Spiced Sausage & Apple Pie

Happy Sunday, everyone. In continuing the pie kick that I’ve been in on the blog, today I’m going to take a walk on the savory side.

Savory pies have always been one of my favorite foods to eat, and to make. There are so many different ‘options’ out there, as just about every major cuisine has its own take on the savory meat pie.

Over the years, I’ve tried to experiment in making different ones, and as meat pie is about as much of a comfort food as you can get, those experimentations usually end up taking place at around fall/early winter when comfort food is a must.

I recently visited an apple orchard, and as when one visits an apple orchard, I had an excess of apples on my hands afterward that I had to do something with, besides just eat raw. I did bake a dessert with some, but I also made a savory dinner with others, which I’m sharing today.

Sausage and apple make for a really great pair, and for anyone who hasn’t found this out for themselves, consider this recipe your wake up call to get with the winning team, asap. The filling for this pie is very simple: sausage and apples with onion, apple cider, and a combination of spices that give it a warm, ‘autumn-y’ flavor.

You don’t have to make your own pie crust for this, two store bought ones will work– but I highly recommend that you do. It’s the same crust recipe I used for my Chicken Pot Pie, and it’s delicious enough to where it will remain THE pie crust I whip up for all savory pies that I make in the future.

The labor for this pie gets spread out over the course of two days, with the bulk of it being done on the first day. The second day is the easy part: you roll out the pie crust(s), fill the first pie crust, top it off with the second, and bake. This makes for good eating for a dinner, but also for brunch or lunch.

Enjoy.

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Spiced Sausage & Apple Pie

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

For Pie Crust

  • 2 1/4 sticks (254 grams) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 2 cups (256 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (40 grams) whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons very cold water, plus more if needed

For Filling

  • 2 pounds ground pork (or turkey) sausage, cooked and drained
  • 3 medium sized apples (like Gala, Fuji, or Pink Lady)
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 cup apple cider or apple juice
  • 1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Plenty of onion and garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice

Directions

For Pie Crust:

In a large bowl, combine the flours, salt, sugar and black pepper. Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients, and stir together with a fork. Add the water, adding more tablespoon by tablespoon if needed just until it holds together.

Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into two portions. One should be slightly larger than the other. The larger one will be our bottom crust, the smaller one will be the top crust. Wrap both of these blobs in plastic, then press down to form a well-sealed disc. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before rolling and assembling the pie. (I typically let mine rest overnight)

For Filling:

In a large, shallow frying pan, cook the sliced apples with the onion, salt, cider or juice, and sugar for 15 minutes, or until the apples are tender and the liquid is syrupy.

Stir the cooked sausage into the apple mixture, and remove the pan from the heat. Add the pepper and the rest of the spices. TASTE IT. If the seasoning is to your preference, refrigerate for at least one hour, but preferably overnight.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Take the pie dough discs out of the fridge, unwrap, and let hang out on a lightly floured surface for a few minutes.

Roll out the larger disc into a 12-inch circle and set into a 9-inch glass deep dish pie pan. Use your fingers to gently press the dough into the corners of the pan, so it’s as snug as can be. Roll out the smaller disc into a 10- to 11-inch circle. Fill the dough-lined pie pan with the cold sausage-apple filling and use a spoon to smooth out to fill the pan completely.

From here, you can either place the second rolled out disc of pie dough on top of the pie, or cut it into strips and arrange them in a lattice design on top of the pie. Your choice.

Trim any excess so you have an even ¾-inch overhang. Use your fingers to squeeze the two layers together, then fold the overhang under itself, so the edge is tucked into the pie pan and a ridge is formed. Use the tines of a fork to seal the ridges all around.

Place the pie pan on a rimmed sheet pan you’ve lined with aluminum foil (this makes getting in and out of the oven a lot simpler, and also saves on mess from possible seepage.)

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the pie crust is golden brown. Let sit for about 15-20 minutes before slicing.

Sharing this at Fiesta Friday #458.

Sourdough Ginger Pumpkin Bread

I cannot believe that there are only 2 full months left of 2022, and yet, here we are, at the end of October. Like this month, the year absolutely flew by.

As busy as it’s been, I’m grateful that this year, I was intentional about setting time aside for myself to continue to cook, bake and blog–even during the times that it felt like I was ‘shirking’ off from my day-job. If I hadn’t, it’s safe to say I wouldn’t have gained some new skills in the cooking/baking department that have become pretty important to my eating habits now.

Learning/practicing how to bake sourdough bread was one of the things I set aside personal time for. It’s one of the better decisions I’ve made for my ongoing baking education, not least because there are so many different uses for sourdough besides just ‘standard’ bakers loaves. I’ve already shared several different uses I’ve found for it before in past posts (see here, here, here, and here), and today I’m excited to share the latest one I’ve tried out.

I’ve wanted to try making pumpkin shaped bread for a really long time, but I’d always chickened out because the ‘shaping’ part of it intimidated me. But seeing as I’m in a season of being intentional in trying/doing things that normally would’ve intimidated me, I decided to make pumpkin shaped bread the next thing I was going to tackle. I’m very pleased to be able to report back that I think it turned out pretty well.

The ‘labor’ involved in making pumpkin bread really isn’t as involved/complicated as it might look. What it comes down to, is tying various strings of kitchen twine around/across a ball of bread dough and allowing it to rise/bake with the string still in place so as to preserve the pumpkin ‘shape’.

I’m also happy to report that this bread tastes as good as it looks. The spices from both the pumpkin pie spice and ginger really complement each other nicely, and I strongly recommend that you toast the bread when eating, which both enhances the flavor and provides a delicious texture on the outside to complement the moisture of the bread on the inside.

Happy Halloween !

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Sourdough Ginger Pumpkin Bread

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (227 grams) pureed pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup (170 grams) Sourdough Starter, either ripe (fed) or discard
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 cups (360 grams) Bread Flour* (You may not need to use it all)
  • 1/4 cup (46 grams) mini diced ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick, optional (for decoration)
  • Kitchen twine, for shaping

Directions

In a small container, pour the 1/4 cup of warm water. Sprinkle the active dry yeast on top, then sprinkle the 1 tablespoon of white sugar. Allow to sit for ten minutes, until proofed and frothy.

In a medium size bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour, the salt, the 1/4 cup white sugar and the pumpkin pie spice. Stir together with a fork.

In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with bread hook attachments, add the activated yeast, the pumpkin puree, the sourdough starter, the egg and the melted butter. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and combine. (Using either a handheld mixer with the dough hook attachments, or the standing mixer). If need be, add the extra 1 cup of flour.

Knead the dough for 6-8 minutes until it becomes smooth and bouncy.

Grease the inside of the bowl, place the dough inside, and allow to rise for 1-1/2 hours, until puffy,.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Cut 4 20″ pieces of kitchen twine, stack them together, and tie a granny knot in the middle. Dip all but the top 2″ of the strings in oil. Place on top of parchment paper. Lay the end of the strings over the sheet pan’s edge, spacing evenly all around.

Deflate the risen dough and shape it into a ball. Place the dough ion top of the strings, seam side down. Bring the strings together at the top. Knot or clip them together loosely, leaving about 3/4″ of slack between the strings and the dough (so as to allow room for the dough to rise).

Cover and let rise for 60-90 minutes, until the dough holds its indentation when lightly pressed with your finger.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Use a straight lame to 1/2″ deep lines from the bottom of the dough to the top in ‘leaf’ patterns, repeating all the way around.

Bake the bread for 50-55 minutes, tenting the top with foil after 35 minutes. (Bread is done when a digital thermometer inserted into its center reads 190 degrees F) Remove the bread from oven and cool it on a wire rack.

Use a pair of kitchen shears to cut the kitchen twine, remove them from the loaf, then stick the cinnamon stick into the top as a ‘stem’.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #456.

Apple Cider Cookie Bars

It’s my favorite time of year: Autumn.

The weather isn’t too hot, but still isn’t too cold. You can break out the sweaters and boots without needing to break out the heavy winter coats. Depending on where you live, the trees begin to change color.

And then, of course, there’s the food of it all.

Much like peaches and strawberries with summer, apple cider is one of those ingredients that are very ‘seasonal’ for my tastebuds. I get the hankering to have it at very specific times of year. Late September-early October is the perfect sweet spot to where I will take apple cider whenever I can get it, in as many different ways as I can get it.

We all know apple cider is delicious enough on its own, but did you know it’s a pretty great ingredient to bake with as well? It’s true. I’ve put it to some delicious uses several times before on the blog, first with donuts (baked and fried), then another time with pound cake.

Today, I’m back to experimenting with cider but with something a little different.

Cookie bars have become one of my favorite desserts over the past few years. They’re simple to make, and they also deliver on the most important factor for me when it comes to successful desserts, outside of flavor: the texture.

With a cookie bar I get the full bodied, chewy texture I like, with a smooth filling on top to balance it all out. As with a lot of the desserts on this blog, these started with a Blank Canvas base recipe, that I customized to my preferences. The cookie base is a standard Pâte Sablée Cookie Crust that I’ve used before with other cookie bar recipes, but this time added some spices to give it more of an ‘autumn-y’ flavor. The filling is an apple cider ‘quick custard’ where you let the oven do the work rather than cooking it over the stove with traditional custard recipes.

You guys, I was so pleased with how these turned out. The pâte sablée is a tasty enough cookie on its own, but adding the apple cider custard was the perfect addition of flavor and texture. This is one is already set to become one of my favorite autumn desserts, and should you try it, I think it’ll become one of yours too.

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Apple Cider Cookie Bars

Recipe Adapted from BHG & a previous recipe on Cooking is My Sport

Ingredients

For Pâte Sablée Cookie Crust

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste, or vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice

For Cider Custard Filling*

  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt

Directions

For Boiled Cider Syrup:

In a large saucepan bring cider to a simmer over medium. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 1 to 2 hours (depends on pot size), uncovered, until mixture is reduced to 1/2 cup. Let cool completely.

*Note: You can buy pre-boiled cider syrup. You’ll need 1/2 cup total for this recipe.

For Cookie Crust:

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, spices, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a handheld one with the beater attachments), beat butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add egg and egg yolks, beating until combined. Beat in vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract.

With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating until combined.

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, letting excess extend over sides of pan; lightly spray with cooking spray.


Press Pâte Sablée cookie crust into bottom of prepared pan. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. Using a fork, prick the dough about every 1 inch.


Bake until light golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

While crust is baking, In a large liquid measuring cup, whisk together boiled cider syrup, milk, and 3/4 cup cream. In a medium bowl whisk together brown sugar, flour, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and the salt. Add cider mixture. Stir until combined.

Increased oven temp to 375 degrees F. Pour cider custard onto cookie crust.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until custard appears set at edges but is still slightly jiggly in center. Let cool completely.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #453.

Sweet Potato Dutch Oven Bread

I consider it a real shame that I’ve had and treasured my Dutch oven for literal years and never realized that there were more things I could do with it than just make stews and braises.

It wasn’t until a few months ago when I started baking sourdough bread that I first tried out baking in my Dutch oven. To be frank, I was blown away by the results, and shocked that I had gone this long without having Dutch oven-style bread in my life.

So what’s the big deal with the Dutch Oven? In the first place, a big one (Mine is 6 quarts) is perfect for baking up huge loaves of bread at a time, which is great if you’re like us and you love the carbs.

Second, the heat distribution of a Dutch Oven is where it’s at because it allows you to get that thick, crackly artisan style crust that you normally only see in bread coming out of professional bakeries.

Third (my personal favorite), the Dutch Oven will keep the loaf from spreading out too wide and flat while baking so that you can get and keep that rounded height shape even after baking.

Mashed potato is really a magic ingredient for bread dough. It keeps it soft and moist for days, and if you use sweet potato, you get added flavor and color. This isn’t a sourdough bread, but I still used the same technique for mixing, rising and baking as I did with my go-to sourdough recipe, and got really great results out of it.

One last thing: I really don’t recommend baking this bread without having a thermometer on hand to doublecheck the inner temp. The sweet potato makes it very moist, and the golden outer crust can be misleading as to whether or not it’s actually cooked through. Better to be safe than sorry. Remember, baking is science: the numbers won’t lie or steer you wrong.

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Sweet Potato Dutch Oven Bread

Recipe Adapted from Bake from Scratch

Ingredients

  • 8 cups (1016 grams) bread flour
  • 3 cups (760 grams) lightly mashed baked sweet potato
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons (18 grams) kosher salt
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons (14 grams) active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups (568 grams) warm water (105°F/41°C to 110°F/43°C)

Directions

In a medium bowl, sprinkle the active dry yeast on top of the warm water. Sprinkle the tablespoon of sugar on top of the yeast and allow to sit for 10 minutes, until proofed and frothy.

In a large bowl, combine the flour with the herbs and kosher salt and stir together with a fork.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the yeast-water and the sweet potato.

Use the dough hook to stir until a smooth dough comes together. (I’ve had days where I needed to add more flour, I’ve had days where I needed to add more water. This is probably just going to depend upon the weather, the time of year, and the temperature of your kitchen.)

Grease the bowl, place the dough back inside and cover with plastic wrap, and a damp kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise until it’s covered in size, about 90 minutes.

Gently deflate the dough. Shape into a boule-like round. (It’s somewhat like a tomato) Flour a banneton bowl (or a regular bowl) and place the dough inside, seam side up. Cover with the plastic wrap and kitchen towel and allow to proof for another 45 minutes-to an hour.

About halfway through the second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit and place a 6 quart Dutch oven with the lid on inside the oven. (BE SURE THE HANDLE IS METAL AND NOT PLASTIC)

Take the Dutch oven out of the oven and remove the lid. (It’s going to be very hot; Don’t burn yourself.)

Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan. When the dough is finished rising, Turn the parchment line sheet pan upside down and place on top of it. In one swift motion, turn the dough bowl upside down onto the parchment paper, and lift away the bowl.

Grip two sides of the parchment paper and use them to swiftly lift the bread into the Dutch oven. Use a bread lame, or a very sharp knife to slash at least two gashes into the surface of the bread, about 1-1 1/2 inches deep each. You can make a cross, or any other pattern you desire) Place the lid on top of the Dutch oven and place the whole thing back inside the oven.

Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow to bake, undisturbed for 40 minutes. Remove the lid and check the color of the dough. The bread should be risen and slightly golden brown on top. If it’s still pale, place the lid back on and allow to bake for another 10 minutes, then check it again. If it’s golden brown, remove the lid and allow to bake for another 20-30 minutes.

Use an internal thermometer to check the inner temp of the bread. It should be at least 205 degrees Fahrenheit.

Carefully remove the bread from the Dutch Oven and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack for at least an hour.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #430.

Sweet Potato Spice Bread

Things have been all kinds of busy lately.

There’s a lot going on and that leaves less time than I would like to cook, much less set aside the time to take pictures and write up recipes for the blog. But since this is one of my outlets to rest/recharge from my day-job, I still make time in however best way I can.

One of those ways, in both a booking/blogging sense, is through making quick bread. I’ve mentioned before that we eat breakfast for dinner pretty frequently in my household, and quick bread of some sort usually makes an appearance as a part of that.

Quick bread is bread that’s made without yeast and, thus, doesn’t require a lot of preparation or rising time. It can literally made in more or less, an hour (thus the ‘quick’ part). Examples of quick breads would be gingerbread, pancakes, banana/zucchini bread; basically bread that’s made with baking powder and/or baking soda that acts as the leavening/rising agent in lieu of the yeast.

Whenever I’m in a hurry to make breakfast for dinner, I will usually default to making pancakes, or some kind of quick bread that we eat alongside eggs, sausage and bacon. This was one of those times.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of baking with sweet potatoes lately, which is evident not just in today’s post, but in a few more to come in the upcoming weeks. While I find them delicious all on their own, they’re also a great baking ingredient. Mashed potato is great for keeping bread doughs from drying out, and I find that sweet potato gives a warm and savory flavor that’s perfect for the tastebuds this time of year.

Like just about all quick breads, this loaf comes together very quickly (pun kinda intended). Apart from being very tasty, it’s also in the You Can’t Screw This Up recipe category–which is yet another reason for you to give it a try, whether it’s for keeps, or maybe even for a tasty holiday gift.

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Sweet Potato Spice Bread

Recipe Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potato
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 chopped, toasted pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9 x 6 loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg cinnamon, ginger and sugar.

Add the eggs, oil, and milk; mix until well blended. Finally, stir in the mashed sweet potatoes, pecans, and dried cranberries. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow bread to cool in the pan at least 15 minutes before removing. For best flavor, store overnight before serving.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #407, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Apple Butter Pecan Bread

A few days ago I was dropping my niece off for school in the morning and when we got there, the both of us got an unexpected surprise:

We were really cold.

That may seem like a perfectly normal morning for some or most of you reading this post, but for those of you who live on the West Coast of the US or in other areas of the world where’s it’s on the warmer side for most of the year, you may understand the feelings of surprise in getting up in the morning, going outside and feeling as if you need a warmer jacket.

We only recently moved back to the East Coast, and so chilly mornings haven’t really been the norm for us (outside of the dead of winter months like January or February). It was an unexpected, but not unwelcome feeling. It made me all the more conscious of the time of year, and with that, came a really strong desire to kickstart into fall baking.

There are few ingredients/foods that are more suited to fall baking than apple butter. Whether you make it or buy it, whenever and however you eat it, you’re going to get a sense of ‘eating’ autumn. Up until now I’d only eaten and made apple butter in and of itself, but this time I found a really yummy way of baking with it.

Quick bread is another one of those “Impossible to Mess Up” recipes that I love sharing on the blog. Excepting the apple butter, you likely already have the majority of the ingredients in your house, and at this time of year, apple butter should be relatively easy for you to find, whether at. a grocery store or a farmer’s market.

I seriously wish that the smells of this loaf as it was baking could be converted into a candle. They come second only to the actual taste of it, which as you might imagine, are like taking a perfect bite of pure autumn.

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Apple Butter Pecan Bread

Recipe Adapted from Southern Living

Ingredients

For Pecan Streusel

  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup, plus 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour 
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For Bread

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup apple butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour (2) 8- x 4-inch loaf pans and set aside.

Make the streusel: Stir together coarsely chopped pecans, flour, brown sugar, melted butter, cinnamon, and salt. Let stand 30 minutes. Crumble into small pieces.

Beat butter and cream cheese in bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer and a medium sized bowl) on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes.

Gradually add brown sugar, beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; gradually add to butter mixture, beating on low speed just until blended.

Stir in the Apple Butter, and vanilla.

Spoon batter into the loaf pans. Sprinkle top of batter evenly with Streusel Topping.

Bake in preheated oven until a long wooden pick inserted in center of each loaf comes out clean and sides pull away from pans, 50 minutes to 1 hour, shielding tops of pans with aluminum foil during last 10 minutes to prevent excessive browning, if necessary.

Cool loaves in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely, about 1 hour.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #401, co-hosted this week by Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons and Petra @ Food Eat Love.

Butter Pecan Scones

Butter pecan is one of those flavors that draw a line in the sand with people’s taste buds.

They either absolutely love it or they absolutely hate it.

I’ve even seen it become an age debate; supposedly, ‘old people’ like butter pecan while for the young folks, it’s a no go.

I don’t know what kind of logic goes into that argument. But I guess that makes me old, guys. Cause I’ve always loved butter pecan. Roasted pecans and rich vanilla flavored butter is my kind of carrying on. Outside of cake batter, I’d say that butter pecan was my favorite ice cream flavor. It’s so simple, but still so rich and divine.

Typically butter pecan is a flavor that is reserved for ice cream. I haven’t seen it pop up in too many other recipes. This past week I was trying to decide what to make for brinner and although I decided upon scones, I wanted to do a little something different with them that I could share here on the blog.

I knew that I had some unused pecans in the pantry that I wanted to use up (nuts are way too expensive to waste) but I didn’t want to just throw them into a regular scone dough and call it a day. Because I’m extra like that.

Adding pecans to a recipe doesn’t make it butter pecan. You have to create those rich, warm, vanilla flavors to go along with the nutty goodness.

Rich and warm flavor brings one thing to my mind.

And thus, the browned butter chronicles continue on Cooking is My Sport.

 

I’ve said before that there are very few ways of improving upon butter; browning it is one of them. Browned butter creates a rich, warm and nutty flavor to it that I thought would be perfect for a butter pecan flavored scone. After browning the butter, I froze it, just like I do with all of my biscuit/scone recipes. From there, I went with my usual formula.

In lieu of white sugar, I used brown to give it extra caramel-y flavor. I added sour cream along with buttermilk because in the first place, it really gives the dough a tender texture that is needed, as the nuts soak up a lot of the moisture from the buttermilk.

These came out even better than I expected them to while they were baking, filling the house with all kinds of wonderful aromas. They’re not overly sweet, but that buttery, pecan flavor sure does come through. I are mine sliced in half, toasted with a smear of pumpkin butter. It was absolutely delicious.

(As a brief but very important aside, if you live in the United States, please exercise your right to vote in the upcoming election. We can’t have four more years of this; we just cannot.)

Wear a mask. Social distance. Stay safe.

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Butter Pecan Scones

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cups brown sugar (preferably dark, but light will work fine too)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 1 to 2 cups toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1-2 cups buttermilk* (The amount of milk to use is going to vary depending upon the time of year and the location you’re in because of the varying moisture levels in the air. I always start with one cup, then gradually add more as I deem fit).

Directions

For browned butter:

Melt the butter over medium heat in a 2 quart saucepan. Let it cook and watch it closely until 3-5 minutes until the butter begins to foam, forms a golden brown color and browned bits form on the bottom. (It will have a sweet, nutty smell). Immediately remove it from the heat. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then place butter in a small bowl, and freeze until solid, about 2 hours.

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt and brown sugar and stir together with a fork.

 Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients. Add the pecans. Stir with a fork.

In a small bowl combine the eggs with the vanilla extract and stir until the yolks are broken. Set aside.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the egg mixture and sour cream and buttermilk. Use a large fork and a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add the additional buttermilk until it forms a shaggy dough.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or a clean smooth countertop with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the biscuits to be tough.)

Use a bench scraper or a large sharp knife to divide the dough in half. Roughly shape each half into a square. Stack one of the halves on top of the other and use a rolling pin to roll it together into one mass. Repeat this process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle. (This is a process of layering so that the scones will bake flaky).

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Sprinkle your work surface with flour and unwrap the biscuit dough out onto it. Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Use a square cookie cutter, or a knife to cut the remaining dough into squares, about 2″ each.

Remove the cut scones to the baking sheet you’ve lined with parchment paper, placing them rather close to each other (it will help them rise higher). Freeze until cold, about 15 minutes.

Bake until golden brown, 18 to 23 minutes. You may need to cover them with foil to keep from browning too fast. When you pull one away from the others, it should look baked all the way through; the edge shouldn’t look wet or unbaked.

(Linking up to Fiesta Friday #352)

Apple Cider Pound Cake

It’s that time of year again.

Even though I live on the West Coast and the seasons don’t really ‘change’ here, late September is the time of year that I finally start to accept that autumn is upon us and that I can and should start baking those autumn flavored foods.

Oh yeah. Late September is also my birthday.

I turn thirty today y’all. 3-0.

It’s not that I think 30 is old, but it feels weird that I’ve reached it. I have literally no idea where the last decade went. It’s been a whole lot of change and transition. I can honestly say I never would foresaw any of it. But I am grateful. My 20s were…something lol. I’m looking forward to 30 hitting much differently.

My birthday usually passes by without very much fanfare. But for the past few years, I have given myself a tradition/present of baking myself a birthday cake. I had a little less time this year to go all out than I did last year, but I still wanted my cake, so I just went with something nice and easy–but still delicious.

If there’s one thing that autumn put me in the mind of and the mood to have, it’s apple cider. I’m a Midwestern girl, so cider mills, cider and apple cider donuts and the like are a huge part of my childhood. It feels weird if I go without them. This year for my 30th birthday on the West coast, I thought I would give myself a present that would remind me of the Midwest.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ve seen that I have a huge interest in making a bunch of variations on pound cake. It’s a Blank Canvas recipe; wonderful on its own, even better the more flavor variations you can give to it.

This pound cake is flavored with all of the autumn spices, as well as one full cup of apple cider. The smells alone while it baked reminded me of being back in the Midwest. After it finished baking, I rubbed it with a cinnamon sugar coating. It’s that cinnamon sugar coating that really made me feel as though I was biting into a denser, richer apple cider donut. It’s truly delicious.

Happy autumn to all, and Happy 30th to me.

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Apple Cider Pound Cake

Recipe Adapted from Southern Living

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For Cinnamon Sugar Coating

  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 10-16 cup Bundt pan.

In a medium size bowl combine the flour, spices, salt and baking powder and stir together with a fork. Set aside. Combine the apple cider with the vanilla extract in a small bowl, set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, or using a large bowl and a hand-held one, cream together the butter and flour until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until just combined and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula in between.

Add the flour and the apple cider mixtures alternately the the egg-butter mixture. Start and end with the flour mixture, mixing until just combined.

Pour and spread the batter in the bundt pan. Lift and tap the pan against the countertop a couple of times in order to prevent air bubbles while baking. Place the bundt pan on a sheet pan.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven, for about 50-65 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Mine baked fast, so check it early, especially if you have a gas stove) Cakes are done at an inner temp of 195F-200F.

Transfer cake to cooling rack set inside baking sheet and cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert directly onto cooling rack.

For the Cinnamon Sugar Coating: Combine sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle warm cake with cinnamon sugar, using fingers to rub it onto sides.

Cool cake completely for about one hour before serving with whipped cream or ice cream.

Linking to Fiesta Friday #295, co-hosted this week by the wonderful Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau.

Chewy Ginger Cookie Bars

Y’all, do me a quick favor. Look to the right of your screen and locate the search bar.

Type in the word ‘ginger’. Hit the search button.

What do you see?

My guess would be that quite a few posts are going to pop up.

The reason for this is very simple: I love ginger. I have a very strong appreciation of it. I look for ways to throw it into dishes that may not have originally called for it. Whether you’re using it for a sweet or savory dish, both ground and fresh ginger are fantastic stuff to have around.

I’ve mentioned before that I make my own ginger syrup to help with my stomach issues. The only thing about making ginger syrup is that after you’ve made the syrup, you’re left with quite a bit of candied/crystallized ginger that’s been simmered in the sugar syrup.

Not that I’m complaining. Apart from being delicious to snack on it by itself, candied ginger is one of my favorite things to bake with. Today’s recipe features a double whammy of both ground and candied ginger.

Sometimes I want cookies, but also just don’t feel like making the dough, letting it rest & chill in the fridge, then rolling or scooping it out into individual portions. What I love about cookie bars is that they take the extra labor out of making actual cookies. There’s no chilling time required. You don’t have to portion the dough out individually. After the dough is made, it all gets pressed into one pan and baked off together. You can seriously make this in less than 10 minutes, and have it baked & finished in less than 1 hour. It couldn’t be easier.

This recipe started out from a basic sugar cookie bar that I altered. I swapped out some of the white sugar for brown sugar, then added molasses, ground ginger and candied ginger. Apart from the warm, spicy flavors of these bars, I  think that the texture is my favorite part.

They have a well balanced density, but it’s not so much that it’ll get stuck in your teeth. It’s like that perfect sweet spot that you get in the center of a drop cookie–except, here it’s in the whole thing. I ate mine still warm with whipped cream and caramel. To say that I enjoyed it would be an understatement.

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Chewy Ginger Cookie Bars

Recipe Courtesy of Food Network Magazine

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup crystallized ginger, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides; coat the foil with cooking spray.

In a medium size bowl combine the flour, ground ginger and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the sugars and molasses into the melted butter. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring briskly. Add the vanilla.

Fold in the dry ingredients into the wet, stirring just until combined. Fold in the minced crystallized ginger. Spread the dough into the baking dish with an oiled spatula.

Bake until the edges are set but the center is soft, about 25-30 minutes. Allow to sit in pan for about 10 minutes, then use the foil to lift out of the baking dish and transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into square bars.

Sharing at the Fiesta Friday #248, co-hosted this week by Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju.com and Alex @ Turks Who Eat.

Honey Sugar Cookies

I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I’ll go ahead and say it again: I have a mild obsession with sugar cookies.

I use the term ‘mild’ rather loosely. The reality is, I adore them. I think they’re the best dessert that there is. I could eat them every day (I don’t, but I could). I’ve shared more than a few recipes for them on the blog already. I do have my favorites, but there’s honestly something about each one that makes them different and delicious in their own way.

Take it from someone well practiced in eating them: all sugar cookies aren’t created equal. They don’t all come out the same way. Part of this comes down to personal preference. Part of it comes down to the ingredients. Some people are on Team Crispy Sugar Cookies. Others (like me) are on Team Soft Sugar Cookies. Some prefer them unfrosted/un-iced and others won’t take them any other way.

While I do like a good hardened glaze, I will say that I’ve found that a truly good sugar cookie won’t need it. It just won’t. The cookie texture itself will be soft enough to where it doesn’t need the moisture from frosting or glaze. The flavor of vanilla, almond or citrus will be strong enough to not need the added sugar in a frosting or glaze to make it sweet enough to taste like something besides flour.

(And you would be surprised at how often that happens. Like I said: they ain’t all created equal.)

Typically I only try new sugar cookies recipes if there’s something about them that appeals to me. I was flipping through Food Network Magazine one day and I saw this one. It appealed to me, not just because the cookies were pretty, but because they included an ingredient that I had never used in a cookie dough before: honey.

I’ve used honey before in gingerbread. It functions as both a sweetener and a way to keep the final product moist. Because I liked the results with gingerbread, I thought it would be worthwhile to see how it would affect sugar cookies, which are typically sweetened with just…sugar. These do have sugar too, but they also have about 1/4 cup of honey.

Because it’s autumn, I decided to use a pumpkin cookie cutter for these. They hold their shape very well so just about any cookie cutter you wanted to use will work great.

I really, really liked how they turned out. The honey gives them a special sweetness and flavor–you can definitely tell the difference between this and regular sugar cookies. They’re soft and slightly chewy. They’re delicious. Have a good weekend, everyone.

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Honey Sugar Cookies

Recipe Courtesy of Food Network Magazine

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

In the bowl of a standing mixer or using a handheld one, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy. Add the honey and egg, mixing just until combined and yellow disappears. Add the vanilla.

In a small bowl combine the flour with baking powder and the salt, stirring together with a fork. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 1 cup increments, mixing just until combined.

Form the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, preferably overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Roll dough out on a clean and floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick. Dip your cookie cutter into powdered sugar, then tap to remove excess and transfer to cookie sheets. Repeat until you’ve used up all of the dough.*

Freeze cut out cookies for 10-20 minutes.

Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with a little bit more sugar. Bake in the oven on the middle rack until just golden brown, about 18-20 minutes. Allow to sit on the pan for about 60 seconds before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

(Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #244, co-hosted this week by Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju.com and Debanita @ Canvassed Recipes.