Pecan-Topped Applesauce Coffee Cake

Cakes and Cupcakes

Yield: one 9-inch coffee cake
Recipe: 104/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 215

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     I have always loved Fall since I can remember. The beautiful leaves changing colours, the cooler weather, the sweaters, comforting soups and hot chocolates. But most of all, I love the apple season, especially apple-picking. For a record this year we went apple-picking three times! We probably picked a total of 50 pounds of apples, so needless to say I had plenty of apples to choose from to make a nice apple recipe. I thought that this apple and pecan cake recipe looked perfect to use some nice apples that were going soft. Although the apple flavour was more subtle than I was expecting, the coffee cake was good and very moist. The topping was a nice combination of sweet and crunchy. Definitely I nice cake to have with coffee, tea or hot chocolate!

Ingredients for cake:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup oil
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Ingredients for topping:

  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped pecan pieces
  • 1 peeled apple, coarsely grated

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs just to blend.
  3. Whisk in the applesauce, brown sugar and oil until smooth.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice and cloves. Stir this into the applesauce mixture until evenly combined.
  5. Scrape the batter into the springform pan and prepare the topping.
  6. To prepare the topping, stir together the brown sugar, butter and cinnamon, then stir in the pecans and the grated apple. Spread this over the cake batter.
  7. Bake for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake to room temperature, then remove the cake from the pan before serving.

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Note:

  • If you wish you can easily make the unsweetened applesauce yourself instead of buying it. To do so, simply place in a pot 3 pound of peeled, sliced and cored apples, ½ cup of water and ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon. Set to medium heat, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the apples are soft. Use a potato masher or immersion blender to puree the apples. Let cool and voilà! Homemade unsweetened applesauce. Recipe from Life Made Simple.

 

Valerie

Mincemeat Pie

Pies and Tarts

Yield: one 9-inch pie
Recipe: 78/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 99

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    Like most people, I strongly dislike wasting food. As such, whenever I have some fruits or vegetables, or any other ingredient for that matter, laying around that I know will probably turn bad before I get to consume it, I search for a recipe that I could make to use it up and prevent wastage. Last week I had a combination of apples that were getting soft, raisins, dates and prunes, the last of which I wouldn’t even think of eating just like that. To my surprise, I was able to find a perfect recipe in “Back to Baking” that would allow me to use all of these ingredients! I call upon… the mincemeat pie. Do not be fooled. This is not a meat pie or a “tourtière” in Quebecois, but rather a British dessert consisting of dried fruits, juices and some syrup.

   I had never had mincemeat pie and was very curious to both make it and try it. Fortunately, this recipe was not complicated to make. Essentially put everything in a pot except the maple syrup and honey, then add those until the mixture is bubbling and thickened. The pie looked good, smelled delicious because of the cloves, but… I was left surprisingly disappointed. Now the problem is that since I never had mincemeat pie, I don’t know if I don’t like this pie I made, or if I just don’t like mincemeat pie in general. I think that it is rather the latter. I could tell that the taste was there – sweet but not sickeningly so, but something about the texture made me stop after two bites. I was never really a fan of the texture of dried fruits, but dried prunes specifically is what got me. Nonetheless, I brought this pie at work to hand off to colleagues (Note: worry not, to be fair I did warn them that I personally did not like it), and some brave souls tried it. The novice mincemeat pie eaters thought it was good; no more, no less. However, an older colleague of mine that really enjoys mincemeat pie told me that it was really good and that she was stunned to know that I made the filling myself. What I am trying to convey here is that if you like mincemeat pie, you will probably like this recipe. It is what it is meant to be, it seems!

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe Double-Crust Pie Dough, chilled
  • 2 cups peeled and diced apples (such as Granny Smith), cut in 1 cm pieces
  • 1 cup Thomson raisins
  • ½ cup chopped pitted dates
  • ½ cup chopped pitted prunes
  • 1 cup walnut pieces
  • ⅓ cup apple juice (or cider)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons quick-cook tapioca
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ cup maple syrup

Ingredients for brushing:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons water

Directions:

  1. Pulled the chilled pie dough from the fridge at least 30 minutes prior to rolling. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, knead one disc of the pie dough slightly to soften, then roll it out to a circle of about ¼ inch thick. Dust a 9-inch pie plate with flour and place the rolled pastry into the shell. Roll the second disc in the same fashion, place it onto a tray and chill both while preparing the filling.
  3. In a medium saucepot over medium heat, stir the apples, raisins, dates, prunes, walnuts, apple juice (or cider), lemon juice, orange zest, cocoa powder, tapioca and spices until the mixture just begins to bubble.
  4. Add the honey and maple syrup, and stir until the fruits simmer. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
  5. Spoon the filling into the chilled pie shell and spread to level. Cut a hole in the centre of the second pastry sheet and place it over the mincemeat. Trim and pinch the edges.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Brush the top of the pie pastry with this egg wash, and place the pie on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  7. Bake the pie for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake the pie for another 45 minutes, or until the crust is an even golden brown. Cool the pie for at least 3 hours before slicing to serve.

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Valerie