Apple Crumble Cake

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I have been keeping some big news from you the last few months—Chris and I are expecting! We are delighted to welcome a baby girl into to our family this January.

The announcement of this baby feels extra sweet because we were not sure this day would ever come to pass. I was born with a heart condition, which carries its own unique set of challenges. Since my teenage years, my doctors have placed a question mark over my head when it comes to the idea of carrying my own children. While I knew I wanted a family someday, the path to creating that family was always in question.

I came to terms with the uncertainty, researching adoption and surrogacy in equal measure. I was fortunate to find a wonderful husband who was open to whichever path life would eventually deal us. Yet, I still fantasized about pregnancy—how could I not? But I knew deep down it was a distant dream that may never be fulfilled.

When I was officially given the doctors’ blessing, it felt like I had been awarded a golden ticket. Happily, I can report that so far this pregnancy has been healthy, for both mother and baby. I was lucky to completely avoid many of the classic pregnancy symptoms, including morning sickness. In many ways, I have felt completely normal except for the ever expanding waistline.

As I near the third trimester, the aches, pains, and exhaustion are slowly starting to set in. Even so, these inconveniences pale in comparison to the moments when our baby shares her little kicks and movements with me. I’m trying to enjoy this time, knowing it is so brief.

I find it hard to believe that we’ll be parents in a few short months.

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While this baby hasn’t brought about any food cravings, she does seem to have a preference for salty foods over sweet. Though there will always be room in my diet for cookies, I have been leaning heavily towards natural sugars the last few months, particularly enjoying the sweetness found in summer fruits.

With autumn’s arrival and apple season in full swing, I took the opportunity to create a cake to take advantage of the harvest and fall’s comfort spices. This Apple Crumble Cake is sweetened primarily with honey, which lends the cake a subtle sweetness and depth of flavor that traditional sugar alone cannot provide. Because the cake is not overly sweetened, I recommend using apples that are on the sweeter end of the spectrum, which truly allow the apple flavor to shine.

Along with a cinnamon crumble topping, the slices disappear quickly.

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This Apple Crumble Cake celebrates autumn’s apple season. The cake is sweetened with honey and spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Sweet apple pieces are baked evenly throughout the cake, which provide additional sweetness and texture. After baking, I recommend cooling the cake completely before cutting and serving so the flavors have time to develop. Serve the cake plain or warmed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

One Year Ago: Spiced Chocolate Swirled Bread
Two Years Ago: Roasted Fig & Almond Cake
Three Years Ago: Carrot Almond Muffins
Four Years Ago: Espresso Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake & Boiled Cider
Five Years Ago: Vanilla Bean Malt Cake, Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread, Apple Cinnamon Pancakes, & Classic Apple Pie
Six Years Ago: Pumpkin Espresso Cake, Triple Coconut CookiesChewy Vanilla Bean Bars, & Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
Seven Years Ago: Pumpkin Granola, Chocolate Cherry Bread, Pumpkin Spice Latte, & Oatmeal Raisin Crisps
Eight Years Ago: Maple Roasted Bananas, Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes, & Butternut Squash Custard

Apple Crumble Cake

Yields 10-12 servings

Apple Cake
2 1/4 cups (270 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (118 mL) vegetable oil
1 cup (340 grams) honey
2 large eggs
4 cups (500 grams or about 4 medium) apples, peeled, cored, and finely diced

Crumble Topping
3/4 cup (90 grams) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (67 grams) brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons (67 grams) butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a 10-cup tube pan and set aside.

For the cake, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the vegetable oil, honey, and eggs until uniform. The batter will be thick. Stir in the diced apples and set aside.

For the crumble, stir together the flour, brown sugar, spices, and butter in a medium mixing bowl until uniform and crumbly. Set aside.

In prepared pan, spread out cake batter evenly. Sprinkle the top with the crumble topping and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before transferring cake to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

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With a whirlwind of a summer behind me—planning a wedding, getting married (!), and taking a full load of graduate credits at the same time—I feel like I haven't had time to catch my breath before the back-to-school season set in.

As a teacher, the start of a new school year keeps me on my toes as I get my classroom and lessons in order. When classes begin, there is an adjustment period where my feet have to get used to the long hours of standing, my throat has to adapt to a steady stream of talking in the classic teacher voice, and my brain has to refocus on jumping between ideas at a rapid pace.

As my students and I find our new routine, the high energy required in the first couple weeks of school can be draining. This makes weekends a welcome time to recover. 

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I stayed close to home last weekend, enjoying a couple walks around the neighborhood, catching up on summer TV shows, and savoring the quiet before another work week. For the first time in what feels like weeks, I also spent some real time in the kitchen.

While the self-watering planters I built this summer did not turn out as planned (only the herbs, green beans, and bell peppers were spared from root rot), luckily the CSA (community supported agriculture) I support has been particularly fruitful.

With an abundance of zucchini filling the drawers of my refrigerator, I baked four loaves of zucchini bread before creating something a little more decadent in these double chocolate zucchini muffins.

These Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins take advantage of the late season squash. The muffins feature plenty of chocolate chunks and a hint of cinnamon for a warmer touch. I prefer to heat these up for a few seconds in the microwave until the chocolate just begins to melt. With a large glass of milk, these muffins make for a perfect afternoon snack after a long day at school.

Pro tip: Reserve a couple ounces of chocolate to sprinkle over the top to make the muffins look extra delicious. 

One Year Ago: Plum Almond Tart
Three Years Ago: Blueberry Honey Scones
Four Years Ago: Homemade Chocolate Hazelnut Spread 
Five Years Ago: Vanilla Ice Cream Cake, Honeyed Apricot Granola Bars, & Chocolate Banana Chip Cookies
Six Years Ago: Rum Raisin Oatmeal Cookies, Banana Rum Bread, Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins, & Pear Chocolate Muffins
Seven Years Ago: 3 Milk Coconut Cake, Tomato Basil Tart, & Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread
Eight Years Ago: Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Banana Bread 

Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Yields 1 dozen muffins

3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (118 ml) vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (about 180 grams) grated zucchini, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup (150 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (21 grams) cocoa powder
6 ounces (170 grams) semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (or 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a muffin pan with baking cups.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla until well combined. Stir in the grated zucchini. Mix in the cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Fold in the flour and cocoa powder, mixing until the batter becomes uniform. Stir in the chopped chocolate.

Fill baking cups 3/4 full and bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. For best texture, let the muffins cool before eating.

Blueberry Galette with Cornmeal Thyme Crust

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I'm thrilled to be officially married to my best friend! At the moment, married life does not feel very different, but I suppose when you have been together over eight years you are comfortable in your relationship. Although this day was a long time coming, it still feels strange to call Chris my husband.

Our wedding day was a hot, humid ninety-degree day with no wind to provide relief, but the rain blessedly stayed away. The sun was covered by a hazy sky from wildfire smoke which made the dappled, diffuse light perfect for photography. Although the groom was recovering from the flu, the illness was quickly forgotten in the emotion of the day. In front of our immediate family, we said our handwritten vows and became husband and wife.

Our wedding day may have had its share of imperfections, but to us these imperfections are what made it a perfect day.

With no honeymoon planned, we are trying to enjoy the last few slow days of summer as a married couple before the school year begins again. To add a special touch to our evenings, I made us a dessert to share as newlyweds. This blueberry galette made with a cornmeal thyme crust is perfect for both of us—Chris loves desserts with a chewy texture and I adore the flavor of late summer blueberries.

For this galette, the added cornmeal in the pie crust lends a chewy, flaky texture, while the fresh thyme adds a subtle herbed flavor. However, the real star of the galette is the blueberries. While the galette works beautifullywith frozen blueberries, I recommend you find the ripest berries of the season to take it over the top. The wild blueberries I found at the local farmer's market made this galette disappear quickly.

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This Blueberry Galette with Cornmeal Thyme Crust allows late summer's seasonal offerings to shine. A galette is similar in many ways to a pie, but I find it easier to throw together, which makes it perfect for the lazy days of summer. The cornmeal thyme crust gives the galette additional flavor and texture, which makes this dessert stand out from others. Serve the galette warm or cold with a scoop of ice cream or coconut whipped cream.

One Year Ago: Fresh Herb Bread
Two Years Ago:  Fig Oatmeal Bars 
Three Years Ago: Iced Matcha Coconut Latte 
Four Years Ago: Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies & Citrus Zucchini Muffins
Five Years Ago: Blueberry Braided Bread, Date Flapjacks, & Nordic Pancake Cake
Six Years Ago: Summer Berry Pavlova, Mango Coconut Popsicles, French Silk Pie, & Blueberry Cream Cheese Cupcakes
Seven Years Ago: Coconut Pancakes, Chocolate Beet CakeZucchini Bread, & Lemon Blueberry Scones
Eight Years Ago: Chocolate Pear Cake & Brown Sugar Coconut Bubble Tea

Blueberry Galette with Cornmeal Thyme Crust

Yields 8-10 servings

Cornmeal Thyme Pie Crust
1 3/4 cups (210 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (108 grams) yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped and lightly packed
1 cup (225 grams) butter, cold and cubed
4-8 tablespoons ice water

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and fresh thyme. Add half of the cold cubed butter and rub the butter and flour between your fingers until it resembles coarse sand. Add the second half the cubed butter and rub in into the flour, but leave it in larger pieces (approximately the size of your thumbnail). Add four tablespoons of ice water and mix the dough together until uniform. Gradually add more water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough holds together when squeezed in your hand. 

Place the dough on parchment paper and use the paper to press the dough into a uniform disk. Wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least a half hour (or up to 2-3 days). For a step-by-step tutorial in making pie dough, follow the instructions here.

Blueberry Filling
2 pints (24 oz or 680 grams) blueberries
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons granulated sugar*
Egg wash (1 large egg + 1 tablespoon water, whisked)
2 tablespoons demerara or raw sugar, for sprinkling

In a mixing bowl, fold together blueberries, cornstarch, and sugar until uniform. Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pie dough into a circle roughly 1/8-inch thick. Place the blueberry mixture into the center of the circle and spread out until it is a uniform thickness, leaving a two-inch border on all edges. Fold the border of the pie dough over the filling, pleating the dough every two or so inches. Brush the visible pie dough with egg wash and sprinkle the demerara sugar evenly over the dough and the filling. Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes to firm up the crust.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 degrees C).

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the blueberries have released their juices. Cool slightly before serving. Serve with a topping of whipped cream or side of vanilla ice cream.

*Add more or less to taste, depending on the sweetness of the berries.