Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Baking Season

Winter is defined by spending time indoors and keeping warm. I can't think of a better way to spend these months than baking. I don't bake much year-round. But cold weather has me craving a proper dessert. December is all about baking and sharing your favorite Christmas cookies...but this month I'm baking other treats.
For New Year's dinner I baked a delicious blueberry pie from the frozen blueberries in the freezer. It's easy to bake with frozen berries. The trick is to NOT thaw them. Just 'pretend' that they're fresh and expect that the baking time is going to be significant longer...which you won't mind because the oven will keep you toasty.
Today I found myself with some extra free time after being sent home from work. I decided to make a dessert for dinner--apple crisp!
I wanted to do something special with the Mountain Rose apples from the CSA. This variety is pink on the inside and they say that the color holds with cooking.
I made the crisp in a clear dish so you could see the pink. I didn't have quite enough apples, so I added some other white-fleshed varieties, but primarily it was the Mountain Roses. I don't peel my apples. They are organic and the peels will add a little extra fiber to make the dessert "healthier".
I add a splash of apple brandy, a little sugar, and some cinnamon to the apples.
A good tip is whenever you make a crisp topping, make a double batch. Freeze half of it in a quart size ziploc. I was lucky this time and had a bag in the freezer, which I could just throw on top.
Dessert will be served after a lovely dinner of beet salad, sauteed greens and butternut squash soup tonight.
Crisp topping recipe:

1 2/3 cup oats
1/4 cup flour
6 T brown sugar
1 1/2 T white sugar
1/4 t salt
1/4 t cinnamon
1 1/2 sticks butter, cut into pieces

Mix the dry ingredients well. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until mixture comes together and is crumbly. Frozen will last ~2 months.
This recipe will work with any fruit. Add a little sugar to all and about a tablespoon of flour to juicy fruits before topping. Bake at 375 until golden brown and bubbling ~50 minutes.

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