Apple Tartlets for National Pie Day

It’s National Pie day today! And as you can see, I almost forgot about it and I’m posting this very late. But better late than never. Well here I am, bringing to you mini apple tartlets and apple turnovers! I think apple pie will always be my first love when it comes to pies (although I have many other favorites), it’s just SO delicious! Especially if you have a scoop of vanilla ice cream (yuuuumm!)

We’ve actually been pretty sick lately, and I’ve also been busy with work. I think this cold is going around because I heard quite a few people had it. #notfun

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This is the first time I tried this crust for apple tartlets. Surprisingly it turned out amazingly delicious! And you wanna know why? Because the crust has lard in it, that’s what gives it great flavor and wonderful texture as well.

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Oh, and for the apples, I never use Granny Smith when I make pies (we don’t really like those). We found a great deal for Jonagold apples and they are SO sweet!! I think that’s another big reason why these turned out so good! In my humble opinion. 🙂

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By the way, don’t mind the triangle thingy on top. My sister asked me to put some crust on top and this is the fastest shape I cut out. It actually looks like a piece of pie though. 🙂

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So I actually made these as turnovers first and then made tartlets. Both are equally delicious, although I think that since this dough is a bit frail, you have to work gently with the turnovers or else the dough will break.

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But if you’ve ever had McDonald’s apple pie, this is kinda how these taste (maybe better? 😉 ).  This is another great version instead of using the traditional puff pastry.

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I think you should definitely try them soon! And please tell me, what have you been baking lately? Any pies?

Now the recipe I found for the crust was written in Metric measurements. Trust me I would’ve converted it online for you, but I tried doing that once and the recipe didn’t turn out that well (I’m guessing that’s why). So I just use a digital scale to weigh everything. If you want, convert at your own risk, but I’ll post the recipe for the crust only in Metric. 🙂

Apple Tartlets or Apple Turnovers

Ingredients:

Crust:

250 grams lard
150 grams confectioners sugar
100 grams Sour cream or yogurt (last time I actually used buttermilk and they turned out great)
2 eggs
1 tsp. vinegar
10 grams baking powder
Approx. 600 grams flour

Apple Filling:

8-10 apples peeled, cored, and cubed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon (maybe less if you don’t prefer that much, I don’t really measure it)
1/2 a lemon juice
3 Tbsp. Arrowroot powder (you can use cornstarch if you want)

Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. water)
Raw sugar

Directions:

In a large bowl mix together the lard and powdered sugar. Add the eggs and sour cream and stir until mixture becomes smooth and creamy. Then add the vinegar. Slowly begin by adding the flour as well as the baking powder. Continue mixing and adding flour until mixture can no longer be handled with a wooden spoon and then hand knead.  Add enough flour so that a soft dough forms and it doesn’t stick to your hands anymore. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hr.

To make the filling, peel, core and dice your apples. Add the white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice and arrowroot powder and mix until combined. Pour the mixture in a pot and place over medium-high heat stirring occasionally. Leave them on the stove for about 5-8 mins. until the mixture has thickened and the apples have softened. Take the apples off the heat and set aside until completely cooled.

On a floured surface roll out your dough about 1/8 in. thick. If you’re doing tartlets cut out 4 in. round shapes with a cookie cutter and place them in a muffin pan. Then spoon about 1-2 Tbsp. of your apple mixture in each pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-15 min. or until deep golden brown.

If you’re doing turnovers, cut your dough into squares (depending on how big you want your turnovers, you can decide the size of your squares). Spoon about 1 Tbsp. of your apple filling in the center, and then seal it in a triangle shape. Place each turnover on a baking sheet and brush the tops with the egg wash. Sprinkle light with some raw sugar and bake the turnovers for about 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Dust with powdered sugar.

Enjoy! 

Jessica the Baker

Dark Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Buttercream

I don’t know if any other food bloggers out there have this problem, but some of the things I bake and take pictures of, don’t find themselves on my blog. 🙂 Today I realized I can do about three posts with desserts that I made about 1 1/2 to 2 years ago!

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So I made this cake in May of 2013 for my sister’s birthday (who’s almost 14 now! gasp!). But I remember that it had a great taste, and I especially loved the frosting. But everyone was a little like “um…it’s kind of dry…” Hey people, at least it wasn’t so mushy it was falling apart! 🙂

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And of course, you can never have enough chocolate so you need some extra chocolate Ganache on top. Not only does it taste extra delicious, but it looks so pretty! If you’re not much into cake decorating, this will definitely make you look like a pro! And I don’t know about you, but I love the combination of chocolate and fruit, especially raspberry and strawberry.

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Yep, who needs to pipe on frosting when you’ve got raspberries that makes it look like it’s from a professional bakery? 🙂

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PicMonkey Collage 3When I found these pictures on my computer, I searched my blog to see if I posted this cake. At one point I thought I did, and I almost couldn’t believe when I saw that I didn’t. I should work on getting more recipes posted this year. No more postponing/forgetting to post dessert. People need cake!! 🙂

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Yes, amid post-holiday life, taxes, getting back into the daily grind of life (we refer to it as the month of January) we need to stop for a minute and enjoy a piece of cake!

I actually have 2 sisters and a few cousins and aunts born in January so it wouldn’t be fair to them to make the month of January all a month of dieting. You know what they say, “A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand”

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 In this case we need a slice of cake on each plate to balance out these gloomy winter days. And no, I didn’t plan two raspberry posts back to back, it just happened. 🙂

Go HERE to get the recipe!

Enjoy! 

Jessica the Baker

Homemade Raspberry Lemonade

So it looks like 2015 is upon us and the holidays are already over! It feels like they rushed passed us at a high speed this year! Is it just me, or does anyone else feel like it takes them about a week to realize the New Year is upon them? And now everyone’s New Year’s resolution is to start eating healthier and get fitter, etc. I already went through that during the holiday season. But I still managed to enjoy some yummy desserts, and feasted on great holiday food. 🙂

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  I still want to continue eating healthy, but it’s not like I’m going on a diet this January. 🙂 #ihatedietsanyway

So today I’m bringing you a lemonade.

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I love a good lemonade! What you will NEVER find in my pantry or freezer is lemonade from mix or from concentrate. Eew! Those taste disgusting in my opinion. And not only do they taste bad, but they’re full of goodness knows what! Seriously, our family never buys that stuff.

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When I hear the word lemonade I think about the squeeze-the-lemons-add-water type of lemonade. And what’s great about it is that you not only know exactly what goes in it, but you can regulate the amount of sweetness to your liking.

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Most of the time we use regular water, but when we want to make it more “special” we’ll use club soda. As for sweeteners, we used to add sugar but now we add honey and it gives it incredible flavor. We even tried brown sugar once, and that gives it an interesting taste.

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As you can see, this time we added some raspberries to it and made pink lemonade. Again, no need to use chemically colored lemonade to get pink lemonade. The raspberries add such a lovely taste, and you can also use strawberries to make it pink if you don’t like raspberries. Many times when we have oranges on hand we’ll add those. Really, you can play around with it in a million one ways!

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This is how many lemons we need to use for our family of 9. Or more! 🙂

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It is health in a cup! Plus it’s delicious, so you win *wink*. 🙂 What better way to start the New Year than by ditching your lemonade mix? I think this would be a great step towards eating (or drinking) healthier this year. You will literally feel transported to summer when you taste this, and with all this nasty weather around I know a lot of people are already longing for it. This couldn’t be easier, and really there’s not much of a recipe to it but I’ll give you some guidelines anyway. 🙂

Homemade Raspberry Lemonade

This is an approximate recipe for about one serving

Ingredients:

1 Lemon
1 1/2 cups water (approx. depends how diluted you want it)
1/8 (maybe even less) cup raspberries (or strawberries if you prefer)
Honey or sugar to your personal preference

Directions:

Squeeze the lemon into a big glass. Add the honey or sugar and mix until dissolved. Crush the raspberries and mix them in the lemon mixture. Next add the water. About 1 to 1/2 cups of water depending on how concentrated you like it, taste as you go.

Enjoy!

Jessica the Baker

Gingerbread Town

I am racing against the time and trying to post this as fast as possible while the calender still says December. I wanted to show you the gingerbread houses my sisters and I made. I “stole” these pictures from my sister Becky because I’m in a big rush! I know that Christmas is over, but I really wanted to share with you the last bit of our Christmas celebration before the New Year is upon us.

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I know this will shock you, but this is the first time we made gingerbread houses! And it’s probably going to be the last time. Ha! The whole process was a bit chaotic, and there were lots some tears shed by some of my younger sisters whose houses were kind of collapsing during the building process.

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We actually used chocolate sugar cookies instead of gingerbread cookies. My 4-year-old sister Caroline was hilarious. She would put 3 M&Ms on her gingerbread house, stare at them for a few seconds, and then pick them one by one and pop them in her mouth. 🙂 Little kids…

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In the end, they still had fun, and we ended up with a little gingerbread town. 🙂 My little house is the one in the back with the 2 pillars. Kind of pathetic looking, but not only am I not an artsy person, I was low on frosting and candy so that was the best I could come up with. And mine was actually the first one to collapse. 🙂

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It looks like our little town was attacked by some enemies. 😉

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We also gave some Christmas treats to our mailman. He was pleased!

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Our Christmas tablescape. Very similar with our Thanksgiving one.

Now I can breath a sigh of relief and wish you all a Happy & Blessed 2015!

Happy New Year!!!!

Jessica the Baker

Gingerbread

Wow! Christmas is just 5 days away! Does anyone else feel like it’s coming way too fast? I’m not even done Christmas shopping!  But I’m loving all this Christmas baking.Yum, yum! I’m definitely making my Cinnamon Rolls for Christmas morning breakfast. It’s a tradition we’ve started a few years ago, and we always look forward to it.

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So to stick with the European Christmas desserts I’ve been posting here lately, I’m sharing yet another Romanian recipe with you. I tried these gingerbread for the first time from scratch (I always ate them store-bought) and they were amazing.

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They’re not exactly a cookie, more like a cross between a cookie and a cake, if that makes sense. And compared to the traditional American gingerbread cookies, these don’t have molasses in them, but they’re really good!

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My dad doesn’t like gingerbread cookies but he actually loves this gingerbread. These are a little more dense, and sometimes they are best after a few days even if they harden a little bit. And they are glazed with a gingerbread glaze…the best part!

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These gingerbreads would work perfectly with coffee, hot chocolate, or tea. Traditionally they are called “Turta Dulce” which literally means sweet cake.

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These would be perfect to give as gifts. I know for most people Christmas is a lot about cookies. Well, how about giving someone a little something different? A new style of gingerbread cookies? I can guarantee you people will love these!

Comment if you want the recipe!

Jessica the Baker

Sweet Walnut Bread + Sweet Crescent Rolls

We’ve been doing some Christmas baking and sharing, as well as Christmas caroling lately! I love spreading the Christmas cheer to everyone around me! 🙂

It’s not Christmas in our house if we don’t make this delicious sweet walnut bread. My sister is usually in charge to make it every year, and this year is going to be no different. It always disappears way too fast! This year she decided to make a video showing you how to make it! I’m excited to share it with you!

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This sweet walnut bread is a traditional Romanian holiday dessert. It has a chocolate walnut filling with rum essence. The rum essence is what gives this bread it’s special, unique, and delicious taste!

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And because everything is much cuter in miniature form, I also made mini sweet walnut breads!

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They turned out absolutely darling, and I’m so glad I had the perfect cupcake liners to put them in!

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When you break into one of these soft breads it’s like eating a soft sweet pillow.

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Seriously, these are a chocolate walnut version of cinnamon rolls (these don’t have cinnamon though).

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I had leftover filling so I made these crescent rolls that are also a Romanian dessert. We love European desserts! 🙂

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Traditionally these are filled with jam, but this time I just used the chocolate filling and they turned out amazing!

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Now it was time to share! We packed some mini walnut muffins together with some crescent rolls and headed to our neighbors to carol and share some of our Christmas baking.

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I wanted to make some Pinterest-inspired packaging, but I’m not too artistic (I had a Pintrosity moment) and since we were in hurry, I just used a regular paper plate wrapped in plastic foil, and tied it with baker’s twine. My sister had the idea of adding the gingerbread tag. It turned out pretty cute after all (I think).

 What have you been baking this Christmas season? What is your favorite Christmas dessert?

Jessica the Baker

Caramel Brownies

I have the most decadent recipe for you today! Has anyone been on Pinterest lately? It’s a dangerous place I tell you, especially around the holidays. You see things like sticky buns, scones, caramel this and caramel that…ooey gooey delicious recipes, and you just want to try them all! At least I do. 🙂 snowflakes,and raindropes 243

 I haven’t done much Christmas baking actually…which isn’t really fun. But I hope to share more recipes with you soon!

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For now let’s talk about these caramel brownies. They are thebomb.com! Really, these are otherwise known as killer brownies because they are just that good!

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You can even add walnuts, pecans, chocolate chips, maybe even butterscotch chips or something like that if you really want to bring these to the top! I want to do that next time I make these.

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These would make a p-e-r-f-e-c-t Christmas gift! I know a lot people like to give food gifts around this time of year as well. Who wouldn’t want to receive such a treat? I know I would! 🙂

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And to make these even more festive, you can even sprinkle crushed candy canes on top!

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I mean, just look at that caramel! I’ve seen these kind of brownies on Pinterest too many times, I just had to try them for myself and I’m so glad I did. We brought them over to our friend’s house and they said they’re delectable. So you gotta believe they’re delicious!

Caramel Brownies

caramel recipe taken from here

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter (melted)
1/2 oil
1 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
4 eggs
2 cups sugar

Caramel Filling:

14 oz. caramel candies (unwrapped)
1/3 cup heavy cream

Any nuts and chocolate chips of your choice

Powdered sugar for dusting the top

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a saucepan mix together melted butter, oil, and whisk in cocoa powder until smooth. In a large bowl mix together the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix the cocoa mixture with the egg mixture until smooth. Fold in the flour mixture (without the mixture) until fully incorporated. Pour half the batter in a greased 13×9 in. baking pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 10 min. or until the brownie firms up a bit.

To make the caramel, combine the caramel and heavy cream in a small saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Stir frequently until the caramels are fully melted. At this point you can add any nuts of your choice to the melted caramel. Pour the melted caramel over the bottom part of the brownies. Pour the remaining brownie batter over the caramel layer, taking care to pour and spread it evenly otherwise it will be difficult to spread evenly over the caramel layer. You can also add more nuts on top and even chocolate chip if you wish. Bake for another 10-15 min. or until the brownies are completely cooked through. Let them cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar (or even crushed candy canes if you want to look festive).

Enjoy!

Jessica the Baker

Thanksgiving Recap

I don’t know about you, but before I could start thinking about Christmas, for a while I was still savoring the wonderful Thanksgiving we had. So today I wanted to share with you a peak into our day.

Note: Be prepared for a blog post overloaded with pictures because I have so many to choose from, I simply have too many favorites!

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My sister Becky was in charge of the decorations and she did a marvelous job! Check out her side of the story on her blog here. She got a lot of ideas from Pinterest (of course) but she really put them together in a beautiful way

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There were a lot of little special touches that made everything look special, and a lot of them were just things we had lying around our house

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Our Thanksgiving table has never looked more beautiful!

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A little personal reminder to everyone who ate, what Thanksgiving is really all about.

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We had a combination of family and friends and were a total of 33 people! But I love big celebrations, the more the merrier! 🙂

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The food table piled with all kinds of goodies!  Everyone pulled together and made a different dish. The menu was: Laura Vitale’s Turkey (made by my uncle and cousin which turned out very delicious!), scalloped potatoes, gravy, corn casserole, green beans, cranberry sauce, salad, homemade sausages, potato salad, ham biscuits, cornbread, and quiche DSC_1421

Some gluten free dishes for those that are gluten free in our family…no one should miss a good Thanksgiving dinner even if they can’t eat gluten 🙂

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Okay,  so I didn’t get to make the pumpkin shaped pretzel rolls I mentioned earlier, there wasn’t time…and with the cornbread I used…m-i-x (*sheepish grin*). I know it’s unheard of from me because I’m totally into baking everything from scratch, but when you have so many things on your mind, sometimes you just have to find easier ways. Plus it was organic so I guess it wasn’t that bad. 🙂

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Loved the  idea my cousin had of putting the cranberry sauce in a grapefruit shell! It looked really pretty.

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Dessert, my favorite! It was kept on the side so that no one could sneak any pieces before dinner 🙂

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My cousin’s apple pie

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My very rustic-looking mini pumpkin pies. 🙂 I tried Laura Vitale’s recipe and they turned out really delicious!

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My other cousin’s gluten free apple crumb pie

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So for dessert we had: 1 berry pie, mini pumpkin pies, 2 apple pies (1 gluten free), 2 pecan pies (1 chocolate), 1 raspberry chocolate cake, and persimmon cookies

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Both pecan pies were absolutely delicious! I have to ask my cousin for the recipe to make it myself. And yes, I was glad when we ended up with some leftovers. 😉

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I made my berry pie with a crumb topping instead of lattice topping per my sisters request

We had lots of food, and lots of sweet fellowship with one another. Plus a crazy attempt to take a big group picture, while even attempting a big group selfie. 🙂 We managed though!

And now I want to hear from all of you! What did you have for your Thanksgiving dinner? What was your favorite dish? I hope your Thanksgiving was blessed!

You can go here and get Laura Vitale’s mini pumpkin pies recipes. It’s really delicious!

Now we can start thinking about Christmas. 🙂 I already have something yummy to share with you!

Jessica the Baker

Apple-Berry Pie

I realize that Thanksgiving is less than a week away and my blog has been completely silent, while other baking blogs out there have been bursting with delicious recipe ideas. But seriously where did the time go?! How is it that we are already at the end November?

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 So, I decided to bring to you an Apple-Berry lattice pie!

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 For me it’s just not Thanksgiving without a pie, or two, or three…:) Wouldn’t you agree? Please comment and tell me your favorite kind of pie, I’m really curious!

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I’m planning on making this for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner along with a pumpkin pie (I hope it turns out well)

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I usually make a Cranberry-Berry pie, but this time I tried an Apple-Berry version since I had more apples on hand and less berries. In the fall/winter I usually use frozen berries since they’re not in season, I don’t let the weather take away my berry pie. 🙂

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Now, please forgive the quality of the pictures…it seems like I always end up baking towards the evening, and we all know that natural light is the best for food photography, but when your light is gone, you have to accept this…

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Just trust me when I tell you this was one beautiful pie! I’m so glad I learned how to make a lattice top, it really just brings this to a whole new level of beauty. And of course the test is always in the taste, and this pie has nailed it! The apples and the berries come together beautifully in a delicious blend.

So what are your plans for this Thanksgiving? Are you hosting or visiting? What are you making? Besides two pies, I’m making lots of buttermilk biscuits, cornbread muffins, and probably some pumpkin shaped pretzel rolls (hopefully mine will turn out nearly as good as the ones down below). Check back soon to see how they turn out!

Pumpkin shaped dinner buns. Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin...

Apple-Berry Pie

Bottom Crust:

2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 sticks (1 cup) very cold butter
4 tbsp. water (very cold)
2 tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla

Filling:

6 Apples (diced)
1/2 cup cranberries
1/4 cup blackberries
1/4 cup blueberries
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cups brown sugar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 arrowroot powder (you can also use cornstarch)

Directions:

Cut the butter into the flour and salt with a pastry cutter. Add the vanilla, vinegar, and water, and mix until dough forms. It might be a little crumbly but that’s okay. Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour. Peel core and dice the apples. Ad the white sugar, brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and arrowroot powder. Pour the apple mixture in a medium saucepan and place it on the stove over medium heat until the apples become slightly tender. Add the berries and mix. Pour the filling in the pie pan lined with the pie crust. Roll out the remaining dough into about a 8″ circle and cut outstrips that are about 1/2″ wide. Brush some egg wash all over the edge and place your strips in a criss cross pattern all over the top and trim off the extra dough. Brush the top of the stripes with a bit more egg wash, bake the pie for about 25 to 30 minutes at 350 or until golden brown. Allow it to cool completely before serving.

Enjoy!

Jessica the Baker