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French Apple Tart

French Apple Tart
I can’t think of a better recipe than an apple tart to use the apples we picked at the orchard, the tart is simple, yet delicious and full of apples. I adapted this recipe from my mom’s classic French apple tart, she uses a pate brisee which I replaced with tender cookie dough type crust and used agave nectar to sweeten it. This tart is the perfect dessert to serve after dinner or an afternoon tea. The tart has a barely sweet crust that is covered with thick home made apple sauce and topped with apple slices tossed in butter and agave. I used ginger gold apples for both the apple sauce and for the topping, they are very sweet and have a great apple flavour, if you are using a tart apple variety or prefer a sweeter tart, you can add a few tablespoons of sugar to the applesauce, I would highly recommend tasting the apple sauce first.

  • 1 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar or honey
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • Apple sauce (1 2/3 cup)
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar
  • 2-3 medium apples
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and light, add the egg yolk, mix in the flour until the dough forms a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for about half an hour. Roll the dough into about a ¼ inch thick and place into tartlet pans or a 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes, dock with a fork and bake until golden. Remove and let it cool. Bake the tart shell for 12-15 minutes, until the dough looks dry and barely takes on a colour.

French Apple Tart

Meanwhile make the apple sauce according to the instructions here, the applesauce should be fairly thick, so, a store bought apple sauce would be too runny for this. If the apple sauce looks too runny, cook stirring frequently until it thickens enough to look almost spreadable.

Peel and halve the apples, remove the seeds with a melon baller and cut into very thin slices, toss the apples with the agave nectar and melted butter.

French Apple Tart

Preheat the oven to 400F. To assemble the tart, pour the apple sauce into the tart shell, arrange the apple pieces like a rosace pattern and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the apples are slightly golden around the edges. Let the tart cool for 20 minutes and serve while still warm.

French Apple Tart

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Gluten free Almond and Pear Cake

Gluten free Almond and Pear Cake

This cake is so moist; it’s also flavourful and aromatic. The almonds, pear and the vanilla work so well together. It also happens to be gluten free, there is very little gluten free flour and the ground almonds give the cake a very tender and delicate crumb. I used a gluten free flour mixture from a package but I am trying different mixes, hopefully I’ll be able to post a recipe for home made gluten free flour mixture soon, meanwhile this cake is really good!

  • 6 tbsp butter plus more to grease the pan
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean or ½ tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup Greek style thick yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 ½ cup almond flour
  • ½ cup gluten free flour mix or all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp gluten free baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 large pear, peeled and diced (about a cup)

Preheat the oven to 325F, butter and flour a loaf pan, set aside. In a bowl, combine the ground almonds with gluten free or all purpose flour, baking powder and baking soda.

Cream butter, sugar and the seeds of half a vanilla bean until light and pale, add the eggs one at a time, combining well, mix in the yogurt or sour cream, add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined, fold in the pear with a spatula and transfer the batter to the loaf pan, bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven; let the cake cool in the pan for at least 10-15 minutes. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Gluten free Almond and Pear Cake

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Sourdough Pumpkin Cake

Sourdough Pumpkin Cake

I love baking bread and sourdough breads are definitely my favourite. I take good care of my sourdough starter and since I bake on a very regular basis, I rarely forget to feed it but life with a baby requires attention to so many different things at the same time that I sometimes find myself pulled in every direction. I realized I had not fed my starter for almost a week when I came across this cake here and made it right away before feeding the levain!

I didn’t have pumpkin at home that day, so I substituted roasted, pureed butternut squash instead, then I made it twice with pureed pumpkin and the result is always a moist, tender and flavourful cake that is extremely easy to put together, provided that you have a sourdough starter. The cake takes no time at all to put together and the clean up is minimal as all the ingredients are mixed in one bowl. The original recipe calls for about a cup of sugar, the first time I made it, I used a cup, then reduced a little more and everyone who tried it agreed that ¾ cup was enough. If you have a sweet tooth, increase the sugar to 1 cup or even 1 ¼ cup.

  • 1 cup sourdough starter at room temperature, not fed
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup oil
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • ¼ tsp all spice
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • Icing sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325F, grease and flour a bundt cake pan, set aside.

Place the sourdough starter, pumpkin, egg, oil and buttermilk in a large bowl, mix to combine; add the dry ingredients directly into the bowl and mix until just combined.

Sourdough Pumpkin Cake

Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for about 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven, let cool for 20 minutes and transfer to a platter. Dust with a little powdered sugar and serve while still warm or at room temperature.

Sourdough Pumpkin Cake

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Eggplant in Oil

Eggplant in Oil

I probably have more eggplant recipes than all other vegetables combined and yet I still find myself trying new ones every summer. I have seen versions of this recipe in so many places that I really thought I should try it. I made this recipe three weeks ago but did not want to share it until we tasted and liked it.

While the steps seem long and complicated, the recipe is really quite simple and the active preparation time is minimal compared to the amount of time it takes from slicing the eggplant to actually eating it.

The eggplants are cooked twice in this recipe, first by degorging in salt then boiling for just a few minutes in a vinegar and water mixture. Eggplants are made of about 95 percent water, so, by degorging in salt, most of the liquid is removed, then some of that liquid is replaced with the vinegar when it’s boiled, it is then left to dry.  Once the slices are almost dry, they are packed in a jar with garlic, fresh herbs and oil.

We were really pleased with the result and we will definitely be making it next summer…

  • 3-4 eggplants
  • Coarse salt
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • Fresh thyme or other fresh herbs
  • Garlic

Wash and trim the eggplants, cut into ¼-1/8 inch slices. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle heavily with salt as you layer the eggplant slices in the bowl. Once all the eggplants are in the bowl, put a plate on top and weigh it down with another bowl. Let the eggplants stand at room temperature for at least 12 hours. At this point, the bowl will be filled with the dark liquid released by the eggplants.

Eggplant in Oil

Eggplant in Oil

Drain and rinse the eggplant slices under cold running water, put in a colander. In a medium saucepan, heat the vinegar with a cup of water, bring it to a boil and start cooking the eggplant slices for 4-5 minutes in the vinegar mixture, don’t fill the saucepan with eggplant, boil about 10-12 slices at a time.

Eggplant in Oil

Put the boiled eggplant slices in a colander and squeeze between your hands to remove as much liquid as possible. Line trays with tea towels or paper towels, arrange the eggplant slices and let them dry for 12-15 hours indoors or sun dry them for 3-4 hours.

To store the eggplants, wash glass jars and lids with soapy hot water (you can also boil them), put the eggplant slices tightly in the jars, place garlic cloves and herbs between the layers, pour olive oil to fill the jar completely, cover with a lid and store in a cool, dark place or refrigerate for at least 2 weeks before using.

Eggplant in Oil

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Plum Brioche Cake

Plum Cake

I came across this post right after we bought a basket of plums at the orchard; it looked so good, just like all the other recipes on that blog. It was just the perfect thing to do with plums after enjoying many, many of them fresh. The recipe is very simple and so good! And like any brioche type enriched dough, it’s extremely easy to work with. The recipe below makes 1 thick or 2 thin cakes, I used half of the dough and the resulting cake was thick with a wonderfully moist crumb.

Plum Cake

  • 2 tbsp warm milk
  • 1 ½ tsp instant yeast
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 7 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 lb. plums
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, yeast, sugar and salt, in another bowl, lightly whisk 3 eggs, add vanilla and milk. Pour the wet mixture into the flour along with the softened butter and mix until a dough forms. Remove the dough and knead on a floured counter for about 5 minutes, the dough should now look smooth and shiny. Place the dough in a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it stand at room temperature for about an hour.

Butter a 10 inch pie plate, halve and pit the plums, toss them with vanilla sugar and set them aside. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface, if making a thin cake, use only half and refrigerate or freeze the other half. Fit the rolled into the pie plate, creating an edge just like a regular pie, brush with the egg wash, arrange the plums over the dough and gently press them. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6-8 hours, the dough will have risen significantly by this point.

Plum Cake

Remove the cake from the fridge, let it stand on the counter while you preheat the oven to 410F, bake for about 25 minutes or until the plums are cooked and the brioche part of the cake is golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Plum Cake

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