Christmas is coming. And so is my family for the holiday, and they love mince pies.
Me, I could take them or leave them, but they do seem necessary for Christmas, and so I decided to test out my recipe (there would be nothing worse than them not turning out on the day).
There is a dilemma when making mince pies, and that is whether or not to make your own pastry. Of course, there’s also the dilemma on whether or not to make your own fruit mince, but that was not happening for me…
So I decided to do a blind taste test for which pasty to use. I don’t have a food processor, or access to some of the ingredients included in most recipes (like buttermilk), so that ruled out most ideas.
And then I found Joy.
Or should I say refound Joy. I love Joy the Baker’s blog. She seems to have the best recipes and if I could only have access to 2 cooking blogs, hers would be one of them (the other would be How Sweet It Is, who is a total inspiration to a girl like me who also loves bacon and chocolate and has a lack of fondness for vegetables, but more on her another day).
So, I used Joy’s recipe for Easy No-Roll Pie Crust – it uses cream cheese and butter and flour and really not that many ingredients, but is lovely and not too flaky and just right.
And it won! I made mini fruit mince pies using a mini muffin pan, and yes, next time, I will have to use muffin trays or pie tins, as they did have trouble coming out, but they were lovely.
This weekend I also made some orange sugar cookies (adapting a lemon sugar cookie recipe from Baking Bites) and covered them with sugar combined with orange sugar sprinkles,, and also made some more peanut butter cookies from this recipe on Nibbledish which have always been a winner with work colleagues. But of course it’s Christmas and the holiday and party season, and I need lots of practice in preparation for a bake-off I am having with a friend in January.
Sometimes the planets align, events syncronise and things just work.
I’ve been feeling rather slack lately and wanting to bake something elaborate. Not that the recurring batches of cookies and attempts at homemade bread weren’t enjoyable (and tasty, in the case of the cookies), but I just wanted to up my game.
So there was the idea to go big. And involve fruit, in an attempt to be healthy.
Now, a word of warning up first – Apple Tarte Tatin is one of those things where once you’ve tried it (especially if it’s really good), you will remember it. I last had it over a year ago from a lovely bakery near my house – which then proceded to be very mean and shut down. A new French-style bakery opened nearby and I hoped they would have it, but alas, no dice.
So I had to try to make it myself. And that’s where Joy’s blog fit in, and it was perfect.
It involves apples, butter, sugar and puff pastry. And that’s it.
No, seriously, that’s it. Which is great, but it makes me a bit paranoid that I’ve missed something.
I always seem to have a problem with converting weights and volumes from imperial to metric – so when I read 1 stick of butter, I was too thankful that I didn’t have to do any math, that I didn’t think to look at the size of the stick. So, of course, I ended up with double the amount of butter. It was still absolutely delicious, but it was way way too buttery.
Which made it a bit tricky to eat for breakfast the next day. Am I the only who makes too much dessert or pudding so I can pick at it the next day?
1 cup sugar (I used caster)
7 apples (whatever your favourite is, I used a mix of Granny Smith and Fuji)
1 sheet of pasty (or 2 if you’re using a larger skillet like me)
Peel and quarter the apples, removing the core, seeds and all that bad stuff.
Melt the butter in a skillet. A smaller 10-inch skillet is better, but just make sure you have enough pastry to cover it.
When the butter is melted, remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar. When it’s lovely and spread out, pop back onto the heat at medium-high.
Layer the apple quarters in, making sure to cover all the surface area. If they don’t all fit, don’t worry. The apples will reduce slightly and you can pop the rest in later.
Let it simmer for 10-15 minutes. I turned my oven on at this point to let it preheat to 190 degrees C. Pop a baking tray in there at the same time.
If you have any left over apples, put them in while the sugar and butter is caramelising. There’s not really any need to stir, but keep an eye on the colour and smell that lovely apple-y smell.
After about 15 minutes, remove from the stove. Cover the skillet with pastry, tucking any edges in.
Put the skillet on the baking tray and bake for 20-30 minutes. The pastry will go all lovely and puffy and golden to let you know when it’s done.
Remove from the oven and let it cool for about 30 minutes.
Run a knife along the edge, just to make sure the pastry isn’t stuck, and pop a plate big enough to cover the skillet over the top.
Flip it over onto the plate.
Best served warm with cream or icecream or on its own.
Tags: brownies, daschund, oops
So it appears I have been somewhat lapse in updating this darling thing – considering it is nigh on a year since I last blogged. Forgive me, dear Reader, for I have sinned…
And so it was, that on the 5th of July, 2010, a girl in Melbourne remembered that she had started up a baking blog and forgotten to continue it. I have been baking, though. I attempted macarons several weeks ago (and failed…), and have recently become the proud owner of a lovely set of cookie cutters (including a camel, stegosaurus and a sheep).
Brownies are a definite favourite of mine, of course, and I have recently discovered a reccipe for marshmallow brownies (courtesy of FirstLookThenCook via TheKitchn) which I am dying to try out. TheKitchn is one of my favourite new blog discoveries along with YumSugar over at the Sugar Network – both of which are divine inspiration for my inner baker and gourmand.
And yet, I never end up making this sort of delicacy and end up having cheese on toast and the like. But I will make those Marshmallow Brownies – I even have the recipe all printed and raring to go. And so it shall be, that those brownies will be cooked and tested on my colleagues (for that is what they are for).
In other news, my darling friend WitMatter has moved to Sydney for work, and life is just not the same. And the darling girl gets to work with two miniature sausage dogs – the breed I have always dreamed of owning… so, so jealous!
Tags: dreams, lottery, procrastination
I know that my chance of winning the lottery tonight is very slim, but is it so wrong to dream? Probably not.
Is it wrong to waste time at work by googling million dollar houses and first class flights? Probably… but when you know that everyone else at work is doing the same (or being ghoulish by looking up details on Michael Jackson’s autopsy… ick!), you can’t help but feel justified.
Now, if you don’t mind, I’m off to check out a yacht.
Welcome, thank you for joining me and I hope you’re sitting comfortably.
I have a confession to make: I am rubbish at keeping blogs. I’ve tried before – and they have lasted an average of 3 entries before I either get busy, or bored, or distracted by shiny objects. I’m hoping for the best, of course, but it is polite to warn people in advance.
Anyway, now that we can dispense with the unpleasantries, I’d like to get down to the business of welcoming you to the Frosting Belles blog. I have always abided by the philosophy that there is nothing in life that can not be improved by the adding of sprinkles; a fact which is not entirely true, but a nice thought, nonetheless. I’ve recently rediscovered the joy that comes with baking, especially when everything works out for the best, and am overcoming my fear that my sponge cake will turn into a yellow pancake as it did in Home Ec at the age of 12.
Although, in my own defence, I do hasten to admit that I might have beaten out all the air and used the wrong ingredients… an easy mistake to make.
So yes, everything in life can be improved with a little frosting and some colourful sprinkles… whether metaphorically, or not.