Winter woes + delicious apple shortcake

Apple Blossom

Winter is not my favourite season when the weather is wet and cold but when the sky is blue, the air is crisp and the sun gently warms as it delivers a dose of Vitamin D, I can’t complain.  In fact, I get a little antsy sitting inside…… I need to be out in the garden with my fingers in the dirt.  The combination of pulling weeds to tidy the garden while enjoying the company of my chickens and cats is great therapy. I have baked and cooked a lot of apple recipes lately but we have gobbled them down before I thought to take any photo’s.  I am sure my family will not complain when I make them again so I can prepare some blog posts. The Mopp turned 18 and requested an apple pie for his birthday dinner.  I intended to make Chelsea Winter’s Apple Pie with Feijoa & Maple however it was a low day for me – winter woes and all that guff so I was looking for an alternative which seemed easier.  Miss M offered to help with dinner which kick-started my mojo a little.  A few minutes (yeah, right) of Pinterest and I was away.  The pictures of this Caramel Apple Crumble pie from Averie Cooks made me forget the easier route….. Apple Blossom

I dug a little more in the wide world of web and found many recipes for home-made apple filling.  I went with Taste and See God’s Goodness Homemade Apple Pie filling although I only made half the recipe so I could fit it into a regular sized pot and although I made two pies, I still had enough apple pie filling to put in the freezer so I am glad I didn’t go with the whole 18 apples.

We cheated a little in that we used some store-bought sweet short pastry instead of making our own.  Miss M was in charge of lining the tart tins.  I was in favour of making one large rectangular pie but Miss M dictated using the “proper” tart tins.  Oh well, she had to squish the pastry into all the fluted edges so I left her to it.

The result was an interesting pie not quite like anything I have ever tasted before.  It was delicious and easy to make and very well received by the now 18-year old Moppster. I enjoyed the pie cold for breakfast the next few mornings (two pies took quite a long time to eat) and I think the Mopp had caramel apple crumble pie for breakfast, morning tea and lunch for the whole week after his birthday (he was a very happy lad).

Would I make this pie again?  – Definitely – it makes a nice change from crumble, but it isn’t as full on as a pie.  I’d also like to try it with the recommended drizzle as I forgot about that bit by the time we sat down to eat.
Peach Buds
Another delicious & easy dessert recipe I have “discovered” is the shortcake.  One of the many recipes I wanted to try from Penny Oliver’s One-dish Dinners was her Peach & Blueberry Shortcake.  As peaches aren’t even a blossom on the tree as yet (they are budding up though, as you can see above in the photograph which includes a great deal of glorious blue sky!!), I decided apples would make a very worthy substitute.  So Apple and Blueberry Shortcake it was. The only other change I made to the recipe was to grate the topping dough instead of rolling it out (I took the lazy option).  Apple & Blueberry Shortcake cold for breakfast – oh yummmm.  The shortcake keeps extremely well in the fridge (I had made two thinking our dinner guests had bigger appetites than they did).  I have since adapted the recipe to make an Apple & Sour Cherry Chocolate Shortcake – this received rave reviews from my kids with Mr L saying it was simply the best dessert he had eaten in his entire life (all 14 1/2 years so far).  Stay tuned as I’ll share this recipe in the coming weeks.

….. and muffins (I do like my muffins).  I made Blueberry Bran Muffins from Alison Holst’s More Marvellous Muffins for the boys to take away on their boys-only trip to the race track. These are very very good blueberry muffins and you can find a copy of the recipe here.  The only changes I made to this recipe was to use rice bran oil instead of canola (my personal preference is to not use canola oil in anything) and I increased the blueberries to 200 g as you can’t go wrong with a few extra blueberries in a bran muffin.

I have since adapted this recipe to making Apple Bran Muffins by substituting the blueberries with diced apple (tinned) and using apple spice powder instead of ground cinnamon.  They are nice but not as good as the blueberry version.  I think the apples are a little “mild” and the muffins need twice the spice and perhaps some raisins to get them to jump up and say “eat me”.  That recipe is still in development and may get tweaked in the future but most likely will get discarded as I move on (as I do) – I found a recipe for Oat Bran Muffins on the back of the Sun Valley Oat Bran packet that looks like it could benefit with the addition of some apple.  Interestingly, there is a recipe for Oat Bran Muffins on the Sun Valley website that includes applesauce – but this is a different Oat Bran Muffin to the one on the back of the packet (quite different as the packet recipe includes orange zest and raisins).


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