Tag : cardamom
Tag : cardamom
previous monthly muffins
In my experience, rye flour is one of those gourmet flours that you can find occasionally and only in small, expensive bags. This is fine: I don’t make rye bread very often (of all the bread I’ve ever made, rye has been the most difficult…so we’re on a break like Ross and Rachel.)
A couple months ago, however, when I went to get one of those small bags of rye flour (to try and make some pumpernickel), the only bag I could find was 5 pounds. For anyone not familiar with buying flour or sugar, the biggest bag of regular (all-purpose) flour you can find at the grocery store is 5 pounds, and the average small bag is about 2 pounds. For most of the less common flours, the average is 1 pound. Because I don’t use those flours very often, 1 pound can last a few months.
That means 5 pounds would have lasted a year…but North Carolina summers are a special kind of beast. I went to make these blueberry rye muffins a few weeks ago, and as I opened the bag of wheat flour (that had already been opened but then folded and clipped to seal it), I noticed something moving inside. It was almost as if the flour itself was moving.
It was ants. There were ants all over the inside of the bag…and the 5-pound bag of rye flour…and all of my rice flour…and my almond flour…every single bag of flour that had been open, no matter how well it was sealed, was crawling with ants. There were no ants anywhere else in the pantry (and believe me, I checked thoroughly), except inside my precious bags of flour.
Throwing all of that flour away was like ripping off my own arm and throwing it in the trash.
But enough about ants. Now, the flour shelf in the pantry is full of sealable plastic containers.
By the way, these muffins are amazing. The rye and whole wheat go together well, blueberries pair with any kind of spice, and the spice mixture is like a little bit of autumn in the middle of summer. It’s weird, but it works.
rye spiced blueberry streusel muffins
makes 1 dozen
based on my gluten-free blueberry buttermilk muffins
Note: The streusel can be prepared ahead and either frozen or refrigerated, unbaked, until ready to use. It’s best to chill the streusel for at least 10 – 15 minutes before using, so it’ll bake without melting.
spiced whole wheat streusel
1.5 oz whole wheat flour
1.5 oz brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1.5 oz unsalted butter
spiced rye muffins
7 oz all-purpose flour
3.5 oz rye flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp anise
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
4 oz vegetable oil or butter, melted and cooled
7 oz milk or buttermilk
5 oz granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 c (6 oz) blueberries, fresh or frozen
make the streusel
In a small food processor, combine everything except the butter and pulse a few times to combine. Alternately, you can whisk the ingredients together in a large bowl.
Chop the butter into small pieces (at least 6 pieces, no more than a tablespoon each), and add to the dry mixture.
If using a food processor: Pulse the butter and the dry mixture together (stopping and starting) until it forms coarse crumbs. Once it looks sandy and chunky, it’s done. If you pulse too long, you might start forming a dough, which you’ll have to break up again.
If using a bowl: Use a pastry blender, combine the butter and dry mixture until it forms coarse crumbs.
Transfer the streusel mix to a sealable container and chill or freeze until ready to use. You can bake streusel straight from the freezer.
make the muffins
Preheat the oven to 350 F/175 C and line a muffin pan with paper muffin liners.
In a small bowl, combine flours, baking powder, salt, and spices.
In a larger bowl, whisk together oil/butter, milk, eggs, sugar, and vanilla until uniform.
Quickly combine the dry mixture into the wet ingredients and add the blueberries. There may be a few small lumps of flour, but most of the dry mixture should be wet. You don’t need to mix the batter too much.
Using a spoon or cookie scoop, divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups and sprinkle a liberal amount of streusel on top.
Bake the muffins for about 30 – 35 minutes until they spring back when pressed lightly in the middle, or a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
When I was in my last year in college, I bought a full bottle of Jim Bean bourbon for myself, even though I had only had bourbon, whiskey, and scotch once each. I wanted to see if I could make myself develop a taste for it.
2016 holiday cookies: cranberry orange cookies
2015 holiday cookies: vegan snickerdoodles and vegan peanut butter cookies
2014 holiday cookies: cardamom molasses cookies
Fortunately, I could, or else I would have wasted a whole bottle of bourbon (I found some really good recipes for winter bourbon cocktails, all of which have since gotten lost in the sands of the internet.)
This year, I bought as much anise and fennel as I could get my hands on, to see if I could learn to appreciate those flavors. It took more than a year for me to finally be able to tolerate either flavor, but keep the licorice to yourself, please, and if you wouldn’t mind, keep it out of my sight, as well.
In light of my feelings towards anise and fennel, one might wonder why I have an anise star tatted on my back. The answer would be that cardamom pods have a less distinctive look and cardamom is what I really wanted, but I also wanted people to be able to recognize what the tattoo was.
Last December, I started becoming really interested in German and Scandinavian food (I vowed to find bakeries in my area that make kugelhof and stollen and never even made the attempt), and I tried pepper nuts for the first time. I bought a box from Trader Joe’s, snuck them into my bedroom so my parents wouldn’t steal them, poured myself a glass of CabSauv, and took a bite…and I wasn’t into it. Those ones were heavily anise-d and fennel-ed and I was just about completely turned off from the first bite. Cut to eleven months later and I find them at Harris Teeter (my standards are low and I’m not ashamed): I scurry on home, hide away in plain sight in the dining room because at this point who cares if my parents want some, pour myself a glass of Chardonnay that tastes like Gorgonzola (does all Chardonnay taste like Gorgonzola or is it just me?), and take a bite.
Molasses cookies. That’s it.
Of course, I should be using a real German bakery as my standard, but by now I have an idea of what these are meant to be: a little crispy on the outside, coated in powdered sugar, soft on the inside, and just lightly spiced. They’re like snack cookies.
At first I wanted to see if I could do them gluten-free for my uncle and for some coworkers, but that was an utter failure (I may never nail down this gluten-free thing), so after countless frustrating attempts, I decided just to go with the gluten-y recipes, and I found myself – *gasp* – craving fennel and anise.
Never mind that all I could find at the grocery store were anise seeds. I infused those into the butter for the pepper nuts, and for the first time in a year and a half, I finally began to appreciate the spicy star permanently inked onto my shoulderblade (nestled among Italian basil leaves, Persian limes, and a scattering of whole cloves because all of those things make complete sense together.)
On the one hand, there is pepper in these cookies, at least in most recipes. By default, though, there are no nuts. I ended up not putting any nuts in mine at all. The name, however, refers to the way they look: like nuts. Some recipes use almond flour, and some actually put pieces of nuts in the dough, while others use citrus peel. I keep mine simple with no add-ins.
Obviously, they’re vastly similar to my cardamom molasses cookies, but those cookies are heavy on the ginger, cardamom, and sugar, while these are soft, subtle, and, the way I make them, heavy on the anise.
Oh, and they’re coated with powdered sugar. They’re like delightful little bon-bons.
german pfeffernüsse with anise
makes 2 dozen small cookies
adapted from The Perfect Cookie, by America’s Test Kitchen
4 Tbsp (2 oz) unsalted butter
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp anise seeds or ground anise
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/3 c (4 oz) molasses
1/4 c (1.75 oz) dark brown sugar
2 c (8.5 oz) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 c powdered sugar
Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium-low heat. Don’t let it brown or bubble too much.
Once the butter is melted, add the cardamom, anise, fennel, cinnamon, allspice, and black pepper, and whisk until smooth. cook for another couple of seconds, until fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
Transfer the butter-spice mix to a large bowl and whisk in the molasses and brown sugar. Add the egg and whisk until smooth.
Using a wooden spoon or electric mixer with paddle attachments (like the whip/beater but with fewer loops), mix the dry ingredients into the wet until it forms a homogenous dough with no lumps of flour remaining. It may be a little bit sticky, but after you chill the dough, it’ll be easy to handle.
Form a rectangle with the dough and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least an hour.
While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350 F/175 C and line 1-2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cut the dough rectangle in half and keep one half chilled while working with the other.
Cut the other half into 12 equal pieces, roll the pieces into spheres, and place on the baking sheets about 1-2 inches apart. Put the first sheet in the oven while preparing the other half of the cookies.
Repeat the previous step with the other half of the dough, baking each batch for 10 – 12 minutes until the tops are completely dry and the cookies are slightly lighter in color, but still a little soft.
Let the cookies cool on the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely (about 15 minutes or more) before tossing in the powdered sugar.
Once fully cooled, add the powdered sugar to a bowl and toss the cookies a few at a time to coat completely.
Auf Wiedersehen und Frohe Weihnachten!
St. Nicholas 😉
previous autumn monthly muffins
I will shamelessly admit that I looooove pumpkin spice. I love spices, I love the holidays, and I love squash, so it’s like a triple whammy. I know that pumpkin spice things are really more spice than pumpkin and that most people don’t actually want a candle that smells like squash or a latte that tastes like it, but I couldn’t care less, because I love all of the spices (especially cardamom.)
My new favorite is cloves. Cloves are in…and cardamom is still in, always.
I was chatting with a customer once about the PSL craze and he mentioned (whether he was right or not, I don’t really care) that when PSL first became a thing, people were so obsessed that they resorted to petty theft and misdemeanors to get their pumpkin-flavored things. I kind of doubt it, but I also kind of don’t doubt it.
Don’t get me wrong, anything super hyped up is too hyped up, and I feel bad for the other autumn and winter flavors: maple, pecan, praline, peppermint, chocolate, gingerbread, etc. I love them all (though I am most looking forward to gingerbread lattes next month.)
I did a pumpkin muffin during the early days of the Monthly Muffin, and now I’ve added on a new one. This one is more sweet than spicy, and combines two different holiday favorites in one muffin: pumpkin spice with cranberries and white chocolate.
For those of you who love everything pumpkin, or even for those of you who are soooooo over pumpkin spice everything, but like autumn, sweets, and hearty things, these muffins are perfect.
Although, if you really don’t like pumpkin at all, then I can’t guarantee that you’ll enjoy them (but I also can’t promise that you won’t enjoy them.)
pumpkin cranberry white chocolate muffins
based on my pumpkin streusel muffins recipe
makes 1 dozen muffins
4.25 oz (120 g, 1 c) whole wheat flour
4.25 oz (120, 1 c) all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cardamom
1.75 oz (50 g, 1/4 c) canola oil
3.5 oz (100 g, ~1/2 c) milk or buttermilk
12 oz (340 g, 1.5 c) pumpkin puree
9 oz (260 g, 1 1/4 c) granulated sugar
4 oz (110 g, 1 c) cranberries, fresh or frozen, whole or coarsely chopped
4 oz (110 g, 2/3 c) white chocolate, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 350 F/175 C, and line muffin pan with paper liners.
In a small bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, salt, and spices.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together oil, milk or buttermilk, pumpkin puree, and sugar until consistent.
Quickly mix in dried mixture and fold in the chopped berries and chocolate.
Scoop the batter into the muffin pan, filling each cup about 2/3-3/4 of the way full, and bake for 25 – 30 minutes until springy when pressed lightly in the middle.
Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.
Squash ya later, applegator!
I remember the good ol’ days of getting out of my car at 10:00 p.m. and watching my glasses fog up immediately. Those precious “is that sweat, rain, or the humidity?” moments. The 5:00 am sunrise and “will the sun ever set?” times.
But those are over now. My glasses don’t fog up anymore and I can walk around without fainting.
I’ve finally finished up all the frozen summer berries and started stocking up on pumpkin puree, sweet potatoes, and various apples in anticipation of autumn sweets, and let me tell you, I’m anticipating a lot of sweets.
About a year ago I started really exploring pie crust. I watched every YouTube video and read every recipe I could find. I tried every possible technique the Web would show me, and even did a bit of scientific experimentation, complete with sticky labels and test batches and all.
It was very official, y’all.
And then I took an autumn pie workshop at Scratch Bakery last October, and everything I thought I had figured out was flipped, turned right upside down on its very head. I stuck with the recipes from that workshop for months, until I took a pie class at work, and everything was made even simpler by the pastry chef. The first thing she taught us when we got to work on the dough was a universal ratio for the dough: 3 parts flour, 2 parts cold butter, 1 part ice water.
It was pie-vana. I had a pie-alization. The flaky, buttery dough, the rich summer berries, the dark almond-flavored cherries, they all came together to form one simple truth:
Pie is easy.
And now a full year later, making the dough is like second nature: I toss everything into a food processor, no gimmicks or silly tricks, squeeze it into a ball, and freeze it. And it turns out well every time!
Now that the crust is a breeze, I want to expand on my fillings. Last year, I made Spiced Chai Apple Streusel Pie and Boozy Pecan Rum Pie for the holidays. I’m already dreaming up new autumn and winter combinations for this year (Pear and Fennel, Chocolate Peppermint, or Limoncello Brûlée?)
I’ve also been playing around a little bit with free-form tarts (Italian: crostata; French: galette) and just filling them with a layer of fruit and spices. One evening, when I was really feeling the impending leaf-changing and air-crisping, I sliced up some apples (skins on because I can’t be bothered to peel them), and mixed up some sugar and spices. I threw in some dried rosemary and assembled the tart, then when it was in the oven, I placed some leftover rosemary sprigs (I had made focaccia that day, as well) on top for an extra flavor infusion, and voila!
rosemary spiced apple crostata (crostata di mele e rosmarino)
makes two 7″, or one 9-10″ crostata
200 – 300 g red apples
50 g granulated sugar
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tsp dried rosemary leaves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1-2 fresh rosemary sprigs (with or without leaves)
1 egg yolk, for washing
1 spoonful raw, turbinado, or demerara sugar, for coating
Core and slice the apples. You can peel them if you want, but they’re just as good with the skin on. Set the slices aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, and spices. Set aside.
Roll dough out into a circle or a square a few millimeters thick. With a bench scraper or spatula, mark approximately halfway (both vertically and horizontally) between edges, then 2/3 of the way between the outer edge of the dough and your marking. You should now have slight marks/scores 1/6 of the way in from the edge of the dough, and halfway across. This is just a guide for how much of the dough to fill and how much to fold.
Spread about 2/3 of the spice mixture between the outer markings (so the middle 2/3 of the dough, leaving the outer 1/3 border empty.)
Layer the apples on top of the spices, and sprinkle the other 1/3 of the spices over the apples.
Fold the edges of the dough in, pinching them together where they overlap.
Freeze the tart for at least half an hour to let it chill.
Preheat your oven to 425 F/220 C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Brush the edges of the tart with egg yolk and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake the tart for 30 – 40 minutes until the crust is bronze and the filling is bubbly.
Remove and transfer to a wire rack with the parchment paper underneath the tart.
Cut and enjoy!
Tarts to you later,
past holiday cookies:
ginger turmeric sugar cookies | | basic sugar cookies | | cardamom shortbread | | salted, spiced double chocolate cookies | | chocolate chip cookies | | cardamom molasses cookies | | black tea butter cookies
Christmas is just around the corner, which means cookies galore. I like to do a cookie round-up every December, featuring some new holiday cookie recipes and bringing back some old ones. Perhaps someday I’ll have enough to write a book dedicated to holiday cookies (and by “perhaps,” I mean “certainly.”) It’s the time of year for spicy chocolate, rich ginger and molasses, decorate-able sugar cookies, and exploring all manner of exotic recipes, ancient recipes, and European recipes.
Last year, I went on a spicy cookie binge, introducing salted and spiced double chocolate cookies and cardamom molasses cookies. Over the past year, though, I’ve been trying my hand at some vegan and gluten-free pastries (vegan banana nut muffins, gluten-free brownies, gluten-free muffins), so our special 2015 guests are of the vegan variety.
I spent a month trying to come up with a “healthy” vegan cookie, with whole wheat, oatmeal, apples, and more, so that I could have my cake and gain a six-pack, too. I don’t normally diet, and in fact I hate the word, but I’m thinking it’s time to become more aware of my health and what I’m eating (my tummy will go away but chocolate chip cookies are forever.) Long story short, those cookies were disastrous and disgusting, consistently. They were mushy and soggy, even when I dried out the apple bits in the oven before adding them to the batter, and they tasted less than pleasant. My grandiose idea of The Healthy Vegan Apple Oatmeal Cookie would have to say hello to the trashcan for good. I figured I could try scones instead, but I still wanted some cookies for Saint Nick (I am Saint Nick. I wanted the cookies for my own mouth.) The scones will have to wait until 2016 (but expect a load of vegan and GF scone recipes next year.)
A friend of mine suggested that I do peanut butter cookies. They’re essentially only three ingredients: peanut butter, flour, and sugar. However, as I discovered through a lot of trial and error, three ingredients just doesn’t cut it. Adding some oil and liquid helps.
When thinking of what types of cookies I could make vegan, and what types of cookies I didn’t already have on the blog, the obvious top choice was snickerdoodles, named after me (actually, as you can read in the about me, my parents called me snickerdoodle when I was younger…meaning until last week.)
So here we have it: our 2015 holiday cookies are vegan snickerdoodles and vegan peanut butter!
With the snickerdoodles, I found it’s really important to have a combination of apple sauce, vegetable oil, and maple syrup. No maple syrup and the cookies won’t be very sweet. Too much apple sauce and they taste metallic (apple sauce has ascorbic acid, and the most important ingredient in snickerdoodles is tartaric acid, so in all it’s just too much acid.) The apple sauce helps the texture: it makes the cookies puff up more and end up softer when they cool. Otherwise, you end up with snickerdoodle chips. The maple syrup helps sweeten the cookies and thin out the dough a little bit. If the dough is too dry, the coating doesn’t stick and it’s harder to work with.
makes 2 dozen small (2 teaspoons) or 1 dozen medium (4 tsp)
10 g granulated sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
dash of salt
60 g canola oil*
25 g unsweetened apple sauce
60 g maple syrup*
110 g granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
185 g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 375 F/190 C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small shallow bowl, or on a plate, mix the coating ingredients. Set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and cream of tartar.
In a larger mixing bowl, beat the wet ingredients (oil, apple sauce, syrup, sugar, and vanilla), then beat in dry mixture until fully combined. The dough might be dry and crumbly, but it should clump together when you squeeze it.
Form small balls about 2 centimeters across, use a small (2-teaspoon) cookie scoop, or a regular spoon. Lightly press dough spheres into the bowl/plate of cinnamon sugar, to coat one side and form a small disc, then arrange the cookies (sugared side up) on the baking sheet.
Bake for 10 – 12 minutes, until the tops are crispy and crackle-y. Remove, cool, and enjoy.
I made the peanut butter cookies a few different ways: as simple as possible (no added liquids), with a little bit of added liquid (soy milk), with a ton of apple sauce for volume, and then with a mix of oil and milk. The last way ended up being the best all around: they thinned out and puffed up, retained the peanut butter taste but weren’t too dense, and were easy to work with. Too much soy milk and the flavor gets diluted. Too little and the cookies are dense. I ended up not even needing apple sauce. You’re welcome to add some, but I found it didn’t make a difference, and because I like to simplify my recipes as much as possible, if I don’t need it, I don’t use it. I also took out the vanilla extract because the flavor comes from the peanut butter and the sweetness from the sugars.
I tried these with factory peanut butter (Skippy) and organic (Justin’s), and they turned out the same either way. The non-factory peanut butter is thicker and less sweet, though there’s plenty of oil in it, but the cookies are still amazing. If you think the dough is too thick or dry, mix in some oil or milk.
NOTE: Because these cookies use canola oil as the fat (as opposed to something that would be solid at room temperature, like butter or coconut oil), they won’t melt down or spread at all. The snickerdoodles do spread because of the apple sauce (and perhaps the syrup), but for the peanut butter cookies, you’ll need to flatten them yourself. You can make them really really flat and thin, or a little bit flat like a hockey puck, or you could even just make vegan peanut butter cookie balls. Every option is equally scrumptious.
vegan peanut butter cookies
160 g peanut butter
80 g granulated sugar
80 g brown sugar
32 g canola oil
32 g soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)
95 g all-purpose flour
dash of salt
1 tsp baking powder
Preheat the oven to 350 F/ C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, beat the wet ingredients (peanut butter, sugars, milk, and oil) and in a separate small bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.
Beat ingredients together until the dough is fully mixed.
Using a small ice cream scoop (~2 teaspoons or one spoonful), scoop dough onto the baking sheet and press down with a fork.
Bake for 10 – 15 minutes until the cookies start to darken slightly around the edges. Remove and cool.
Happy holidays, y’all
A cold, rainy Sunday morning in December. No alarms going off, no work, and no plans. You roll around in bed, waiting to come to life, and waiting for your comforter to stop being so damned comfortable. Eventually, you get up, rip a massive yawn, brush your teeth, and start some coffee brewing in your moka pot, or drip brewer, or french press, what have you. Whole wheat english muffins with dill mayo and smoked ham, vanilla bean coffee, and black tea butter cookies for breakfast, accompanied by a gander at the news (which turns into reading Buzzfeed articles because really, who wants to ruin their day reading about politics?)
Sounds perfect to me.
I wanted to find/create a recipe for a cookie to go with tea, like a tea cookie. Something small, light, and easy to make, to add some sweetness to the morning joe. I found a recipe for chai tea cookies somewhere and played around with it until I had spiced black tea butter cookies (basically shortbread.) You assemble everything in a food processor, squeeze it together, wrap it, and chill until you’re ready to bake, then you slice them and pop ’em in the oven!
They’re delicate, butter-y, sweet, and spicy, and they go well with a cup of coffee or English breakfast tea.
black tea butter cookies
adapted from Chai Tea Cookies, on The Kitchn
makes one dozen
70 g all-purpose flour
30 g granulated sugar
dash of salt
2 bags of black tea, cut open, or 2 tsp loose black tea (Earl Grey, English Breakfast, etc.)
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ginger
2 ounces (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
Assemble everything in a food processor and pulse until dough forms a large clump.
Dump dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper and squeeze together lightly, so there are no loose or dry bits falling off.
Mold into a log, whatever width you like (I do about 3-4 centimeters), and roll up in the parchment paper, rolling into a cylinder and flattening the ends as you go.
Chill, wrapped in parchment, in the refrigerator until ready to bake.
When ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 375 F/190 C, and slice log into 1-centimeter-thick rounds with a serrated or chef’s knife (be careful not to push down too hard, or the dough will squish or crumble.) Arrange the discs on a baking sheet and bake 10 – 15 minutes, until just starting to brown on the edges. Remove, cool, and enjoy.
Enjoy your weekend, y’all
If yesterday’s pecan pie wasn’t enough, here’s another that you can prepare ahead of time and assemble on the day of baking!
I first learned to do apple pie at a workshop in downtown Durham, at Scratch Bakery. I’d been trying to do double-crust apple pie for a few weeks before but it was too much work so I gave up and decided to follow Phoebe Lawless’s method, covering the pie in streusel. The streusel itself is easy and you can really make it any way you want. Streusel is defined as “n., a crumbly topping made from fat, flour, sugar, and nuts/spices, often cinnamon, used as a topping or filling for cakes”, so you can add oats, brown sugar, different types of flours, spices, and so on. I like the streusel combination I used here (flour, sugar, oats, butter, salt, and cinnamon) and I’ll end up using it fairly often, like for the pumpkin streusel muffins.
Coring, peeling, and chopping the apples by hand was a pain the first few times I made the pie, so I bought one of those old-fashioned hand-crank spiralizers: 3-in-one, cores, slices, and peels the apples all at once. And it looks cool, too.
That being said, sometimes the most tedious aspects of cooking or baking can also be the most relaxing. If you have plenty of time, the kitchen to yourself, a bottle of red wine (it has to be red wine because red wine is the best wine), and your favorite Spotify playlist (I like anything acoustic or morning-oriented, even in the evening), then you can just focus on the apples and let everything else fall away. I like doing the repetitive, menial things because I usually have a hard time focusing on one thing or committing to anything, so these kinds of tasks help ground me.
I haven’t tried the recipe with very many different types of apples yet, although I bought some green apples to make today’s pie, then decided it might not be so good with green apples. Someday, I’d like to go through a few iterations of the tart trying out different types of apples. Maybe even different types of black tea.
So much to do! So little money to buy the things to do the things I want to do (*cries publicly*).
And now, after three months of wading through pies and tarts and apple skins and dark rum, one would logically assume that I’ll be taking a break from pie for, like, a full year.
One would be wrong.
Now it’s time to work on some winter crumb tarts and gluten-free recipes. I tried gluten-free pie dough earlier and it was…so-so. It’s kind of a pain to work with because, due to a lack of gluten, it doesn’t hold together so you can’t pick it up, turn it, flip it, etc. You have to roll it out on parchment or wax paper and transfer it gently to the pie pan, then press it in. I was getting frustrated with the dough so I figured I could simplify everything by working on crumb crusts.
Call me in a month to see how they’re turning out.
This apple pie is unbelievable, y’all. The crust is finally flaky and buttery (thank you, Phoebe Lawless, the Pie Pastry Queen), the tea is lightly fragrant and the spices are rich, perfect for the season. The apples soften while the cider thickens, and the crispy streusel just floats around in all of it. It can be a little messy or runny, or it can hold up with integrity. At the workshop, Ms. Lawless mentioned that she likes to change recipes to cram in as many different flavors as possible, and when I saw a recipe for chai spiced apple pie online, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to add one more flavor: buttery pie crust, spiced black tea, apples, and streusel.
apple chai-der pie with streusel topping
makes one 7-inch pie (with 9-in measurements in parentheses)
one 7-inch buttery pie crust, recipe here
45 g all-purpose flour (60 g)
30 g granulated sugar (45 g)
a dash of cinnamon (a dash and a half)
a pinch of salt (a pinch and a half)
1 ounce (2 T) unsalted butter (1.5 ounce/3 T)
250 – 300 g red apples (2 large apples) (350 – 450 g)
70 g granulated sugar (105 g)
20 g all-purpose flour (30 g)
1 tsp cinnamon (1 1/2 tsp)
1/2 tsp cardamom (3/4 tsp)
1 bag black tea, cut open (1 bag)
1/4 tsp each of ground ginger, black pepper, cloves, nutmeg (1/4 tsp)
a pinch of salt (a pinch and a half)
50 g apple cider (75 g)
Follow the recipe to make a disc of pie crust. The night before, or the morning of, baking, transfer dough from the freezer to the fridge, and when ready to roll out, take out of the fridge and let thaw on counter for 15 – 20 minutes before rolling.
Roll out on a liberally-floured surface, turning and flipping the disc as you go.
Lay dough into pie pan and crimp the edges. This doesn’t need any pre-baking so you can chill/freeze until everything else is ready.
In a small food processor, blend together everything except the butter.
Slowly blend in the butter. If it clumps up, break clumps apart with your hands or a fork.
Chill until ready to use.
Peel, core, and chop the apples (quarter and slice, or chop however you like.)
Mix together sugar, flour, spices, salt, and loose tea in a small bowl.
Combine apples and dry mix in a large bowl, then pour in apple cider and mix.
You can either save the filling for later or fill the pie shell now. Let the filling pile up a few inches above the rim of the pan.
Dump the streusel on top of the unbaked pie.
You can freeze the whole pie assembled and unbaked.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 F/190 C.
Bake the pie for 50 – 60 minutes until the streusel and crust are browned and the filling is visibly bubbling.
Let cool and enjoy!
Happy Food, y’all!
Six years ago, my local favorite coffeeshop back home tried as its summer specialty to make a caramel cardamom iced latte. Six years ago, I wasn’t yet a fan of the spice, so I bought the latte out of curiosity (now will someone please pay me for my gustatory curiosity???) and suffered through it. Over the years, I’ve developed a taste for cardamom and now I can’t get enough, as anyone who has ever looked at this blog can affirm.
My favorite use of cardamom: in tomato curry. Swoon.
[cardamom, elettaria cardamomum, india]
Known as “Queen of Spices,” and second only to black pepper, “King of Spices,” cardamom has an extensive history and a very, very high value (don’t I know it.)
Originally native to India, cardamom was introduced to the rest of the world thousands of years ago by traders, who carried it from India to Babylon, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Much later, the Vikings discovered the spice in Constantinople/Byzantine when that was the capital of the spice trade, and claimed it for use in their rich, buttery pastries (cardamom is fat-soluble, so the flavor intensifies in butter) (3.)
Cardamom, known in the scientific community as Elettaria Cardamomum, is a relative of ginger, and it grows in lush tropical rainforests. After India, the largest producer of cardamom is Guatemala, where the spice is produced solely for export. Harvest is done from October through December, before the pods of the plant ripen so they don’t split open too early and begin to lose flavor.
After saffron and vanilla, cardamom is the third most expensive spice in the world (and the most expensive in my cabinet. I vow never to buy a jar of saffron because I enjoy all of my arms and legs.) Because of its high price, the spice is often adulterated or substituted with products of lesser quality, such as Siam cardamom, Nepal cardamom, winged Java cardamom, or a something known as “bastard” cardamom. (1)
why is it so expensive?
Because it’s harvested by hand (3), and anyone who’s been outside from October through December knows it is not a pleasant time to be harvesting anything but snot-cicles from their nose. Fortunately, it’s also a very strong spice and you only need a small amount.
In ancient Egypt, people chewed the buds to clean their teeth, while in Greece and Rome, only the wealthiest could afford cardamom-infused perfume. I’m very much content using a toothbrush to clean my teeth, and YSL as my cologne, but cardamom is also good for digestion (it certainly helped me digest the cardamom brownies.) (1)
there are two main strains of the spice:
Green and black, with some other local varieties in other countries. Green cardamom, or “true cardamom” (elettaria cardamomum), comes from southwest India and is also grown in Guatemala, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, and Costa Rica. This is the type used most often in powder form for baking, and it’s also the most highly-valued of the cardamom family. Black cardamom (amomum subulatum), is native to Nepal, Bhutan, India, and China. It has a bolder flavor than its green counterpart, so it’s more fitting for meat rubs and stews, rather than in delicate pastries. Black cardamom is used whole, then discarded (3), while green cardamom can be used as whole pods, split pods, whole seeds, or ground. The flavor disappears rapidly so it’s best purchased whole and used quickly, if you can afford it. (1)
In Scandinavia, you can find cardamom in sweets and meatballs (mmmmmmmmeatballs), and a liquor called akvavit. (1)
what can I make with this so-called “queen of spices”?
Stumped on where to start? That sucks for you.
I’m kidding. Every chance I get, I use cardamom in my own baking so here are all the recipes I’ve posted on this blog that use the spice:
In fact, a few of my upcoming recipes also feature cardamom. It’s not only Queen of the Spices, but it’s a popular holiday spice, as well.
upcoming saturday spices:
Reeling from the recent success of my (semi-)whole wheat lemon muffins, I wanted to make yet another attempt at muffins in my apartment. But high and low I had searched, and all in vain, for a muffin pan to use in my toaster oven. I was devastated. Utterly defeated.
And then a little birdy suggested that I buy individual silicone muffin cups and use them without a pan.
So I bought silicone cups. Then I found paper cups that are good for baking without a pan, and I used those instead. I’m usually a little wary of silicone baking things. I used to have a silicone brownie pan, but it was disastrous. The material, naturally, is flexible, but the pan was relatively large, so whenever I pulled it out of the oven, it would either sag or bend, tearing up the brownies. After countless fiascoes with the rubber, I decided I would never use silicone tools again…but I’m just really really desperate for the opportunity to bake something other than poundcake. And muffins are the easiest, fastest, and most forgiving of anything I’ve ever put in an oven.
And so, like Gluttonlocks…I mean Goldilocks…I tried the paper cups. Too tall and none of the five muffins rose above the tops. Then I bought regular muffin cups and tried those without a muffin pan. Too wide and flimsy, and the muffins grew to epic and ugly proportions. Finally, I tried the silicone cups. Just right. Flexible enough to pop the muffins out when they’re done, but stiff enough to keep the muffins from hogging up space.
Next was the issue of ingredient amounts. The first two times, I could only manage five muffins with the batter I made. And even then, the batter was a little dry. In order to make the batter thinner, I added more soy milk and less flour, and I thought I could use the smaller set of silicone cups to make the muffins look bigger. But then the cups overflowed with batter, so I ended up with six gargantuan muffins. Next, same batter recipe, bigger muffin cups, six muffins. It would have been perfect if they hadn’t been squeezed into a little poundcake pan and turned out rectangular like those really expensive Japanese watermelons. I gave those to my friends who really don’t care what a muffin looks like as long as they can put it in their mouths. And after four attempts, I figured I would keep the batter recipe, and use the larger silicone cups to make half a dozen.
And batches five and six were perfect. I’ve never baked as many times in a week as I did this past week, and I’ve never made a recipe as many times as I have this one.
And when I was typing up this post, I accidentally wrote “sex” instead of “six.”
As I discovered with the lemon wheat muffins a few weeks ago, the contrast of the fruit and the whole wheat flour makes for a lighter-than-expected muffin but one that isn’t too sweet. I’ll be making a lot more semi-whole-wheat muffins from now on. When you eat them, you feel good. And, there’s nothing crazy in the batter, so you feel really good. The bananas provide more than enough flavor and sweetness, and the spices are a perfect compliment, so add them liberally.
spiced banana nut muffins (vegan)
based on the (semi-) whole wheat lemon muffins from January
makes 1 dozen
160 g (1 c) AP flour
130 g (3/4 c) whole wheat flour
135 g (3/4 c) granulated sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
Spices: cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger
90 g banana, mashed (~2/3 of a full banana)
260 g (1 c) soy milk
50 g (1/4) vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 banana, chopped
Walnuts, if desired
Extras (caramel chips, etc.)
If using a conventional oven, preheat to 400 F/200 C, and line a muffin pan with 12 paper cups. Or, if your oven is small, use 6 silicone (or stiff paper) muffin cups and make 1/2 a batch at a time. Don’t make all of the batter at once, though. Make the batter in two batches.
Combine the flours, sugar, salt, baking powder, and spices in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, mash the banana and whisk in the milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract.
Add the dry mix to the wet mix and combine until it’s all wet and there are no dry pockets left. Fold in the chopped banana, nuts, and extras. Don’t mix for too long because the baking powder acts quickly.
Using a cookie scoop, divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.
If using a toaster oven, either toast for 25 minutes at 740 W, OR, toast for 7 – 8 minutes at 1000 W, then another 10 – 15 at 740 W. This is particularly useful if your muffin cups are too full.
Remove and set on a wire rack to cool. Best eaten warm, or microwaved for ~10 seconds.
Good in the morning, good in the evening; pop them out, pull them apart, and enjoy.
If you read my last post, or the one before that, or really anything I’ve ever written, you know I have an unhealthy and expensive relationship with cardamom. I love it.
I love cardamom as much as I hate eggnog.
My love for cardamom is as powerful as the pallor of the skin on the bottom sides of my arms.
The relationship I have with cardamom is like the relationship Romeo and Juliet had, but I am still alive and have not yet met cardamom’s parents. I don’t think I would poison or shoot myself for cardamom, but when I bought a new jar last week I almost wanted to.
It’s really, really expensive.
And when you eat these cardamom brownies, inspired by cardamom brownies I had at an Indian restaurant in my hometown years ago, you’ll feel at least as expensive as a new jar of cardamom.
dense cardamom brownies
based on a fudgy brownies recipe by Inspired Taste
makes 16 ~ 20 brownies
145 grams (10 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
65 grams (3/4 c + 2 Tbsp) cocoa powder
250 grams (1 1/4 c) granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
a dash of salt
2 tsp ground cardamom
50 g (2/5 ~ 1/3 c) all-purpose flour
nuts or chocolate chips, if desired
Line a brownie pan with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 325 F (163 C.) If using a toaster oven, line the brownie pan with paper.
Melt the butter in a pan on medium-low heat, taking care not to let it bubble too much. When melted, turn off the heat and move the pot.
Add the sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla, and beat with a fork or whisk until fully combined and smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, and whisk until combined fully. Toss in the salt and combine, then set aside.
In a small bowl, combine flour and cardamom.
Dump the flour mixture into the chocolate pot and combine fully, until you can’t see any more flour. If using, fold in nuts and chips.
Spread batter into pan and bake or toast for 20 – 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If toasting, toast at 740 W.
Happy new year, y’all!
Categories: bars and brownies