Baking Through the Alphabet: A is for Apple Pie Pull Apart Bread

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I had an epiphany a few months ago…but I never went through with it. Cheryl and I actually bought ingredients for it, but we never did it.

The epiphany came back a few days ago.

I’M GOING TO BAKE THROUGH THE ALPHABET.

Yaknow, desserts that start with A, then B, then C, and so on. What’s going to happen when I get to Q or X? We’ll see. Maybe I’ll cop out and make a Chinese dessert/baked good. It’ll be a surprise for me, too.

So, first things first: A. A IS FOR APPLE PIE PULL APART BREAD.

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Think…apple pie meets cinnamon roll. It’s SO GOOD. I found this recipe while scrolling through foodgawker (during class, probably), and I thought it was such an interesting combination! My only issue with the apple pie pull apart bread recipes that I found was that they used Pilsbury refrigerated biscuit rolls as the bread, and in my book…that’s a no-no. It’s no fun when you don’t get to play with dough and make it from scratch! Maybe I’ll change my mind when I get married and have kids, haha!

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But I decided to use the bread recipe from Joy the Baker’s cinnamon sugar pull apart bread. I made some adjustments for the filling, crossed my fingers, and hoped that it would come out okay. And it did! The bread and filling was gooey and cinnamon-y, and the baked apple slices between the bread slices tasted just like an apple pie.

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Oh, and the GLAZE that went on top of it was yum-o! I had considered not making the glaze, but my roommate convinced me otherwise, and she was right! Not only did the bread look much better, but it also brought all the flavors together. Delicious fall flavors–all in one loaf! =)

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Apple Pie Pull Apart Bread with Vanilla Glaze
Makes one loaf
Adapted from Joy the Baker and The Comfort of Cooking

Ingredients:

For the Dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Filling:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 medium apple, cored and thinly sliced (I used a Fuji apple)

For the Vanilla Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and set aside.

In a medium bowl, melt together the milk and butter in the microwave (you could also do this in a small saucepan on the stove). When the butter has just melted, add the water and vanilla extract. Let the mixture cool for a few minutes.

Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and mix with a spatula. Add the eggs, and stir until the eggs are incorporated into the dough. The dough will be extremely sticky; try not to add too much flour or else the dough will come out too dry.

Place the dough into a large, greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel, and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour. Alternatively, you can also let the dough rise until doubled in size, then refrigerate overnight to use in the morning. I did this and it came out just fine =)

While the dough is rising, make the filling. Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and set aside. Coat the apple slices in the cinnamon-sugar-nutmeg mixture and set aside. Keep the leftover sugar mixture and set that aside too.  Line a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside.

When the dough has risen, deflate it and knead it with a little flour. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a 12×20-inch rectangle. Spread the melted butter across the dough. Take the leftover cinnamon-sugar-nutmeg mixture and sprinkle it over the dough.

Slice the dough vertically into six equal-sized strips. Stack the strips on top of one another, and then slice the stack into six equal slices again. You should end up with six stacks of six squares. Place the dough squares into the lined loaf pan like a flip book. Take the sliced apple slices and stuff them between the squares. I stuffed 1-2 apple slices between each square. Place a kitchen towel over the loaf pan and let it rise until doubled in size (I skipped this step because I was running late for class, but it came out fine!).

Place a rack in the cetner of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Bake the loaf for 35-40 minutes, or until the top is very golden brown.

While the loaf is baking, make the vanilla glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract in a medium bowl. When the loaf is done, let it cool for 20 minutes, and then drizzle the glaze over the warm bread, and ENJOY!

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Until next time,

Soli Deo Gloria, and Happy reading, eating, and baking!

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Rainbow Cake with Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream (Allergy-Free and VEGAN!)

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The new school year is here, and it’s been off to a rough start. But it’s okay! Because God is good and sovereign.

This cake was part of an allergy-free birthday cake that I made for two twin boys who turned six back in June. It’s amazing how moist the cake is without typical cake ingredients such as eggs and butter (I didn’t have a slice of it but I was able to eat the shavings I made when I trimmed the cake!)! I think there’s something about the soy milk and vinegar that acts as a thickener, but don’t trust me on that. I’m terrible at science.

The cake recipe below is double the original version. I doubled it because the cake batter looked too thin for me in the cake pans, and I wanted a thicker bottom tier anyway. And instead of making 6 layers, I made five, taking out the purple layer. Since I only had two cake pans, I had to keep reusing the pans, so I cut out 5 parchment paper rounds and resprayed the pan each time. It’s a bit of a hassle, but it’s okay since you can make this entire cake easily by hand with a whisk…so I guess it all evens out =).

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Allergy-Free/Vegan Rainbow Cake
Adapted From Speed Bump Kitchen
Makes one 5-layer 9-inch cake

Ingredients:

5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups dairy-free milk + 4 teaspoons vinegar, set aside to thicken
3 cups white sugar
1 1/3 cup oil
2 tablespoons vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Trace your pans onto some parchment paper, and cut out 5 rounds. I used 9-inch cake pans.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a big bowl. In another large bowl, mix together the thickened dairy-free milk, sugar, oil, and vanilla together.

3. Add about half the wet into the dry ingredients, and beat. You want to get rid of the lumps or they’ll stand out against the colored cake. Add the second half of the liquid and fold in gently.

4. Using a scale, divide the batter into 5 equal portions. You can do this by tare-ing a big empty bowl, adding the batter to determine total batter weight, dividing the total weight by 5, and measuring out 5 portions to color.

5. Add enough of each color of food coloring (I use gel food coloring) to each portion and stir until desired shade is achieved. Transfer each color to an individual cake pan that has been lined and sprayed with cooking spray. If you don’t have enough pans, you will have to keep reusing them. Don’t worry, these cakes bake quickly.

6. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the center is set. Remove the cake from the pan to a cooling rack (you may have to let it cool down for about 5 minutes or so), add a new parchment circle to the pan, re-spray, and bake the next layer.

7. Once all the layers are cooled, you can frost and build the cake. I used the vegan buttercream frosting that is posted right below!

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Vegan Vanilla Buttercream
From Speed Bump Kitchen
Makes about 8 cups

Ingredients:

1 cup shortening
1 cup dairy-free margarine (I used Earth Balance Buttery Spread)
7 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
pinch of salt
1/4 cup dairy-free milk

1. Beat the shortening and margarine until light and fluffy.

2. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla and salt.

3. Add the dairy-free milk until the desired thickness is achieved. Don’t add too much or the frosting won’t be thick enough!

4. FROST YOUR CAKE.

Here’s the final result of the entire birthday cake! The rainbow cake is on the bottom tier.

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P.S. All photos from this post are from the extremely talented [Auntie] Vinnie Y!! Please check out her Facebook page and blog! =) Thank you for the amazing photos that made everything so much better!

Until next time,

Soli Deo Gloria, and Happy reading, eating, and baking!

Minion Macarons

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Guys…School is in session. Summer is gone. 3.5 wonderful months of work, baking, no school, relaxation, and opportunities to serve the church. It’s weird to be back in school…can you believe I’m a third year already?! I’m entering the real world soon! It’s crazy. And God has been and always will be faithful.

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So goodbye summer 2013, you’ve been great! =)

I wanted to share with you all one of my proudest projects this past summer: MINION MACARONS.

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I don’t make character macarons often because they’re way more time consuming than regular circle macarons, but when I do…I feel very satisfied. Things I’ve done so far (please excuse the bad photos):

Beary Cute Macarons (inspired by Bakerella), which were coffee flavored with a Nutella filling;

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Large macarons for a bridal shower;

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Angry Bird Macarons, which were green tea flavored with a chocolate ganache filling;

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and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Macarons, which were green tea flavored with a Nutella filling.

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For all those character macarons, I used chocolate as decorations on top of the macarons–a mini chocolate chip as the bear’s nose, white chocolate for the eyes, etc. I never thought about using actual colored macaron batter to add to the characters until I came across Crumbs Macaron. She is amazing. She makes these macaron characters made out of 100% macaron batter, and it’s insane!!!! She made these minion macarons and I just had to try them.

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It took a lot of time (7 hours to be exact), different colored macaron piping bags, and a bunch of toothpicks.

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I found a picture of a minion online, printed about 9 of them on one sheet, and placed the Silpat over the sheet. For the macarons, I made the macaron batter without color, and while it was still a little undermixed, separated them into different bowls and added food coloring separately. I had seven colors: yellow, blue, black, red, gray, brown, and white. I piped the yellow body first, let the batter rest, piped the jeans, then the glasses, eyes, hands, buttons, and feet. Then I used toothpicks to make the hair, pupil, and smile. And seven hours later, after cleaning everything up, I had my minions!

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I know this is a short post, but enjoy the pictures (and sorry for the lighting! It’s hard to get good lighting at home). I think they’re pretty cool, and I hope you all think so too =).

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Until next time,

Soli Deo Gloria, and Happy reading, eating, and baking!!