Sunday, August 9, 2009

Apples Felicia

I've had an apple dessert in mind all week. With hurricane baking already going on, today seemed like a good time to make one.

After some cookbook browsing, I decided to make something like the apple variation suggested for "Lauren's Peach Crumb Cake" from A Piece of Cake. I'm calling it "Apples Felicia" in honor of this week's weather obsession.

This is basically a shortbread crust and crumb topping with sweetened fruit in between. If you ask me, it's a lot closer to a pie than a cake. I'm making mine in an 8" square pyrex dish, 'cause I didn't feel like messing with the recommended springform pan, and my deep dish pie plate is in the dishwasher (I baked a round bread loaf in it, not a pie, or I wouldn't be making this dessert today).

I made my usual tweaks to the recipe, using 1/3 whole wheat pastry flour instead of all AP, and cutting way back on the cinnamon. Really, it's such an aggressive spice, a TEENY bit adds a nice edge to the flavor without overwhelming all the other ingredients. To make the base, mix up flour and sugar and then cut in butter until sandy, which I did by pulsing it all in the Cuisinart. Remove 3/4 cup to a small bowl and stir in your preferred quantity of cinnamon, and reserve that bit for the topping. The rest gets pressed into your (lavishly buttered) baking dish.

Fill with sweetened fruit and some small tapioca pearls for gel factor. I used three Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced into 1" pieces (almost 5 cups total), 1/3 cup light brown sugar, 2 T lemon juice and 2 T of water, and 4 T of tapioca flour (which is what I have, no pearls in the pantry today).

Sprinkle the crumb topping on top of the fruit. I was going to do so when my inner health nut spoke up and suggested adding rolled oats. So I put the reserved topping back in the food processor, added 1/2 C oats, and pulsed a few more times. One of the benefits of not being a "clean up as you go" cook is that the Cuisinart bowl was right at hand, rather than in the sink and full of soapy water. I'm glad I added the oats, because I'm not convinced the original topping amount would have been ample for the size of my pan.

Bake low in the oven at 400 until done. I think this took about 45 minutes:

We're having this after dinner tonight, so I can't tell you yet if it's any good, but it sure smelled amazing coming out of the oven.

It never did get more than slightly bubbly, though, and the apples didn't cook down as much as expected, but I didn't want to leave it in the oven any longer because the edges were getting too brown. I suspect the bottom crust absorbed a lot of the moisture, and -- judging by the quantity of steam that came out of the oven when I opened the door -- the crumb topping isn't doing as much as a regular pie crust would to keep moisture in where the fruit is.

Even if it's a little dry, though, I'm sure Apples Felicia will be delicious: it's a shortbread-y base, with sugary baked apples and a sweet crumb topping, what's not to like? A good dollop of yogurt on top will add any necessary additional moisture (so would vanilla ice cream, but plain old yogurt is what's in my fridge).

This was so much easier to throw together than a traditional pie that unless it's truly awful (and how could it be?), I am already thinking of making it again. When I do, I'm going to add a cup or two of frozen blueberries or raspberries, which I think will produce a better, blubblier, center.

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