Friday, October 22, 2021

A Tart Apple


This involves Brandy and Apples. A delicious treat indeed says Yankee Magazine Senior Food Editor Amy Traverso, who wrote the newly-revised Apple Lover's Cookbook. She came by Tonia's Kitchen to share a great idea for French Apple Tarts with Phyllo dough. This being in the French tradition,, Amy told Tonia she uses black pepper, along with ginger to create this special dessert. Dressing the Phyllo dough gives it a very inviting appearance that looks fancy, but is actually very easy to create.

For the apple filling:

  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 5 medium apples (peeled, cored and sliced in to 1/2 inch slices)

  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (or a lighter 18 or 10% cream mixed with 2 tsp. of cornstarch)
  • Optional: splash of brandy (or whiskey or rum)

For assembly:

  • 5-6 sheets phyllo dough (thawed)
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter


  • Prepare the filling: Melt 4 Tbsp. butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Cut your peeled apples in to quarters, remove the core, then slice into 1/2-inch slices. Add apple slices to your pan and cook, stirring, until apples are tender. Sprinkle with cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Add brown sugar and cream. Stir to combine. Allow mixture to cook, bubbling, until sauce reduces and thickens slightly. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature (or make ahead and refrigerate until ready to assemble).

  • To make tart: Preheat oven to 350° F. Melt butter and have a pastry brush ready. Have a damp, clean tea towel handy. Brush your pie plate with a bit of melted butter. Remove thawed phyllo from fridge. Take one full sheet and brush lightly with melted butter. Keep the remaining phyllo covered with damp towel while you aren't working with it. Drape the phyllo sheet over the pie plate. Don't try to press it down at this point, as it may tear. Butter another sheet of phyllo and lay it over the bottom sheet at an angle to the first one. Repeat with a third sheet of phyllo, buttering and then laying it over the pie plate at an angle to the first two. At this point, you should have covered all of the pie plate. If not, add another layer.
  • Gently press down in the center of the pie plate to make a cavity. Using kitchen scissors, trim the excess phyllo to within 1 inch of the edge of the pie plate. Reserve scraps. Add your cooled or refrigerated apple filling to the pie plate. Fold the edges of the phyllo in towards the filling to make a neat edge. Brush with melted butter. Take the reserved phyllo scraps and one piece at a time, scrunch them up and place on top of the filling until the top is covered (you may need to use an additional sheet of buttered phyllo to cover it all). Dap lightly over the scrunched up phyllo with butter. Place pie plate on to a baking sheet and bake in the pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes. Be sure to watch closely near the end to ensure the phyllo doesn't burn. It should be a lovely over-all golden color. As the filling is already cooked, you don't need to worry about the apples being cooked. Just be sure the phyllo is cooked and golden.
  • Transfer pie plate to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before eating. Lovely served with vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

How About a "Light" Breakfast?


These pancakes are so light and airy, you'll think they were clouds (of the atmospheric sense, not the internet kind). Amy Traverso, who wrote the newly revised Apple Lover's Cookbook, stopped by Tonia's Ktichen to talk about her delcious Apple and Cardamom Pancakes, which are so light and fluffy, they really allow the flavor to shine here. Amy says she uses McIntosh Apples, along with apple cider, on top of the Cardamom, and separates both the eggs and the yolks while preparing the batter. You know, fall always was the perfect time for pancakes, and these make the season even more special!


  • 1 ¹⁄3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

  • ¾ teaspoon table salt, divided
  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup sweet apple cider, at room temperature
  • 1 large tender-tart apple, such as McIntosh, peeled, cored, and finely diced
  • Vegetable oil spray for cooking
  • Butter and maple syrup, for serving


Preheat the oven to 350°. Set a flat griddle to medium-high heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cardamom, baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, milk, and vanilla until smooth. Add the cider and whisk to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk just until smooth. Do not overmix.

In a large bowl, using a standing or handheld mixer, beat the egg whites with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt until they reach firm (but not dry) peaks (when you lift the whisk out of the eggs, the whites should form a peak that curls over only slightly). Gently fold half the egg whites into the batter until mostly evenly mixed. Repeat with the remaining whites until no streaks remain. Fold in the apple.

Spray your griddle with vegetable oil spray. Spoon out about ¹⁄3 cup batter onto the griddle at a time, leaving plenty of room between each pancake. For extra height, let the pancakes set for a minute, then spoon a few tablespoons of additional batter on top. Cook just until the bottom is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Spray the top of the pancakes with a bit of cooking vegetable oil spray, then flip. Cook until the bottom sets, 2 minutes more, then transfer to a baking sheet in a single layer and bake in the oven until the center sets, about 3 minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve warm, with butter and maple syrup.  

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Like Ocean Spray? Try This Pie!


With apologies to the venerable cranberry juice maker, this pie really brings the flavor! Amy Traverso, who's the senior food editor at Yankee Magazine and the author of the revised and updated Apple Lovers Cookbook, came by Tonia's Kitchen to share her recipe for Cranberry Apple Slab Pie. Amy says this pie is a favorite, in part because when you bake the cranberries, they plump up and seep their juices into the crust. Amy says use a mixture of firm sweet and firm tart apples (like Granny Smiths and Pink Ladies). It's important to note that since this is a slab pie, there's higher crust to fruit ratio, but it's a really unique treat to boot.

For the crust


  • 3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus more for crust
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, plus more for greasing pan
  • 9–12 tablespoons ice water
  • Milk, for brushing over crust


First, make the crust: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt until well combined. Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour mixture, and use your fingers to smear them in. Stop when the

mixture looks like cornmeal with some pea-size bits of butter remaining. Sprinkle 9 tablespoons ice water on top, and stir with a fork until the dough begins to come together. If needed, add up to 3 tablespoons of ice water.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead three times, or just enough to make it cohesive. Don’t overmix! Gather the dough into a ball, then divide it into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Use a bench scraper to shape each piece into a rough rectangle shape and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 50 minutes and up to 2 days.

For the filling


  • Butter, for greasing pan
  • 4 pounds (about 8 large) mixed firm-tart (such as Granny Smith) and firm-sweet (such as Golden Delicious) apples (see Apple Guide), peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
  • 1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ tablespoons lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt


Preheat your oven to 425° and set a rack to the lowest position. Grease a 10-by-15-inch jelly roll pan with butter.

In a large bowl, toss the apple slices and cranberries with the sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

Meanwhile, unwrap the larger piece of dough and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll it out, working from the center, into a 12-by-17-inch rectangle. Turn the dough periodically and flip it over to prevent sticking; dust the counter with additional flour as needed.

Roll the dough up around the rolling pin and transfer to the prepared jelly roll pan. Press the dough gently into the corners, letting the excess hang over the sides, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill.

Unwrap the smaller piece of dough and place it on a well-floured surface. Working from the center, roll as before to a 12-by-17-inch rectangle. Take the pan from the refrigerator and pour the apple filling, with any juices, over the bottom crust and spread into an even layer. Transfer the top crust to the pan, drape it over the filling, and gently press down over the fruit and around the edges. Using a sharp knife, make three slashes in the center of the crust to let steam escape. Fold the top crust down over the bottom crust and crimp to seal. Brush the crust all over with milk and sprinkle with additional sugar.

Put the pie on the lowest rack and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350° and bake until the pie is golden brown and the filling is bubbling, another 30 to 40 minutes. Let the pie cool on a rack for at least 45 minutes before drizzling with glaze.

For the drizzle


  • ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 ½–2 tablespoons sweetened cranberry juice


When the pie has cooled to room temperature, make the cranberry drizzle: In a small bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar with the cranberry juice until smooth. Drizzle over the pie in a pretty pattern. Let set for 15 minutes. Serve the pie warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Let That Cake Roll! (And Don't Be Afraid of It!)

It's true, rolling a cake can be an exercise in intimidation baking. But don't fret! Abby Dodge, who wrote the cookbook Sheet Cake, came by Tonia's Kitchen to talk about the trials and tribulations of baking a rolled cake. She says, first off, take a deep breath, second don't expect perfection. Abby told Tonia her cakes are not perfect, so don't expect yours to be either. Just follow the instructions and do the best you can. Also, Confectioner's Sugar is your best friend here. When there's an issue, just sprinkle some on to hide the imperfection. No one will ever know!

For the Cake

  • Nonstick cooking spray or softened butter for preparing the pan
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
  • ¾ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar, divided
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • 3 large eggs, divided
  • 6 tablespoons pumpkin purée, at room temperature
  • 7 tablespoons neutral oil (safflower, canola or vegetable)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  • For the Topping

  • 6 ounces white chocolate (not chips), chopped
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • For the Filling

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, slightly softened
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons finely diced pecans or walnuts, toasted, for garnish
  • Instructions

    Make the Cake

    1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 F. Lightly grease the sides and bottom of a 13 x 18 x 1-inch half sheet pan and line the bottom with parchment. Lightly grease and flour the parchment and lightly flour the sides of the pan.

    2. Sift the cake flour into a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the cinnamon, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, salt and all but three tablespoons of the brown sugar and whisk until well blended.

    3. Add the egg yolks, pumpkin, oil and vanilla and beat on medium-low speed until well blended. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for three minutes, until the mixture lightens in color and forms a ribbon of batter in the bowl when the beater is lifted.

    4. Put the egg whites in another bowl and beat on medium-low speed until foamy. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the whites are opaque and climbing about halfway up the bowl, forming very soft peaks.

    5. Continue beating while slowly adding the three remaining tablespoons of brown sugar. Beat until the whites are thick, shiny and form medium peaks that droop over gently. Do not overbeat.

    6. Scrape about a quarter of the whites into the flour mixture and, using a large silicone spatula, gently stir until blended. The batter will become lighter, making it easier to fold in the remaining whites.

    7. Add the remaining whites and gently fold only until blended, with no visible streaks of the whites in the batter. Pour and scrape the batter into the prepared pan and gently spread into an even layer (too much pressure will deflate the batter). Bake 12-14 minutes, until the cake begins pull away from the sides of the pan and the top springs back when lightly touched.

    8. While the cake is baking, have ready two long strips of paper towels, the confectioners’ sugar for dusting, a fine-mesh sieve, a small knife and two large racks.

    9. Once it’s baked, place the cake on a rack and sift the confectioners’ sugar over the surface in a generous layer. Using a sawing motion, run the tip of the knife around the edges to loosen the cake from the pan. Cover the top of the cake completely with the strips of paper towels and cover with a rack large enough to overhang the edges of the pan. Gripping both racks with towels, with the sheet pan sandwiched in between, flip the pan and racks to invert. Lift the pan from the cake and carefully peel away the parchment.

    10. Beginning on a short side, roll up the cake and paper towel layer together. Be sure to do this promptly, while the cake is still warm, or it will crack. Arrange, seam-side-down on the rack and let it cool completely. (The seam will not be directly under the cake, but just to the side, facing down).

    Make the Topping

    1. Put the white chocolate and heavy cream in a small heatproof bowl and melt over a pan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside until cool and thickened.

    Mix the Filling and Assemble

    1. Put the cream cheese, butter, and salt in a mixing bowl fitted with the whisk attachment and beat, scraping the bowl and whisk frequently, on medium-high speed for 2-4 minutes, until smooth.

    2. Add the honey and confectioners’ sugar and beat, scraping the bowl and whisk frequently, for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. If the filling is too soft, refrigerate, stirring every few minutes, until it’s firm enough to hold its shape, but still spreadable.

    3. Carefully unroll the cake. It will look a bit wavy and will be curled at one end. Scrape the filling onto the cake and spread evenly to within one half inch of one of the short sides and the two long edges, and to within 1 inch of the remaining short side.

    4. Beginning with the shorter side with the filling almost to the edge, gently roll the cake without the paper towels. Using a long metal spatula, place the cake seam-side-down on a flat serving plate or board.

    5. Refrigerate for one hour, then cover loosely and continue to chill for another eight hours or up to 12 hours before serving. This will allow time for the confectioners’ sugar to dissolve, so there will be a clear surface to spread the topping.

    Apply the Topping

    1. Check the consistency of the white chocolate topping. It should be thick enough to hold a soft dollop, but still be pourable. If it’s not thick enough, put the bowl in the fridge and stir frequently, making sure to scrape the sides. If it’s too thick, briefly set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until smooth.

    2. Pour the topping in a thick strip down the center of the top of the cake. Using a small offset spatula, nudge the topping so that it drips down the sides a bit. It should look casual and irregular. Scatter the pecans or walnuts over the topping, if using. Refrigerate for one hour before serving.

    3. When ready to serve, use a serrated knife to cut the cake into slices or wedges.

    Monday, October 18, 2021

    Sheet Happens!


    And that's in sheetcake. Abby Dodge, who wrote the new cookbook Sheetcakes, came by Tonia's Kitchen to talk about her recipe for Banana Buttermilk Stacked Cake. It's like a regular cake, except, as she told Tonia, she takes the sheet cake and cuts it into three rounds or rectangles, tops each round with the frosting (in this case, chocolate cream) and stacks each portion on top of the other. She's not done though. There's plenty of cake left over, of which Abby takes and creates what she calls cake croutons, and stacks those as well. Lots of delicious building going on here!

    For the cake
    2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    ½ teaspoon table salt
    ¼ teaspoon baking soda
    16 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
    1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
    3 medium very, very ripe bananas (about 14 ounces including peels), peeled
    2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    4 large eggs
    ½ cup buttermilk
    ¾ cup (3 ounces) chopped, toasted walnuts, optional

    For the fudgy frosting
    6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
    1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
    1 cup evaporated milk
    6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
    1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
    ½ teaspoon table salt

    To make the cake
    1. Position an oven rack on the middle rung. Heat the oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour the bottom and sides of two 9 by 2-inch round cake pans, tapping out the excess flour.

    2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Whisk until well blended. In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer (stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or handheld mixer) on medium-high until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until well combined. Add the bananas and vanilla and beat until well blended and only small bits of banana remain. Add the eggs two at a time, beating well after each addition. The mixture will look curdled and a bit lumpy. Don’t worry, it will all come together. Add half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed just until blended. Add the buttermilk and mix just until blended. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix just until blended. Stir in the walnuts, if using. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans, dividing it evenly.