Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is a time to consciously give thanks and I am thankful for many things:

  • I’m thankful for my family (who love me even when I am stressed and, therefore, cranky).
  • I am thankful for my friends. You know how there are people who have hundreds of good friends? I am not one of those people. I’d like to be, but it’s not my nature. I have a few good friends and I am so very lucky to have them in my life.
  • I am thankful that I am healthy. In fact, I recently found out that I don’t have osteoporosis—just garden-variety osteopenia along with just about every other post-menopausal woman I know. Yay! One less thing to worry about.
  • I am especially thankful that my family and friends are pretty healthy as well.
  • And I am thankful for pie…

Pies

I baked pumpkin, pecan, apple, and cranberry-apple pies yesterday. Steve rolled out the (gluten-free) crusts which was a big help.

I used a new apple pie recipe, sent to me by my mom’s friend, Coralee. It’s from allrecipes.com: Grandma Ople’s Apple Pie. It calls for a lattice-crust which is too hard to do with a GF crust so I used a cookie cutter to cut pieces instead:

Pies2

Watch the video and make notes because the recipe itself is not very complete. I realized after 2 false starts that the order in which to add things matters. You combine simmering melted butter with 3 TBS flour to make a paste (sort of like white glue, not a stiff paste). Stir in white sugar (while still simmering), then brown sugar, and then water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for a bit… they say 5 minutes but I think that might be too long. The point, I think, is to make a toffee sauce.

I made the sauce and let it cool too long. I think it would work a lot better to have the pie ready to pour the sauce onto as soon as you are done simmering. It looks like it is going to be a very good pie!

Next year we will be in NYC with Celia and Jeff for Thanksgiving. They are, as I write, sitting in a restaurant watching the parade and having brunch which is a lot warmer than being on the street in the wind and snow.

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Even though I have never been much of a parade-watcher, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade really does look like fun. I’m looking forward already to 2015!

Parade

I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving!

Silicone baking cups!

The New York Baking Company contacted me to see if I would like to write an honest review of their silicone baking cups. It took me a while to realize that they probably contacted me because of my blog name, piece o’ cake, rather than the fact that I sometimes write about baking but that’s OK because I do, in fact, sometimes write about baking!

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I’ve seen these silicone baking cups before but had never bought them. Not because they are too expensive (they aren’t), but rather because I wasn’t sure how they would work. Well, I can honestly say that they work great!

I made the Birthday Cupcakes from The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen. The problem with gluten free cupcakes is that they have a tendency to fall apart as you peel them out of the papers or try to remove them from a cupcake pan—more so than cupcakes made with wheat flour do. Using the silicone baking cups for GF cupcakes provides a good test for this product.

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The baking cup released the cupcake without tearing it up! I didn’t coat the silicone baking cups with butter, oil, or a spray.

Our grandson, Jack, was spending the night so I decided to frost the cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. Jack loves peanut butter! I used a new recipe which said to blend together 4 tbls butter, 1/2 cup honey, 1 cup smooth or chunky peanut butter. I added chocolate chips.

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This frosting is not stiff because you don’t add powdered sugar. Once I realized that I re-read the recipe and it said to place the frosted cake (cupcakes for me) 2 1/2″ beneath a hot broiler for about 1 minute. It would never have occurred to me to do that with a frosted cake but what the heck… I decided to give it a try. (And, no, this is not an April Fool suggestion :-).)

Luckily Lorna was with me. She said silicone does not like to broil and sure enough, the package says not to heat the silicone baking cups above 475°. I carefully removed the frosted cupcakes from the baking cups which was a lot easier than I thought it would be. The baking cups sort of turned inside-out, ejecting the cupcakes. I placed the cupcakes on a baking sheet and slid that under the hot broiler.

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The recipe said to watch the cake carefully and pull it out when the frosting bubbled, but before it burned. That took less than a minute and even so, some of my cupcakes are browner than I would like. The frosting didn’t exactly harden, but it did get less soft once the cupcakes cooled. They are pretty on the plate and they were so very tasty!

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I did put the silicon baking cups back on the cupcakes that were not immediately eaten to keep them from drying out. That, too, worked like a charm.

My honest review of the Silicone Baking Cups from The New York Baking Company is that they are truly wonderful! I have 12, I’m going to get 12-24 more because I know I’m going to be using them a lot.

Side Notes:

  • The cookbook from ATK is a wonderful, marvelous cookbook! I made the flax bread too (twice!) but that’s another story.
  • This frosting would be very tasty on bread—broiled or not.
  • And now that I think of it, baby marshmallows would be a nice addition to this frosting.

 

Easiest pie crust, ever—and it’s gluten free!

We take part in the Bountiful Baskets food co-op most weeks. We sign up on Monday and pick up on Saturday. While there are a variety of foods available, we most often sign up for the fruit and vegetable box. Every week is different and you never know what you are going to get. On Saturday we got several granny smith apples. Time for pie!

Now that I have a good pie crust recipe, I like making pie. This recipe is by Annalise G. Roberts, from her cookbook, Gluten-Free Baking Classics. Her website is here. I buy the GF Classical Blend flour by Authentic Foods that Ms Roberts recommends. I like it better than any other GF flour. It tastes as good as any wheat-based crust that I’ve ever tried.

Download Traditional Pie Crust

(If you are not interested in gluten-free baking, click here to read a post with an excellent pie crust that is as easy to make.)

My pie-baking experience Sunday morning was not without a couple of hiccups. I was distracted and mis-measured the ingredients for the crust not once, but twice! It hurt to throw out the 1st and 2nd attempts but, thankfully, the third time was the charm.

ApplePie

Steve and I each ate one small slice. Mom wanted two as well (one for today, one for tomorrow). The rest of the pie went to Chris and Lorna.

Lorna does not eat white sugar. Honey is fine, as is crystalized coconut or palm sugars. Steve and I eat very little processed sugar and so learning to bake without it is fine by me. The little bit of processed white sugar in the crust recipe was so small that Lorna and I figure it’s OK.

I substituted 2/3 cup honey for the 3/4 cup of combined white and brown sugars called for in the filling recipe. I used coconut sugar in the crumb topping. 

Coconut sugar is brown and has a different consistency. The crumb topping looks different than it would have with white sugar, but it tastes just fine :-).


ApplePie-Slice

FYI—The apple filling recipe came from GF Baking Classics as well. Honestly, this is my go-to dessert cookbook. The cakes are fantastic!