Sunday Session #8: All-In-one Chocolate Cake

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Friends.

Today, I’m going to admit to y’all that I am a complete and utter fool for my husband and children. If I might…

This past Saturday, my husband told me that our dear friend Bernie had a birthday coming up. I was prepping something totally different for my Sunday Session at the time.

Bernie’s birthday was on Monday.

So of course I wanted to bake a cake for Bernie’s birthday. On Monday.

“What kind of cake does he like?” I asked. I got raised eyebrows and shrugged shoulders in response.

“What kind of cake would you like to take?” I tried, hoping for something more than raised eyebrows. I got the raised eyebrows and only the raised eyebrows.

“I’m just the delivery guy,” he finally responded.

I adore Bernie, so I decided to follow my spirit on this one. My spirit chose this double chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream, garnished with chocolate chips. I finished it 6:40 on Monday morning.

Want to see some techniques so that you can replicate them in your own kitchen? Let’s go!

Techniques Featured:

  • All-in-One Cake Technique
  • Crumb Coat Technique

In this Post:

The Setup

As usual, I began my baking session by gathering ingredients and prepping my mise en place. If you’re looking for immediate transformation from non-baker to baker, prep your mise en place first! You can read much more about it here, but the TL;DR version is that prepping your ingredients beforehand will make you a more confident, controlled baker in one shot.

Here’s my mise!

For this cake, I modified the technique in Ina Garten’s Beatty’s Chocolate Cake Recipe by omitting my stand mixer. I also opted for natural cocoa powder when I made this cake. The original, as written, is an exceptional cake and I highly recommend it for beginning bakers.

While the recipe doesn’t specify whether to use natural cocoa powder or Dutched cocoa powder, I used natural cocoa powder since there is more baking soda than baking powder in the recipe. Want to know the difference between baking powder and baking soda, and why I chose natural cocoa powder for this recipe? Take a look here!

Onto technique!

The All-in-One Technique

“All-in-one” is exactly as it sounds. For this technique, you whisk the combined wet ingredients from one bowl into the combined dry ingredients in another bowl and mix until combined. This technique usually makes a more dense, moist (I know) cake than the creaming method. But, with chocolate cake, dense and rich is it.

For more about the best bowls for a home bakers kitchen, and why I chose glass bowls for this chocolate cake, take a peek here!

The original recipe requires a mixer to get everything combined. But Family, one of my favorite things to do on Sunday morning is mix batters and doughs by hand when possible. The sweet repetition of kneading dough or the simple satisfaction of folding fruit into a muffin batter while I’m listening to Sam Cooke just feels good to me. So, a good all-in-one cake on Sunday makes my heart happy, whether it’s for a friend or my family’s Sunday dinner.

For this recipe, I used my whisk to thoroughly combine the dry ingredients in my biggest glass bowl. Then, in a medium-sized bowl, I thoroughly combined the buttermilk, eggs (you need extra large, or 112 grams of eggs for this recipe), and oil with the same whisk. I then added the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently stirred only until I couldn’t see any more streaks of dry ingredients.

Finally, I carefully added the hot coffee and stirred gently until it was just combined. You’ll know when it’s done because it will be a luscious, velvety brown.

Once the batter was done, I prepped two 8″ cake pans and divided the batter evenly, using my digital kitchen scale and a ladle. If you’d like to see how I prep my pans, take a look at this video at the :35 second mark.

The Bake

Once prepped, I popped the two cakes into into a 350° oven. I checked them at the 37-minute mark using an instant read thermometer, and let them bake for about three minutes more. Once they hit 210° in the center, they were ready!

After they were done, I let the cakes sit in their pans for about 30 minutes, and then inverted them onto cooling racks. For more on this technique, check out the “Three Tips for Amazing Cakes” video above at the 3:08 mark. In the meantime, here are the baked cakes, fresh from the oven.

The Crumb Coat

Beloveds, a crumb coat is a thin layer of buttercream that you add while building a cake. The purpose of a a crumb coat is two-fold:

  • Like the name suggests, a crumb coat catches any crumbs that might come loose when you’re frosting. If you want a finished frosting without bits of cake in it, then a crumb coat is key.
  • A crumb coat helps stabilize the structure of your cake (to a point…a thick three-tier still needs help). For normal cakes out of a normal home kitchen, kept at a normal room temperature, a crumb coat helps keep the cake level and prevents the cake layers from sliding around.

I wanted a clean buttercream on the cake, so I froze the cakes overnight and took them out first thing in the morning. When I’m not going to frost a cake right away, I wrap the cake layers in kitchen wrap, freezer paper, and freezer bags and then pop them into the freezer for anywhere from an hour to overnight.

These cakes stayed overnight because I WAS TIRED on Sunday evening and I didn’t want to commit an act of violence against them.

So, I woke up before the rooster on Monday and got right to it.

For a detailed explanation about how to crumb coat a cake, the “Three Tips for Amazing Cake” YouTube video at the 5:11 mark is GOLD. For the one-minute TL;DR version (with music!), take a look at this actual footage of me crumb coating this cake.

Sound on if you want to shimmy with me.

After crumb coating the cake, I popped it into the refrigerator to set for about fifteen minutes. With the buttercream on top, I didn’t worry about the cake drying out. The longer the crumb-coated cake stays in the fridge, the more stable the cake will be. You can leave a crumb-coated cake in the fridge overnight with absolutely no issues. But since I was short on time, the fifteen minute set up was all I could do.

It was enough though!

Finishing Touches

After letting the cake set, I did the final touches. For this cake, that meant another layer of buttercream and a dark chocolate ganache topping.

I honestly could have stopped here, but because this was for Bernie I wanted a finished cake, I pressed on and did some buttercream swirls on top, a border at the bottom, and garnished it with some chocolate chips.

So here’s the final product:

Happy birthday to one of the dearest men we know. Happy birthday, Bernie, and cheers to many more.

I hope you enjoyed this Sunday Session! See you next time and don’t forget to subscribe for the latest and greatest content!

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Sunday Session #7: Techniques for The Best Cinnamon Rolls

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When I say that I love all of the ooey, gooey calories from a good cinnamon roll? Y’all. It’s seriously not right that these things exist on earth with us.

It’s also not right that I now have the ability to make just about any cinnamon roll that my heart might desire. And that knowledge, Family, has made me quite a menace in the kitchen when it comes to breakfast pastries in general.

It’s all in the name of…ahem…science.

But cinnamon rolls? CINNAMON ROLLS?! They own me. I will never admit the insane number of cinnamon roll recipes I’ve tried over the years, but suffice it to say…there have been quite a few of them.

Cinnamon rolls almost always start with brioche dough. It’s the perfectly rich, buttery, eggy base for all of that cinnamon sugar, packed into a gorgeous rolled breakfast pasty.

Kinda like this:

Swirls…..

Today, Friends, you’re coming on a cinnamon roll journey with me. Put on your stretchy pants and come with me to learn the techniques that I use to make perfect cinnamon rolls every time. I adapted this recipe from Ambitious Kitchen (I scaled it to make enough for a 9×13 pan), but the techniques are universal and will work with your favorite recipe as well!

In this Post:

Looking for a specific tip or technique? Use the hyperlinks to easily navigate this article!

The Prep

If you’ve spent some time on this site, you know that I always, always, always encourage you to fully prep your ingredients beforehand. This technique, known as mise en place, will keep you from running around like a chicken with its head cut off and will generally make you feel more calm and confident while you bake.

That wisdom is especially true with this dough.

Here’s my mise!

The Yeast

If you read my recent post about the basics of yeast, you know that, no matter the yeast I’m using, I always proof (or prove or bloom) the yeast that I’m using. In this recipe, I proofed the yeast in a warm milk bath (I aim for 110˚F-115˚F) and a half teaspoon of natural sugar. Because the milk has natural sugar in it (lactose), I cut the amount of sugar that I added for the proofing process. Too much sugar will actually kill yeast.

Guess there is such thing as “too much of a good thing.” 💁🏾‍♀️

While it might not be this puffy, bloomed, live yeast will dome at the top of the liquid. If it’s flat or you don’t see bubbles, your yeast is either dead or over-proofed.

And it’s not even remotely the point to overfeed yeast!

When the yeast mixture was done, I added that mixture to the eggs and sugar in the bowl of my stand mixer. Brioche is a sticky dough, so it’s best for beginners to use a mixer if they have one available to avoid adding too much flour.

Making the Dough

Once all of those ingredients were in the mixer, I reserved (or removed) a half cup of the flour from my bowl with a dry measuring cup and set it aside. The rest of the flour (and all of the salt) got added to the mixing bowl for the initial mix.

Then I just…let it go. I turned my stand mixer to “stir” to get everything combined, then set it to setting “2” and let it work for about five minutes without adding any additional flour. It started off shaggy and rough, and eventually got to the smooth and sticky phase you see here:

This what brioche dough looks like when the gluten is really starting to form. It’s combined and smooth, but not quite finished kneading. Good thing I set aside some flour!

Why do I do this, you ask? Sometimes, variables like air temperature, humidity, or even the moisture level of your flour can impact the amount of flour that you need for your recipe. I’ve found that if you immediately add the entire amount of flour that the recipe calls for, you’ll usually end up with over-floured bread. But that’s a baking science nerd post for another day.

(I literally cannot wait to bring you that bread making content though)

After about five minutes of kneading, I ended up adding more flour, one tablespoon at a time. I added each tablespoon, then let it fully incorporate and work for about a minute before adding the next. After the fifth addition, I just…let it go for about another four minutes.

It’s important to let each tablespoon of flour incorporate and work into the dough before adding more flour. You see, the physical motion of kneading is just as important as flour when it comes to gluten development. So you want to give the kneading process a chance to work before adding more flour.

Taking Shape

After letting the dough mix for those last four minutes, it was time to test the dough! I was looking for a tacky but smooth dough. Note: when a recipe says that a bread dough should “clear the sides” of the bowl, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the dough should clear the bottom of the bowl as well. Mine looked like this:

Enriched doughs can be super tricky Fam! By the time you add enough flour to have these doughs clear the bottom and sides of the bowl, it’s going to be over-floured and likely ruined. These doughs should be just a touch tacky on the outside when you finish, and they might be downright sticky on the dough hook when they’re done.

That’s perfect.

With this one, I sprayed my hands with cooking spray, removed the dough from the bowl and dough hook, and shaped it into a ball so that it could rise for an hour.

The Fun Part!

Onto the filling! While that perfect dough was nestled in its resting bowl, I prepped the filling.

Y’all. Cinnamon roll filling has a very potent smell. It’s…the cinnamon.

The recipe calls for light or dark brown sugar. As a rule, I prefer the extra scrumptiousness of dark brown sugar. It’s the extra molasses for me.

The dough finished right at the one hour mark, and what do you know, the stickiness was completely gone. It worked itself out during the resting time.

No stickiness detected.

I unrolled my silicone pastry mat (this one, which I love but which I don’t get paid to advertise), prepped my surface with the tiniest bit of flour, and rolled the dough to just shy of 1/2 inch thickness.

Next, I brushed on a layer of mostly melted butter…and then had a BALL with the cinnamon/brown sugar mixture. Pro tip: make sure to press the cinnamon sugar into the dough!

The absolute most satisfying moment of cinnamon roll production is the actual rolling of the cinnamon…roll. I adore that little *pinch* at the end to make sure that it’s sealed properly.

Remember to leave about an inch of space at the edges of the dough so that you can get the dough to stick to itself!

Next, came the cutting. I aimed for 1.5 inches per roll, to ensure that they baked evenly:

Then I placed them in my prepped pan, with enough room around them for their final rise (about 30 minutes):

While they rested, I turned on my oven to 350˚F. A few minutes before the cinnamon rolls were ready to go into the oven, I double-checked my cheapie oven thermometer to make sure that the oven was actually at the right temperature.

And oh did they rise! As you can see, the dough got nice and puffy during that thirty minute rest period.

Onto the ovens!

The Bake

I may or may not have actually watched these bake for half of their baking time.

Okay. I totally did watch these cinnamon rolls for several minutes of their 22-minute baking time. But it was so satisfying.

Once they came out, they looked…like…this…

The Big Finish

What is a cinnamon roll without cream cheese frosting?

Incomplete. It’s incomplete. While the cinnamon rolls were baking, I got started on the luscious goodness that is the frosting.

Pro tip: cold cream cheese + powdered sugar = LUMPS. You can completely avoid this by letting the cream cheese come to room temperature before starting your frosting.

I put the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of my stand mixer and blended them with the whisk attachment until they were completely smooth. If your cream cheese is cold, this is harder to do, but it’s doable! It just takes longer to get smooth.

Once the butter and cream cheese were blended and smooth, I added half of the powdered sugar and the vanilla and mixed on low speed until the mixture was incorporated and smooth. Once it was incorporated, I added the second half of the powdered sugar and mixed for another minute or so on low/medium speed.

Then, I did this:

These were SO delicious. The dough was just dreamy, and the cinnamon sugar had the perfect balance. My family devoured most of these in one sitting, and when I left them unguarded on the counter, the rest of them disappeared.

Only the dirty baking dish remained.

This recipe was accessible and fun and it’s definitely one that I’ll keep in my repertoire for the future. Dare I say, this one is in strong contention to be selected for Christmas brunch!

I hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know how these techniques worked for you in the comments below!

Until next time! ❤️


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Sunday Session #6: Introducing My Kids to Apple Fritters!

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We are a donut family.

Doughnut. Donut. Does not matter. We love fried yeast donuts in this house. Especially the ones with a good sticky glaze that adheres to our fingers and faces.

My children ask for donuts almost every weekend, but I constantly avoid making them because they’re always gone in sixty seconds when I do make them. My mom guilt won’t allow me to make them on a regular basis.

This past Sunday, I decided to surprise them with donuts.

But not just any donuts.

I made my absolute-favorite-donut-of-all-time, the glorious apple fritter. I found this great recipe from Seasons and Suppers, adapted it, and got to work in the wee hours of the morning so that I could surprise my kiddos when they woke up.

This apple fritter is a spiced donut with a hardened glaze and a yummy, chunky, sugary apple filling. It’s rustic and messy and delicious. If you’re up for cheat day, and you want to make it absolutely worth it (but then get right back to it, of course), then an apple fritter is it. It is IT!

Want to see how mine turned out? Keep reading!

In This Post:

The Prep

This recipe starts with a basic enriched dough. Family, an enriched dough is simply a yeast dough that contains fat. In this enriched dough, the fat comes from eggs and shortening. The shortening gives these donuts the delicious, light but chewy texture that makes this donut worth the cheat.

As you can see from the beautiful, bubbly brown mess in my measuring cup, above, I started by proofing my yeast before starting a recipe. It’s one simple step at the beginning of a recipe that can help you avoid unrecoverable disaster after your first rise.

You see, if you’re working with dead yeast, and you dump it in with your dry ingredients without first activating it in warm liquid, you likely won’t know that it’s dead until you remove the tea towel after the first rise an hour later. I’d hate to see that happen to you, so I always recommend taking 8-10 minutes to proof yeast before you do anything else, regardless of what kind of yeast you’re using.

Cheat code: you can proof yeast while you double check all of your equipment and ingredients!

Not sure how to prep for a great bake? Check my mise en place post here!

By the time you have everything else gathered, you’ll know whether you’re working with viable yeast or not.

You’re welcome!

In the Mix

I started these apple fritters by adding the yeast mixture, egg and shortening to my stand mixer and mixing it together with my paddle attachment on low speed for about thirty seconds.

Next, I added about half of the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and mixed on low speed, just until the flour was absorbed by the liquid.

As you can see, it’s a shaggy, lumpy mess. But that’s okay! It’s supposed to look like that!

Time for the dough hook and the rest of the flour! I mixed the rest of the flour and let my mixer go on low speed (never exceeding level 2 on my mixer) for about four minutes.

I don’t add additional flour until I’ve mixed with the dough hook for at least 2-3 minutes, because I’ve found that the longer the dough hook works, the more that gluten bonds form on their own, and the less flour I ultimately have to add.

Beloveds, the kneading process is what causes flour, water, salt and yeast to become bread. You’ll be surprised at how much it will come together on its own, without extra flour. Your patience will pay off!

If you begin adding flour too soon during the kneading process, the dough gets over-floured in a hurry and you’ll have to do that “add some liquid, now add some flour, now add some liquid” dance that is…not my favorite.

In the video, below, I hadn’t added any flour other than what the recipe called for. You can see that, after about four minutes of mixing, it is already clearing the sides of the bowl.

At this point, I began adding flour one tablespoon at a time and letting it mix for at least 30-45 seconds. After another three tablespoons, it was ready to go! The dough was smooth and tacky, but not sticky to the touch.

Once the dough was done, I shaped it into a ball and let it rest for an hour.

Fill ‘Er Up

While the dough did its first rest, I prepped the apple filling. The ingredients are SO EASY:

I know the granny smith is the “It” apple for baking, y’all, but my sweet tooth demands that it be mixed with something just s touch less tart. So I threw a honeycrisp in there to shake things up.

Anyway, onto the filling! It’s a cooked filling, so I got to work immediately after the dough started its first rest period by peeling and dicing the apples. Once this step was done, I added the apples, sugar, and a pinch of salt to a saucepan and and cooked until absolutely no liquid remained. I removed the mix from the heat because I didn’t want the filling to be too hot when I put it on the dough.

Once the dough finished resting, I rolled it into a “rough” square.

Fam, don’t make fun of my square. I did my best and it was very early!

I added the apple filling to the bottom half of the rolled dough, then sprinkled cinnamon and more flour on top. The flour helps absorb any remaining moisture that might remain after cooking. Fruit can be tricky like that.

Taking Shape

A quick foldover and the apples, cinnamon and flour disappeared under the second half of the dough.

Poof

Then I got to slicing…

And dicing…

And roughly shaping into something resembling a log. I know it looks a mess. You don’t have to tell me.

I’d be lying if I said I wan’t kind of worried at this point. But I pressed on, determined to have this batch ready in time for my children’s arrival downstairs.

No really. I literally cut the log into what I thought were 12 pieces and pressed each one between my palms. It…was eleven pieces.

The Make

The “shaped” fritters rested for another 40 minutes while I heated vegetable oil to 360 degrees Fahrenheit in my deepest cast iron pan and made the final glaze. My oil got a little hot so the first one got a little burnt. #ItHappens

Family, I love you, so I’m going to ask that you never ever leave your kitchen while you have oil on the stove. Hot oil can quickly become a fiery menace and can cause irreparable harm to a kitchen. Also, when deep frying, you want a heavy, deep pot. I love fried dough, but I love kitchen safety even more.

I cooked each fritter for about a minute and fifteen seconds per side, then flipped to the other side. You’re looking for a deep, deep golden brown. It’s the color right before burnt.

I ate the burnt one though. It wasn’t that bad.

The Fritters

Once the fritters are out of the oil, they quickly go into the glaze. Like, as soon as you’re comfortable touching them, they should be glazed and set on a cooling rack so that the glaze can harden.

I might have slightly scorched my fingers during this process.

Et voilà!

My son took one look at these fritters and started to run for the hills. But then, his angel of a sister said she’d try one bite. This story ends with me snatching the tray of still-warm fritters from them before they each took a third one!

As usual, the fritters slowly dwindled during the day when I wasn’t watching, and there were loud complaints when I took two of them next door. TWO. I’ve added these adapted fritters to my family’s donut menu and I am looking forward to making them again!

Until next time!


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Sunday Session #5: My Fave All-In-One Vanilla Cupcakes!

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Sometimes you just want a good, quick vanilla cupcake.

Welcome to this week’s installment of BwB Sunday Sessions! Since our science-y lesson this week was about bowls, I wanted to showcase a basic, all-in-one cupcake that new bakers could use to help build their kitchen confidence!

I…was also short on time. #MomLife

The recipe that I used is the Moist Vanilla Cupcakes recipe from one of my favorite baking blogs, Life Love and Sugar. This recipe comes together incredibly quickly and feeds a crowd (it yields 24-26 cupcakes). I highly recommend it for anyone learning to bake. It’s a true confidence builder!

In this post:

The Prep

Before I even started pulling ingredients, I set my oven for 350° and made sure that my oven thermometer was nice and cozy on the baking rack. Turning on my oven first meant that I wouldn’t have to wait for my oven to heat once my cupcakes were ready to bake. I also lined a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.

Photo Credit: Begin with Butter

Onto the ingredients!

The ingredients in this recipe are really easy, and are probably something that you have at home. As usual, I always recommend prepping your ingredients beforehand. That way, you’ll be ready to add ingredients at the appropriate time:

Photo Credit: Begin with Butter

The good news is that a well-stocked savory kitchen will have most, if not all of these ingredients.

The Technique

This batter uses an all-in-one technique, which simply means that the wet ingredients and dry ingredients are mixed together.

No mixer needed.

While you can use your mixer (and the original recipe actually calls for you to use your mixer), for those of you without a mixer, you can confidently make this recipe without one, and nobody will ever know the difference.

For those of you with a mixer who are just feeling plumb lazy that day, this technique works too.

As you can see in the photo above, the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar are already together in one large bowl. I just gave them a quick stir with my whisk to combine them and set them aside.

Next, I simply put the egg, oil, milk and vanilla (the water comes later) in a medium bowl and mixed with a whisk until all four were fully combined.

Once the wet ingredients and dry ingredients were separately combined, I added the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mixed until smooth. My whisk did a great job with this.

Finally, I added the water in three different pours, combining the water completely between each addition. The batter was very watery when I finished, but that’s how it’s supposed to be!

Seriously. This recipe rocks.

The Bake

Before I put the batter into the cupcake liners, I checked my oven again to make sure that the temperature was correct. Once that’s done, I got busy filling cupcake liners! I filled them to about the halfway mark, trying to stay as consistent as possible so that they would bake evenly.

These cupcakes baked for about 22 minutes in a 350° oven. I removed the cupcakes from the oven and let them cool on a cooling rack for five minutes, then removed the cupcakes from the cupcake pan and put them directly onto the cooling rack to cool completely.

I made my tried and true vanilla buttercream and went crazy with sprinkles, but you can frost the cupcakes with buttercream or your favorite whipped cream topping. The sky is the limit for this great cupcake!

The Finish

These cupcakes come together in two bowls. One with wet ingredients and one with dry ingredients. This is the cupcake I make when my kids need cupcakes for a school event and they tell me the morning of the event. This recipe makes plenty of cupcakes and they can be done in an hour.

But I should really talk to my kids about telling me about stuff at the last minute…

Anyway, here they are!

I hope you enjoyed this Sunday Session! If you loved reading this as much as I loved writing it, be sure to subscribe so that you can get the weekly update so that you can be the first to know everything BwB!

Until next time!

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Sunday Session #4: Melt-In-Your-Mouth Apple Pie!

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Tip #1: You should really, and I do mean really, think about whether it’s a good idea to make pie crust when it’s 90 degrees outside and nearing 80 degrees in your kitchen.

Welcome to the most recent Sunday Session! This week, I wanted to do something I haven’t done in a while: make pie with all-purpose flour instead of pastry flour. If you saw my most recent post about flour, you know that I typically use pastry flour as my personal cheat code for pie because the lower protein content contributes to a more flaky crust.

I’m excited! Let’s get started.

Looking for something specific in this post? Feel free to use the hyperlinks to go straight to it!

In this post:

The Beginning

When making pie dough from scratch, it’s really important to start with very cold ingredients. The morning that I started this experiment, I prepped the ingredients and then put the ingredients and tools in the freezer while I went to do something else for about thirty minutes.

Pictured: Flour, Salt, Water, Butter, Pastry Cutter, and a corner of an apple. Photo Credit: Begin with Butter.

Please don’t ask what I did for thirty minutes. I honestly don’t remember. But I know I was gone from the kitchen for a period of time and that, Friends, is a notable fact.

I also had to prep apples, since that stuff in a can is an abomination:

There were many, many apples harmed in the making of this pie. All told, I prepped about 11.5 cups (by volume) of apples. For apple pie, I prefer a very sturdy apple since baking softens them significantly, so I mixed Granny Smith (the consummate baking apple) and Honeycrisp (for both its texture and natural sweetness) for this pie.

I am so glad I mixed those two apples because the Granny Smith apples in this pie were as tart as lemons!

The Need for Speed

Regardless of the weather, it’s always important to work as quickly as possible on pie crust. The best way to build your speed is to practice making pie crust over and over again! Win!

The reasons for speed are two-fold: first, because you’re cutting fat into flour to make the crust, you don’t want the fat to melt from being overworked. This would ruin your pie. #StartOver

Second, you have to introduce liquid (most people use water or vodka) into the mix and stir it in order to create structure, but you don’t want to create too much structure and do too much stirring because you’ll end up with a tough pastry crust from too much gluten development.

Speed comes from practice, Family. Please don’t be discouraged if your first pie attempts don’t meet your expectations!

The Method for Making Pie Crust

It was almost 80 degrees in my kitchen by the time I started making this pie dough. Luckily, my ingredients were nice and cold when I started working.

Still, since it was warm in my kitchen, I knew I was on borrowed time. Cold ingredients or not, butter will eventually get very soft once it’s exposed to room temp air.

This pie crust recipe (from the amazing Kate McDermott’s The Art of the Pie) is very straightforward. To begin, I added fat (butter) to a mixture of flour and water. Then, I used my pastry cutter to cut the butter into pieces about the size of fat spring peas. Because speed is a bit more important than precision, though, some pieces of butter were larger or smaller than others, and that’s okay!

For a demonstration about how to use a pastry cutter, feel free to take a look at this video:

Once I was done cutting the butter into smaller pieces, I added water to wet the dough just a little bit. It’s important to remember that the dough shouldn’t look wet at this point. You want just enough water to help the dough stick together. It shouldn’t look like a batter or cookie dough:

Three more tablespoons of water later and it was done!

The finished dough was still a dry, shaggy-looking mess, but it was beautiful in its own way. Pie dough is complete when it comes together just to the point that it stays together when it’s squeezed between your fingers.

I separated the dough into two balls, flattened each into a thick disc shape, and then wrapped each disc in plastic wrap to go into the fridge and rest.

You want to see big chunks of fat in your pie dough! Photo Credit: Begin with Butter

I usually let these dough discs rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Because it was so hot in my kitchen, I let it rest for several hours before moving onto the next step.

Roll Out

There are a couple of tricks that can help you roll pie dough on a hot day:

  • Fill a zip-top bag with ice and cold water, then lie it the surface where you plan to roll out your dough for 5-10 minutes;
  • Put your rolling pin in the freezer; and/or
  • Use a marble rolling pin and pastry board, like this one (not an ad).

I used none of those tips when I rolled out this dough:

Just threw caution to the wind and took my chances. So I had to work fast fast.

I have no excuse for being so reckless with this dough.

When rolling dough, you can use as much flour as you need to avoid the dough sticking to the rolling pin. For that reason, I used a lot of flour on this day.

To roll dough into a roughly even circle, I always roll my rolling pin away from my body, turning the dough in quarter turns after 3-4 passes with the rolling pin. I also turn over the dough a couple of times during the rolling process to make sure that the bottom isn’t starting to stick to the surface.

That technique helped me achieve the rough circle that you see, below. After rolling the dough into that rough circle, I brushed excess away the excess flour and was left with this:

Pie Construction

True story: it’s only when I get to the filling that I feel like my pie has a chance of not failing.

Once filled, the pie went back into the fridge so that I could work on the top crust. As a cute mom gesture, I asked my daughter how she’d like me to decorate the top crust. Of course she chose a lattice top. Of course she did:

I put the pie into the refrigerator before finishing the edges, just as a last bit of insurance against melting. This was also the time that I warmed up the oven.

After another half hour, I removed the pie from the refrigerator, crimped the edges and added egg wash. At this point, the DJ in my head started playing Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” on repeat.

The oven wasn’t finished warming completely (my oven is a habitual liar when it comes to temperature, but that’s another story for another day), so the pie went back into the fridge. Again.

The Bake and the Conclusion

This apple pie baked in my oven for a total of 55 minutes. I added some demerara sugar (Sugar in the Raw) for the last ten minutes of baking in order to give it a last special touch.

Here she is!

Y’all. This pie stressed me out. But I am so proud of how it came out. The crust was perfectly flaky and left telltale flaky crumbs on the table after our family dessert session. My daughter–who previously refused every pie I ever offered her–DEVOURED it.

I think it’s safe to say that pie with all purpose flour was an amazing success. While I did notice a slight difference in the flakiness of the pie, I think I was the only one (of the five of us who ate it) who even thought about it.

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