Varmahlíð Apple Cake

August 12, 2018

 

 

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Last September the Husband and I went on an amazing trip to Iceland. It was our 7th time visiting and we just can’t get enough of the place! Indeed since this trip we have visited again in February 2018 and are planning another visit this Fall! But let me not get ahead of myself. I’m just going to tell you about the September 2017 visit right now. Believe me, there be more to come. So last September, we were mostly focused on visiting the East Fjords, but we did spend some time revisiting the South Coast. Although we had been there several times, there were still plenty of things in the area that we hadn’t experienced. I first encountered this Varmahlíð Apple Cake

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at The Garage Apartments, which are an absolutely wonderful base of operations if you are visiting that area of the country.

P1010297 (1)These lovely modern rustic apartments are found in former old garage that is located on a family farm belonging to Anna & Siggi. This picturesque homestead is nestled right up to the foot of the mountain topped by the Eyjafjallajökull glacier, under which the famous air traffic interrupting volcano resides.

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Varmahlíð actually means “warm hill”. There is another Varmahlíð in North Iceland. With all the geothermal activity on the island it is easy to see why there would be more than one place known as Varmahlíð. But here I’m referring to an area on the South Coast near the Ejyafjallajökull volcano.

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Siggi’s family has been living on this land for over 200 years. Now Anna & Siggi are operating a “gentleman’s farm” on the site as well as managing several apartments for Iceland’s ever-expanding tourist market.

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Located exactly between the two famous waterfalls Skógafoss

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and Seljalandfoss,

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You can walk behind Seljalandfoss for an alternate view!

these exceptional apartments are the perfect central location for taking in all the South Coast of Iceland has to offer. We of course visited the waterfalls, not our first visit but they never seem to get old. We spent some time on the black sand beach near Vik

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and visited the plane wreck at Sólheimasandur.

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Next we travelled out to the breath-taking Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar).

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Once there we met the adorable Tóti, Vestmannaeyjar’s famous puffin

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and saw the whole town turn out to rescue baby pufflings at night (for more info on the pufflings and Westman islands (see Iceland links below). We went on an exciting rib safari tour around Heimaey.

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The Famous Elephant rock

Drank some local beer at the Brothers Brewery,

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visited the Eldheimar museum which documents the story of the surprise 1973 eruption of the volcano which caused the roughly 5,00 locals to flee on fishing boats in the middle of the night to the safety of the mainland. The eruption, which lasted for 5 months, buried 1/3 of the town in lava and destroyed over 400 houses and businesses. The resilient islanders did return and rebuilt the thriving community you will find today. Fascinating stuff! You really should consider visiting.

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One of the recently uncovered houses which had been buried by lava & ash during the eruption.

And if all the gorgeous scenery hasn’t convinced you, we had the best meal we have ever had in Iceland, which is saying something because the food there is fantastic. The restaurant is Slipurinn. Located in an old machinery shop this family owned eatery features seasonal local sourced dishes often including herbs and seaweed foraged right there on the island. Simply divine food in a friendly and casual environment. Don’t miss it!

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The Husband and I atop the newly formed volcano – Mt. Eldfell

Back on the mainland, we hiked the magnificent Fimmvörðuháls trail, a big accomplishment for us. This challenging 13 mile hike took us up over a mountain (approximately 3,600 feet elevation), past 22 waterfalls,

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past the still warm lava fields from the most recent eruption,

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between two glaciers,

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over the Kattarhryggur (cat’s spine)

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and down the other side through Goðaland (the land of the Gods),

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finishing in Thorsmork (Thor’s Forest).

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It was just jaw dropingly gorgeous and occasionally somewhat terrifying! – Narrow paths with steep drop-offs are not for the faint of heart!

And not only was the Garage Apartments location ideal for all our explorations, but Anna was also such an amazing host, so friendly, warm and welcoming. Her spacious apartments were stylishly decorated, sparklingly clean

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and filled with thoughtful little touches,

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Adorable mice on the bed side table!

and as if all of that was not enough, she served us scrumptious freshly home-baked desserts every day! This delicious Apple Cake was one of them.

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This particular Iceland trip was chock full of activities and I can not tell you how happy we were to come back to find home baked treats waiting for us. What a pleasant surprize! Moist and tender and not too sweet, it was just perfect with a nice hot mug of tea. Anna kindly shared the recipe with me, which I will now share with you.

 

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I must admit, I had to do a few conversions before baking this cake. I don’t have any measuring devices marked with deciliters – but I was able to figure it out pretty quickly. I baked the cake in an 8X8″ pan, but you could also use a 9X9″ – just make sure you adjust the baking time.

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And if you are planning a trip to Iceland anytime in the future and want to visit the South Coast, you’ll know exactly where you should book your accommodation. As a matter of fact, the Husband and I are taking our parents to Iceland this fall. It will be their first trip so we will be playing tour guides for them. And guess where we’ll be staying…That’s right! We are very much looking forward to our upcoming stay at the cozy Garage apartments. For further Iceland recommendations, see my guide at the bottom of this post. In the meantime, try this recipe and enjoy a slice of Varmahlíð Apple Cake while you plan your upcoming adventure.

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Varmahlíð Apple Cake

  • Servings: 9 pieces
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: Anna, owner of the Garage Apartments

Ingredients:

  • 200 grams soft salted butter
  • 2.5 Deciliter Sugar (1 cup + 1 Tablespoon)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Deciliter Cream (100 ml)
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 -5 green apples – sliced

Directions:

Preheat oven to 355° F (180°C)

Place the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl and mix to combine. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Add the cream and vanilla. Stir to combine.

Add the flour/baking powder mix to the batter. Mix until just combined.

Place the batter in a buttered deep 8X8″ baking pan and top with the apples. ( I sprinkled the top of my cake with cinnamon sugar, but this was not included in Anna’s recipe. If you love cinnamon like I do, just mix 1/4 cup sugar with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and sprinkle over the apples before baking.)

Bake for 45 -50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean at 355°F (180°C).

Enjoy!

Varmahlíð Apple Cake brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Varmahlíð Apple Cake:

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Oxo Good Grips 7 Piece Nesting Measuring Beaker Set

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Links for Planning your vacation in Iceland:

I have tons of links, as well as some lovely photos, and delicious Icelandic recipes in previous blogs that I have written about our adventures in Iceland. For some inspiration take a look at:

December 2012 Visit to the South Coast & Reykjavik featuring White Chocolate Skyramisu

December 2013 Visit to the South Coast, Jökulsárlón & Reykjavik featuring Kanilsnúðar

July & December Visit to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, The Westfjords & Reykjavik featuring Ástarpungar aka Love Balls 

Here is a fun video that show you some of the beauty Iceland has to offer, which will surely get you excited for any upcoming Iceland visit. And it will teach you a few words in Icelandic as well. It is known as “The Hardest Karaoke Song in the World”! Sing along to Inspired by Iceland’s “A – Ö of Iceland”.

If you enjoyed this video, take a look at Inspired By Iceland’s site. They have great little videos showing you gorgeous scenes from each area of Iceland, while teaching you a few more Icelandic words along the way.

Westman Island links:

To Buy tickets on the Herjólfur Ferry as well as read about all the things to see and do take a look at: Visit Westman Islands.

Hotel Vestmannaeyjar – Great accommodation on the Islands.

Stofan Bakhús – Great bakery! Got the best kanilsnúðars there that I have ever had in Iceland! We also got some great sandwiches to take on a hike. Everything there looks delicious. Go be tempted!

On puffins: If you travel to the Westman Island at the end of August/beginning of September there is a good chance you will see baby puffins (pufflings) being rescued by the local children. At this time of year, the pufflings leave their nests but get confused by the lights of the town and rather than flying out to sea, they end up flying into town. The children go out at night with flashlights to find them. They take them home in cardboard boxes for the night. The next morning they take them to the Saeheimar Aquarium to be measured and weighed and the children can have their pictures taken with their little charges as well. Once done, the kids take the little birds to the shore and release them back into the wild during daylight hours so that they won’t become confused. We were lucky enough to be there when this was happening and it was unforgettable!

*On a sad note: Tóti the Puffin passed away in July. He was a great ambassador for Vestmannaeyjar and brought joy to many. The Husband and I are so glad we were able to meet him. He will be sorely missed.

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Interested in hiking the Fimmvörðuháls Trail? See here:

If you are interested in hiking the Fimmvörðuháls Trail, you can go all on your own. However, we strongly recommend going with a guide.  Weather at  the top of the mountain is very unpredictable and many tourists have ended up having to call ICE-SAR to be rescued. Don’t let this happen to you! We absolutely love the tour company Midgard Adventure and have gone out with them on many exciting adventures. They not only provided us with a knowledgeable and engaging guide but when we descended down into Thorsmork after our epic 9 – 10 hour hike, the folks from Midgard had grilled some hot dogs and were waiting for us with a cooler of beer as well as other snacks. It was just perfection! Check out their other tours as well. They are an amazing company! And they now offer cozy accommodation as well. Take a look at their basecamp where you can find a restaurant, cafe and bar as well.

 

 

 

 

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Old-Fashioned Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

December 6, 2016

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I’ve got another great Autumn dessert for you today! Just take a look at this Old-Fashioned Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting! With a texture somewhat similar to carrot cake, this incredibly moist treat is just bursting with all of the flavors of Fall, like apple, pecans, cinnamon and nutmeg. And that Brown Sugar Frosting? It is just unbelievably dreamy – smooth and creamy with notes of maple and caramel flavors. It is very similar to fudge to be honest.

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And I must say, I do love an old-fashioned sheet cake. You can’t get much easier than that and you just frost it right there in the pan. This Fall treat is delicious when eaten the same day it was made. But, I gotta say, I think it even tastes better the next day (if you can manage to keep from scarfing it all down at once that is…). Good for dessert, coffee breaks or even breakfast. Perfect for potlucks or church socials. Serve it up with a nice cold glass of milk. You can’t go wrong with this one!

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Old-Fashioned Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

  • Servings: 24 slices
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

  • 2 1/3 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups peeled, cored, chopped apple, about 1 1/3 pounds whole apples
  • 1 cup diced toasted walnuts or pecans

For the frosting:

  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 1/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 9″ x 13″ pan. 

To make the cake: Toast whatever nuts you are using by placing them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350° oven until they are golden brown; about 6 – 9 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Mix all of the ingredients except the apples and nuts in a large bowl. 

Beat until well combined; the mixture will be very stiff, and may even be crumbly. 

Add the apples and nuts, and mix until the apples release some of their juice and the stiff mixture becomes a thick batter, somewhere between cookie dough and brownie batter in consistency. 

Spread the batter in the prepared pan, smoothing it with your wet fingers.

Bake the cake for 45 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few wet crumbs clinging to it. 

Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a rack to cool completely; don’t remove the cake from the pan. 

To make the frosting: Melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar and salt and cook, stirring, until the sugar melts. 

Add the milk, bring to a boil, and pour into a mixing bowl to cool for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, stir in the sifted confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Beat well; if the mixture appears too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar. Spread on the cake while frosting is still warm.

Enjoy!

Old-Fashioned Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)


Fresh Apple Cinnamon Chip Scones

December 2, 2016

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Want your house to smell like a perfect Fall day, all cozy and cinnamon-y? Bake up a batch of these Fresh Apple Cinnamon Chip Scones. And let me just say right here…it is still Fall. I know you’re seeing all those Christmas holiday decorations going up. I think folks have barely put their forks down from their Thanksgiving dinner and they’ve already got their Christmas trees up and decorated. Why rush it folks? It really is still Fall. At least I keep telling myself that. In good old Virginia yesterday it was 76°F (24°C)! We were in short sleeves and I could’ve probably gotten away with shorts. Not my idea of Fall weather. But after a line of thunderstorms roared through last night, we’re back down to the 50’s, which is a respectable range for Fall weather I think. Anyhoo….back to these scones! I love them because they are chock full of fresh crisp apples, which you should be able to find easily this time of year (being Fall – I will say again). They are very soft and tender inside and have a wonderful crunchy cinnamon sugar crust over the top.

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It took no time at all to whip these up. Easy-peasy I say. And I can’t tell you how delightful it was to kick back with a hot cup of tea and an Apple Cinnamon Chip Scone, warm from the oven and slathered with butter. No better way to enjoy a crisp FALL day!

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Fresh Apple Cinnamon Chip Scones

  • Servings: 12 large scones
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

For the Scones:

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) cold butter
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh apple, in 1/2″ pieces (about half a medium apple); leave the skin on, if you like
  • 3/4 cup cinnamon chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened preferred

For the Topping:

  • 3 Tablespoons coarse white sparkling sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and spices. 

Work in the butter just until the mixture is unevenly crumbly; it’s OK for some larger chunks of butter to remain unincorporated. 

Stir in the chopped apple and cinnamon chips.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and applesauce. 

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until all is moistened and holds together.

Line a baking sheet with parchment; if you don’t have parchment, just use it without greasing it. Sprinkle a bit of flour atop the parchment or pan. 

Scrape the dough onto the floured parchment or pan, and divide it in half. Gently pat and round each half into a 5″ to 5 1/2″ circle about 3/4″ thick.

To make the topping: Stir together the coarse sugar and cinnamon. Brush each circle with milk, and sprinkle with the topping.

Using a knife or bench knife that you’ve run under cold water, slice each circle into 6 wedges. 

Carefully pull the wedges away from the center to separate them just a bit; there should be about 1/2″ space between them, at their outer edges.

For best texture and highest rise, place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered. While the scones are chilling, preheat the oven to 425°F. (So don’t skip this step! Freeze those scones!! Time in the freezer will allow the gluten to relax which will result in a much more tender scone. And the butter will solidify which will make the scones flakier. All good things, so put them in the freezer and chill out with a cup of coffee or something for 30 minutes.)

Bake the scones for 18 to 22 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. When you pull one away from the others, it should look baked all the way through; the edge shouldn’t look wet or unbaked. 

Remove the scones from the oven, and cool briefly on the pan. Serve warm. When they’re completely cool, wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to several days.

Enjoy!

Apple Cinnamon Chip Scones brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Useful Links for Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Apple Cinnamon Chip Scones:

Cinnamon Chips – I used these from King Arthur Flour, but you can also get them on Amazon.


Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread & Rolls

November 18, 2016

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Now here is one lovely recipe to add to your Fall baking repertoire – Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread and/or Cinnamon Apple Rolls. You will love how scrumptious your house smells when it is filled with the cozy, comforting aroma of cinnamon and apples. But you know what you’ll really love? How delicious this soft, tender and sweet bread tastes. I’ll consider you pretty dang accomplished if you can keep from eating it all in one sitting!

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I know you might be thinking that this bread looks a bit complicated. But don’t fear. It is actually pretty easy to make. I used to be awfully intimidated by any recipe that called for yeast. Now I don’t even give it a second thought. It really isn’t that hard and the results for your efforts are so worth it. So to make this bread have such a lovely swirled appearance, you simply roll your filled dough up as though you were making a jelly roll or cinnamon buns.

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Then rather than cutting the individual rolls, you cut the roll in half lengthwise and twist the two pieces together. Now I will admit, the filling does leak out a bit, but don’t freak out, there is still plenty of filling left inside. The day is not lost. I will say that the original recipe called for a King Arthur Flour product called Clear Jel (link provided below). Apparently this powder thickens fillings and sauces without giving them a starchy taste. I didn’t have any on hand, though will be getting some in my next King Arthur Flour shipment, so I used flour as the thickener for this batch. Since I already know I will be making this amazing bread again, I’ll try that Clear Jel out next time.

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This recipe is pretty versatile too in that you can make either two loaves of twisted bread, two pans of apple cinnamon rolls or one loaf of twisted bread and one pan of rolls. So if you are really anxious about trying the twisty bread, make the rolls. They are pretty easy-peasy.

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Your family will be thrilled with this delicious Fall treat! And don’t forget, Thanksgiving is right around the corner. How amazing would it be to wake up with that turkey hang-over the day after and have a batch of this Cinnamon Apple Bread waiting for you? Just saying…

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Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread & Rolls

  • Servings: 2 loaves of twist bread or 16 to 18 rolls or 1 loaf and 8 - 9 rolls
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

For the Dough:

  • 3 1/4 cups Pastry Flour Blend or All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup potato flour OR 1/2 cup dried potato flakes
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup room-temperature or lukewarm milk

For the Filling:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup peeled, grated apple (1 to 2 large apples)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

For the Glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 tablespoon boiled cider (if you don’t have boiled cider, just use 2 tablespoons heavy cream. The boiled cider just bumps up the apple flavor. There is a link below to where you can buy it.)

Directions:

To make the dough: Whisk together all of the dry ingredients , then add the butter, flavor, egg, and milk, mixing until a shaggy dough forms. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes; this resting period allows the flour to absorb the liquid fully, making it easier to knead.

Knead the dough for about 10 minutes; it should feel slightly sticky and soft. Add a couple of tablespoons of water if the dough feels firm or dry. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover the bowl, and let the dough rise until it’s almost doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The amount of time this takes will depend on the temperature of your kitchen; yeast works the fastest at about 85°F, but we prefer the flavor the bread gets from a longer, cooler (about 70°F) rise.

To make the filling: While the dough is rising, make the filling. Whisk together the sugar, ClearJel, and cinnamon. (If you substitute flour for the ClearJel, the filling will be runny at first, but will firm up when baked.)

Toss the grated apple with the lemon juice, then add that to the ClearJel and sugar mixture. Mix well, and set aside.

To assemble the loaf: Gently deflate the risen dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured or greased work surface. Fold it over once or twice to remove the excess gas. Divide the dough in half. Roll the first half into a 10″ x 12″ rectangle. Spread half the filling over the rolled-out dough, leaving a 1/2″ margin clear of filling along all sides.

Starting with a long side, roll the dough into a log, taking care to pinch the edges closed as you are rolling. This will help keep the filling from leaking out. Finish your roll with the seam on top, rather than underneath of the roll and then seal that edge. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut the log in half lengthwise. Place the half-logs, filled side up, side by side on a well-greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Keeping the filling side up, twist or “braid” the two logs together, working from the center to each end. Pinch the ends together. Repeat with the second piece of dough. Cover the twists lightly, and set them aside to rise for 1 to 2 hours.

To make rolls: Follow the directions above to the point where you’ve rolled the dough into a log. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough, then cut each log into 1″ slices. Some folks recommend a sharp knife or a pizza cutter to cut the rolls. I prefer using a strand of unflavored dental floss. Place the slices cut side up in well-greased or parchment-lined pans, placing them close together (though not touching) for soft-sided rolls, or about 2 inches apart for crustier rolls. Allow the rolls to rise until they’re puffy. 

To bake the bread: Bake the loaves in a preheated 350°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes (or the rolls for 18 to 20 minutes), until they’re lightly browned. Check the loaves after 20 minutes and tent with aluminum foil if they’re browning too quickly around the edges. Remove the bread from the oven and allow it to cool for about 1 hour before glazing and serving.

To make the glaze: Mix together all of the glaze ingredients. Drizzle over the loaves or rolls once they’re cool.

Enjoy!

Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread and Rolls brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links to Useful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread & Rolls:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Cuisinart Pro-Classic Food Processor

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

SAF Instant Yeast

Clear-Jel

Boiled Cider


Fireball Cider Cocktail

October 31, 2016

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Happy Halloween ya’ll! I’m sitting here with cocktail in hand and candy at the ready! I thought you might also like to enjoy a lovely cocktail that is just bursting with Fall/Halloween flavors – The Fireball Cider Cocktail.

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It is made with Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey and hard apple cider with a few slices of apples thrown in cuz you want to make sure you’re eating healthy and all… It is delicious and packs quite a punch! You can serve it over ice or if it is going to be a really chilly Halloween where you are, this cocktail also tastes great when served warm. You know…think mulled wine…’cept better, with a fiery cinnamon punch to delight the taste buds. Have one or two (or so…) of these tipples to keep you warm on your wanders. Happy Hauntings!

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Fireball Cider Cocktail

  • Servings: one cocktail
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: What’s Cooking America

Ingredients:

  • Ice Cubes (approximately 4 or 5 ice cubes)
  • 2 ounces Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey
  • 3 ounces hard apple cider
  • Apple slices

Directions:

Fill a glass (highball glass or white wine glass) 1/4 full with ice cubes.  You want to chill the drink and not water it down.  Pour in the Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey and then top with the apple cider. (If you chose to enjoy this drink warm, heat the cider and just before you are ready to serve, stir in the Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey. If you heat the whiskey too long you risk evaporating all of that lovely alcohol…)

Gently stir until mixed.  Garnish with apple slices.

Enjoy & Happy Halloween!

Fireball Cider Cocktails brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)


Upside Down Caramel Apple Cake with Whiskey Whipped Cream

March 9, 2015

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Upside Down Caramel Apple Cake with Whiskey Whipped Cream?!! Now that’s what I’m talking about! I LOVE apples, absolutely one of my favourite fruits who doesn’t love Caramel much less whiskey? This is a perfect St. Patrick’s Day dessert. After all there is a legend that St. Patrick himself planted an apple tree just outside of Armagh city.

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Apparently I am not the only one who was wild about this dessert. I have actually been calling it “Gimlet’s Fall from Grace” around the house. Our pup, Gimlet, is usually very well behaved. He “never” eats food off of the table or even coffee table. It wasn’t too long after I bragged just that about him that I was taking pictures of this cake. Luckily I had pretty much finished with the photo shoot when I was suddenly summoned to come outside. When I returned I was met at the door by a very guilty looking puppy. When I raised my gaze over to the coffee table where I take most of my photos, what did I see but my beautiful Upside Down Caramel Apple Cake with a big old chomp taken right out of it! What the what! This dog never messes up!  We have left cheese and crackers and sausage on that table over night and he didn’t even give it a second look. Well…I guess that isn’t entirely true. He did succumb to temptation once before. Yup….that time it was a Banana Rum Muffin that did him in. Well, I assure you I tried to be all stern and outraged, telling him what a BAD dog he was, but I have to admit, it was pretty amusing.

How could you be mad at this adorable little face?

How could you be mad at this adorable little face?

And I think a great testimony to how irresistible this Upside Down Caramel Apple Cake truly is.

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I must admit, when I turned that cake over onto the serving platter and saw that rush of molten, gooey caramel pouring down over the cake, I found it a bit difficult to contain myself as well. My first urge was to just take a big old bite right out of the side of it. So I guess I’ll have to give poor Gimlet a break…afterall, he’s only human…

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Upside Down Caramel Apple Cake with Whiskey Whipped Cream

  • Servings: 10 -12 slices
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe inspired by: epicurean

Ingredients:

For the Caramel:

  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 8 oz. heavy whipping cream, divided

For the Cake:

  • 2 apples – one sliced into thin wedges, one chopped into 1/2″ – 1″ cubes.
  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon superfine sugar (caster sugar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons milk

Whiskey Whipped Cream:

  • Remaining whipped cream
  • 2 Tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Irish Whiskey
  • Caramel Sauce for Drizzle (can use store bought or if you are feeling industrious, whip up a batch of my Perfect Salted Caramel Sauce.)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9 inch round cake pan and set aside.

In small sauce pan over low heat, combine brown sugar, butter and 2 Tablespoons of the whipping cream. Cook and stir until the butter and sugar are melted. Pour caramel into the bottom of the prepared 9″ cake pan. Arrange apple slices in concentric circles on top of caramel. Set aside.

Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in bowl. Whisk together. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine butter and superfine sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time, mixing until egg is fully incorporated before adding the next.

Fold in 1/2 the flour mixture, mixing only until just combined. Then add the other 1/2 of the flour mixture and milk. Gently fold in the cubed apple.

Carefully spoon the batter over the caramel/apple mixture in the 9″ cake pan. Bake for 40 -50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Cool for 2 -3 minutes on a wire rack and then carefully invert the cake onto a serving plate.

Just prior to serving, beat the remaining whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and whiskey. Beat until stiff peak form. Dollop over cake slices as they are served.

Enjoy!

Upside Down Caramel Apple Cake with Whiskey Whipped Cream brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)


Cider-Brined Pork Chops with Sauteed Apples

March 5, 2015

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You might be wondering what makes Cider-Brined Pork Chops with Sautéed Apples a particularly Irish recipe. I suppose I would be hard-pressed to show an Irish provenance for it were someone to require it. What I can say is that all of the ingredients used in this dish are abundant in Ireland and have been part of the cuisine there for thousands of years. Indeed there is archaeological evidence which indicates that apples have been grown there for over 5000 years and cider making stretches back at least 2000 years if not more. We also know that wild boar was being consumed in Ireland as far back as 7000 BC. So although I didn’t actually find this recipe in an Irish cookbook, I know it is the type of dish, made with fresh locally sourced ingredients, that you would be likely to encounter when visiting the country. And I’ve got to tell you, it is absolutely delicious!

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You see these pork chops have been brined overnight in cider based brine. A brine is similar to a marinade, but is able to really permeate the meat, and infuse it with flavour. It also works to tenderize the meat. And these pork chops would nearly melt in your mouth!

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The classic combination of pork and apples also delivers that savory sweet sensation that I love. This dish would be very welcome in Fall when apples are in season but would also make a very nice St. Patrick’s Day offering. Now that I’ve made it once, I get the feeling that the husband will do his best to keep it in frequent rotation.

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Cider-Brined Pork Chops with Sautéed Apples

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: The Corner Kitchen

Ingredients:

For the brine and pork:

  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 2 Tablespoons salt
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 pork chops, about 1 pound each
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil

For the apples:

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup apple cider
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme (can sub in 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)

For the pan sauce:

  • 1/4 cup apple cider
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Instructions:

For the brine:

In a medium bowl whisk together the apple cider, salt and brown sugar. Continue mixing until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved. Pour the brine in a large resealable plastic bag, along with the pork chops. Seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, though preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

For the Apples:

Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the apple and brown sugar and stir to coat. Cook until the apples begin to soften, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Pour in the wine and cook until mostly reduced. Stir in the apple cider, stock, thyme and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until the apples are very soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Set aside.

For the Pork Chops and pan sauce:

Remove the pork chops from the brine. Discard the liquid. Pat the meat dry and season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large cast iron, or oven safe skillet, over medium high heat. When the oil is very hot (you’ll notice ripples in the oil), but not yet smoking. Add the pork chops to the pan. Cook until there is a good sear and the meat is browned, 3 -5 minutes. Use tongs to flip the meat and cook for another 3 -5 minutes to sear the other side.

Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 10 – 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pork chops. The most accurate measure  of doneness is to test the temperature of the meat, which should be a 145°F. When the meat is completely cooked remove the pan from the oven and transfer the pork chops to a plate.

Add 1/4 cup apple cider and 3/4 cup of chicken stock to the same pan you used to cook the pork, and cook over high heat, scraping the bottom of the pan. Bring the liquid to a boil and cook until it’s reduced by at least half. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.

To serve, divide the pork chops between plates, top with apples and spoon the pan sauce over the meat.

Enjoy!

Cider-Brined Pork Chops with Sauteed Apples brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)


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