Warm Stomach Hugs and Dessert for Breakfast

Don't you feel healthier just looking at this

A rather healthy recipe for this blog. Let’s discuss how this came to be.

  1. Christmas + trip to Thailand + Chinese New Year in quick succession = constant, consistant overeating since mid December. Yeah right, I’m not the type to diet. But I am the type to eat lots and lots of heavy tasty healthy things to prevent myself from eating cookies / cake.
  2. I have been working from home for the last month and working at home means that I take a trip to the fridge every hour. At least. Last week I restless-ate a whole box of cereal in 3 days. Granted, it was Special K (with berries!) so supposedly “healthy” but seriously, have you ever looked at the sugar content in that stuff? Also, polishing off 2 boxes of cereal per week is a rather expensive habit. That’s by calculation, FYI. I didn’t actually eat 2 boxes of cereal.

This necessitated the creation of a heavy and hearty (yet still tasty) breakfast to keep me super duper full, that doesn’t cost loads. I also need to be able to munch on it throughout the day without getting bored and switching to cereal / gingerbread / chocolate chip cookies.

On a side note, how is anyone able to keep such a large stash of biscuits in the house uneaten for so long??? Bigfoot will soon learn of my biscuit-munching ways, to his peril.

I never knew the difference a good peeler made

Enter baked oatmeal.

My house smelled amazing for the one hour this was in the toaster oven. Yes, I just moved house, and haven’t figured out how to work the proper oven yet. No cakes from me for a bit.

*hugs*

It's what's on the inside that counts

No beauty queen, I’ll admit. I should have covered it with foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

But, it tastes like an apple pie and feels like a big warm hug to the stomach.

Dessert for breakfast and warm stomach hugs, what more do you need to ease yourself into the cruel early light of each morning?

Update: I’ve already eaten 1/8 of this over the course of the evening… suffice to say it is super filling, I’m truly stuffed.

Baked Oatmeal with Apples and Raisins

Inspired by the recipes of Brown Eyed Baker, Eat-Yourself-Skinny, and Chocolate Covered Katie. I didn’t follow any of their recipes, mine is a much-streamlined version of theirs. But they gave me the right idea. 

2 cups rolled oats
2 cups milk
2.5 tablesp brown sugar
1 egg
3 red apples, diced – can be substituted for pretty much any fruit, except super watery ones
1/2 cup raisins – or nuts, or other types of dried fruit, or chocolate chips….endless possibilities
1/2 teasp baking soda

  1. Mix everything up in a big bowl.
  2. I baked mine in the toaster oven: 200 degrees C for around an hour (mine took an hour + 5 minutes). Cover with foil for the last 10 minutes or so once the desired charred-ness is achieved.

Reheat for a couple of minutes in the toaster oven at 200 degrees C to crisp up before eating.

A note on toaster ovens: apparently, toaster ovens lose heat faster than normal ovens so when making this in a regular oven, try 190 degrees C for 45 minutes to start with. Will test and update when I get the oven working!

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Tiny Tasty People

Apart from ginger flavoured baked products, my other favourite thing about Christmas is that it is socially acceptable to eat tiny baked people.

I feel that eating such people head first is the kindest way, because it ensures a clean and quick end to their misery, and is also the weakest point of the biscuit.

Squishy sogginess It was too squishy to make into a single ball

Given how I feel about this, you’d think I would be the first to blog about the spiciest gingerbread (people) biscuits, but the fact is that I haven’t yet found a homemade gingerbread biscuit that I liked. I enjoy eating gingerbread biscuits that other people have made, but if I’m going to make them myself, I want something really dark and spicy. And crisp, not cakey or chewy. So, in lieu of gingerbread people, I get my eating-tiny-people fix from other other baked goods.

But. As with all baked goods requiring the use of cutters, mince pies are a pain in the behind.

Yes that's a koala. My bookmark. Yes, that's the hobbit. I'm going to watch the movie this weekend (in 3d!)

First you mix up the crust dough, then you chill it. Then you take it out and roll it a bit. It refuses to cooperate and sticks to the table because you used too little flour on the surface and it’s warm outside. You put it back in the fridge. Repeat this about 6 to 8 times, and you will feel how I feel about making biscuit cutter snacks.

I think it’s something about Christmas, I magically forget every year what complete bullocks these types of foods are to make and how they take 3 hours or more and how I get so sweaty and angry that I very seriously consider feeding the remainder of the raw dough to my dog (try not to do that, it might not be good for dogs depending on what you’ve made).

These are the standard (larger) pies

I suspect it’s because I usually freeze my mince pies after baking them earlier in December, so by the time I get to eat them on Christmas day, I have forgotten how much the process of making them irritated me.

Pretending to be an angry cannibal, ginger spice, and Christmas. Some things in life just go together.

And these are the mini pies. Meet the Fat Man and Spooky Lady

Christmas Mince Pies

Crust adapted from the Patchwork Apple Pie recipe (doubled).

2 jars of mince pie filling – I used Robertsons, vegetarian and alcohol free
1 small red apple – the addition of apples is my way of bulking up the mince pie filling
1 small green apple

500g flour – I used gluten free
100g sugar
Zest of 2 lemons
Pinch of salt
250g butter – cold and cubed
2 large eggs

Extra flour for rolling
Egg wash – an egg beaten with a little milk
Copious amounts of patience
A cup of tea – to prolong aforementioned patience

Oven temperature: 180 degrees C, for half an hour
Yield: 36 mince pies – I had 24 large and 12 slightly smaller pies, as well as a little family of shortcrust people

  1. Sift together flour, sugar, and salt. Stir in the lemon zest.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the butter cubes and flour mixture until the texture of the mixture looks like sand.
  3. Turn out into a bowl. Directly crack in the 2 eggs, and use your hands to get everything to stick together. You have to keep going for a quite a bit, I realise last time I probably stopped a bit early which is why my dough never came together.
  4. Cover dough and put it in the fridge to firm up.
  5. Peel and core your apples. Cut them into 8ths, then slice those 8ths into thin strips. Mix into the mince pie filling in a big bowl.
  6. Flour a surface and roll out your dough. You need quite a lot of flour because it’s a bit sticky, watch out!
  7. Use a round biscuit cutter / your mother’s fancy dinner party wine glass to cut out rounds. Put each into a hole in a greased cupcake tray and press in.
  8. Spoon in a little mince pie filling / apple mixture.
  9. Use a fun cutter to cut out the pie cover, and carefully place it on top of the filling. It doesn’t need to touch the sides of the pie, or be crimped or anything complicated. I used stars, hearts, trees, fat men, and spooky ladies. I have squirrel and snail cutters somewhere too but I couldn’t find them.
  10. Dab with egg wash, and stick it in the oven for half an hour.
  11. Cool in the cupcake tray.

Notes: freezes well in an airtight box layered with baking paper.

Happy unsuspecting pastry family

Patchwork Apple Pie

Egg wash covers a multitude of sins, and when you’re down to your last egg and making your mum’s birthday pie, forgo tomorrow’s breakfast and just use it on the pie.

Naked apples

Especially if said pie was set to be named disaster-pie rather than patchwork-pie, because for some reason, you didn’t figure out how to roll out the pastry properly. And it wouldn’t go hard, even in the freezer. Tasted good raw though.

You can't see how I wrestled with the crust - I won!

Despite my fiddling, the pie filling turned out really very well – just a little tart. I like it best that way, though other sweet teeth (sweet tooths? No, I think sweet teeth is better) were slightly less than impressed. Too bad, if you want more it sweeter, make your own pie *blows raspberries*

Patchwork pie!

We ate it with cream, and custard (those were the options, not both at the same time).

See what I mean about covering up imperfections?

Patchwork Apple Pie 

Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s apple pie, I changed the filling a bit. On a side note, I don’t usually make a lot of Jamie Oliver’s recipes as I’ve always found them rather complicated, but this one is great – he provides step by step instructions, with pictures. I’d totally recommend heading over to his website for that (I recorded it here to capture my minor changes to the filling).

Pastry

250g flour – gluten free works fine here
50g sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
125g cold butter, cubed
1 large egg
A little milk, if needed

  1. Pulse flour, sugar, zest, and butter together in a food processor. Keep going until it looks like sand.
  2. Add the egg, and a little milk if the dough doesn’t come together when you mix further. You may or may not need the milk, depending on the size of the egg.
  3. Put the dough in the fridge for a bit while you make the filling.

Filling

3 green apples – I used granny smith, they were quite small
4 red apples – I used pink lady/braeburn (I think?), again quite small
3 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablesp black treacle – molasses would work too
1/2 teasp ground ginger
1/2 teasp cinnamon
Zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
A handful of raisins – I used close to half a cup

  1. Peel, core, and slice the apples. I cut mine into 1/8th segments.
  2. Put the apples and all other ingredients in a pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the apples just start to soften.
  3. Set aside to cool while you sort out the pastry.

Assembly

1 egg, beaten
Butter for greasing
Flour for rolling

Oven temperature: 180 degrees C

  1. Flour a work surface. Take half the dough out the fridge, and roll it out. Carefully lift the dough into the bottom of a (buttered) pie plate. If you’re useless like me, and use slightly soft butter, you may need to dump it directly into the pie plate and press it out until the dough covers the bottom and sides of the plate.
  2. In go the apples – don’t just drop them in though, you will get holes in your crust. Be gentle!
  3. Take the other half of the dough out the fridge, and roll it out on the floured surface. Try to get it large enough to cover the pie. Lift it on top of the pie. Try not to break it. I didn’t manage this…so I made little coin shaped flat bits with my fingers and tried to get them all to stick together over the apples, like a jigsaw puzzle. As you can see, it works relatively decently. “Rustic”, I believe it is called.
  4. Brush on the beaten egg. If you managed to place your pastry on top of the pie in a single piece, cut a couple of holes in the centre of it so the steam can escape. I did not need to do this.
  5. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the pastry is brown and firm.

Happy Mother’s Pie

A bit of a belated post – I suppose you can now see approximately how much lag time I have between cooking and posting, my patient reader.

And a belated happy mother’s day. For mother’s day, my mum requested an apple pie.

I guess given how much nonsense I pull sometimes, my long suffering mother definitely deserves apple pies on mother’s day.

Check out the "creative" lattice work

Surprised as me? It actually looks relatively presentable. I was not expecting that. My poor mother, I make pies “for her” but they’re actually experiments. Could have gone horribly wrong (don’t stare too hard at the crust, you’ll suddenly notice it isn’t latticed properly and one of your eyes will start to twitch).

The crust on this pie has a hint of cheddar, and I amped up the spices loads compared to the original recipe. I was also too lazy to pre-cook the apples and it turned out fine. You know me by now.

A note on the forgiving nature of pies: I forgot to put about half the butter in the crust; it still tasted nice and crisp with a slight cheddar sharpness. I do apologise my dear apple pie. I’m sure you will be way more awesome when the total amount of butter is added. Things can only get better! 🙂

Apple Pie with a Cheddar Crust

Adapted from Poh’s Kitchen, butter forgotten, no food processor, and spice mix completely disregarded. If I can do it you can too!

Crust

2 ½ cups plain flour – I substituted a gluten-free flour
190g unsalted butter, coarsely grated from the freezer is easiest – I only used 100g…let’s try and forget this ever happened
170g sharp cheddar, coarsely grated
½ cup cold water
½ teasp salt

  1. Mix salt with flour
  2. Add grated butter (still cold!) and rub it into the flour with your fingertips (yes…I left my chopper in Melbourne. I miss him). You need to get a bread crumb-like texture.
  3. Rub the grated cheese into the flour. If it doesn’t rub in like the butter, it isn’t the end of the world (mine didn’t). Just make sure that all the cheese is relatively well distributed in the flour mixture.
  4. Add water…only a bit at a time. You only need enough water for the mixture to just hold its shape.
  5. Divide into half, smush into two balls and refrigerate in cling wrap for at least half an hour.
In the meantime, make the Apple Filling

800g of peeled and roughly chopped apples (about 8 or so). I used a mix of green and red. Pie tip: apparently the large red delicious apples aren’t good for pies because of their structure. Don’t quote me there, I haven’t tried it out!
1/3 cup plain flour – I substituted gluten-free flour
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablesp ground cinnamon – yes I do, I do like my spices
½ teasp ground ginger
½ teasp ground nutmeg
Probably nice with some raisins 🙂

  1. Peel and chop the apples. Put them in a big bowl
  2. Add flour, sugar, and spices. And raisins if you have them. 
  3. Mix mix!

Then, it’s time to get artistic! As you can see…I’m not. 
Build the pie!
Dish – I used a shallow 28cm diameter pie dish
Crust from the fridge
Chopped apple filling
50g unsalted butter, diced into little cubes
1 egg, lightly whisked (for glazing)
A little caster sugar for dusting the pastry

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
  2. Get the crust out of the fridge and let it soften up for about 10 minutes.
  3. Take half, roll out on a floured surface until about 3mm thick, or slightly thicker. Transfer into your pie dish as best you can without breaking it – I used a big spatula to try and pick the crust up. If it breaks, nobody will ever know. It’s not like they’re going to tip your pie upside down and inspect it. Just add more crust and squash it in the hole to fix it. Leave a bit of an overhang on the outside for crimping if you know how to do those fancy things. 
  4. Add the apples and shake them around until distributed relatively evenly. 
  5. Randomly put blobs of butter on top of the apples.
  6. Make the lattice! And crimp the edges! Clearly I don’t know how to do this. If it makes you feel any better, I simply cut strips and stuck then across the pie in a random order, perpendicular to each other across the pie. Then I squished the ends into the crust. If you want a proper tutorial I suggest you follow the link, I’m not at all qualified to teach you how to make a lattice or crimp anything at all 🙂 
  7. Throw it in the oven and bake at 200 degrees C for 15 minutes
  8. Remove, and brush on the eggwash. Sprinkle some sugar on the top. This is the big cheat, and how you make your pie look pretty even though the latticework all broke.
  9. Stick it back in the oven at 180 degrees C for 35 to 45 minutes. Mine was fine at 40 minutes. 
  10. Serve immediately! Don’t bother waiting for it to cool, why would you eat cold apple pie??? Add ice cream, or whipped cream, or vanilla yoghurt if you’re pretending to be healthy. Try not to burn your mouth.