Category: Recipes

My Mom’s Claim-to-Fame

When I was a kid, my mom baked…a.lot. She baked so much that I never wanted to bake. What was the point? There was no need, as far as I could tell. Plus, Mom had a way of turning “let’s bake together” time into “let’s use this recipe to work on your fractions by doubling it.” Ick. This is perhaps why I hated baking and fractions until my mid-twenties {actually, the jury’s still out on those damn fractions}. Trust me, the last thing I thought would become a passion in my life was baking. Are you kidding me? My younger doppelgänger  would be s-h-o-c-k-e-d at the state of my life today.

My mom had this pie she won an award for. Seriously, she entered it into our little New England newspaper and won first place. This was a pretty big deal for her. She will not let you forget it. She also does not appreciate any deviations in the recipe, so my apologies, Mom. I have a love/hate relationship with this bad boy; so much so that I only make it once a year, in the fall, usually for Thanksgiving or sometime close to it. On the one hand, it’s SOOOO good. It has a tender, flaky crust, and the apples walk that fine line between too firm and too mushy called just right. Plus, it’s huge; we’re talking pizza pan-sized, so it lasts longer than the average pie. Which brings me to the other hand: you want this pie to last longer than the average pie because, if you hate making crust {and I hate making crust}, this pie is sort of a pain the ass to make. That whole pizza pan thing means rolling out two big crusts. Again, ick.

But don’t let my complaining, adolescent-like attitude {don’t we all regress when we speak of our moms?} toward this pie pull you away from trying to make it. It’s worth every tear in the crust. Plus, for all the reasons above, it usually impresses the heck out of people! And isn’t that always a bonus?!

Flat Apple Pie

What? This will make a pie?

 

I have found I like to start with the filling and have it all ready to go. You’ll need:

  • 3 generous handfuls of corn flakes
  • 7 medium-sized Granny Smith apples
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • cinnamon
  • 3 tbs. butter, cut into small pieces

It’s best not to mix any of these together, just have them ready. If you really want making this pie to be the least-laborious it can be, using an apple peeler/corer/slicer is the way to go. I have one from L.L. Bean that my Grammy gave me. Teensy Fresh Scratch loves to do this part for me.

L.L Bean's Amazing Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer!

If you have a horse nearby, they go nuts over these cores and peels!  Also a fun thing to do with the kiddies!

Next, it’s time to get the crust ready. Get a big wooden board or a big counter space generously floured, get your apron on, and get out the rolling-pin. This is also the time to have your pizza pan ready. You’ll need:

  • 3 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 round cup of shortening
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • food processor

Sift the flour and salt into the food processor. Add the shortening and pulse.  After pea-sized pieces form, slowly pour in the milk while pulsing.  I learned from watching my Grammy {also a terrific pie-baker} that a moist dough really helps a lot. When it comes together pretty well, take it out and knead it in your hands a bit until it all comes together nicely in a big clump. Tear it in half and make two discs out of it. Throw one in a plastic bag and set aside while you roll out the bottom crust. I’ve done this plenty of times the old-fashioned way, flouring my rolling-pin and rolling away. But this often makes it hard to transfer to the pan without the rips.  I’ve had pretty good luck with rolling it out between two pieces of parchment paper and then peeling one layer off like a sticker, flipping it onto the pan, and then peeling off the other sheet. Whatever floats your boat and fits with your patience level; like I said, this is the part that finds me cursing like a sailor. Whichever method you go with, follow Martha’s advice of rolling in one direction, turning it a bit, rolling again, etc, until you have what resembles a circle. You’ll want it pretty thin in order to get it to fit the pan well {also what makes it prone to tearing}. Place it on the pie pan by rolling it up on your rolling-pin and unrolling it on the pan, or using the parchment method mentioned above.

Now it’s time to preheat the oven (375 degrees) and put the good stuff in there. Layer the corn flakes, leaving about an inch border, then the apple slices. Next, sprinkle evenly with the sugar. Finally, sprinkle generously with cinnamon and dot with butter.

Sprinkled with Cinnamon and Dotted with Butter

Roll out the top crust, place it on top of the filling, and fold the bottom crust over the top. This goes against one’s natural urge for it to look really pretty by tucking the top crust under the bottom of the pie, but you’ll enjoy not having a mess that catches fire in your oven {true story}. This is where it can get kind of fun, using leaf cookie cutters on the crust or getting fancy somehow. I like to cut the lines of a star into the center for steam vents. Brush one egg white all over the pie to seal it and get a nice brown color when it bakes {this step is not necessary, but for visual purposes only}. Pop it in for 45 minutes.

Mom's Flat Apple Pie: All done!

What you don’t see in the picture is the last step, performed after it’s cooled: the glaze. Mmm. This part is a must! Mix 1 c. powdered sugar with a tsp. vanilla and a smidge of milk, using a fork in a small bowl. You have to mix for a minute, but it will moisten, trust me. Use the fork to help drizzle it over the pie. It shouldn’t be watery. If it is, throw in some more powdered sugar.

Your house will smell heavenly, as will your hair {I do love that about baking}. Call some peeps over to admire your masterpiece, then cut a 5 inch circle in the middle, followed by cutting wedges from the edge of the circle to the outside. This way you’re left with a super yummy middle piece at the end with the circle. Best served with some high-quality vanilla ice cream or in a bowl with milk poured over it {try it!}.

Since I made some minor-to-me/major-to-my-mom changes, I kind of want so say “In your face!” to my mom right here, because I think I’ve improved on it. However, that would be really immature, and my mom would remind that this was a prize-winning pie before I tampered with it, blah…blah……blahty blah. 🙂

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies Ready for the Oven

…I told you I’d get back to you on my resolutions.  They. are. too. many.  Oh, my.  The last few years, I’ve kept it simple so I can have an accomplish-able goal.  Always bring my own bags shopping, stuff like that.  Not this year.  I am too ambitious lately.  This year I am the stereotypical New Year’s Resolution Poster Child for Potential Failure: brush teeth each night.  wear retainer each night (the thing’s only seen my mouth like 7 times in as many years). have a craft ready for each week to do with my kids (ha!). only one chocolate item a day.  only one dessert a day.  blah. blah. blah.  The fun one, though, that I’ll bet I keep: take my loved ones out for a drink at their birthday as my gift.  The gift of time and imbibing something delicious.  My gift to you soon if you are one of my loved ones!

But here is my gift to you, whether you are a loved one or not: My best-selling baked good recipe, all for your very own.

We love peanut butter chocolate chip cookies around the Fresh Scratch household!  All of us, that is, but Teensy-Weensy Fresh Scratch.  She’s too little for peanuts yet.  She managed to get into some peanut Christmas candy last week, but that’s another story….

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Ingredients
With a little magic….

This is verrry loosely adapted from my peeps at “Everyday Food” magazine, fyi.  Makes 3 dozen, which may not be enough for you, depending on your love of pb and chocolate ;).

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1. First, to make this smooth for you, do what I do and put on an apron, throw on some “eat, pray, love” soundtrack, and assemble your ingredients, as pictured above:

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 c. peanut butter

4 tbs. butter, room temp. (this temp. thing really is important!)

1 c. loosely packed brown sugar (I hate taking the time to tamp them down, so I adjust…)

1/2 c. sugar

2 eggs (props to my niece who is my egg supplier! Word up, Lexi’s Farm Fresh Eggs!)

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla (use the most expensive you can afford)

1 c. your fave chocolate chips, chunks, whatever

 

2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Put racks in the upper and lower thirds so you can save time by baking two sheets at a time.  In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and baking soda.  With your mixer and a bigger bowl, cream peanut butter, butter, and sugars until fluffy and light in color.  Plop in your eggs and the vanilla and mix until smooth.  Switch your mixer to low to avoid a major dust cloud (do people get lung problems from inhaling flour?  I wonder.), then slowly shake in your flour mixture.  When it’s just combined, dump in the chocolate.  If you have a Kitchen Aid mixer or another type that locks, do it now so it can power through the heavy mixing.

 

 

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Mmmm.

3.  I like to line three baking sheets with Silpat sheets or parchment at this point.  I’m not a stickler on cookie sheets. Although, I have noticed stone ware pans tend to take longer and make cookies puffier, and my old trusty one that is blackened cooks them faster.  Anyway, if you want them to look pro, use a tablespoon-sized scooper and drop them on the sheets in a 3×4 grid.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies Ready for the Oven
ready for the oven

Bake them for 7 minutes, then switch the top one to the bottom and vice-versa.  Bake for 7 more minutes.  These make 3 dozen, so your third pan will be a lone ranger in the oven.  Put a rack in the middle for him. Bake him for 14 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack to cool.  These are crisp outside, soft and chewy and melty inside. 

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies: All Done
A little blurry, but you can still scratch and sniff!

 

 Enjoy.  Mwah!