Apple Rag Pie

Scrunchy and crunchy, like edible Autumn leaves…
Apple Rag Pie - The Cardiff Cwtch - Fall Recipes

September is finally here, although you wouldn’t know it. I dug out all my cosiest knits over the weekend and was reunited with my favourite fluffy grey jumper. I very proudly threw it on to head off to brunch with the dog and husband on Sunday only to end up throwing it in the wash when I got back because it was drenched in my sweat. Lovely. Why does September always do this to us? Just when you let yourself get excited for colder days, jumpers and boots chunky enough to crunch through fallen leaves, one of those trademark September scorchers suddenly arrives. Sadly my favourite fluffy jumper is going to have to wait for a while, but there is one Autumn tradition that’s well and truly under way in my house and that’s Autumn baking – especially with apples.

One of my lovely neighbours gave me a bag full of cooking apples the other day and I cannot wait to get stuck in making making Apple Fritters, Apple Cookies and of course, my favourite Apple Pie Cake. But the truth is that I got a head start on the Apple Bakes back in August when I whipped up this Apple Rag Pie. The original recipe comes from Nigella Lawson, who made a traditional Greek Rag Pie using feta, sesame seeds and plenty of honey. Problem is, I’m not a big fan of Feta, but the basic idea was definitely something I wanted to try and so I switched out the cheese for spiced apples and toasted flaked almonds. Crunchy and packed full of juicy spiced apple chunks, it’s not only a doddle to make but is banging served hot with a blob of ice cream and packs a little extra punch from some Calvados soaked sultanas. It also freezes well, so whip it up now and it’ll be there waiting for you when those cold nights really begin to draw in. 🙂

Apple Rag Pie - The Cardiff Cwtch - Apple Recipes

Apple Rag Pie

adapted from Nigella’s Old Rag Pie
Ingredients
  • 270g Filo Pastry
  • 100g melted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 150ml full fat milk
  • 4 apples, skinned, cored, chunked (…is that a thing?)
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g sultanas
  • 100ml Calvados (or regular Brandy)
  • 50g toasted, flaked almonds
Apple Rag Pie - The Cardiff Cwtch - Fall Bakes - Apple Pie Recipes
Method
  1. Place the sultanas in a bowl, pour over the Calvados Brandy and leave to soak ideally overnight or until they’re plump and drunk. 🙂
  2. Boil the apple chunks in water until they’re soft, but still hold shape. Drain, sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon and then set aside.
  3. To assemble the Rag Pie; line the base of a deep rectangular baking tray with one layer of filo pastry, then brush with a little melted butter. Next, separate the remaining filo sheets into three equal piles. Take the first pile; tear and scrunch the sheets of filo – loosely balling them and placing them into the tray (careful not to press down!). Scatter over half of your apple mix and sultanas, then pour over a little more melted butter. Repeat the process with your next pile of filo.
  4. Scrunch and tear the last layer to top the pile, then pour over the last of the butter. Section the pie into equal slices with a sharp knife, being very careful not to squash down your layers of filo (otherwise you’ll get a soggy pie). Whisk together the eggs and milk, then pour over the pie. Top with the toasted, flaked almonds.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes at 180°C and serve hot with ice cream or whipped cream.
  6. (You can also freeze it and cook it from frozen, just pop it in a cold oven, then heat it up at 180°C for 45 minutes. 🙂

Have a lovely week!

Sticky Apple-filled Cinnamon Buns

“My Anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns, hon…”
Easy Apple Cinnamon Buns - The Cardiff Cwtch

So, I’ve gotten a bit obsessed with Conspiracy Theory Podcasts. I know, I know! See, my favourite women’s history podcast (Queens, in case you’re wondering – it’s completely brilliant) is kind of between episodes at the moment and so I went hunting for something else to listen to on the morning dog walk (read: muddy trudge in the drizzle to the local park). I found an episode about Amelia Earhart and conspiracy theories concerning her disappearance (THE WOMAN JUST VANISHED) and woops! I kind of fell down a hole. But you know what? They’re kind of perfect listening for gloomy Autumn days and even darker nights in. A bit of history, a lot of mystery… and, sometimes – yeah – a heavy helping of nonsense.

But what do Conspiracy Theory Podcasts have to do Cinnamon Buns, I hear you asking. Absolutely nothing. Except for the fact that they seem to be soundtracking most of my cooking and baking at the moment. For example, as I was baking these very sticky buns the other day, I was listening to a couple of episodes talking about how the Sugar Industry for a long time secretly fiddled scientific studies to throw the blame on fat for Heart Disease instead of sugar. If you’ve got any recommendations on podcasts, I’d love to hear them; I’m always looking for something new to listen to in between episodes of The High Low and Queens. 🙂

Anyway, Cinnamon Buns! I mentioned last week that I’m a big fan of sticky buns in all their forms, but the cinnamon variety are a favourite of mine – especially this time of year. I usually pick up one on my weekly shop as a treat to scoff with a cup of tea when I get back, but I hadn’t quite cracked making them myself. Historically, I’m not the best at baking bread; I’m impatient when it comes to kneading the dough, and even though I’ve got a bread maker to do all the hard work for me – the instant yeast it requires never really creates the pillow-soft dough I’m after. Then last year I started experimenting with Dried Active Yeast and had a bit of a breakthrough on the whole process of making homemade bread when I made this Halloumi Loaf (HEAVEN). Having got the knack of kneading and proving, I moved straight on to buns and finally managed to put together an easy Cinnamon Bun recipe that worked (thanks to The Guardian Food How-To section – always a great place to start when you’re looking to develop your own twist on a classic recipe). A sweet, springy dough perfect for rolling around the sticky cinnamon filling. These doughy buns however, are a little bit extra thanks to the added apple – an easy addition that gives the buns a little something special. Top with whatever topping you fancy – whether that’s cream cheese frosting, sugar glaze, or the cinnamon-spiced icing I went for here – and scoff ideally within a couple of days. As with most homemade bakes, they’re best scoffed fresh out of the oven. 🙂

Apple filled Cinnamon Rolls easy - The Cardiff Cwtch

Sticky Apple-filled Cinnamon Buns

Sticky, doughy and full of cinnamon-spiced apple pie filling. What’s not to like?
Ingredients
  •  3 apples (any variety you fancy)
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cardamom seeds
  • 300 ml whole milk
  • 15g dried active yeast
  • 50g melted butter (cooled)
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 420g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Cinnamon Rolls with Apple Pie Filling - The Cardiff Cwtch
Method
  1. First things first, make the filling. Peel and finely chop the apples – then boil them in water for about 20 minutes, until they’re soft. Get rid of the water, then mash them. Stir in the brown sugar and cinnamon, then set aside and leave to cool.
  2. Gently bring the milk to the boil with the ground cardamom. Pour into a mixing bowl, leave it to cool slightly (down to about 37°C) and then sprinkle in the yeast. Put the bowl somewhere warm (I like to pop mine in the airing cupboard!) until the yeast has dissolved and activated (you should see some bubbles or foam forming over the surface of the milk).
  3. Next, stir in the melted butter, sugar and egg.
  4. Gradually pour in the flour and salt, mixing together to make a sticky dough.
  5. Next, knead the dough. If you’ve got a fancy dough hook on your mixer, use that – if not, you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves to get to work. I don’t like to add anymore flour, so the dough will be really sticky and impossible to work with at first – but stick at it (stick being the operative word!) and slowly everything will come together to create a smooth, pliable, stretchy dough.
  6. Pop it into a clean, lightly-greased bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and then leave the dough to double in size in a warm place for about an hour.
  7. Set the oven to 200°C.
  8. Next, roll out the dough into a rectangle about a centimetre thick – then spread with the apple filling. Roll it tightly into a sausage shape, then cut into six equally sized buns. Place the buns into a lined, deep baking tray. Bake for 25 minutes until well-risen and golden, then leave to cool.
  9. Top with cream cheese frosting or icing, then scoff! 🙂
Easy Cinnamon Bun Recipe with Apple Filling - The Cardiff Cwtch

Happy Friday everyone! 💛

Easy Carrot Cake Traybake

An easy autumn traybake that’s full of spice and topped with everything nice…
The Cardiff Cwtch: How to Bake Carrot Cake from Scratch

So, I came across a tweet a while back that posed a very important question to the world:  “If you could delete ONE type of cake for the remainder of eternity, what would it be?”  My answer to that one was Carrot Cake, and apparently it was the wrong answer because I immediately got told where to get off.  Look, it’s not that I hate carrot cake, it’s just that I had a really bad experience with a Costco Carrot Cake that put me off enjoying a slice for close to a decade.  Yeah.  It really was that bad.  It was just too sweet.  Not so much the cake itself, but the thick layer of cream cheese frosting on top made my fillings scream and by the time I was three bites in I was gagging and had to walk away.  I had to walk away from cake.  From CAKE!  I mean, that should be a crime, right?  I’ve avoided Carrot Cake and all its incarnations ever since.

I think the problem is that there are so many different recipes out there and – despite it generally being a very easy cake to make – there are so many different elements and additions that it’s got the potential to be absolutely to die for… or completely disastrous.  I mean, beyond the standard grated carrots added to the batter, some recipes suggest adding sultanas and other dried fruits (including pineapple, I’ve heard), some suggest nuts (should it be walnuts, or pecans?), and then there’s the all important spice mix – should you just stick to cinnamon, or spice things up a bit (ha ha) with a few more?  Don’t even get me started on the all important cream cheese frosting!

Anyway, recently I ate some really, really good Carrot Cake out in the States (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; they do Fall Cakes and Traybakes so much better out there than we do here in the UK), and I was willing to admit that I might have got this one wrong – that Carrot Cake shouldn’t be banished off the face of the planet.  So I decided to try making my own from scratch – complete with the dreaded Cream Cheese Frosting – to see if I could be convinced to fall back in love with Carrot Cake.  I researched a few recipes and came up with this very easy Carrot Cake Traybake. 🙂

The Cardiff Cwtch: Easy Carrot Cake TraybakeThe Cardiff Cwtch: Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese and Buttercream Frosting
How to Store Carrot Cake

The problem with Carrot Cake is the frosting.  The cream cheese isn’t going last more than a couple of days sitting out on a counter, even if the cake is covered.  A Tray bake makes things a little easier because you can section off the slices, easily pop them into an airtight container and then store them in the fridge for up a week, or sneak a couple into the freezer to enjoy at a later date. 😉

The Cardiff Cwtch: Cosy Slice of Carrot Cake with a Cuppa and a Pupper!

Easy Carrot Cake Traybake

…cut off a corner and get cosy with a cuppa…
Cake Ingredients
  • 150g unsalted butter, melted
  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 100ml milk
  • 200g carrots, peeled and grated
  • 100g pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
Cream Cheese frosting
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cornflour
The Cardiff Cwtch: Carrot Cake with Buttercream Leaves
Method
  1. Grease and line a rectangular baking tray, then set your oven to 180°C.
  2. Grab a mixing bowl and stir together your melted butter and sugar, then stir in the eggs. Whisk everything until it’s nice and foamy, this should add in a little extra air to give your carrot cake a boost as it bakes.
  3. Next, fold in the flour, baking powder and spices – but make sure you don’t knock out the air you whisked in during step number two. Finally stir in the grated carrots and chopped pecans, then pour the mixture into the baking tin. Bake for 30 minutes, and then leave to cool.
  4. To make the cream cheese frosting, whip together the ingredients until smooth and then pop it in the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up a little – it’ll save you trying to frost the cake with runny cream cheese!
  5. You could just leave it at that! There are so many different ways to decorate a carrot cake, but I fancied topping mine with these buttercream autumn leaves. All I did was piped some coloured buttercream onto baking paper in the shape of maple leaves (easier said than done!), refrigerated them until they set and then used them to finish off the cake. 🙂
The Cardiff Cwtch: Easy Carrot Cake Traybake with Cream Cheese and Cinnamon Frosting

So what do you reckon? Is carrot cake truly deserving of the title slot for best cake on the planet, because I’m still not convinced! When it’s good (and not from Costco) it’s lovely, don’t get me wrong, but I still wouldn’t pick it over a door wedge slice of this apple pie cake. What’s your favourite cake?  And, if you could banish one type of cake to the pits of hell, which would it be? ❥

Toffee Apple Cookies

Finally! Happy “Fall” Y’all
Toffee Apple Cookies

It’s officially the first day of Autumn, and officially – in my book anyway – the start of the best season of the year.  One of the best bits about coming home from holiday (aside from being reunited with my favourite fur-ball, obviously) was the thought of coming home to chunky knits, boots (ones that are perfect for stomping on perfectly crunchy leaves), cold air and lots and lots of baking involving apples.  I say that not because apple pies and crumbles and muffins are quintessentially autumnal (blimey, that’s a big phrase for a Monday afternoon…), but because I’ve actually got a tree full of the things for the very first time.

Back when Sunny and I moved into our house here in Cardiff three years ago, we bought a pair of apple trees (well, they were more like a couple of twigs really) for a couple of quid each.  And this year – almost as if by magic (because God knows what we did differently) – one of them is full of apples!  I’m going to be baking this Apple Pie Cake ten times over, I think! As well as these Toffee Apple Cookies.  I tried something similar whilst I was out in the States on holiday (controversial opinion, but America does “Fall” Baking so much better than we do) and had to come up with my own version, and here it is: a lovely soft cookie full of spiced apple pie filling and toffee chunks, and drizzled with a salted caramel sauce.  Once baked, warm them up in the microwave for thirty seconds for oozing toffee that won’t play havoc with your fillings! 😉 Just make sure you use a type of apple that doesn’t go too soggy and holds its shape when boiled – like pink lady or braeburn!

Toffee Apple Cookies
Toffee Apple Cookies
Toffee Apple Cookies
Ingredients
  • 150g of apples, diced into small pieces
  • 250ml water
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 50g of toffee, cut into small pieces
  • 125g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • salted caramel salt to serve (buy it in store, or try this recipe)
  • sea salt to serve
Toffee Apple Cookies
Method
  1. First things first, whip up the apple pie filling. Chop up your apples into small, cookie-sized chunks and pop them into a saucepan. Boil up in the water, along with the light brown sugar and cinnamon for about 20 minutes. The apples will be ready once they’ve softened, but still have a little bite to them.
  2. Set the oven to 180°C. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter, cinnamon, caster sugar and dark muscovado sugar. Stir in the egg, then mix in the apple pie mix and toffee pieces. Stir in the flour to make a stiff dough, then spoon small blobs onto a lined baking tray – making sure they’ve got plenty of room to spread.
  3. Bake the cookies for twenty minutes, then transfer them onto a wire rack and leave to cool.
  4. To serve, warm them up in the microwave for thirty seconds and serve drizzled with caramel sauce and sprinkled with sea salt. Yum! 🙂

Have a lovely week! 🙂

Leftover Pumpkin Traybake

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I finally got around to carving up my pale pumpkin today, and I was faced with that annual dilemma; what the hell do I do with all those pumpkin guts?  I’ve been guilty of just chucking it all in the bin many a time, until last year, when I blitzed it all into a puree and attempted to make soup and pumpkin risotto.  But both were a massive flop and ended up in the bin anyway!  So this year I decided to make something sweet instead and settled on this spiced pumpkin traybake with cream cheese frosting and roasted pumpkin seeds on top.  I’m pretty happy with how it turned out… which is good, because there’s a whole tub of pumpkin goo in the fridge to get though!  I think I’ll be making batches loooong after Halloween is over with!  🙂

Leftover Pumpkin Traybake

Ingredients

  • 100g Pumpkin Puree (just blitz or boil and mash your pumpkin guts)
  • 100g Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (I roasted mine with salt and cinnamon for 10 mins)
  • 100g Brown Sugar
  • 150g Butter
  • 100g Self Raising Flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100g Cream Cheese
  • 200g Icing Sugar
  1. Grease and line a deep rectangular baking tray and set the oven to 180°.
  2. Cream together 100g of butter with the brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger, then stir in the pumpkin puree.  
  3. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl, then stir into the main mix.
  4. Add the flour and baking power, then fold in to make a batter.  Spoon into your baking tray and bake for around 25 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean).  Once baked, allow it to cool completely before removing from the tin.
  5. To make the cream cheese frosting, combine the cream cheese, butter and icing sugar and stir until smooth.  Spread over the top of the cake, then cut into equal squares.
  6. Sprinkle with chopped pumpkin seeds.  Yum!

Hope everyone’s having a good week!  🎃