Bobby’s Apple Cake

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We’re up for another round of The Kosher Connection Link up thingamabob, and with Rosh Hashana right around the corner, this months theme is apples. So ever since I was a little kid I can remember my grandmother making this thing we all called apple cake. For some reason, I never really questioned the idea of how this became known as “apple cake,” as you’ll soon see. Well this apple cake really was always made for Sukkos, and my grandmother had this special sheet pan that she used for it, in fact I think it’s the only thing she made in the pan. Anyway, suffice it to say that it was awesome. It would sit behind my kitchen table, half covered in aluminum foil, but really anyone who passed it, for some reason, had this innate need to just even out the edges. You know – a little slice off the edge to make sure the edge was even…all in the name of science. Last year I decided it was time for me to try and make this “cake.”

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The reason I call this a “cake” is because it’s really more like a pie than a cake. There’s whole apples, mixed with spices, sandwiched between two enriched doughs. Sounds like a pie to me, but for some reason, it’s always been known as apple cake in our house

So last year I ventured out to make it, and got the recipe from my grandmother through my sister in law, which means my grandmother probably left something out, so we wouldn’t make it as well as she does. (I once asked my grandmother for her recipe for meatballs, and she pretty much just told me to throw a can of tomato sauce in a pot with the formed meatballs…after I did that with unwavering faith, and the meatballs were terrible, I asked her, and she was like “well what about the ketchup, sugar, and more water? Of course you have to put that in also!”)  Getting a recipe from my grandmother is like playing broken telephone with some one speaks broken english and can’t hear that well. It’s not always easy. Here’s what I ended up with:

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First thing is to make the dough. I said it was with enriched dough, and by that I mean there’s added fat. In general, you can categorize doughs as just plain old flour, water, yeast, and salt; or you can enrich said dough with different types of fats. This enrichment, obviously effects the taste, but it also preserves the dough, and effects the texture of the dough. You can see the difference when you compare homemade bread (without any added fats), and homemade kokosh, or cinnamon buns. There’s an inherent richness to the dough, but the dough will also be fluffier, and actually last longer. (I say homemade dough, as opposed to store bought dough, because all store bought bread will have different preservatives in it…it’s not natural for a loaf of bread to last more than 3 days). There’s also eggs in the form of yolks, which also add richness, along with color, and other properties that I’m not in the mood of getting in to (read: I’m not really sure, and not in the mood of doing the research).

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Allright, let’s get some margarine a-melting. About 1 pound of fat, which is 4 sticks of margarine/butter. Once the melted margarine is cool, whisk in the eggs. Set aside, and work on the rest of the dough. Add the flour and sugar, and whisk together, and combine remaining sugar, yeast, and tepid water, and whisk to combine. Add yeast mixture and fatty fat fat mixture to the flour, and using the paddle attachment (or a wooden spoon) to mix until it just comes together, and then switch to a dough hook, and knead until it pulls away from the bowl, and a tacky, but not sticky dough forms. Allow that dough to rest in the fridge over night (or up to 3 days).

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On the day you’re ready to make your apple cake, allow the dough to come to room temperature for at least an hour. While the dough is coming to terms with it’s surrounding, make the filling. My grandmaw’s recipe calls for 10 apples, 1/2 cup of sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and lemon juice. You shred the apples, and wring out any excess liquid, and then mix everything together. DSC_3641

You then roll out half the dough, put it on bottom of the sheet pan, place the apple mixture in (leaving about a half inch around the borders) cover with other dough, and crimp the whole thing shut. Brush some egg over top, and let it bake until golden brown and delicious.

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So I actually made this last year for Sukkos, and luckily was able to dig through the archives of all the food I take pictures of (it’s a lot…like, I take pictures of everything, and then I’m too self conscience to post anything about it…but I’ll just save that last part for the couch…aaaanyway…), and if I could critique it, I would say, I would treat this “cake” more like a pie, and would definitely add some sort of thickening agent; flour, corn starch, potato starch, tapioca, whatever. Also, I would consider mixing the apples with sugar, allowing it macerate, and then taking the liquid, and cooking it down and adding that concentrated apple flavor back in. Those are the modifications I’ll probably do this year.

As usual, click on the funny frog looking guy right below this paragraph to see what actual talented people did.

Bobby’s Apple Cake

I know that when I made this last year, I ended up with two whole apple cakes, but I can’t remember if that was because I doubled the recipe. So if you see that there’s a lot of dough, then instead of using half to line the sheet pan, use 1/4…knowwhatimsaying?

Ingredients:

For the Dough:

  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1/2 cup tepid water
  • 4 sticks margarine
  • 4 yolks
  • 1 whole egg

For the Apple filling:

  • 10 apples (I like to use a mixture of yellow, green, and another apple, to get a good mix of texture and flavor out of the apples), shredded
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg

Directions:

For the Dough:

  1. Combine flour, and 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl, and whisk to combine. Combine the vanilla extract, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, yeast, and water in a bowl, and stir to combine until frothy.
  2. Melt the margarine, and when cool, add the yolks and egg, and whisk to combine.
  3. Add the flour mixture, the yeast mixture, and margarine mixture to bowl of a mixer, and with the paddle attachment, mix until everything is combined. Switch to the dough hook, and knead on medium-low until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  4. Place dough in an oiled container, cover, and place in the refrigerator over night and up to 3 nights
  5. On the day of baking, allow the dough to come to room temperature for at least an hour before handling.

For the filling:

  1. To shred apples, peel and core the apples, and run through food processor’s shredding blade.
  2. Combine apples, sugar, and lemon juice, and let sit over colander set in a bowl for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Take reserved apple juice, and set in a pan over medium-high heat and reduce liquid until syrupy.
  4. Add syrup back to apple-sugar mixture, along with corn starch, cinnamon, and vanilla extract, and mix to combine.
  1. Divide dough in half, and roll out half the dough, and spread on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
  2. Spread apple mixture over bottom half of dough, leaving a 1/2 inch space around the borders
  3. Roll out other half, and cover everything cinching it all closed.
  4. Whisk remaining egg, and brush over dough
  5. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven until golden brown and delicious (I can’t remember how long it took, but if I had to guess, it was probably 30 minutes? I dunno, let your nose decide)

Banana Pomegranate Coffee Cake

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So you know how when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail? Well the same goes if you’re trying to figure out what to do with pomegranate molasses. Everything looks like it can go with pomegranate molasses. Pomegranate coffee?? Sure why not. Pomegranate tomato soup? Definitely. Pomegranate pesto pizza knish? Yummtastic. But with so many options to chose from, how was I to decide what to make? I couldn’t sleep, I was pacing to and fro with nothing but pomegranate on my mind. And then it hit me – Banana pomegranate coffee cake. Let’s break it down.

Why banana? Because I had 5 over-ripe bananas in the fridge, and needed to do something with them.

Why coffee cake? Because I love coffee and I love cake, that was a no brainer.

(Side point, I never understood why it’s called coffee cake, there’s no coffee in it, and what? it goes well with coffee? What cake doesn’t? But I digress.)

Anyway, pretty much everyone who I asked what they thought about the combination of flavors, totally didn’t agree with me. They all felt it was too many flavors, and that it wouldn’t mesh well together. Well guess what, they were wrong!

To me this dish was more an experiment in flavor combination, and less an experiment on the consistency of the cake. So I used the first coffee cake recipe I can find (it called for blueberries), and just substituted bananas. The recipe also called for sour cream, which I used the parve type.

So as with any cake that has sugar and a fat in it, we start by creaming the two together, and the best way to do that is with everything at room temperature. After the margarine and sugar are nicely integrated, add the egg, and egg yolks and mix to combine.

In another bowl, add the bananas and sour cream, and mush them all together. Then add the banana mixture to the sugar-margarine mixture, and mix them all together.

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And now it is time in sprockets for when we add the dry ingredients. Mix together the flour and the baking powder, and with the mixer on low, add the flour slowly until incorporated, making sure to not over mix the batter.

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Then pour the batter into your pan, and I figured, since the pomegranate molasses was pretty thick (I had over reduced it some, as I’m sure you knew, since you read the last post!), I first needed to warm it up so it would pour out of the container (yeah, it was pretty thick), and spread the remaining molasses throughout the banana cake thusly:

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I tried to spell my name in it, but it didn’t really work out so well.

Once that was all done, it was time to officially deem this cake a coffee cake, and give it it’s proper regalia: a crumb topping. Mix some margarine, sugar, and cinnamon together and presto chango – you can now transform anything you want into a coffee cake.

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Bake at 350 for like 30-35 minutes, or until the center is set, and then allow to cool before devouring.

So here’s the deal, once people were telling me that a banana pomegranate coffee cake sounded disgusting, I had to make it to find out for myself whether it was going to be an epic disaster or not. Well my take on the cake (I’m a poet, and I didn’t even know I was) was that, the actual cake itself could have been a better consistency, I felt like it was too gummy, and I’m not 100% sure why, however, the actual flavor combinations that were going on here, were great. I really think the banana went well with the pomegranate molasses, and crumb topping, and I definitely would try it again.

I’ll post the recipe I used, but if you’re actually planning on making this at home, I would suggest (possibly incorrectly), to just take any good banana cake recipe you have, and continue with the rest of the ingredients, and I’m sure it will be fine.

Banana Pomegranate Coffee Cake

Ingredients –

    • 1 and a 1/4 cup sugar (divided)
    • 3/4 cup margarine (divided), cut into small pieces, at room temperature
    • 1 large egg
    • 2 large egg yolks
    • 2 cups sour cream (I used the parve one)
    • 4-5 over ripe bananas
    • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • Whatever leftover Pomegranate Molasses you have (if I had to measure it, it was probably 1/3 of a cup)
    • 2 T Cinnamon

Directions –

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Cream 1 cup of sugar, and margarine, until smooth, and then add the egg and egg yolks and mix until incorporated.
  3. Mush together bananas and sour cream, and add to sugar-margarine mixture, and mix until combined
  4. Whisk together flour and baking powder, and slowly incorporate into wet ingredients, until just combined.
  5. Place batter into well greased (or with parchment paper) loaf pan, and pour the pomegranate molasses over top, and swirl it in like the princess you are (is anyone even reading this?)
  6. Make crumb topping by combining remaining margarine, and remaining sugar with cinnamon, and mush (is it me or have I said “mush” a lot in this post?) it with your hands until it’s the right consistency, and sprinkle over the batter.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the center is set, and allow to cool, for at least 30 minutes before slicing it open.

Pretzel Nutella Bars

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Remember the nutella we made the other day? Well wouldn’t you know it I had some leftover. I know, sounds crazy. What, with my eating habits, and the awesome deliciousness of nutella, you would think it would have been gone the second I found a spoon. But it was still around. Truth be told, I blame it on my mother. You see my mom never had nutella in the house when we were growing up! I know! After I had it for the first time, I told her she’s lucky I love her, because depriving your child of nutella is grounds for child abuse.

Anyway, I saw this recipe on Dula Notes blog, and figured, what the heck, let’s do it.

Ok this recipe is really simple. Start by smashing some pretzels. You don’t want them too fine, but nice and chunky. Then melt a stick of margarine, and let it cool, while you get your brown sugar, white sugar, and nutella. When the margarine is l.l. cool-j, mix the sugars, nutella and margarine all together.

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Add in your egg and vanilla, and then add in your flour and salt, and mix, until it just combines, but don’t over mix (you know, it’s the same old shpiel, mixing forms gluten, yada yada yada, gluten=toughness, yada yada yada, as we’ve seen before here, and here)

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Now we’re ready to add le piece de resistance, the crushed pretzels. So go ahead, and mix in 1/2 of the crushed pretzels…now, and mix it gently, just to combine it all together.

Gather yourself your finest square cake pan, and spray it down nice and good with some pam, and put a piece of parchment on top of that, and spray it again! Crazy I know, but it’s better than the alternative.

Next pour the batter in your pan, and since the batter is pretty thick, you’re gonna need to nudge it to the edges

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Then sprinkle the remaining crushed pretzels on top, and for good measures I also sprinkled on some more brown sugar, so do it…do it.

Do it.

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Anyway, bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, and Bob’s your uncle, or Robert is your mother’s brother…v’hamayvin yavin.

Pretzel Nutella Bar

adapted from Dulla Notes

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted margarine, melted
  • 1/2 C. packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 C. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C. Homemade Nutella (or other hazelnut spread)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 t. vanilla
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1 C. crushed pretzels (break into smallish pieces, but not too small)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8×8 baking pan with pam, line with a sheet of parchment leaving a 2″ overhang on both edges. Pam the parchment paper also.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk melted margarine, brown sugar, white sugar, and Nutella until smooth. Whisk in egg and vanilla. Add flour and salt; mix just until moistened (do not overmix). Fold in 1/2 C. of crushed pretzels. Transfer batter to prepared pan and spread in an even layer with a spatula. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/2 C. of crushed pretzels, and brown sugar.
  3. Bake until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20-30 min. Set pan on a wire rack and let cool completely. Using parchment overhang, lift bars from pan and transfer to a cutting board.