Michele makes… Apple Desserts

Michele makes… Apple Desserts
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I’ve always loved tarts, crisps and turnovers. No one ever said “an apple a day” couldn’t include dessert.

However, I’ve never been fond of baking pies. My high school home economics class left me with severe “pie crust” anxiety after my team made the worst lemon meringue pie in school history. Let’s just say it would have taken a chain saw to cut through that crust.

Our abundantly producing apple tree in the backyard has recently caused me to revisit my fear of pie crust, with delicious results. No one was more surprised than I. However, if you want to use a premade crust, you have my blessing.

I don’t know the variety of apples that my tree produces but I do know they are great for baking. Granny Smiths are the “go-to” baking apple for most bakers. However, I am not a fan because they are too tart for my taste buds. For my taste, I prefer Honeycrisp and Winesaps. They hold up during baking and are sweeter. Other popular varieties for baking include Braeburn, Pink Lady and Jonagold. 

Easy Apple Pie

6 cups thinly sliced apples

3/4 cup sugar

1 tbsp. butter

2 tsp. cinnamon

Combine sugar and cinnamon. Arrange your sliced apples in layers in your pie plate. Sprinkle each layer with sugar and cinnamon. Dot the top layer with small pieces of butter or margarine. Cover with a top crust.

Place on lowest rack in oven preheated to 450 F. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350 F. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Serve with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Crust 

2 1/2 cups flour

1 cup shortening (not butter, use Crisco)

1/2 tsp. salt

 1 egg

1/4 cup cold water (must be very cold)

1 tbsp. distilled white vinegar

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening until it resembles coarse crumbs. Mix egg, water and vinegar and pour into flour. Blend with a fork until it forms a ball. Wrap with plastic and chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight. Divide the crust into two balls before chilling: one for the top crust and one for the bottom. Let the dough warm up for about 10 minutes before rolling out on a floured cutting board. 

Apple Crisp

Topping

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup oats (I use Quaker Oats, the kind used to make oatmeal)

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 cup cold butter

Filling

8 cups apples cut into 1/2-inch slices

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

Topping Mix flour, oats, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon in a bowl. Grate in butter and work in, using fingertips, until crumbly. Refrigerate 20 minutes.

Filling Toss apples, sugar, cinnamon and salt together in a large bowl. Pour into an 8-inch baking dish.

Sprinkle topping evenly over apples. Bake at 350 F until top is golden, about 30 minutes. Best when served with vanilla ice cream. 

Apple Tarte Tatin

This isn’t nearly as hard as it sounds and is a great dessert to impress friends and family. Don’t worry if it doesn’t come out perfect, they rarely do. It still tastes amazing. The hardest part of this recipe is finding a 10-inch oven-proof skillet. I found a great cast-iron skillet at a thrift shop. 

3 tbsp. butter

3/4 cup white sugar

4 large apples peeled and quartered

1 tbsp. flour

1 tsp. vanilla 

1 unbaked pie crust (use recipe above or buy a ready to use pie crust)

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Melt butter in 10-inch oven-proof skillet. Sprinkle sugar evenly over the top of the butter. Place apple quarters, rounded sides down, on top of the butter and sugar in a circular pattern.

Place skillet over medium-high heat and cook until sugar dissolves and begins to caramelize. Continue to cook until apples soften and caramel begins to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat.

Roll pie dough into an 11-inch circle. Pinch edge to create a ruffle around crust. Place crust on top of apples and tuck in edges around apples.

Bake in the preheated oven until crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Place a plate over the top of the pan and flip to release tarte from the pan. 

Apple Turnovers

Use frozen puff pastry and impress your family with your baking skills. 

2 cups small diced apples

1 tbsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 (17.3-oz.) package frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed

1 large egg, whisked

1 cup confectioner’s sugar icing (mix with water to desired consistency)

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Stir together apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice.

Unfold the puff-pastry sheets onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, gently roll over the pastry to seal any perforations, then cut each sheet into four squares.

Using a slotted spoon, scoop a portion of the apple mixture into the center of each puff pastry square then fold the pastry across diagonally to form triangles. Using a fork, crimp together the edges then transfer the turnovers to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them at least 2 inches apart.

Cut three small slits in the tops of each turnover then brush them with the egg. Bake 17 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and puffed. When cool, pipe confectioner’s sugar icing over the turnovers in a zigzag pattern.

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