Unlike what seems to be the standard course of action of a COVID-19 patient, I wasn't exactly resting for the entirety of my positive state. I attempted dance and pilates (from which an excruciating headache was triggered), moved about the house (masked, of course), and reviewed notes from vacations past (still in progress). It was evident that I was keen to rejoin society and partake in the activities I enjoyed and wished to enjoy once again.
Baking was not omitted from this roster of hobbies, for being at home meant readily available tools and ingredients for crafting.
One of these projects was a classic New York Cheesecake. Originally to be undertaken as part of the Apple Mania series, a last-minute realization of cream cheese sparsity led me to repurpose the graham crust in the direction of an Apple Mousse Cake.
That one was excessively creamy, given that I had emptied an entire carton of heavy whipping cream to form a filling. This New York Cheesecake was constructed from 200g from graham crackers and a whopping 900g of Philadelphia cream cheese - that's nearly 4 blocks!! - then baked in a water bath for over sixty minutes.
On the first day, I hadn't removed the foil wrapping from the pan before transferring it to the fridge to cool. This led to condensation pooling on the underside of the crust, consequently leading to a soft, pliable centre. Thankfully, the circumference remained dry, emitting a delicate crunch. I also hadn't let the cake chill for its required minimum of eight hours before removing the first slice; the top was rigid and centre basque-like. On the second day, however uniformity was witnessed throughout the cross-sections.
Word of warning: Do not consume slices greater than half-inch thickness in one sitting. The satiation levels are tremendous.
Once my body could handle text, calculations, and work (ugh) again, my mind began trailing, contemplating the proper conversion sequence as opposed to reviewing the drawings at hand.
But I was not satisfied. Future attempts shall possibly see the reduction of flour, reduction in eggs (from 2 to 1), and partial replacement of butter with oil. I'm still not keen on cake flour, as the output was too crumbly and tender.
As the world gears up for Thanksgiving baking and cozy aromas of pie, I set out on a mission to simplify apple pie. The recipe in question was no other than SK's newest Apple Dumpling recipe.
Advertised as individual parcels of apple pie, the process seemed straightforward enough. All-butter pie crust would be used to encase apple halves along with fillings of brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg - and a cold knob of butter.
The next morning, I obtained three Gala apples from our Apple Factory visit, gliding a ruler along their sides to ensure approximate 3-inch diameters. They were peeled, cored with a melon baller, and brushed liberally in lemon juice with a pastry brush (instead of being drizzled with the juice of half a lemon). The second modification imposed was incorporating butter directly into the brown sugar mixture and portioning the filling into spheres. Reluctant I had been to a messy assembly process where rock-solid butter would wobble atop a crumbly, uncompacted foundation of sugar, on top of an already wobbly apple base.
That said, I'm thankful to have stuck with the original serving size of six. My three remaining pie dough slabs can now be reserved for the likes of pecan and apple pie.
Alongside the Apple Dumplings, I had also taken to peeling, coring, and finely chopping smaller Gala to form a jammy, cinnamon-laced filling. Substituting 2 tbsp of gelatin with 2.5 tbsp of glutinous rice flour, the emerging consistency was viscous, yet not entirely solidified. In hindsight, the quantity of brown sugar ought to have been scaled down proportionally to the compensate for Gala's innate sweetness: although 1 cup of packed brown sugar was ideal for Ginger Gold, I'd recommend lessening the amount by 30-35% for Gala, and possibly further for Fuji and Honeycrisp (but those are best reserved for eating).