ready they get almost squishy. I suppose you could describe their taste to be somewhere between a banana and a date, with an almost citrus-like tang to finish. They almost taste, to me, like good pie filling that's already been sugared and spiced. 

Second, I think it's only fair to warn you that they can be a little hard to find, but with local farmers and the local CSAs being so amazing, you're likely to find at least one or two folk growing them. Wild persimmons are the kind that I got, and although they were incredibly, especially delicious, they were quite small and rather labor intensive. If you can, don't get the wild kind, unless your plan is to dry them and have them in a tea blend. If you've already gotten your hands on wild persimmons, here's how to clean and process them:

Simply take them all in a bowl and let them come up to room temperature. Then, pour boiling water over them and let them sit until the water is cool enough to stick your hand in, remove and crack open the peel, one by one, before pressing the entire fruit into a fine mesh strainer. I like a good tamis, but if you have a food mill on hand then that'll do just fine! I put all of my puree, along with some of my skin, into my blender before pressing it through my tamis strainer once more. I think it's only fair to tell you that it did take me the better part of my afternoon.

Is it the next morning, yet? Are you ready to roll some stuff out? Let's do it! Just so you know, if you want to have this for breakfast, you should wake up a couple of hours before you are ready to bake and turn on the oven. If you work from home, and time doesn't matter anymore, just get up and go! Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F and let's get ready.

Flour a surface generously, and that includes your hands! Turn your now-risen dough out onto your chosen surface, be it your counter or a marble slab, and roll out to an even rectangle that's about a quarter-inch thick. Take your filling and simply pipe it in lines all across your dough, and spread evenly with a spatula. The piping bag isn't absolutely required, but it does make it a little easier on you when it comes to even distribution. 

Roll up your dough, nice and tight, and pinch the sealing ends hard when it comes around to the end. Roll over on the seal side to let the weight help you out when cutting. I personally like to slice mine so that they stand up to be about 2 inches tall, and with this recipe, that method yields 15 rolls. Ultimately, if you're a bit of a novice, all you should really do is evenly slice them with a serrated knife and leave to proof on a sheet pan lined with either parchment or a silpat mat. An easy thing to do is to simply cut your whole roll in half, then in half again, then in half again...and voila! You have a whole tray of cinnamon rolls!





Next, arrange all of these on your chosen tray so that there's a decent amount of space between each one. This yielded 15 rolls for me, so I arranged it ina 3 x 5 on my half-sheet pan, sprinkled generously with flour, and then gently laid plastic wrap over the top while I preheated my oven to 325 degrees F. I usually set my rolls next to the stove and rotate them every 15 minutes or so, until they've doubled in size. You might as well make your icing while you're waiting!

Bake at 325 for about 20 minutes, or until golden-brown and delicious. Let them cool for about 5 minutes in the rack, and while your rolls are still warm, dollop over your gorgeous persimmon cream cheese frosting. 

And there you have it! You've just made incredible cinnamon rolls with a gorgeous autumnal twist. Not only are they delicious, but they have a beautifully gentle orange color that's perfect for fall. They're tasty with a hint of the date-like flavor of the persimmons, that is at once comforting and bright...and it all spells magic. 

Thanks so much for reading, today! Happy cooking and happy eating!






Thursday, September 24, 2020

Favorite Apple Pie

 



My Absolute Favorite Spiced Apple Pie

Favorite Pie Crust

  • 10.5 oz all-purpose flour
  • 6 oz solid fat
    • Chilled butter, vegan butter substitute, cold lard, or cold coconut oil do just fine!
  • 2 oz granulated sugar
  • Vodka, as needed

Apple filling

  • 6 oz granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp grand marnier
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1/8 tsp freshly-ground Chinese Long Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground ancho chili powder
  • 9 small apples or 5 medium ones, peeled, cored, and sliced thin
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 oz all-purpose flour
To make the pie crust, simply combine your dry ingredients with a fork and rub the fat into the flour with your fingers. Add in some vodka until it's just moist...and mix together! How should you mix this all together, you ask? Well, lucky for you, I've discovered the joys of IGTV:




Isn't that great? I can do tutorials without having to get a youtube channel. 

Simply wrap and chill this dough for at least 30 minutes while you prepare your filling. All you really have to do is combine all the ingredients, except for the flour, toss well, and cover. Let this sit for the same amount of time you're letting your dough rest so the flavors can meld and mesh together. I like to let it all rest on the counter instead of the fridge because you tend to get a lot more juice out! A proper pie has a good dance of moisture and juicy filling, but we don't want to make our crust too soggy. When we can control the amount of moisture in our pie, we're going to have a good time.

When it comes to rolling out your dough, I prefer not to dirty up my counter with tons of excess flour, but to roll it out between two well-greased sheets of parchment paper. I do this for many reasons, but the main reason is that I don't want to mess with my perfectly-crafted ratio of fat-to-flour. After all, if we're going to be exact with our measurements, why screw it all up with more flour when rolling out? The other reason to do it this way is for easy clean-up. Simply give your counter a quick wipe and throw the parchment paper away! All you need is a good rolling pin, a good arm, and plenty of pan-spray to make this perfect. Even better, you can use the parchment paper to help you flip your flat dough into your pie dish. 

I love this glass pie dish because I can see the bottom, and therefore see when things are cooked or not. Glass is excellent at conducting heat, so for me, it is the ideal baking dish. All that must happen now is you gently line your pie dish with your dough and let it chill before adding the filling. I also like to let it chill before I trim it so that the dough has plenty of time to relax. This way, you can let any glutens that may have accidentally developed relax away. 

Your pie filling should have become quite juicy at this point, so now's the time to add your flour! You may need more than 1 oz, depending on how much juice has come out, but definitely don't use less than this amount. So long as the mixture has thickened slightly with the amount of flour but is still liquid, you should be safe. Add your flour, mix well, and fill your pie! 

Use your rolling pin to roll out a top crust and very gently let it fall over the top of the apples. You should have a nice high pile, which is exactly what you want! Don't stretch your pie dough too much, but be sure to let it sit atop your fruit for about 5 minutes before you crimp all the edges. Once the edges are crimped, with either your fingers or your fork, let it chill in the fridge until your oven comes up to 350 degrees F. Be sure to also cut some vent slits in the top. Get decorative at this point, if you like!

Line a sheet pan with tin foil and set your baking rack to the lowest possible setting so that the bottom of the pie tin is close to the bottom of the oven. Bake your pie on the lowest rack for 45 - 55 minutes, or until the crust is golden-brown and your pie filling is bubbling slightly out of the vent slits. 

This next bit is the tricky bit, but it's absolutely essential. You have to - and I'm not making this up - wait to cut open that pie for at least 4 hours, ideally overnight. 

I know, I know! It's apple pie! What is better than apple pie fresh from the oven??? Well, how about an apple pie that stays together and won't flood out into a big juicy, sticky mess, that sogs up your bottom like no other? It's imperative that you let the apples do their thing and let the pectin rest. You must do this, so when you warm up the pie again, by the slice, it'll actually stay gelled together. Apple pie really is quite easy, but the real secret ingredient is time, and time well spent. 

While we're waiting, would you like to learn a thing or two about apples? 

We've all heard that phrase "as American as apple pie", but what if I were to tell you that apples themselves were not native to America? They are, in fact, native to central Asia, and have come to Europe by way of the Silk Road, which is the same trade route that gave Italy noodles, which would eventually evolve into the modern pasta we know today.  Apples were then planted in Europe, and then were brough to the American colonies by - you guessed it - colonizers. So, really...nothing is more American than apple pie, because apples - like most of us - are immigrants that have taken hold of the land and changed it forever!

People loved apples because they're delicious, but more importantly they are incredibly prolific. They do not self-pollinate like peach or plum trees (also from central Asia), but need a partner tree to be next to in order to produce. Once they do, however, they'll give more fruit than you could likely know what to do with! I'm specifically and explicitly forbidden to have a pair of apple trees in my own garden because my husband's childhood was "ruined every late summer" because he, his brother, his sister, and his mother all had to stop everything and process every single apple into apple sauce, apple butter, apple pie, apple dumplings, and more. Now, if you ask, "why not just let the animals have it?" Well, dear friend...

Apples are naturally high in sugar. When sugar meets water, it's going to begin to chemically change, especially with time and the right bacteria. Long story short, they ferment. When you get a squirrel or a deer biting into a fermented apple and drunkenly stagger around your yard, it's likely going to be quite comical. When you get a bunch of butterflies, bees, and hornets flying around drunk, it immediately becomes less fun. Apparently, hornets are like yours truly when they've had one too many - they'll fight anything. 


Apples on the ground are not bad or rotten. In fact, apple trees are exceedingly clever in that they will tell you when an apple is perfectly ripe and ready for eating by letting them fall to the ground with only the slightest breeze to invite you to eat them. So long as they don't have a big bite out of them from a squirrel or bug, it's best to just gather them from the ground. You can store them in the cellar, if you have one, just as they are, in crates. Please keep paper between the layers, however, as they do better this way. I hear that they hold the best when not touching directly, and each apple is individually wrapped with tissue paper. This is the reason we have wax on our apples, you see. When apples touch, skin-to-skin, they'll begin to ripen and ferment. They say you should wash off the wax before you eat them, but I've eaten apples with wax on the skin for years and nothing's happened to me yet. 

You can, of course, make this all into apple butter, or freeze the processed slices in bags. You can make candy apples. You can make it into applesauce, which - by the way - magically replaces eggs in a cake if you are in a pinch and can't go to the grocery store right that moment. You can do all sorts of things! The point is that you must absolutely know that you love apples, that you'll never get sick of apples, and that you have neighbors that love apples before you get yourself a pair of trees. That, and you have an excellent apple pie recipe in your back pocket. 

Serve this pie with ice cream, if you like, but I like it on its own with some good coffee. 

I hope you've enjoyed learning about apples, the history thereof, and the silk road. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Countdown to Thanksgiving, Day 20 - Salted Caramel


Caramel, once mastered, is a skill you will not
regret acquiring!
It's Friday morning. I'm sitting in my office, in the back of my bungalow, up on the hill which overlooks Armourdale, the river, and a sprawl of trees, warehouses, and towering hotels in the distance, directly to the Northeast. I've got some leftover pasta from last night, and it is just perfect for these blustery mornings. I must say, the idea of being a Midwestern girl is becoming more and more romantic by the day. Kansas City certainly is growing on me. I sit out and look at the changing golds, greens, browns...and all I can think of(aside from this pasta, of course) is caramel sauce. Warm, buttery, fantastic, caramel sauce. All of it, just drizzled over something. Maybe apples.

I love caramel. I love those delightfully chewy and sticky caramel confections that Brach's makes. I also love those hard toffee candies that you can just let sit and melt in your mouth. Caramel is complex, interesting, almost indescribable to a person who's never experienced it before. It's what happens when heat is applied to sugar, and there's just something about it that's so autumnal to me.

Perhaps it reminds me of the autumn because of its deep golden-brown color. Perhaps it's because it's complex, and it's what happens when sugar "changes", or "evolves", if you will, and the leaves on the trees change, too. The difference is that it happens to leaves when it gets cold. It happens to sugar when it gets hot. Also, there's nothing so autumnal to me than warm poached pears drizzled in a hot, salty caramel sauce. Or sticky toffee puddings. Or even caramel apples.

Going with the theme of preparing for your ultimate Thanksgiving feast, I hope that this is argument enough to include caramel sauce in your meal somehow. Maybe with an apple crumble or apple cobbler, you could use the caramel powder I've recently discovered how to make? Just substitute it with half of the sugar you would normally use. I'll post a recipe for that one later(possibly tomorrow), but today let's just focus on caramel sauce and the fundamentals of that. I cannot stress how delectable a warm, homemade caramel sauce is, especially when poured over ice cream. The best part about caramel sauce is that you can make it at home, in large quantities, and just stock it in the fridge until you need it. If you have sufficient canning skills, you can also process jars of it by the batch and keep them in your cabinet, or give them to your neighbors as gifts. It is the season of harvest, of giving, and nothing says "I care" quite like a homemade gift. This is a basic caramel sauce that I use at work. You can take this sauce/base and use it to create whatever you wish. I'll put some variations in, too, if you'd like to get creative.

Salted Caramel Sauce

  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 7 oz butter, unsalted
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Kosher salt to taste
Find a heavy-bottomed pan and have a whisk ready. Have your cream and butter at the ready, too, since this is the kind of thing that goes fast. Measure your corn syrup directly into a heavy-bottomed pan instead of using a cup measure. Honestly, if it looks like half a cup in the bottom of the pan, it's probably fine. You don't have to be 100% exact with this particular one. Then add the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar, in that order. Cover your pot and put it on medium-high heat for 2 minutes, at least. After 2 minutes, check it. 

The sugar boils and dissolves into the water, and the lid helps to create steam, which washes the sides of the pan down for you, so you don't have crystallization to worry about. The vinegar also helps to prevent crystallization, but you don't want to really agitate the pan at this point. Just check on it every minute or so, leaving it alone. You can increase your heat as you boil, but don't go too far away. I would check on it every 2 minutes or so. My caramel at work takes about 10 minutes to get to the color I want, but your stove might be different. I also have a really sensitive sense of smell, so I seldom worry about burning it, as I can smell it. 

After some time of you diligently checking your caramel sauce, you should see it start to turn color around the outsides. It's generally safe, now, to give your sugar a tiny swirl, since the sugar crystals are now at a point where crystallization isn't really in the cards much anymore. You can lower your heat to medium, now, and keep an eye on it. The trick to caramel is having the confidence to let it become that nice, dark, gorgeous color. I personally like it to be a deep amber color, as I think it's a more complex flavor, but if you like the lighter stuff, by all means do it. This is your recipe, now, and you may use it as you wish. 

When the caramel reaches the color you desire, turn off the heat and add the butter. Stand back for a second and let it sputter, but keep your whisk at the ready. Its basically stopping the cooking process for you as well as cooling the hot sugar syrup. You must be very cautious, though, because this is a substance that's probably somewhere between 300 - 350 degrees F depending on how dark you had it. The worst part is that it sticks to you when you get it on your skin, which takes off layers. So don't be careless, please. 

When the butter has stopped sputtering, carefully stir with your whisk, nice and slowly. Add in your cream a little bit at a time. You can use cold, room temperature, or warm, but I prefer on the lighter side of cold. It helps cool your caramel faster, and though it will rise up and steam, it's better to have that, I think, than to have it expand too far and boil over with the heat. So, it's my advice to use cool-to-room-temperature cream for this particular juncture. Add in a big fat pinch of salt now, too, as you stir. When it's cool enough to taste, add more salt if you like. I like it when you can actually taste the salt in the caramel. It's a component, you see, in this stage, and not a stand-alone thing. 

Making a fancy brownie sundae is an option, too.
If you'd like to make it a stand-alone kind of thing, simply line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silpat and omit the heavy cream for a fat tablespoon of creme fraiche(or just sour cream, the fattiest you have). Pour your caramel mixture onto your prepared pans and allow to cool before cutting. These can be individually wrapped in wax paper and left in a candy dish on the coffee table. If you leave the warm buttered caramel mixture in the pan, however, you can dip apples into it and make your own caramel apples. You can also pop the mixture between shortbread cookies while it's still warm (use a cookie cutter to stamp out the shapes, and some latex disposable gloves to help protect your hands) to really dress up some store-bought cookies.

Another way to dress up store-bought chocolate chip or sugar cookies using this recipe, omitting the heavy cream all together and reducing the butter amount to four ounces. The trick is to keep the caramel on a super-low heat so it keeps your sauce suspended in a liquid form. Carefully--and I do mean carefully--dip the bottom of the cookies in the sauce and place them on a parchment sheet to set. This creates a candy-like caramel coating on the bottom and gives it that little extra something special. 

Or, like I said, you can make this large batch of sauce and can it, and then give it to your neighbors and friends as holiday gifts. This stuff can say safe for weeks in the fridge, since it's so high in sugar and fat. I hope that this, at very least, gives you a stand-by recipe for your repertoire. 

Happy Cooking and Happy eating. And check out my syndicated blog at LookyLocal.com/KC!