Tag Archives: Kirsten of Comfortably Domestic Blog

Comfort Food: Slab Apple Pie

Sometimes you just need a comfort food, know what I mean? Apple pie does it for me, and this one does it best because it’s so easy to pull together.

NanaBread’s Slab Apple Pie:
One batch of Kirsten’s ‘No Excuses’ Pie Dough (click for the recipe)
8 small or 6 large Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored & sliced thin
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
1 egg + 1 tablespoon of water (egg wash)
sugar crystals (or Demerara sugar) for sprinkling on top

To start, mix up the pie dough as directed in the link above. Form the dough into a disc, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and pop it into the freezer to firm up. If this pie dough recipe rings a bell, it’s because it’s my all-time favorite go-to recipe. Kirsten’s pie dough is as billed – no excuses. If you have a food processor and five minutes, you can make amazing homemade pie dough. Thanks, Kirsten!

While the dough is chilling, peel, core and slice the apples and place them in a large non-stick skillet. Add the lemon juice and unsalted butter; cook over medium-high heat until the apples start to brown slightly and the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the applesauce, brown sugar and spices and continue to cook until the mixture is bubbly and the sugar begins to caramelize. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the apples to cool to room temperature.

Once the apple mixture has cooled, remove the pie dough from the freezer. Generously flour your work surface and rolling-pin. Divide the dough (2/3 for the base; 1/3 for the strips on top). Roll the larger portion into a rectangle (the size depends on your baking sheet). I like to place mine on a silicone baking mat to prevent it from sticking and to help the bottom brown more evenly.

Spread the apple mixture evenly across the bottom crust, to within 1 1/2″ of the edge. Roll the remaining dough into a rectangle. If you’re in a hurry, simply place the second rectangle over the apple mixture and cut a few steam vents in the top, then skip to the section below about finishing the edges.

If you really want to get frisky, go for broke and impress your friend and family with a pretty lattice top. You can do it! Cut the second rectangle into 1/3″ to 1/2″ strips – I like to use a yardstick and a pizza cutter to cut even strips. I know, I know… it’s just that I’m all about perfect strips. If you’re not, just eyeball it. If your strips are uneven, you call this Rustic Slab Apple Pie. {wink}

Lay one layer of strips in one direction, about an 1/2″ apart. Fold every other strip back about 2″ and lay your first horizontal strip, then return the folded strips back to their original position. Then switch and do every other vertical line until you’ve worked all the way across the pie.

If you’re starting to panic just reading this, remember you can use the second rectangle as a solid top to your slab pie. Just be sure to cut a dozen or so small steam vents into the top before baking. I’m all about giving you options. Once your top crust is on, trim off the excess so that the edges are aligned, then roll the edges inward until they are touching the edge of the apple pie filling.

To help create perfectly square corners, fold each corner in before you roll the edges. That’s an old sewing trick. Thanks for teaching me to sew, Mom!

You can stop here and have plain edges, and it will look perfectly fine.

Or you can go for broke and flute the edge. You know what they say… “go big or stay home.” Not one to shy away from a fancy-pants pie, I fluted mine. Have a few extra tablespoons of flour nearby; you’ll need it to keep your fingers from sticking to the dough while you crimp those edges.

Once you’re satisfied with your crimped up primped up pie, pop it back in the freezer for at least one hour. Why? Two reasons – 1. it will help create a flakier crust if the butter is frozen when the pie goes into the hot oven, and 2. when you brush the pie with an egg wash before baking, it will prevent the brush from damaging the dough like it would at room temperature.

Once your slab pie is properly frozen, remove it from the freezer and pre-heat your oven to 375F. Whisk one egg with one tablespoon of water to make an egg wash, and brush the entire pie with it making sure to coat all of the exposed pie dough. Then sprinkle with crystallized sugar or Demerara (sugar in the raw).

Bake at 375F for 30 minutes, rotating the pie once after 15 minutes, or until the pie turns a light golden brown all over. Remove from the oven and allow to cool at least 10-15 minutes before serving. That’s the hardest part of this recipe.

I like mine with homemade whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, but you can do whatever floats your boat. Want a slice of cheddar on top? Go for it! Looking for an excuse to by a pint of Dulce de Leche Caramel ice cream? Do it! Whatever makes you happy. And that’s what this slab apple pie is all about – making you happy. Isn’t that the goal of all our favorite comfort foods?

Note from NanaBread: this slab pie can be made with almost any thick filling. If you love canned fruit pie filling, just spoon it on and go from there. Or go fresh and try it with an apple/cranberry combo or fresh sliced plums; yum. Go nuts! And if you do, let me know what worked for you. Enjoy!

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Dark Chocolate Cherry Pecan Cookies

Dark Chocolate, Dried Cherries & Toasted Pecans – all in one cookie!

Years ago, during a visit to Seattle, I fell in love with Chukar Cherries. More specifically, I fell in love with their dried cherries. So much so, I may have been gently escorted away from the free sample basket at the Pike Place Market.

Since then, I have tried to incorporate more dried cherries into my life, especially (it seems) when paired with dark chocolate. I made these cherry chocolate chip scones back in 2010. They were really tasty.

But the tide took a turn last year when my friend Kirsten sent me a box of Michigan cherries. Dried cherries. That’s when I took a step back and said, “Hold on. Michigan grows cherries, too?” That’s when Kirsten confirmed that yes, Michigan does indeed grow cherries. Really spectacular, gorgeous tart red cherries. And I fell in love all over again.

My first box of Michigan cherries – from The Cherry Republic

Last month, as part of our One Kitchen Many Hearts box exchange, Kirsten struck again by including another bag of dried cherries from Shoreline Fruits. They’re from her neck of the woods. Have mercy! They are world class – with a perfect balance of tart and sweet, dried yet plump. Now I’m not trying to start a war between the states, but I think Michigan cherries may just edge out Washington state cherries. Granted, it has been a few years since I’ve had a Washington dried cherry, and if the fine folks at Chukar want to send me a box just to settle this once and for all, I’m open to a side-by-side tasting. Until then, here’s my latest ode to the dried cherry. Paired with chocolate; as it should be.

NanaBread’s Dark Chocolate Cherry Pecan Cookies:
(makes approximately 36 cookies)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup good quality cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup extra-dark chocolate chips (I prefer Guittard)
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1 cup dried cherries, chopped

Pre-heat your oven to 350F. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Using a mixer, beat the butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and almond extracts until fluffy. Gradually add the flour mixture, beating until well combined. Reducing the mixer to low speed, blend in the chocolate chips, toasted pecans and dried cherries. If you’re using a hand mixer, you may want to stir them in by hand, as the dough will be thick.

Oh, that dough… this would be great as brownies, too.

I like to bake cookies on those silicone baking mats, but if you don’t have them, line your baking sheet with parchment paper. I also like to use a medium-size ice cream scoop to shape my cookies. I absolutely love how perfectly uniform they turn out with a scoop. Don’t worry; you can also use a spoon. Drop golfball-size dough balls onto prepared sheets, approximately 3″ apart.

The key to perfectly uniform cookies – an ice cream scoop.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, depending how ‘done’ you like them. For soft chewy cookies, bake closer to 10 minutes. For cookies that are soft in the center and crispy around the edges, bake closer to the 12 minute mark. Remove from the oven, allow to cool on the pan for 10-15 minutes, then remove to parchment or waxed paper to finish cooling.

From there, you’re just a cold glass of milk away from a perfect cherry-laden fudge bliss cookie coma.

Do you have a favorite dried fruit you cook with? Coconut, blueberries, pineapple, figs, prunes or something tropical? I’d love to hear what inspires you. Feel free to include links to recipes in your comments. I’m always looking for something new to try or Pin. Please do share!

Recipe adapted from: http://zestycook.com/a-taste-of-heaven-double-dark-chocolate-cookies/

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