autumn + a simple apple crumble

What autumn means to me, so far this year:

  • dahlias that thrive from the union of cool, misty mornings and sun-dappled afternoons;
  • becoming a soccer mom;
  • taking Nina to her first college football game, a real nail-biter that was a blur of pompoms and cacophony of cheering;
  • apples, ergo the quest to perfect baked apple cider doughnuts;
  • and this lovely apple crumble.

What a lovely start to my favorite season.

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Apple crumble with muscovado and rye

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I’ve been on a dark rye + muscovado kick lately, and when my neighbors gifted me several pounds of apples, I knew exactly what I wanted to make. This recipe is a marriage of an apple crumble filling from Nigel Slater, and a rye crumble topping from Kim Boyce. A mixture of apple varieties is best in my opinion, so that some bits are tart, some are sweet, some melt into a slush and some remain slightly firm. The thing about Slater’s recipe I love most is that the apples are tossed with sugar then quickly browned before baking, giving the finished dish undertones of toffee or caramel. I think this tastes best without the addition of any spices, although I wouldn’t object to tucking a couple of bruised sage leaves into the dish just before baking. Another grain that pairs well with muscovado sugar is buckwheat, which also happens to be gluten free.

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Filling:
2 1/2 to 3 pounds apples, preferably a mix of tart and sweet
Juice from half a lemon
1/3 cup muscovado sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons coconut oil, used in two teaspoon increments

Crumble:
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup dark rye flour (or buckwheat to make this gluten free)
1/3 cup almond meal
6 tablespoons turbinado sugar
Large pinch of fine grain sea salt
3 to 5 tablespoons melted coconut oil

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 F / 180 C. Lightly oil a 1.5 quart casserole dish and set aside.

Peel, core, and chop the apples into 3/4-inch chunks. In a large bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice and sugar; stir to combine.

In a heavy bottomed pot, melt two teaspoons of the coconut oil. When the oil is nice and hot, arrange a layer of the apples on the bottom of the pan. Resist the urge to nudge the apple pieces around; the goal here is for them to begin to caramelize. After three to four minutes the apples will begin to brown in spots; transfer them to the casserole dish. Repeat the process until all of the apples have had their turn in the pot. If there are any sticky bits in the pot, add a splash of water, loosen them up, and add them to the casserole dish.

To make the crumble, combine all of the dry ingredients (everything except the coconut oil) in a food processor and pulse a few times until the oats are coarsely ground. Transfer to a bowl and add three tablespoons of the melted coconut oil. Using your hands, stir to combine, squeezing as you stir to create small crumbly bits. If the mixture falls apart when squeezed, add another tablespoon of coconut oil. You want the crumble topping to have a dusty texture, similar to breadcrumbs.

Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the apples. Transfer to the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is crisp and golden brown. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Prep time: 30 minutes | Cook time: 30 minutes

Over sharing

I’ve been away from this space for far too long, and it’s making me twitchy. Almost every day I think about posting something, but then I realize I don’t have a photo, or wonder if it’s too easy/difficult/ordinary/bizarre to bother sending out into the ether, or I can’t read my notes; and then I get irritable and go into my kitchen and make something that I know someone else out there might appreciate, but I forget to take a picture (or it turns out really shitty because my house of windows is also a house of shade trees and gets almost no natural light), and it starts all over again. Bah!

I don’t aspire to be a fancy pants food blogger. I only think to check stats when I realize I made a big typo in an ingredient list and worry about how many people might have made the recipe. I’m too busy to finish my cookbook proposal. But when someone sends me an e-mail gushing about how much my recipe for something or other made their day, well, it makes my day, too. I use this site as my personal recipe repository – there are dozens of recipes that live in draft status, for the reasons I listed at the top of this post. Once I tweak a recipe to exactly how my family and I like it and I go to the trouble of transcribing it to this site, I guess I could just share it, right? And then maybe I won’t be so twitchy.

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In times of desperation I may simply post this. ^^

Because absolutely no one cares but I can’t stop thinking about it so I’m going to over share: a few things that make me twitchy. The word y’all. Andrea in The Walking Dead. The smell of anything fishy, including seaweed. Intentionally misspelled words. Noisy children. Not being able to tell Nina why I get choked up over certain characters in the Harry Potter series because we’re only midway through book four and oh, so many of them are going to die! Anyone who doesn’t recognize Stephen King as a genius storyteller based on his writing and not the genre.

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Moving on!

So here’s the thing: I’m going to start putting more of my recipes out there. The boring ones, the really complicated why-would-anyone-bother ones, the accidentally genius-to-me ones. Even the one pot meals that I fear my family will have to subsist on once law school starts in a few weeks. If it’s good enough to make my personal recipe archive, it guess it might be good enough to share.

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Cherry macaroon tart with muscovado and rye

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Muscovado, rye flour, and dark, heady fruit are one of my favorite combinations. I’ve made this tart with blackberries and plums in the past, depending on the season. The crust can easily be made gluten free by substituting buckwheat flour for the rye. I use a tapioca slurry in place of egg white for the macaroon topping, which gives it a nice sheen. Flax-thickened water made with whole seeds (which are strained out) also works well, if you have the extra time; you can add the strained seeds to the crust. I find that arrowroot gets too gummy, and cornstarch makes the topping dull.

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3/4 cup almond meal
3/4 cup rye flour (or buckwheat flour for gluten free)
3/4 cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut
1/4 cup muscovado sugar, lightly packed
6 – 8 tablespoons natural cane sugar, depending on the sweetness of your berries
1/2 cup melted coconut oil

1 1/2 cups cherries, pitted and halved

1 1/2 cups unsweetened finely shredded coconut
1/2 cup natural cane sugar

2 tablespoons tapioca flour
1/2 cup water

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 F / 160 C. Line the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish or tart pan with parchment.

Combine the almond meal, rye flour, shredded coconut, and sugars in a large bowl and whisk to incorporate, taking care to break up any lumps. Add the melted coconut oil and combine; the mixture should be damp and sandy, and stick together when pressed between your fingers. Transfer the mixture to your lined dish and distribute evenly. Set aside the bowl to use for the macaroon topping. Using a silicone spatula or dampened fingers, press the crust into the bottom of the dish. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Increase the oven temperature to 350F / 180C.

While the crust is baking, combine the additional shredded coconut and sugar for the macaroon topping in your bowl; set aside. In a small saucepan, whisk together the tapioca flour and water. Place over low heat and whisk until it just starts to thicken and turn glossy, one to two minutes. Remove from heat, whisk once more to make sure it’s smooth, and add to the macaroon ingredients, taking care to scrape out any last bit clinging to the sides of the pan. Mix the macaroon ingredients together until well combined; there should not be any dry coconut in the bowl.

Spread the cherries evenly over the crust. Add dollops of macaroon topping in between the spaces, around the edges, and over the top until used up. There should be bits of cherries poking up here and there. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, or the macaroon peaks are golden brown. Cool before slicing.

Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 40-45 minutes, divided

The accidental galette

A couple of weekends ago, Nina and I drove a good hour to hit up a vegan pop-up brunch at a new-to-us bakery. It was a (pleasantly) hectic end to a productive weekend, and an opportunity to see our dear friend Kathy who has been busy getting not one, but two cookbooks wrapped up for publication this year – it was an Occasion. Specifically, a glitter-encrusted shoes and blue velvet blazer Occasion.

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Our friend Christine was there signing people up for the 2013 Vegan Pledge. Naturally, Nina wanted to help out.

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This past weekend was also an occasion, a wonderful three-day laze-about-the-house affair. There were board games, hot cocoa, cast iron skillet Chicago style pizzas, and an accidental galette. Apple cinnamon, with a flaky rye-spelt crust. I had every intention of sleeping in that morning, but it was not to be. Instead, Nina found out firsthand what happens when you wake me up before sunrise on an otherwise lazy Sunday; you get to roll out pastry dough.

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Apple cinnamon galette with flaky rye-spelt crust
Rustic rye dough adapted from Good to the Grain, by Kim Boyce
Filling adapted the teensiest bit from Oh, Ladycakes

This dough recipe makes enough for two 9-inch galettes; the filling is for just one.

Rustic Rye Dough

3/4 cup ice water

Dry Mix:
1 cup dark rye flour
1/2 cup dark spelt flour
1/2 cup light spelt flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Wet Mix:
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted vegan butter (coconut oil will not work)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, adding back any bits of grain or other ingredients that may remain in the sifter. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch pieces and add them to the dry mixture.

Rub the butter between your fingers, breaking it into smaller bits. Continue rubbing it until the butter is in sizes ranging from peas to hazelnuts. The more quickly you do this, the more the butter will stay solid, which is important for the success of the recipe.

Add the vinegar and 8 tablespoons of ice water to the flour mixture. Working from the outer edge of the flour, mix the ingredients with your hands just to moisten the flour. The dough needs to come together as mostly one lump, with a few shaggy pieces. Squeeze the dough together to see if a ball forms. If it is too dry to come together, add additional ice water 1 tablespoon at a time.

Pile the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, sprinkle a few drops of water over the top, wrap tightly, and chill for a minimum of 1 hour or overnight.

Unwrap the dough onto a floured surface. Pat the dough into a square, then use a rolling pin to roll it into a rectangle about 8 1/2 by 11 inches. The dough will be crumbly and rough around the edges, but don’t add more flour or water, as it will come together during the rolling.

For the first turn, fold the dough into thirds like a letter. The seam should be on the left side. Turn the dough so that the seam is at the top and parallel to your body.

For the second turn, again roll the dough into an 8 1/2 x 11-inch rectangle and repeat the previous step.

For the third turn, repeat the previous step, then wrap the dough in plastic and chill for 1 hour or up to 3 days before using.

Apple cinnamon filling

4-5 apples (a mix of varieties is best), peeled and sliced into 1/4-1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup + 2 teaspoons turbinado sugar, divided
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a deep pot over medium heat, melt the coconut oil. Stir in 1/4 cup of sugar and the cinnamon; continue stirring until the mixture has thickened to syrup consistency, about 4-5 minutes. Add the apples and stir an additional 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool while you prepare the dough.

Assembling the galette

Cut the chilled rye dough into two pieces; wrap the piece you will not be using in plastic and return to the refrigerator to chill.

On a lightly floured surface, shape the remaining portion of dough into a rough circle about 15 inches in diameter. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Or, if your dough is being rolled out by a six-year old, perhaps consider rolling it directly on the parchment paper (lightly floured, of course). Transfer the parchment and circle of dough, together, to the baking sheet.

Using a slotted spoon, heap the apple pieces onto the middle of the dough circle. Fold an edge of the dough up toward the center to cover the fruit; about 3 inches of crust should be showing. Continue folding the edge of the dough toward the apples and over, creating folds; lightly pinch to seal as you go. Drizzle the syrup over the apple filling. (Unused syrup is fantastic on steel cut oats or ice cream.) Transfer the galette to the freezer for a minimum of 1 hour. At this point you could wrap the galette well and freeze for up to a month. If making more than one galette at a time, transfer this one to the freezer to chill while you prepare the next one.

At this point, position a rack in the center and preheat oven to 350 F / 180 C.

Once the galette is chilled from the freezer and the oven is hot, brush water around the edge of the dough and sprinkle liberally with the remaining 2 turbinado sugar. Bake for about 50-60 minutes, turning the pan halfway through. The galette is ready when the crust is golden brown. Serve warm from the oven if possible; tastes best eaten the same day it is made.

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