Baking: A New Kind of Therapy
I'm about to share with you the super coveted and UUHHMMAZINGLY delicious recipes for Mike's Apple Pie with a bonus feature of my (vegan by accident) banana bread recipe!
You have no idea how many times people have asked me for the recipe for these two. It's not like they're secret, but until now I've been kind of picky about who I share them with. Are you worthy? Either way, you're getting the golden ticket into the kitchen.
Also, both of these are perfect for Thanksgiving / Christmas / wintertime baking... who am I kidding, they're perfect all year round (especially for breakfast on a Saturday morning with a giant cup of coffee).
Baking has been a love of mine for many years now. It seems to run in the family. My maternal grandfather was an über talented pastry chef in New York and California (inspired by Eastern European baking in particular, as that's where he was from). I was too young to remember the flavor of his sweet treats, but the stories those confections left behind resonated well past their chew date.
I can still hear my mom telling me about growing up in New Jersey as a chubby little girl, eating her way through the crust of a cake pan or slice of cinnamon raisin babka. And my dad telling me that my grandfather's brownies were a godsend when working late at night on dull paperwork, keeping him awake and his sweet tooth satisfied. He made sure to describe to me in great detail how thick the layer of fudge was on top of the brownies. SO unfair that I never got to taste them!
In every kitchen I have, his photo there to guide me.
Anyway, I like to think that I got a small percentage of my grandfather's skills in the baking department. I've been complimented for my baked goods, but I am sure they are nowhere near as good as his - you can't even get some of the ingredients these days (Crisco [ew] and the particular kind of fudge he used) - it's a damn shame.
The banana bread recipe I found while I was bored at work one night and had four bananas that were about to turn full brown on me. As with all banana bread recipes, the closer to death the fruit, the better it is for baking. The apple pie was, like I said, my grandfather's recipe, and once I made it one time, there was no going back. IT'S JUST SO GOOD!
The smell that fills my house when I make both of these cakes is out of cinnamon heaven. Since smell is linked to memories, at least for me, I alway flash back to my home town, around high holiday time, and my mom making a version of this cake for the new year, to bring to whoever was hosting the meal that year.
1 large very ripe banana
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup grated zucchini
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Lightly grease or use a teflon 8×4 metal bread pan.
In a mixing bowl, mash the banana well, until no large chunks are left. Add the applesauce, canola oil, sugar, and vanilla and use a strong fork to mix well. Mix in the grated zucchini. Sift in the flour, the cinnamon, allspice, baking soda and salt. Mix to combine. Add the walnuts and mix. Transfer batter to the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes. Every oven is different, so check even after 30 minutes with a toothpick.
MIKE'S APPLE PIE
1 cup sugar
2 sticks (200 grams) of butter/margarine
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 grated lemon rind
3 and 1/4 cup cake flour
5 granny smith apples
In a bowl, mix together 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, the butter and lemon rind. Add the flour and baking powder and roll together. Wrap it in wax paper and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.
Peel, core and slice the apples. Mix in a bowl with 1 tbs cinnamon and 2 tbs sugar. On a floured surface, roll out 3/4 of the dough. Place the dough in a pie dish. Fill with the apple mixture. Roll out the remaining dough for the top. Make a crumble or lattice work. Make an egg wash to brush on the dough before putting it into the oven. Bake time is said to be 1 hour, but I check it after 40 minutes by checking the apple's softness with a toothpick, and that the crust is brown.