Trifecta Complete: Terran Pie!

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I had to finish the trifecta, of course. Terran Pie!

Appropriately earthy, so I think the Terrans would approve. AND delicious, so I approve – I love rhubarb, and it pairs so well with apples.

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My pie crust game is going strong over here! It feels great to be able to make pie and not sweat the crust. Besides, it’s June now (how did that happen?!) which is summer and official pie season. Though I will say there will be a pie break over here for the time being, time to do new things!

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In other news… I saw the Mountain Play this weekend! So fun: a round-trip 8+ mile hike with ~1750 of elevation gain to get to the amphitheater –  I definitely earned my pie! (besides that, we did all the uphill on the hike in – 4.2 miles essentially all uphill in 1.5 hours. BEAST MODE. No big deal) The Mountain Play was awesome – great show, great weather, and lovely company!

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All things considered, a great weekend. And there was nerdy pie. Which makes it all the better.

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Sometimes… you just need to play with your food:

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Earthy, whole wheat crust filled with tart rhubarb and granny smith apples – the tart-pie lover’s dream. I haven’t had an apple pie in ages so this was a welcome change. The lemon shines through too, adding brightness that balances out the sweetness of the maple. Barely sweet, mostly tart – this pie is for those who love their fruit.

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Happy Monday!

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Rhubarb Apple Pie on Whole Wheat Crust

A Wait are Those Cookies original! Whole wheat and refined sugar free. Tart, for those who don’t shy away from a little tart in their desserts – the rhubarb and the apple play so nicely off each other, and the maple adds just enough sweetness without diminishing the flavor of the fruit. Yield: 1 deep 9″ pie. Serves: 2… I kid. Sort of.

For the pie crust:

  • 2.25 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • scant 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/3 c unsalted butter
  • 1/3 c vegetable shortening
  • 5-6 tbsp ice water

For the filling:

  • 4 c chopped rhubarb*
  • 2 granny smith apples, chopped
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • zest and juice of 2 meyer lemons
  • 1/3 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt

*I baked straight from frozen; fresh would also be fine

For finishing: 1-2 tbsp butter, 1 egg for egg wash

To make the crust: in a large bowl, whisk together pastry flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in shortening and butter either with your fingers or a pastry cutter until a coarse mixture forms and the butter chunks are the size of peas. Make a well in the center of the dough and add in the ice water one tablespoon at a time – mix as little as possible when incorporating the water to avoid overworking the dough. Once it will stick together, you’re good to go. Divide it into two even pieces, wrap in plastic wrap or a ziploc and chill for at least 10 minutes or up to overnight. You can also chill the dough for about 5-6 hours or overnight in the ball, then roll it out and chill it, shaped, in the pie dish. I discovered that works quite well – make filling & bake straight from the fridge.

While the dough is chilling, put together the filling. In a large bowl, toss together rhubarb, granny smith apples, maple, lemon juice + zest, whole wheat flour, vanilla, and salt. Let sit for at least 10 minutes — easiest to do this while you roll out the pie dough.

Once the dough is chilled, roll it out between two pieces of parchment or on marble, whatever you have – I like parchment for easy removal. Aim for about 1/8″ thickness, and lay the bottom crust into a pie dish. Shape it with your fingers, evening out the top as per your pie plate or design you want — this crust will make a double crusted pie, so keep that in mind. Toss in filling goodness and dot fruit filling with butter.

If you want to get fancy and get all Terran-pie Starcraft nerdy (you must construct additional pylons!)…

Cut out templates (thick paper or thin cardboard work nicely) for the Terran crest. Have egg wash and coconut sugar handy (I used a beaten egg). Use the templates to cut out the top crust shape, then use a chopstick or a knife to make the surface lines. Brush everything with egg wash to make it stick. Sprinkle coconut sugar where contrast is desired. Once finished, carefully lay top crust over the filling. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, then 350 for 35-40 until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown (*note, apples & rhubarb might look a little dry on top, but the pie will be done and delicious, I promise!) Remove from the oven when done and let sit to cool for at least an hour, preferably more so that the filling will set. Serve warm or at room temp, and store any leftovers overnight on the counter, loosely covered, or in the fridge for longer (assuming it lasts that long). Pie can be made a day in advance if needed and reheated briefly in a 375 oven to crisp the crust and warm the filling – 10/15 minutes. The pie filling will firm up if stored in the fridge overnight, making slicing easier. Sometimes I actually prefer to make pie a day ahead, since it reheats in the oven beautifully and the filling sets up so nicely overnight.

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You must construct additional pie-lons to defeat the Swarm!

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I just can’t stop with the Starcraft pie situation over here…

We are the Swarm… Numberless, Merciless {when it comes to pie}

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Besides, I like Zerg best so I couldn’t very well not do a Zerg pie… and of course it had to be dark purple, obviously.

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Besides that, I know I’ve broken my unofficial rule of not repeating myself in two subsequent posts, but…. it’s PIE. So… it’s fine. And it’s my blog anyway so why do I have these stupid rules for myself?! As a very wise man once said, who would refuse pie?! Exactly.

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I’ve never put mint in pie prior to this, but I like it! It’s very unusual – the berries are still the dominant flavor, but the mint keeps popping in there to keep you on your toes. It adds an unexpected bit of freshness to the berries, and it smells SO good. I don’t think I breathed while I was doing the top crust…

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Let’s see, what else is new…

Opera night lions! Opening night at Rigoletto was fantastic, of course.

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And a balanced breakfast, because pie definitely counts as a fruit serving.

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Patting myself on the back over here for the structural stability of this pie – appropriate amount of thickener = appropriate amount of juices! Plus, no soggy bottom crust. Mission accomplished.

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It’s June – the beginning of the summer fruit season — make pie, be happy! But… beware the swarm…

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Wild Blueberry, Blackberry & Mint {Zerg} Pie on Whole Wheat Crust

A Wait are those Cookies original! Yield: 1 9″ pie, serves 2 (ha) – 6. Refined sugar free and whole wheat, plus lots of antioxidants! Mint adds an unexpected freshness to an otherwise basic berry pie.

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For the pie crust:

  • 2.25 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/3 c unsalted butter
  • 1/3 c vegetable shortening
  • 5-6 tbsp ice water

For the filling:

  • 2.5 c wild blueberries*
  • 2 c blackberries*
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • 1/3 c whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest and juice of 1 meyer lemon (or regular)

*I baked straight from frozen; fresh would also be fine; use enough berries to fill your pie plate

For finishing: 1-2 tbsp butter, 1 egg for egg wash

To make the crust: in a large bowl, whisk together pastry flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in shortening and butter either with your fingers or a pastry cutter until a coarse mixture forms and the butter chunks are the size of peas. Make a well in the center of the dough and add in the ice water one tablespoon at a time – mix as little as possible when incorporating the water to avoid overworking the dough. Once it will stick together, you’re good to go. Divide it into two even pieces, wrap in plastic wrap or a ziploc and chill for at least 10 minutes or up to overnight.

While the dough is chilling, put together the filling. In a large bowl, toss together blueberries, blackberries, mint, maple, whole wheat flour, vanilla, and lemon juice + zest. Let sit for at least 10 minutes — easiest to do this while you roll out the pie dough.

Once the dough is chilled, roll it out between two pieces of parchment or on marble, whatever you have – I like parchment for easy removal. Aim for about 1/8″ thickness, and lay the bottom crust into a lightly greased pie dish. Shape it with your fingers, evening out the top as per your pie plate or design you want — this crust will make a double crusted pie, so keep that in mind. Toss in filling goodness and dot with butter.

If you want to get fancy and get all Zerg-pie Starcraft nerdy (you must construct additional pylons!)…

Cut out templates (thick paper or thin cardboard work nicely) for the Zerg crest. Have egg wash and coconut sugar handy (I use a beaten egg + 1 tbsp water). Use the templates to cut out the top crust shape, then use a chopstick or a knife to make the surface lines. Brush everything with egg wash to make it stick. Sprinkle coconut sugar where contrast is desired. Once finished, carefully lay top crust over the filling. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, then 350 for 35-40 until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven when done and let sit to cool for at least an hour, preferably more so that the filling will set. Serve warm or at room temp, and store any leftovers overnight on the counter, loosely covered, or in the fridge for longer (assuming it lasts that long). Pie can be made a day in advance if needed and reheated briefly in a 375 oven to crisp the crust and warm the filling – 10/15 minutes. The pie filling will firm up if stored in the fridge overnight, making slicing easier.

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Must construct additional Pie-Lons!

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Protoss Pie! For all those who love Starcraft, this one’s for you! I’d say it ranks right up there in nerd-pie’s last incarnation, the Death Star pie that made an appearance a few months ago (see post here!). I LOVE making pies with personality, it’s much more fun than a standard crust (and then you can make pie-lon jokes all night long!)

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I love early morning baking, especially in the summer (it’s also practical since who in their right mind is going to turn on the oven once it’s over 80 outside? Not this girl). The feeling of my bare feet on the kitchen floor (yes, I am one of those barefoot bakers — I hate wearing shoes in the house and I just try not to drop anything sharp), the feeling of my hands wrist-deep in flour, butter, and fruit – such a soothing combination. There is something about pie that makes me feel more connected to my heritage, more than any other desserts I make. Which is odd, given that I don’t associate pie with any of my relatives — cookies were my gram’s thing! I guess it’s something about pie itself – it’s old, it’s timeless, and it’s simple. AND it’s delicious, obviously.

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That being said, I am finally at peace with pie dough! It’s taken some time, but pie dough and I have become friends. I think pie dough can sense fear… which means that as soon as you embrace it, it works for you! At least most of the time ;)

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Pie is such a perfect, simple dessert. Ideal for overflowing seasonal produce, dessert and obviously breakfast – pie is textbook dessert-for-breakfast food. I have to say, this might be my favorite pie that I’ve ever made – I LOVE rhubarb, and it really shines here: tart but sweet, with a gingery kick. Ideal with some vanilla ice cream of choice – because pie is made to be eaten a la mode, obviously (with a side of pie-crust cookies made from scraps because… overachiever)

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Other life things – SF series & succulents!

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Must construct moar pylons! (or make that pie-lons, hahahah see what I did there?! I’m so impressed with myself)

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Eat pie. Be nerdy!

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Rhubarb Raspberry Ginger Pie

Whole wheat and refined sugar free, lightly sweetened with maple and coconut sugar. Perfect for highlighting spring produce, especially rhubarb. Not too sweet & appropriately tart with a gingery kick. Yield: 1 9″ pie. A Wait are Those Cookies original!

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For the pie crust:

  • 2.25 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/3 c unsalted butter
  • 1/3 c vegetable shortening
  • 5-6 tbsp ice water

For the filling:

  • 5 c rhubarb, chopped*
  • 1 c raspberries*
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • 1/4 c arrowroot starch
  • zest of 1 meyer lemon
  • juice of 1 meyer lemon (or regular)
  • 1/4 c candied ginger, chopped

*I baked straight from frozen; fresh would also be fine

For finishing: 1-2 tbsp butter, 1 egg for egg wash

To make the crust: in a large bowl, whisk together pastry flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in shortening and butter either with your fingers or a pastry cutter until a coarse mixture forms and the butter chunks are the size of peas. Make a well in the center of the dough and add in the ice water one tablespoon at a time – mix as little as possible when incorporating the water to avoid overworking the dough. Once it will stick together, you’re good to go. Divide it into two even pieces, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 10 minutes and up to an hour.

While the dough is chilling, put together the filling. In a large bowl, toss together rhubarb, raspberries, maple syrup, arrowroot, lemon zest and juice, and candied ginger. Let sit for at least 10 minutes — easiest to do this while you roll out the pie dough.

Once the dough is chilled, roll it out between two pieces of parchment or on marble, whatever you have – I like parchment for easy removal. Aim for about 1/8″ thickness, and lay the bottom crust into a lightly greased pie dish. Shape it with your fingers, evening out the top as per your pie plate or design you want — this crust will make a double crusted pie, so keep that in mind. Toss in rhubarb filling goodness and dot with butter.

If you want to get fancy and get all Protoss-pie Starcraft nerdy (you must construct additional pylons!)…

Cut out templates (thick paper or thin cardboard work nicely) for the Protoss crest. Have egg wash and coconut sugar handy (I use a beaten egg + 1 tbsp water). Use the templates to cut out the top crust shape, then use a chopstick or a knife to make the surface lines. Roll out thin pieces of dough for the details, and brush everything with egg wash to make it stick. Sprinkle coconut sugar where contrast is desired. Once finished, carefully lay top crust over the rhubarb filling. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, then 350 for 35-40 until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven when done and let sit to cool for at least an hour, preferably more so that the filling will set. Serve warm or at room temp, and store any leftovers overnight on the counter, loosely covered, or in the fridge for longer (assuming it lasts that long). Pie can be made a day in advance if needed and reheated briefly in a 375 oven to crisp the crust and warm the filling – 10/15 minutes. The pie filling will firm up if stored in the fridge overnight, making slicing easier.

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Sometimes, you gotta get messy

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Homemade It’s-Its!

Somewhat less aesthetic & refined than my fruit desserts of late, but sometimes you have to trash up your dessert a little. And it photographing such a hot mess (or at least attempting to) is lots of fun! Somehow I managed NOT to get ice cream on my phone, I consider that a rousing success.

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Okay… So we all know that I lovelovelovelove ice cream. But actually I lovelovelove ice cream and I LOVELOVELOVELOVE ice cream sandwiches. There is a world of difference when it comes to this. And no, a cookie with a scoop of ice cream on top is so not the same thing. Close, but no cigar.

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In a pinch it is definitely an acceptable substitute, but give me ice cream smooshed between two chewy cookies and I am one happy camper.

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It’s-It ice cream sandwiches are undeniably delicious but why buy them when you could level up and make some that were even more delicious and with better-sourced/pronounceable ingredients and more nutrition (with minimal effort)?! Right. My thoughts exactly.

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Besides that, these are SO easy and involve really only two steps: make cookies, then play with your food! Who doesn’t like that?

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Besides, these were consumed with berries, so that makes them virtuous…  I kid.

In other news…

The SF series continues!

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Always fun to find new viewpoints and perspectives on old favorites:

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Happy springtime! Mother Nature needs none of your silly filters.

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Homemade Oatmeal Ice Cream Sandwiches (ie, it’s-it… probably trademarked, so I won’t call it that…

These are ridiculously easy! The cookies I used are whole wheat and sweetened with maple, which mollifies me a bit in terms of avoiding refined sugar (yes, I know I’m also eating ice cream… It’s all about balance). I think these are best fresh, so I would only make as many as you’re going to eat in one sitting. Can be gluten free, dairy free, or vegan depending on dairy or nondairy ice cream of choice and cookie recipe [mine were none of the above – sub a gf/vegan/dairy free cookie & ice cream].

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Sooooo easy. Lez do it:

  • 1 batch of chewy oatmeal cookies (recipe I used is below)
  • 1 pint of super delicious, good quality ice cream
  • 3/4 c chopped dark chocolate (mine was 70%)
  • 1 tsp coconut oil

Make favorite chewy oatmeal cookies. Let cool. Melt chocolate and coconut oil either in a double boiler or in the microwave on 30 sec intervals, stirring in between until fully melted. Set aside.

Take favorite ice cream (I prefer Straus vanilla chocolate chip) and smoosh in between two cookies. Eat ice cream out of the carton because… just because. Squash other cookie on top of delicious pile of cookie and ice cream, and then, working quickly to prevent meltage and structural failure, roll it around in melted chocolate. Pretend to shake off excess (but actually don’t, because chocolate). Place on a parchment paper lined plate and stick them into the freezer until the chocolate hardens, five minutes or up to two hours. Unstick carefully from plate and stuff face!

Grin happily and pat yourself on the back for leveling up.

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Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

These were SO perfect for making sandwiches. They didn’t turn into rocks in the freezer, and they stayed chewy until the next day. Whole grain, refined sugar free, and lower in sugar than most chewy cookies out there. Mmm cookies.. Recipe slightly adapted from Amy’s Healthy Baking, here. I made a batch and a half, sorry for some of the strange measurements. Yield: 18

  • 1.5 c whole wheat flour (spooned and leveled)*
  • 1.5 c rolled oats (leveled)
  • 2.25 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1.5 eggs (ugh sorry! for the .5, beat one egg, measure & use half)
  • 3/4 c pure maple syrup (I use grade B)
  • 3 tbsp salted butter, melted
  • 1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips

In a large bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and sea salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together egg, maple, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Pour wet into dry and mix until just barely combined, stirring in chocolate chips. Cover the dough and refrigerate for minimum 30 minutes, up to 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 325, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop refrigerated dough by the tbsp onto the baking sheet, flattening each slightly (they won’t really spread). Bake for 11-13 minutes (mine were done at 12), until the tops spring back when touched and the sides are firm. Cool on the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before turning into sandwiches! Store in an airtight tupperware at room temp unless you eat them all immediately.

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Wait… no citrus?!

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Hold the phone. NOT CITRUS?!

Surely you must be joking.

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Don’t worry, my love affair with all things citrus hasn’t ended, it’s just taking a week off so I can give apples some love. Apples haven’t really featured heavily in my desserts of late, so this is a nice change. Besides, apples, honey and almonds all pair so nicely together.

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This cake is a riff on the honey cake with blackberries & hazelnuts I made back in the fall, and this one once again reminds me of something you’d eat in the Shire – skillet and all, it’s very Tolkeinesque. Which of course appeals to my extraordinarily nerdy nature…

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Besides that, it’s light, delicious and comes together in a snap. I used a combination of apples since I love the tartness of Granny Smith but wanted a more complex flavor – Fujis are in here too.

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Excellent for dessert with some ice cream, and of course for breakfast alongside eggs & kale. Cake for breakfast? Sure, why not – it’s a great source of Vitamin E and healthy fats, plus it’s grain free, gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free so everyone wins.

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Besides cake, a few snaps of what’s been occupying my time lately:

More SF series, of course.

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No filter on this next one — I couldn’t believe how bright it was!

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Enjoy your cake! It tastes best in good company :)

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Apple Honey Cake with Blackberries and Maple Almonds

Gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free, dairy free, paleo depending on your definition. Light almond honey cake studded with apples and topped with blackberries (mo’ fruit!) and mapled almonds. Yield: 1 8″ skillet cake; serves 2-8. Recipe is a riff on the honey cake with hazelnuts & blackberries, here. Note: I’ve adapted this recipe over time to fit my 8″ cast iron skillet perfectly, hence the odd measurements. Feel free to make this in a 9″ cake pan or skillet, just keep in mind the bake time will be less & you’ll have a slightly shorter cake.

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For the cake:

  • 1.5 c almond flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • heaping 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 c honey (I use raw usually) – runny and thick honey are both fine
  • 1/8 + 1/16 c coconut oil, melted
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped into 1/2″ pieces (I used a mix of Fuji & Granny Smith)
  • 1 apple for topping, sliced into 1/4″ thick wedges + 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • Cinnamon for topping

Peel, core and chop 2 apples, and set aside. Lightly grease your skillet or pan of choice with coconut oil and set aside. Preheat oven to 325.

In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Add in eggs, honey, coconut oil, and vanilla extract, and stir until all ingredients are just incorporated. Stir in 2 chopped apples. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and set aside momentarily. Cut up the last apple, slicing it into 1/4″ wedges and toss it with the tbsp of melted coconut oil. Fan these out across the top (this is totally optional of course), and sprinkle a little cinnamon on them. Bake for 60-65 minutes (if you left the apples off the very top of the cake, your bake time will be slightly less – check at 45), until the top of the cake is lightly browned, firm, and a tester in the center comes out clean. You can cover the cake with foil during the last 15 minutes of baking if the cake is browning too fast. Remove and let cool before topping & serving.

For the maple almonds

  • 1 c slivered almonds
  • 1/4 c pure maple syrup
  • pinch of sea salt

Heat an empty saute pan (not nonstick) over medium heat; once heated, add maple (it will bubble and fizz) and hazelnuts. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, stirring continuously until the maple has caramelized. The nuts will feel a little soft, which is fine. Spread parchment paper on a baking sheet, pour out the nuts and spread them out a bit. They will harden as they cool. Store in an airtight jar at room temp for as long as they last which is realistically about five minutes.

For serving: top cake with blackberries and maple almonds! Slice and serve, especially good with vanilla ice cream. Store any leftovers covered, in the fridge for a few days.

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2017: the tale of demanding, reincarnating bananas

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Happy New Year! Here’s hoping 2017 treats everyone a little better than last year – 2016 was a rough one for many. But as they say, onward and upward! Preferably with cake, which is where I come in.

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The dead bananas are calling! I had a plethora lurking around my kitchen this weekend and they put me on notice that they really wanted to reincarnate into something amazing… not banana bread again, if you please (my bananas can get a little demanding sometimes…). That being said, I had a hankering for banana cake (fundamentally different from banana bread, you see), so THIS happened!

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Happily so. Have you ever had sautéed dates? No? Get into the kitchen immediately and make them! I love dates anyway, but they are mindblowingly good when given a little bath in some olive oil and sea salt. I’ve always been a salt monster, so salty-sweet desserts are absolutely my jam, and these little powerhouses deliver. Besides that, they’re full of good nutrients (dates are high in vit A & K, plus potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium & zinc. woohoo!).

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This cake is actually full of good things – you have healthy fats from almond flour, hazelnuts, and coconut, and all the good stuff in dates. And besides that, most critically: it’s delicious, which is good for your soul.

Let’s see, what else? Jessie says hello (this is her way of chatting me up during breakfast, adorable cat)

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More drawings, of course! New year, same series! This is the Havens Mansion, built 1884 on S. Van Ness in SF.

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My first activity of 2017! Shocked? Nope.

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More beautiful sky!

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Show your new and improved 2017 self some love with some sautéed dates atop your cake, and revel in all the possibilities of a new year. Onward!

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Banana Date Skillet Cake with Coconut Frosting, Maple Hazelnuts, and Sautéed Dates

Pretty freaking amazing, if I do say so! Lightly sweet banana cake with jewel-like date pieces, coconut frosting and OMG sautéed dates, please make them immediately. Serve with a bit of ice cream or non-dairy biz if that’s your jam! Can’t miss either way. Refined sugar free, grain free, gluten free, dairy free, pretty much paleo. Yield: 1 8″ skillet cake, enough frosting to frost the top (cake is served straight out of the skillet); extra hazelnuts because you’ll definitely want extras… and the amount of dates is up to you (make extra!). Skillet cake adapted from Confessions of a Confectionista, here!

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For the cake:

  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3 eggs
  • heaping 1/8 c coconut oil, melted
  • 1.5 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • heaping 1.25 c almond flour
  • 1.5 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 4 medjool dates, chopped

For the maple hazelnuts (make ahead, if desired):

  • 1 c roasted hazelnuts
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • pinch of sea salt
  • splash of vanilla

For the sautéed dates:

  • 1-2 tbsp good olive oil
  • 7-8 medjool dates, halved & pitted
  • pinch of sea salt

For the coconut frosting:

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk, chilled upside-down overnight in the fridge
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

I usually make the hazelnuts ahead and store them in a jar until needed. Remove most of the skins from the hazelnuts by rubbing them together; it doesn’t matter if there are skins left, but I try to get rid of the majority. Heat an empty saute pan (not nonstick) over medium heat; once heated, add maple (it will bubble and fizz) and hazelnuts. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, stirring continuously until the maple has caramelized. The nuts will feel a little soft, which is fine. Spread parchment paper on a baking sheet, pour out the nuts and spread them out a bit. They will harden as they cool. Store in an airtight jar at room temp for as long as they last which is realistically about five minutes.

To make the cake: preheat the oven to 350, and grease an 8″ cast iron skillet with coconut oil. In a large bowl, mash the bananas, then add eggs, melted coconut oil, honey, and vanilla. In a smaller bowl, whisk together almond flour, flaxseed, cinnamon, baking powder and soda, and salt. Pour dry into wet, and use an electric mixer to beat until combined. Stir in the chopped dates, and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the top springs back when touched. The cake will brown because of the honey – if you feel it’s browning too fast, feel free to cover it with foil. Let cool completely before serving.

While the cake is cooling, make the sautéed dates! (good luck not eating them all straight out of the pan). In a small sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil is warm, add the dates and sauté, stirring frequently, until they caramelize and are heated through, just about 2-3 minutes (the edges will start to get a little crispy). Watch them carefully, as they burn easily. When done, move them to a bowl to cool and sprinkle with sea salt (be sure to get all of the good oil out of the pan for drizzling!).

Also while the cake is cooling, make the coconut frosting. Open the can of coconut milk rightside up, and scrape out the cream that has solidified at the top, leaving the coconut water at the bottom (save it and use it later!). Scoop the cream out into a bowl, add vanilla and coconut sugar, and use an electric mixer to beat into the consistency of whipped cream. Use immediately, or chill for later use.

For serving: Frost the cake with the coconut whip (make sure to frost the cake once it’s completely cool! otherwise a melty mess will ensue); top with sautéed dates and maple hazelnuts. Indulge responsibly (i.e., have another piece)!

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Happy Solstice! I’m sure the druids ate carrot cake to celebrate too…

img_5339Happy Solstice! Time to really get into it now with the holiday shenanigans — I can’t believe Christmas is Sunday! Sneaky little sucker.

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It’s been below freezing in the mornings here, which is definitely considered a cold snap around these parts! As if I needed an excuse to run the oven and bake for extra kitchen warmth… I took advantage of the cold to not only bake carrot cake but also to re-season all of my cast iron skillets! They’re all shiny and beautiful now, as they should be.

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Other new things…

Holiday fun in the city! My Christmas isn’t complete without seeing the SF Ballet’s Nutcracker.

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More architecture and drawing, obviously.

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What better way to celebrate the solstice than with carrot cake?!

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I’ve been jonesing for it lately, and thankfully I had a seconded favorable opinion, so… it happened! Lightly sweet, carrot-y, and full of nuts just like carrot cake should be. Carrot cake isn’t carrot cake without walnuts! No way. Aside from that, I was tired of the usual cashew-creme frosting, so I got cray with some macadamia nuts to see what would happen, and luckily it was a favorable outcome. Hooray for new things!

Enjoy your Solstice-day with those you love! Indulge yourself in a little healthier carrot cake, you deserve it.

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Skillet Carrot Cake with Coconut Maple Macadamia Frosting and Maple Walnuts

To me, this is pretty much the perfect carrot cake. Carrot cake and walnuts are a match made in heaven, which is why they’re in this twice! Paleo-ish, refined sugar free, dairy free, gluten free, grain free! Cake adapted from Texanerin Baking – only lightly adapted because this cake is damn perfect as is! Frosting is a Wait are those Cookies original.

For the cake:

  • 1.25 c almond flour
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • scant 1/3 c melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 c runny honey
  • scant 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c grated carrots
  • 1/3 c chopped walnuts

For the frosting:

  • 1 c macadamia nuts, soaked for at least an hour
  • juice of 1 meyer lemon
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • large pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut butter
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

For the maple walnuts:

  • 1 c raw walnuts
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • large pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

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I tend to make the walnuts in advance so that they have time to cool completely. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat until warm, then add maple (it will fizz a bit). Add in walnuts and sea salt, and cook for a few minutes, stirring regularly and scraping up the caramel forming on the bottom, until the maple syrup has mostly reduced and caramelized – about 3 minutes. Turn off heat, stir in vanilla, and pour the walnuts out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet to cool completely. Store in an airtight jar until needed.

I soaked the macadamia nuts for the frosting about an hour, which meant that I put them to soak, made the cake, then made the frosting, which was a great timeline. The cake can easily be made a day ahead and stored in the fridge overnight.

For the cake: preheat the oven to 350, and grease an 8″ cast iron skillet. In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, sea salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. In a smaller bowl, whisk together eggs, melted coconut oil, honey, and vanilla. Stir wet into dry, add in grated carrots and chopped walnuts, and stir until incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared skillet, and bake for 28-30 minutes (mine was perfect at 30); the top should be lightly browned and firm to the touch, and a tester should come out clean. Let cool completely before frosting and serving.

For the frosting: add soaked macadamia nuts to a high-power blender or food processor (I used a vitamix), and blend until smooth. You’ll have to stop and scrape the sides repeatedly, but it’s worth it! Patience is a virtue, ha. Once the nuts resemble nut butter, add in lemon juice, vanilla, salt, maple syrup, coconut butter and cinnamon. These can be adjusted to taste! I usually just taste as I go, until I’m satisfied. Store in an airtight jar in the fridge until needed; any extra will keep for about two weeks.

To serve: I like to serve the cake straight out of the skillet, so I frost and top with walnuts as is. This cake is excellent with vanilla ice cream (what isn’t) — enjoy accordingly! Store any leftovers in the fridge — covering the skillet with foil works nicely, as does moving the cake to a tupperware.

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