First Bake of 2022!

Now that the whirlwind of the holidays has ended, I am able to focus on blogging and baking once again. As the first bake of the new year, I decided to make something out of an Ina Garten cookbook. After looking over her recipe index, I decided that a fall/winter fruit dessert would be the perfect choice. So, Pear, Apple, and Cranberry Crisp!

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Magnolia Bakery 16: The Thanksgiving Cake

I did a lot of baking for Thanksgiving this year. My celebrated twice, one day with one side of the family, another day with the other side of the family. I decided to make two different cakes, one for each day. Both are out of the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. This post is about the cake I made for Thanksgiving proper. The cake I made for Thanksgiving Round 2 will come out later in the week.

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Magnolia Bakery 12 – Harvest Apple Cupcakes with Caramel Meringue Buttercream

Long time readers of this blog will know that I am lucky enough to have off on Fridays. While this is great for practical reasons like doctor’s appointments and getting my car’s oil changed, it also allows me enough time to actually do something I enjoy: bake. This past Friday, I was still riding the apple wave that started the weekend before when I went apple picking with some friends.

I knew I wanted to work with apples this week, but I also wanted to make something different. I was tired of just making cookies or brownies. It seems that I had been making a lot of those lately. Then I remembered that there was a “harvest-themed” recipe in the Magnolia Bakery cookbook. After looking it up, I knew that this was the recipe I had to make this week.

There were a few reasons why this recipe spoke to me this week.

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Recipe #19 Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

This recipe can be found in Parties!, page 221.

By the time New England reaches late November, Fall is in full swing. In my area of New England, the leaves are practically gone from the trees. Bare trees will cover the landscape until mid-May when the new leaves start their lives.

This time of year always makes me want to cook “fall favorites” as I call them. Pumpkins, apples, squashes, nuts, etc fill my kitchen. And this weekend’s recipe was not exception. This one included two “fall favorites”: butternut squash and apples! Not much else would say “fall recipe.”

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Recipe #10 – Apple Pie Bars

From Barefoot Contessa Cooking for Jeffrey

Last night, I made a three course meal for myself and my family.

This post will discuss the dessert course for that meal. The other two recipes will be featured in a separate post.

Apple Pie Bars were an easy choice since we are in the heart of apple season here in New England. Plus, the salad I made had notes of fall flavors, so I figured this dessert was a great way to carry-over that theme.

These pie bars are completely different than what I was expecting! Instead of a thin crust that is found in a traditional pie, this crust is a little bit thicker and more plump. It also had some hints of flavor, until a regular pie crust. Which makes sense, since the pie crust taste shouldn’t outshine the flavor in the pie.

What really got me was the apple mixture and the topping!

The recipe called for both Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples. I think this was the first time I cooked with Golden Delicious. I think this combination worked really well and probably adds some subtle flavor differences had I used only one type of apple. Mixed with sugar, lemon juice, and other common “fall spices,” the mixture simmered on the stove for about 15 minutes and in no my house smelled of pie!

The topping is more like a crumb topping, but it’s the crust dough with the flavor turned up. I added cinnamon and chopped walnuts and boy did it make a difference! I think the topping is the best part of this dish! If I make it again, I’ll probably add some cinnamon to the bottom crust, too.

While this does a little time to make since you have to peel, core, quarter, and thinly slice 6 apples, I think it is worth it and a great option to a traditional apple pie! The apple mixture appears to work well as a base for a regular pie, too.

This recipe is going on the “My Favorites” list!

Recipe #1 – Homemade Applesauce

Yesterday was the first of many recipes on this very long journey. For my first recipe I felt strongly that I wanted it to be one from Ina’s first cookbook, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. So, I got it off the shelf and started paging through it. However, I quickly realized a slight problem. Many of the recipes called for ingredients that are “fresher” and “in season” during the summer months.

Now, yes, it is technically still summer (at least until Tuesday!), and I could (in theory) get some of these items now. But doing so I would break one of Ina’s cardinal rules: always use the freshest ingredients possible. So I continued on paging through the book until I stumbled upon an applesauce recipe.

With Fall just around the corner, apples are starting to come in season here in New England and the ones this recipe calls for tend to be “always in season.” So that is what I decided to make.

Her apple sauce recipe is overall quite easy to make. The most annoying aspect was peeling the apples (I had 14 to do!), but it was totally worth the effort. The addition of butter in the pot makes the sauce smooth and helps layer some of the spices included. The added lemon juice and orange zest give it an especially interesting taste. In fact, one of my first thoughts after tasting it was “This tastes like gourmet.”

I also love any excuse to break out my Dutch oven and since the apples cooked for 90 minutes in it, it’s starting to move beyond being used only to make bread.

1 recipe down, 1,055 to go!