experiments in cooking

Archive for the ‘Fruit Desserts’ Category

Blueberry Crunch Coffeecake, Slightly Blackened

Recently I came across an entry for “Blueberry Crunch Coffeecake” in my Joy of Cooking and had to stop. The name alone made my mouth water. Blueberries? Crunchy coffeecake? It had to be good. The recipe began: “The batter for this superb coffeecake is mixed like biscuit dough. Brown sugar and almonds in the bottom of the pan are transformed into a cloak of crunchy toffee over a tender coffeecake.”

Ah, how could I resist a cloak of crunchy toffee over a tender coffeecake?

Of course, I decided to plan a Sunday night breakfast supper around it: biscuits and gravy; my friend Abby’s egg, cheese and hash brown casserole; fruit; and, to crown it all, the coffeecake.

I love coffeecake. Back a year ago when I was beginning to count calories to lose the 50 pounds I did eventually lose, I stood looking sadly at a box of Krusteaz streusel coffeecake mix in my cabinet and nearly crying because I wouldn’t get to indulge in huge slices of coffeecake on a regular basis anymore. But now that I’ve lost the weight and learned to control my portion size, I can enjoy a slice coffeecake from time to time.

This would be the first coffeecake I’d made myself since losing the weight. And I was going to celebrate every moment.

The celebration had some rough moments:

First, I couldn’t find a pan of the exact right size. My loaf pans were all a little too big or too small and I had to settle on a glass loaf pan that was slightly too big.

Second, I didn’t have enough blueberries and had to send Chris to the store to buy more while I was mixing the batter.

Finally, I couldn’t decide if the cake was done and wound up burning the almond-and-brown-sugar topping at the corners of the cake.

After inverting the cake and discovering the burnt corners, I put my hands on my hips and frowned at the cake, grimacing.

Abby looked at me.

“You know, I’ve seen a recipe for a burnt brown sugar cake in one of my cookbooks,” she said. “So say you did it on purpose.”

I thought about it. Abby was right. There was no reason to let a few burnt almonds derail my coffeecake celebration. So I sliced it up and served it, warm cake and juicy berries and blackened toffee cloak and all.

Chris protested when I handed him a slice. “I just ate a plateful of biscuits and gravy and egg casserole!” he complained.

“Eat the coffeecake,” I urged.

“But I’m not hungry …”

“EAT THE CAKE!” I said, smiling.

There was a pause. Chris put a hand to his stomach. Then, determinedly, he lifted his fork.

“It looks delicious,” he said feebly.

And he ate the cake.

“Now wasn’t that good?” I said.

Chris didn’t say much. I’m not sure he could move. So I looked at Drew, Abby’s husband.

“Nice topping!” Drew said.

Abby makes a lot of new dishes and cakes. Drew knows what not to say.

All things considered, it was a marvelous celebration.

Blueberry Crunch Coffeecake

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 ½ by 4 ½ (6-cup) loaf pan. Combine and sprinkle in the bottom of the pan:

¼ cup sliced almonds

¼ cup packed dark brown sugar

Whisk together thoroughly into a large bowl:

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Add:

5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Cut in the butter with 2 knives or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Do not allow the butter to melt or form a blended paste with the flour. Whisk together in another bowl:

1 large egg

½ cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Pour over the flour mixture and stir until about three quarters of the dry ingredients are moistened. Add:

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Fold just until the dry ingredients are moistened and the berries are distributed. Spoon the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (other than juice from the berries), 55 to 60 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes. Loosen the edges, if necessary, and invert onto the rack. Serve warm or, for the crunchiest topping, let cool before serving.

Apple Spice Cake with Homemade White Icing

I’ve always loved spice cake. When I was a little girl, I used to ask for spice cake for my birthday. I think one year I requested blue icing. I was a little proud of myself for picking a cake I considered an “adult” cake—no chocolate involved.

So this weekend, when I decided to make yet another apple dessert because I can’t be sure the apples piled in my basement are going to last a long time, I knew it was time to make the Apple Spice Cake recipe I’d seen in my Joy of Cooking.

I have only made one or two cakes from scratch in my life and thought it would be nice to move away from the easy “cake comes from a box” mentality I’ve fallen into. Also, my friend Abby, younger but years ahead of me in cooking and baking skills, had brought over an apple cake the week before, with a homemade glaze/icing, and I thought it would be fun to make my apple spice cake and see if I felt it stacked up to what Abby had served a week earlier.

Plus, I’ve never, ever made my own icing. Because my cake would be slightly different from Abby’s—mine was a spice cake and hers wasn’t—I decided to try an icing different from the brown sugar glaze she had made, but it needed to be straightforward as I had no experience. I settled on a Quick White Icing recommended by my Joy of Cooking as a good icing for the apple spice cake.

Four-year-old Jonah is becoming my regular baking assistant. First he helped me mix up the dry ingredients, smelling the spices as we added them—cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Then we whisked them with a special gadget-y whisk I’ve had for several years but never found handy until now. In moments, we were done whisking, and the result looked like—well, exactly like spice cake mix from a box.

It took me aback a little. Me and millions of others have been buying cake mixes to save time, when it only took a couple of minutes to get this far making a cake from scratch? Obviously we have all been hoodwinked. ’Cause it ain’t that hard, really.

At this point Jonah and I added the wet ingredients, combined it all, and then stirred in a cup of chopped apples peeled, cored and sliced by Jonah, who is obsessed with my apple coring and slicing tool. I used a Fuji because it had been sitting out on the counter a couple of days and needed to be used but the recipe recommended using a tart green apple. I didn’t notice anything lacking in the taste of the final cake because I used a Fuji.

While the cake was baking, I mixed up the icing. To my surprise, the icing was incredibly easy to prepare. This particular recipe requires no cooking time and takes only moments to mix up. I did have to soften the butter, but I didn’t run into any problems there.

I did not turn the finished cake out onto a rack as the recipe recommended but instead left it in the pan and iced it in the pan once it cooled. There was plenty of icing left, so I covered the surface of the remaining icing with a sheet of plastic wrap and froze it to use later. The icing works as a glaze for cinnamon rolls too, so I’ll probably pull it out of the freeze for that purpose.

The best part of the whole thing? Well, probably taking the first bite of the cake after dinner. But second best may have been the post-cake discussion.

You know how men have to call each other after a big game to discuss minutiae of every play, compare their teams’ and players’ strategies, and talk endlessly of how the next game will go? Well, I got the urge to make that kind of call about this cake. So late Saturday night, after Chris and I had both had our cake and ice cream, I called Abby to compare recipes and icings.

Abby pulled out her cookbook and we compared ingredients, talking excitedly about the differences between the two cakes and my icing and her glaze and about the cake ideas we plan to try in the future.

Brown sugar in her icing, powdered sugar in mine.

White sugar in her cake, brown sugar in mine.

We compared vanilla.

We compared quantities of flour and yield per cake.

We compared baking dishes.

It was great conversation! It really was. I could have talked for a long time, but when two-year-old Neeley began skating around our tiny kitchen with his foot in a dog food bowl, I had to cut it short.

What a nice evening. Man, I love spice cake and talking baking with my friends.

 

Apple Spice Cake (from The Joy of Cooking)

This cake tastes spicier once it has cooled and rested for a couple of hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour one 8 x 8-inch pan or line the bottom with wax or parchment paper.

Whisk together thoroughly in a large bowl, pinching out any lumps in the brown sugar:

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, or a combination of all-purpose flour and whole-wheat flour

1 cup packed dark or light brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon freshly ground or grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon salt

Add and stir together until smooth:

1 cup buttermilk (I added 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to milk)

½ cup vegetable oil

Optional: 2 tablespoons rum or brandy (I did not add this)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir in:

1 cup chopped apples

½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (I didn’t add nuts because Chris hates walnuts and pecans)

Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Slide a thin knife around the cake to detach it from the pan. Invert the cake and peel off the paper liner, if using. Let cool right side up on the rack. Serve warm or plain with vanilla ice cream, or let cool completely and frost with icing.

Quick White Icing (from The Joy of Cooking)

In a medium bowl, beat together on medium speed:

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened, or 3 tablespoons hot heavy cream

Add and beat until smooth:

3 to 4 tablespoons milk, dry sherry, rum, or coffee

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon salt

Correct the consistency if necessary, adding additional powdered sugar or liquid of choice.

To store, cover the surface of the icing with a sheet of plastic wrap. This keeps for up to 3 days at room temperature or up to 3 weeks refrigerated. Or freeze for up to 6 months. Soften and stir or beat until smooth before using.

Apple Day: Honeycrisp Apples, My New Apple Peeler, and a Molasses Apple Pandowdy

The Orchard – Run on the Honeycrisps

Beautiful Melrose Apples at Martin's Hillside Orchard.

Last week I got an email update from Martin’s Hillside Orchard that several varieties of apples had ripened, including early-season Fujis, Empires, Jonathans, and Honeycrisps. So I immediately planned a Saturday-morning family trip to the orchard, with the intention of using the freshly picked apples and my new rotary apple peeler/slicer/corer to make an apple dessert Saturday afternoon—a new dessert, of course. The one I had in mind was an old-fashioned apple pandowdy described in The Joy of Cooking. Chris loves apples and apple desserts, so he didn’t require much persuasion for the trip, even though he hates getting up on Saturday mornings.

Around 10:30 Saturday morning, all four of us were finally in the car on the way to the orchard, located about 15 minutes north of Lincoln, Neb. As we neared the driveway to the orchard, it became clear that the two cars behind us were also going to the orchard.

Chris was a little worried. “They’re going to take all the apples!” he said. So we had to rush from the car to the orchard, knowing there was a chance Jonah and Neeley would slow us down. So I made Jonah run along beside me and Chris tried to carry Neeley as fast as he could.

I found Alex Martin, the orchard owner, in the Apple Barn. I saw, happily, that we had beat the other two carloads of people into the building. So I got the first chance to ask Alex where to find the apple varieties we were interested in picking. As we turned to walk down the hill to the trees, the people behind us said to Alex, excitedly, “We’re looking for the Honeycrisps.”

As Alex began to describe where to find them, Chris and I exchanged glances. These Honeycrisps must be something good.

We made our way to the Honeycrisps first ourselves, curious. I’d never had one, myself. They were pretty apples, that’s for sure. I think we must have picked a couple dozen of them, exclaiming every time we got a “good one.” It wasn’t long before other people came running along the row. I had to haul Neeley out of the way as they rushed past. Chris heard one young man shout, “He said there’s more of them further down!” And the crowd ran by.

“Forget the other apples,” said Chris. “They’re all about the Honeycrisps.”

Sure enough, as we moved through the orchard to pick a few early Fujis (there weren’t many), some Empires (a new variety to us), and a fair number of Jonathans, we never crossed paths with another human. They were all in the Honeycrisp row.

“Those things must be really good,” I said.

In the end, we purchased $22.50 worth of apples. Back at the car, I noticed one of the Honeycrisps had been slightly damaged in the picking process. It was a huge apple—must have been about 10 ounces. I offered it to Jonah. “Do you want an apple?” I said.

Jonah’s eyes grew huge as he gazed at the apple. “Uh—yeah!” he said.

“It’s a big apple,” I said. “You’ll have to share it with your brother.”

“Okay,” he said.

In the car, secure in his booster seat, Jonah took a bite. “Mmmm!” he said. He took several more bites.

“Want apple!” said Neeley.

So I handed the giant apple from Jonah to Neeley.

“Mmmm!” said Neeley.

All the way back to Lincoln, Jonah and Neeley passed the apple back and forth. Juice dripped down onto Neeley’s jacket until it was soaked. And Jonah kept giggling and saying things like “I like this apple!” and “I’m eating a BIG apple!” and “Neeley likes the apple too!”

Finally I turned around and Jonah handed me the core.

“You ate it all!” I said, wonderingly. “It must have been really good.”

“Yeah!” he said, and added, “Can I have an apple with lunch?”

So we all had apples with lunch.

The Apple Peeler

After lunch, I put Neeley in his bed for a nap and went to the kitchen to try out my new apple peeler. Since Joy of Cooking suggested Empire apples for the pandowdy, I fit an Empire onto the apparatus and turned the handle. In less than 10 seconds, the apple was completely peeled, cored, and sliced. And I was in love with my new gadget.

Because I was squealing and yelling “Come look at this!” Jonah came running into the kitchen to see. He begged to take a turn. It was so easy, he personally peeled the rest of the apples I needed for the pandowdy.

I have never seen such a cool kitchen tool in my life. Why had I never seen one used before? Oh, if only my mom could have had one when I was a child. She would have loved it.

The Apple Pandowdy

I’ve wanted to try an apple pandowdy for several weeks now. An apple pandowdy is like a deep-dish pie—just fruit filling in a dish and a top crust—no bottom crust. According to The Joy of Cooking, it’s traditionally sweetened with molasses. For the one I made on Saturday, I used half molasses and half brown sugar, apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, allspice, and a pre-made Great Value pie crust.

I used a 10-inch decorative pie pan for the baking dish. Per the Joy of Cooking instructions, I baked the pandowdy for 30 minutes at 400 degrees, then took it out of the oven, turned the oven down to 350, and cut the crust into two inch sections (like you would a brownie). Then I pressed the edges of the crust pieces down into the apple filling to allow the juices to come through, and I also spooned some of the molasses/apple jelly that was already bubbling up over the top of the crust and spread it over the surface of the crust. Next I returned the dish to the oven and baked it about 30 minutes more.

Early in the assembly process, I did make a mistake; the recipe called for ¼ tsp of cinnamon and ¼ tsp of nutmeg, but I added ½ tsp of both because I picked up the wrong measuring spoon. Fortunately, some people really like cinnamon and fall spices, so the pandowdy was a success even with the extra cinnamon and nutmeg. A friend who tried it Sunday at lunch said something about the fragrant spices—she’s a cinnamon lover.

Now, since pre-made pie crusts come in sets of two, I’ve got one more Great Value pie crust left to use. I will probably try an Apple Galette this week—which is essentially a rustic pie or apple pizza. And I cannot wait to use my new apple peeler again. I thank God for gadgets like this one—I really do.

My First Pie – Peach Raspberry Pie

This past Saturday, I made the first pie I’ve ever made on my own in my entire life–a peach-raspberry pie made with fresh fruit from Martin’s Hillside Orchard just north of Lincoln.

I have to confess right up front that I used a storebought pie crust. I’ve been a little dough-shy since my last run-in with making a shortbread crust. I do know the mistake I made with that crust–adding sugar to sweeten it, which resulted in making it sticky and unmanageable. But even knowing what went wrong, I’m not yet ready to try another crust, so storebought it is, until I work up a little pluck. I am determined to try a crust again this fall. Just not yet.

I used a Joy of Cooking recipe for the pie; I use Joy of Cooking  recipes when they aren’t too complicated, because they do offer a lot of details around the fundamentals of cooking that I don’t find in recipes elsewhere.

The best tip I got on preparing the topping was to drop the peaches in boiling water for approximately one minute so that the skin would peel off easily. It worked like a dream. For the rest of my life, I will never peel peaches without boiling them first.

Last week, with baking pies on my mind, I did a fair bit of research online about the best temperature at which to bake a pie. Most recipes seem to call for baking the pie at 350 or 375 for at least an hour. Some recipes call for baking the pie at a higher temperature for 20-30 minutes and then lowering it to 350. This recipe was one of the latter, directing me to bake the pie at 425 for 30 minutes and then at 350 for 25-35 minutes more. In this case, I found that after lowering the temperature to 350, the pie was done in just 15 additional minutes, for a total baking time of 45 minutes.

In the process of making the pie, I discovered that I don’t own a 9-inch glass pie pan. I had to settle for a 10-inch pan, which did, as I had worried it would, result in juice from the filling bubbling up and over the crust which just wasn’t quite big enough for the pan. Fortunately, I had placed the pie on a baking sheet for the last half of the baking, and the baking sheet caught all the overflow. I faced quite a bit of work afterward getting peach-raspberry jelly off the baking sheet and pie pan, but better baked-on pie filling on those dishes than on the bottom of my stove.

I did make one mistake that I will not make again: adding too much lemon as a result of misreading the recipe. In fact, I tripled the amount of lemon juice. Which is probably why the finished pie was a little on the tart side–very tasty, but tart.

My next pie to try: apple pie. But first I want a fancy rotary apple peeler to avoid the nightmare of peeling apples by hand, something that I don’t think I’ve ever done. Currently I am waiting on a gift card for Bed, Bath & Beyond to arrive so I can get one.

All Good but the Crispy Garlic

Last night I tried two new dishes: angel hair pasta with olive oil and garlic, and a raspberry crunch (adapted from a cranberry crunch recipe).

The angel hair pasta was a side dish for salmon baked in lemon sauce. My Joy of Cooking warned me not to add cheese to the pasta dish, and I’m glad I didn’t. The fish and pasta went together well. The only problem I had was that the recipe instructed me to saute the garlic for about two minutes, but within just one minute it was browned and crisp. So we had a bit of crispy garlic  texture in our pasta.

The raspberry crunch also was based on a Joy of Cooking recipe. It was extremely easy to put together, and featured my favorite new baking ingredient: oatmeal. The recipe was originally a “cranberry crunch,” but I substituted raspberries for cranberries and cut back on the amount of added sugar. I also had slightly less than the 1 cup of brown sugar called for–about 3/4 cup, so I scaled back the other dry ingredients slightly as well and had to settle for less topping on top of the raspberries. I made sure the bottom crust. Also, I fortunately have an 8×8 pan, which the recipe is written for.

After dinner, I threw out the leftover pasta. We convinced Jonah to suck up a noodle or two, but Neeley wouldn’t touch it, so there was a lot left, and I don’t much like reheated pasta. I hope to eat more of the raspberry crunch tonight, however–and perhaps it will be firm enough, now that it is cool, to cut into bars as the recipe suggests–but I have my doubts.

Joy of Cooking‘s Cranberry [or raspberry] Crunch

Butter an 8″x8″ baking dish.

Combine:
1 c old-fashioned or quick-cooking rolled oats
1 c packed dark brown sugar (I had only light brown sugar)
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 t salt. (I used only 1/4 teaspoon, with the salty apple crisp I made recently so fresh in my mind)

Add:
8 T (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces.

Cut the butter into the dry mixture until it’s crumbly but holds together when pressed. Spread half the mixture over the bottom of the baking dish, and press very gently with your hand, packing it very slightly.

Cover with:
3 c fresh or frozen cranberries, picked over. (I used raspberries) 

Sprinkle with:
1/2 c sugar. (I used approximately 1/3 cup sugar) 

Top the sugar-sprinkled cranberries with the remaining crumb mixture. Bake until the fruit is tender and the crunch is firm and well-browned, about 50-60 minutes. Let cool for 20-30 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm.

Too Much of a Good Thing

I cooked two new dishes last night for supper with Chris’s parents: a cranberry compote and an apple crisp, and each one turned out with a problem. Cranberry compote: too much ginger! And apple crisp: too much salt!

Cranberry compote – there were two problems with this one: first, I think it tasted too strongly of ginger, and second, I didn’t have time to cool the compote completely.

I had to try the compote after my friend Linda, who gave me the recipe after I raved over the compote at her daughter’s wedding rehearsal dinner, asked if I’d made it yet. “No,” I said. “Why not?” she scolded me. “Well, I wanted to serve it with pork, and we haven’t had pork in a while,” I answered. She shook her head and me, and on the spot I determined to try the cranberry compote with pork chops this week.

The challenge I ran into was time. Reading the recipe ahead of time, I had calculated I could complete the dish in 15 minutes—which is correct, but I had forgotten to allow time for cooling it off. As a result, I rushed. I hurriedly chopped and minced shallots and garlic cloves (very proud of myself for happening to have both on hand—and how wonderful they smelled!), then with both sautéd I added the berries, sugar, water, rice vinegar, and salt as quickly as I could. At that moment, standing at the stove with the half teaspoon in my hand, I realized I had forgotten the ginger. So I filled the half teaspoon four times with powdered ginger for the required two teaspoons, and set the pot to boil.

It took longer than the suggested 10 minutes for the berries to burst and the mixture to thicken. It was 15 minutes before the mixture looked ready, and then I had to pour it into a dish and shove it into the freezer for 10 minutes, the longest I could spare before setting it in front of my guests—my in-laws.

My assessment: it would have tasted better cooled as directed and with less ginger. I probably added too much, using the half teaspoon four times. Ginger is a spicy, warming herb—and such a gingery dish served warm, with my admittedly bland palate, was, for me, too powerful. Chris claims it was good, and so did my in-laws, but neither Chris or his father like cranberry sauce anyway, and his mom is just a very nice lady, so I think they were either being nice or, possibly more likely, just trying to stop my self-recrimination so they could finish their meal.

I did badger my mother-in-law into giving a little advice: “Maybe just a teeny bit less ginger,” she said, after I prodded about a half-dozen times. Then of course she repeated again that it was fine, it really was.

Well, I know that my cranberry compote was just not as good as Linda’s. I’m sure, when she asks me again if I’ve made it, that I’ll launch into a passionate speech about everything I did wrong and will make her wish she had never asked.

Below is Linda’s recipe. Measure the ginger carefully and adjust to suit your taste. If you like your dishes warm and can tolerate ginger—go ahead!

Cranberry Compote

2/3 cup shallots

2 teaspoons garlic

2 teaspoons ginger

In a small saucepan, heat a small amount of olive oil over low heat. Sauté shallots; garlic and ginger and cook about 1 minute longer.

Stir in:

1 12-oz bag frozen or fresh cranberries

1 cup sugar

¼ cup water

¼ cup rice vinegar (or cider vinegar)

½ teaspoons salt

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 8–10 min until most of the cranberries pop and the mixture has thickened. Cool before serving.

Apple crisp – I wanted to use up some Braeburn apples I’d felt were a little too tart for my taste as an eating apple, so I was planning to use apples in some way last night, and once I’d decided for sure to make the compote, I knew I’d do an apple dessert instead of baked apples as a side dish. For weeks, I’d been wanting to try an apple crisp recipe I’d found online; so with visions of baked and bubbling apple-ness in my head and nostrils, I stopped at Russ’s Market on my way home from work and bought some oatmeal for the apple crisp topping.

When I got home and rushed to consult the recipe, knowing my baking time before dinner was going to be short if I didn’t hurry, I realized two important things: (1) the recipe I’d been planning to try didn’t include oatmeal at all; and (2) it did call for two cups of flour, and I am completely out of standard enriched flour.

I did have a bag of white whole wheat flour in the cabinet, but having had at least one unfortunate experience substituting cup for cup with white flour in a cake for my dad’s birthday last year, I wasn’t about to just substitute the whole wheat flour for the standard white. Also, I didn’t want to waste the newly purchased cardboard can of oatmeal. Furthermore, the apple crisp I had been fantasizing of and salivating over in my mind definitely would have oatmeal in the topping. 

So, I rushed to the basement to find an apple crisp recipe that would be heavy on the oatmeal and light on the flour—so I could use only a small amount of the whole wheat flour—plus one that wouldn’t have to be cooked very long. That would mean using less apples, and I was hoping for a recipe that wouldn’t call for 6 or more apples and proportionate companion ingredients, because I could easily see myself using just 2-3 apples and then forgetting to cut the rest of the ingredients proportionately. In just a few minutes, I found a recipe that seemed a good fit.

I found the apple crisp to be easy to put together. I wound up using just two large Braeburn apples, because they sufficiently covered the bottom of the baking dish, but in retrospect I would have liked to use one more to make the fruit filling thicker in the finished product. I mixed up the dry ingredients exactly as suggested, adding dutifully, at the end, a teaspoon of salt.

The apple crisp baked like a dream—ready in just 40 minutes, bubbling, and golden brown. I served it out to Chris, his brother Jeremiah, and his parents (but not my boys, who want only chocolate for dessert these days), and then to myself. And in the first bite, I knew—too salty!

This time, I got agreement from my guests. “But it’s very good too,” said my mother-in-law.

After dinner I asked Chris if he thought he would eat the leftovers.

“I’ll have to see how it tastes when it’s cooled,” he said.

Yeah, I’m sure it will be less salty when it’s cooled. Quite likely, salt and ginger lose their potency when ingested at room temperature.

 I don’t know why the crisp was too salty. I followed the recipe. Was the amount in the recipe a mistake? Does white whole wheat flour interact differently with salt than standard enriched flour?

Next time I am going to use only one-fourth teaspoon of salt. It should be fine. After all, my brother-in-law, Jeremiah, pointed out last night that when he makes apple crisp at work (he works in the kitchen of an assisted living home), they don’t add salt at all. So I’m going to play it safe.

So I have a plan for the future. But for now—someone, please eat the leftovers. The dish is covered in foil on my stove. You probably won’t taste the salt at all, now that the crisp has cooled …

Oh, who am I kidding. I can still taste the salt now!

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