Apple Walnut Bread with Rum-Soaked Raisins

Now is the time of year when you want just a little something extra with that morning coffee or afternoon tea. This bread (okay, okay, it’s really a cake,) which is best made a day ahead, fits that bill. It’s filled with sweet-tart apples, slightly crunchy walnuts and the chew of a good raisin. It doesn’t require any exotic ingredients and your kitchen will smell wonderful as it bakes. What more could you ask for? Oh, yes, it would be a nice change on your Thanksgiving table from cornbread or biscuits!

apple walnut bread

Apple Walnut Bread with Rum-Soaked Raisins adapted from Beard on Bread  

Yield: One 9 x 5 inch loaf


1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature plus more for the pan

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for the pan

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2  teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 Tablespoons plain Greek yogurt or sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups, peeled, cored and diced apples (I used MacIntosh)

1 rounded teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup raisins

2 Tablespoons dark rum

Zest of one lemon


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and sugar a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan, preferably non-stick.
  2. In a small microwaveable dish, add the raisins and rum. Heat on high in the microwave for 20 seconds. Remove the bowl and cover with plastic wrap for at least 30 minutes.   apples, raisins and walnuts
  3. Toss the apples, walnuts, drained raisins and lemon zest with about 1-2 Tablespoons of the flour. This will keep everything from sinking to the bottom.
  4. Using a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Add the yogurt and vanilla and stir through.
  6. Mix the remaining flour with the salt, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda and add slowly to the eggs and butter mixture, stirring well.
  7. Stir the apples, drained raisins, lemon zest and chopped walnuts through the batter by hand. The ending batter will be very chunky.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Ovens vary so if it takes a little longer, then it takes a little longer.
  9. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Once the bread is completely cool, wrap it tightly in foil overnight to allow the flavors to mature. For best flavor, zap in the microwave for about 10-12 seconds. The bread will continue to get moister as it ages and the flavors will become more intense.

Apple Tarte Tatin

Another wonderful recipe from my new favorite cookbook, this was a perfect way to wind down my stock of apples.


When we went apple picking and *only* picked up two bushels of apples I was really worried it wouldn’t be enough (for a small village?)   Anyways, this was an easy and delightfully “Fall” way to spend more apples, and if not now, when?


For the Filling

  • 3 or 4 apples that will hold shape while cooking (I used Macintosh and I think Jonah Gold, but Cortland, Northern Spy, Winesap or Rome would work, as well)
  • 8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp light brown sugar, lightly packed

For the Pastry

  • 10 tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tbsp sour cream
  • pinch of granulated sugar

Make the Filling

  1. Peel, halve and core the apples.  Melt the butter in an 8-in cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and then add the brown sugar.  Arrange the apples cut side down in the pan, making sure they are squeezed tightly.
  2. Cook until the juices from the apples bubble, then turn down to a simmer and cover the pan with a lid.  Continue cooking until the apples are tender and most of the liquid in the pan has evaporated, about 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from stove, flip the apples so they are cut side up and allow to cool completely.


  1. Rub the softened butter and flour between your thumb and index fingers.  After several minutes it will begin to incorporate into the flour.  Continue until the butter is in pea-size pieces.  Stir in the sour cream until completely incorporated.
  2. Turn out the dough and knead until smooth.  Form into a disk and cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Roll out the dough on your floured work surface so it is big enough to cover the pan plus about 1 inch.  Transfer the dough to the top of the pan, molding the overhanging dough to the side of the pan.  Sprinkle with the granulated sugar and bake until the pastry is golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool until warm.

Place a large plate over the top of the pan and flip the whole thing upside down.  Dig in!

From Chris Taylor’s Twenty Dinners.

Apple Crumble

apple crumbleI wanted a nice dessert to go along with my roast stuffed pork and and roasted pumpkin and delicata squash. Since I was going with the whole seasonal autumn thing, and I wanted something fairly quick and easy, I went with an apple crumble. There is always room for an apple, right?

Apple Crumble

Yield: 6 servings


4 large, flavorful baking apples (I used Golden Delicious and Pink Lady)

1/2 of a lemon

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup rolled oats (quick-cooking or regular)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans

1 rounded teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 stick of softened butter

1/4 cup apple juice or cider

vanilla ice cream or heavy cream to serve


  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Lavishly butter an 8 inch square baking pan
  3. Peel and core the apples, rub them all over with the cut lemon and thinly slice
  4. Place the apples in the buttered dish. Mix all of the other ingredients except for the apple jiuce and ice cream together so that you have clumps of streusel.
  5. Distribute the streusel over the apples and then drizzle the juice over the top.
  6. Bake for 35 minutes or until the apples are tender to a knife and the topping is nicely browned. Serve warm with ice cream or heavy cream.

Apple pie with cheddar cheese crust and hard sauce

apple pie with hard sauce

Yesterday I was playing around with my standard apple pie recipe. I made a crust with cheddar cheese in it and I will serve the warm pie with a hard sauce using a good Kentucky Bourbon. This is my fall dessert to go with my short ribs in buckwheat honey and brown ale. I was at the farmers’ market yesterday and shlepped home some wonderful heirloom baking apples and beautiful green and yellow beans. I also picked up fresh arugula – not the pretty but anemic tasting arugula you buy at the grocery store (Yes, even at Whole Foods!) This arugula has that wonderful peppery bite and will be a good foil for the rich meat, which I will serve over a bed of polenta.

But back to the pie. My mother made THE best apple pie – hands down. Part of it was the fact that apples in those days had more flavor, were local and we got a kind in the East, where I grew up, that I can’t get in Chicago. Thankfully now I have access to some pretty good apples so I have high hopes for this pie. The crust is a bit of an experiment.

NOTE: So now we have eaten the pie and I have a few comments. The crust is not as flaky as the classic Crisco crust I make; however, it was VERY easy to work with and was still better than any store bought crust. The cheddar cheese did not come through as much as I would have liked, so assuming I wanted to try it again, I would sprinkle additional cheese on top of the crust, instead of sugar, before baking. The hard sauce was wonderful with the warm pie, but so was vanilla ice cream.

Lisa’s Apple Pie with Cheddar Cheese Crust and Hard Sauce

Yields: 8 servings


Dough for deep dish double crust 

2 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

4 Tablespoons finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

about 5 cracks of fresh black pepper

1 stick Crisco baking stick from the freezer

8 Tablespoons ice cold water and 2 Tablespoons plain Greek Yogurt or sour cream

For the Filling

6-7 good baking apples (either one kind or a mix), peeled, cored and thinly sliced – about 3+ pounds     apple slices

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon strong cinnamon, like Saigon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

3 Tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1 Tablespoon butter

Zest of one lemon

half of a lemon to keep apples from browning

2 Tablespoons of cream (you can use milk or soy milk or an egg yolk mixed with 1 Tablespoon of water) and sanding sugar (optional)

For the Hard Sauce – by Ree Drummond

1 stick of slightly softened butter

1.5 cups of confectioner’s sugar

2 generous Tablespoons of Kentucky Bourbon or Rum or Brandy


  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, cheddar cheese, pepper and salt. Pulse a few times to mix well. Add the frozen Crisco stick (divide the stick into 16 pieces). Pulse until the mixture is the size of frozen peas.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt and ice water until well combined. Pour it over the flour mixture and run the machine just until the dough starts to form a ball.  It will seem relatively wet compared to other pastry. Don’t worry! Turn it out onto waxed paper or plastic wrap and divide the dough into two pieces and form two disks. (Make a ball and then flatten it.)  Wrap the dough and refrigerate it for at least one hour or overnight. This can be made a couple of days ahead if you like.
  3. When ready to bake the pie, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Have a deep dish pie plate ready to use. Remove the dough from the fridge.
  4. On a lightly floured cold surface or on a pastry cloth (please buy one) place one disk of cold dough. Using a rolling pin, covered with a pastry sleeve, roll out the dough by turning the disk in one quarter turns every couple of rolls. Roll from the center outwards. The turning prevents the dough from sticking. If you need to add a few sprinkles of flour periodically, do so, but don’t add too much. Just enough to keep things from sticking. Roll the dough into a circle (more or less) a couple of inches larger than the baking plate.
  5. Placing your rolling pin at one end of the dough, gently flip up the pastry cloth to force the dough over the rolling pin. Gently roll the dough overrolling crust onto rolling pin the rolling pin and lift it into the pie plate. Gently roll back the rolling pin so that the rolling crust into pie platedough falls off into the plate.
  6. You should have an overhang of an inch or two. Try to trim it with a knife so it is relatively even. If you can, place the pie plate and dough in the fridge while you work on the filling.
  7. After you peel the apples, rub them lightly with the lemon juice and place the slices in a bowl with the cinnamon, sugar, salt and flour. Gently toss with a spatula and set aside.
  8. Take your second dough disk out of the fridge and roll that out to be a couple of inches larger than the first disk.
  9. Remove the pie plate from the fridge and fill with the apples, mounding them in the middle. Try to make sure there are very few gaps between apples. Dot the apples with butter.  apple pie ready for top crust
  10. Carefully pick up the rolled out dough onto the rolling pin and place over the top of the pie. Don’t panic if there are a few minor splits. We can fix that. Fold the edges of the top and bottom crust together and under. If there is too much dough, feel free to trim. You want to end up with a one inch edge that is about double the thickness of the rest of the dough. You can either crimp the dough, pinching it between your fingers or you can take a fork and press down on the dough.
  11. Make four slits in the top of the dough (try to be a bit decorative) to allow the steam to escape. If you had any splits in the dough, take a bit of excess dough and roll it out thinly. Either using a cookie cutter or a knife, cut out a leaf or an apple shape. Using your finger, wipe water on one side and “glue” it over the cuts. (You still need the steam holes so don’t cover them!)
  12. Brush with either an egg yolk mixed with one Tablespoon of water or brush with milk or cream and sprinkle on sanding sugar. This last part is optional but it is pretty.    apple pie ready for baking
  13. Place the pie on a baking sheet to catch any drips and bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees F. Then lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. and bake for approximately 45 minutes more until the crust is lovely and golden brown. Don’t worry if there is some liquid oozing out. If the crust edges seem to be browning too quickly, cover them with some foil or a pastry ring. If you plan on making pies, treat yourself to one. They are not expensive and sooooooooooo much easier to use than foil.
  14. While the pie is baking, make the hard sauce. It can be made ahead and will keep in the fridge for at least a week. Be sure to take it out of the fridge a few hours before serving. Of making the same day as the pie, just leave it out, covered.
  15. Beat the butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Carefully add in the confectioner’s sugar and beat on low until it starts to be incorporated. Then add in the Bourbon and whip until light. Put over into a bowl and serve over warm pie or cake or crumbles.
  16. Remove the pie to a cooling rack. The pie can be cut when slightly warm.

NOTE: If you have any left-over dough, you can roll it out when you are ready and cut out shapes to bake dookies – a name my older sister gave to them when she was a little girl and it stuck (dough cookies). Because this dough has cheddar cheese, I would brush the shapes with a bit of cream and sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Otherwise, you can sprinkle the cookies with a bit of sugar or sugar mixed with cinnamon. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 10-12 minutes.

Apple Cake – Take 2

apple cake

Frances and I always tell each other what we are making and recipes that we discovered. We send each other photos and our respective husbands drool. So when I heard that Frances was making an apple cake for the holidays, I decided that it sounded like a good idea. Mine is adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman. Frances turned me on to her website about a year ago and she is often a fun read for me when work is less than exciting. I have to admit that I prefer reading her blog than making her recipes, but I already knew that Frances had made this cake with great success. Since I am almost incapable of NOT changing a recipe, I made several tweaks – and one BIG mistake, which turned out to be actually quite a good discovery. Here is my version.

Apple Cake – adapted from Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Yield: 12 – 16 servings


6 baking apples like MacIntosh, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 to 3/4 inch cubes ( I happened to be at the Farmer’s Market, so was able to purchase some heirloom baking variety apple to use)

1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 cups plus 5 Tablespoons granulated sugar (See NOTE below. You can use less sugar if you want. I would think that 1.5 cups is perfect plus the 5 Tablespoons)

2.5 cups all purpose unbleached flour

1/4 cup toasted wheat germ (I like Kretschmer’s)

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 cup Canola oil

1/4 cup orange juice

2.5 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

2 Tablespoons brandy or cognac

Zest of one orange

4 large eggs

1 cup walnuts, chopped

Confectioner’s sugar for sifting over the top


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and generously butter or coat with nonstick spray a 10 inch tube pan with straight sides (think Angel Food cake pan).
  2. Peel, core and chop the apples and toss them with the cinnamon and 5 Tablespoons of the granulated sugar. Add the orange zest.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Then add the wheat germ, which won’t go through the sifter. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, orange juice, remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, vanilla bean paste, brandy and eggs.
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ones, scraping down the bowl to make sure that everything is thoroughly combined. Stir in the walnuts.
  5. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Spread half of the apple chunks over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake for about 1.5 hours or until the tester comes out clean. You can learn to smell when baked goods are ready. Set your timer, but try seeing if you can smell when the cake is done. It’s a good skill to learn because every oven is different and timing can be off.
  6. When the cake is finished, transfer it to a rack to cool completely. When it is completely cool you can flip it out of the pan and then over onto a serving platter with the apples facing down. Dust with confectioner’s sugar. This cake will get moister as it ages. It will last for about 3 days if covered.

NOTE: I have a confession to make. I got distracted when I was making the cake and only realized AFTER I had put everything nicely into the pan that I had forgotten to add the 2 cups of sugar to the batter. I didn’t panic and I didn’t want to lose the good ingredients or time I had already put into it. I suppose I could have taken everything out of the pan and mixed the apples through the cake along with the sugar, but I didn’t. I took 1/4 cup of sugar and evenly poured it over the top layer of apples. I then hoped for the best. The result was delicious apple bread. There was extra sweetness from the confectioners sugar on top. Cake would need to be somewhat sweeter in my opinion, but the texture and look was wonderful. My husband had the great idea of using Frances’ baked French toast recipe using the apple cake in place of the challah and adding 1/2 cup of raisins (no blueberries) to the mix. The point is, stuff happens – even with people who cook and bake a LOT. Don’t panic – think it through. Sometimes the experiment is great – sometimes not.

slice of apple cake

Whole Wheat Apple Cake

There’s something about adding whole wheat to cakes and cookies that always make them seem “healthier.”  If nothing else, it tends to add a subtle textural difference to the average cake.


I came across this recipe from the same book that the Siniyeh came from as I wanted to make something with apples for the holidays.  This was before we went apple picking, but we were able to find some beautiful apples at the farmer’s market that I lugged on the subway home, just to make sure this turned out right!


I wish I could bake cakes and cookies more, but as there are only two of us to consume them, we’ve been trying to pace our sweets.  I’ve always loved cooking and baking with apples, and it’s fun to have an excuse to look for new, inventive ways to use apples in a sweet dish.  I did substitute the EVOO for the canola oil, and it turned out delicious all the same!

This was great because I didn’t need to make a separate crust or peel the apples, and I was able to throw it together in a jiffy.  We drizzled some honey on the slices, and it was perfection.


  • 4 medium Golden Delicious (or any good baking apple) apples
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup EVOO
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • Honey, for drizzling (optional)


  1. Grease a 12 cup Bundt pan or tube pan well.  Coarsley chop the apples into 1/2″ pieces.  (Not necessary to peel the apples).  Preheat the oven for 350 degrees.
  2. Put the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, and oil into a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light.  Beat in the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg.  Mix in the all-purpose and whole wheat flours and baking soda until just combined.  Batter will be very thick.
  3. Stir in the fruits and nuts by hand.
  4. Turn out the batter into the prepared pan, and bake at 350 degrees for about 80-90 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Cool on a pan on a rack for 15 minutes, then turn the cake out of the pan to cool completely on a wire rack.
  6. Serve with drizzled honey or sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar.

Adapted from The New Jewish Holiday Cookbook by Gloria Kaufer Greene