It’s maple season again. Our friends at Chandler’s Sugar Shack in Kossuth are tapping 4,000+ trees this year. It wasn’t that long ago that they started out with less than 200 and now here they are with a sugar “shack” the square footage (or more) of our house and thousands of thousands…and thousands of taps. I decided to use some of our syrup to make Maple Walnut Pound Cake. Oh my gosh. It’s just enough maple flavor without being overwhelming, and not too sweet.
If it lasts more than a few days, pound cake loses its quality. By day four or five I didn’t want another slice but didn’t want it to go to waste. I turned the rest of the pound cake into one-inch slices, dipped it in an egg and milk mixture, and made Maple Walnut Pound Cake French Toast. That’s a mouthful – literally and figuratively. It was delicious!
I wanted a nice glaze on the pound cake and wanted to use maple syrup. I think this turned out well! This would be great as a glaze on cookies, over cupcakes or as a substitute for maple syrup on pancakes and waffles.
Substitute for Cake Flour
If you don’t have cake flour in the pantry (I didn’t) you can make your own. Measure one level cup of all-purpose flour. Remove two level tablespoons of flour and replace it with two level tablespoons of corn starch. Corn starch lowers the protein level of the flour. Protein turns to gluten, and gluten is what makes breads chewy. A little less protein is a little less gluten and that makes the flour lighter.
Cake flour is around 8% protein. All-purpose flour is around 10% protein.
And now you know! Really, it’s the simple things in the kitchen that delight me the most.
A steaming bowl of fish chowder, a thick slice of homemade bread slathered with good butter, and a big spoon. That’s all I need to make a meal that leaves me wanting more even after I’m stuffed to the gills (you see what I did there?). Chowder isn’t just for seafood. You can use fresh water fish, and it’s especially good if you’re using fish you’ve just caught while ice fishing. I stick with white fish and skip any that are oily. If you’d prefer to use ocean fish I suggest haddock, cod or pollock. Good fresh-water choices are cusk, yellow and white perch, and bass.
Salted caramel apple pie is my new go-to pie for potluck suppers, Thanksgiving dinner, having guests over, and girlfriends’ lunch when it’s my turn to host here on the homestead. Steve takes it to office luncheons. This pie is rich, sweet and immensely satisfying so you might consider a smaller-than-usual slice. Hahaha…no. Eat the pie. Enjou the pie.
I am all for kids in the kitchen. Mine started cooking when they were three or four years old. This caramel sauce is not for safe for kids to make. The cold heavy cream hitting the hot syrup will spit and sputter. Adults need long sleeves and oven mitts. Kids need to be away from the stove. They can stir the sauce into the apples when it all cools down and drizzle is over the pie when plating slices. If you want to skip making the caramel sauce you can keep it simple. Go to the store and buy two 12 oz jars of caramel sauce. Warm the sauce and stir in the sea salt. Salted caramel apple pie without salted caramel really isn’t quite right. You will miss the salt in the caramel when you drizzle it over the top crust at serving time.
I like to use at least two varieties of apples for pie – Honey Crisp and a Winesap. Use what you like best for pies. This recipe is different. You’re going to cook the apples before they go into the crust. You do this so you can mix in the caramel sauce without it flooding the bottom crust. You’ll have no empty air pocket (a result of using apple varieties that aren’t great for baking in traditional apple pie recipes) between the top crust and filling no matter what varieties you use.
Creamy wild mushroom soup is one of my comfort foods. You don’t have to have to pick wild mushrooms to make this recipe. You can find mushrooms in the produce section of most groceries and sometimes at Farmers Market.
I like to add a variety of mushrooms to one batch. Portobello, Lobster, Porcini, Coral, Shiitake, Cremini, and Oyster are varieties I think work very well. Lobster is a dense, dry mushroom, the only variety I was because it doesn’t absorb water. Skip Chanterelles in this recipe, its milder flavor will be lost in the mix, and it’s a little too special as far as wild mushrooms go to lose.
What looked to be a poor wild mushroom year took a turn in late August when we finally got rain. Chanterelles made a brief reappearance. Gray Oyster is growing on old logs in the wood yard. Scaber Stalk, Porcini (King) and other boletes are going crazy. I’ve never seen so many boletes, some nearly the size of a soccer ball. I’ve dehydrated and frozen enough to last us a year and they’re not done yet. It’s almost time for Matsutake to pop up, a mushroom I’ve not yet picked.
Pick what you know to be safe. Take a class or three. Learn from someone who knows mushrooms well. Until then, check out the produce department and farmers market to stay on the safe side.