Vegan Apple Sage Fritters with Vanilla Maple Rum Glaze

Vegan Apple Sage Fritters with Vanilla Maple Rum Glaze

  There’s no better way to welcome apple season than to fry up a good batch of apple fritters. 

 The weather of late has evoked nostalgic feelings of autumn, putting me in the strange predicament of looking forward to the changing of seasons. If you knew me, you’d know I’m not one to welcome the fall season with open arms; I despise seeing pumpkins, bright orange and red decor of all sorts embellishing stores by the end of July. I would live in a world of perpetual summer if I could- I just really don’t like the cold. But this year is different. I’m actually looking forward to the switch from summer to fall. In fact, I made these fritters in slight excitement. It made me think of my younger self, back when I actually enjoyed the cool days of autumn and the cold, snowy days of winter.

  Drive North, South, East or West and you’re certain to see apple orchards dotted about every direction in the state of Virginia. I can count off my hand at least six apple orchards within a twenty-five-minute radius of me. You won’t find me complaining, though. I’m fortunate to live where I live; it’s a beautiful place, and beautiful places give me so much inspiration when I feel drained and ready to give in. I’m extremely thankful for that. So, I set off to my local orchard, a lovely ten-minute drive with scenic views of Virginia farmland and the Blueridge mountains, then came home with a paper bag full of crisp, red apples just waiting to be turned into these apple sage fritters.


Vegan Apple Sage Fritters with Vanilla Maple Rum Glaze

   dough:

3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

3/4 cups cashew milk, hot

1/2 cup raw cane sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 *flax eggs 

3 tablespoons coconut oil 

5 cups canola oil, for frying

   apples:

1 tablespoon coconut oil

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

3 medium sized apples

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/3 cup raw cane sugar

3 large sage leaves, minced

   glaze:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon good rum

1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)

    METHOD

  1. *Blend 2 tablespoons of flax seeds in a blender until finely ground. Pour into a small bowl and add 2 1/2 tablespoons water and stir. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric standing mixer, add the yeast and hot cashew milk and give it a little stir. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, spices, salt, and sugar. Add to the yeast mixture, along with the vanilla and flax egg and beat on medium-high speed with the dough-hook attachment until the dough comes together completely and wipes the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl clean- about 4 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and add the coconut oil, 1 tablespoon at a time; making sure each tablespoon is incorporated into the dough before adding the next. It will seem like it doesn’t want to incorporate at first, but just give it a few seconds and it’ll come together. Once all the oil is in the dough, you should have a soft, smooth dough. lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough inside, cover with a thin cloth and let it rise in a warm, dry place for an hour or until it has doubled in size. Prepare the apples while the dough rises.
  3. Peel and core the apples and chop them into 1/2-inch long rectangular pieces that have a thickness of 1/4-inch. Add the sugar and cinnamon to the apples and toss until coated. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the coconut oil and add the apples, 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, and minced sage. Cook the apples, stirring often, until the liquid has reduced to a syrupy thick mixture and apples are somewhat soft, but the centers still somewhat firm(you don’t want them cooked soggy). Cool the apples until ready to use. If there happens to be a lot of liquid from the apples, strain it out. 
  4. Once the dough has doubled in size, turn it onto a floured surface. Roll it into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle. Sprinkle the apples over one-half of the dough, then fold the other side over the apples. Pinch the sides shut and gently roll the dough into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle again. Sprinkle the remaining apples all over the dough, then roll it into a tube. Seal the ends shut and flatten the tube with your hands slightly, then roll it out with a rolling pin into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle. It’s OK if some apples pop out, just keep pushing them back in. The width should roughly be 5-6-inches wide. Using a knife, cut the rectangle down the center long ways, then cut 2-inch by 2-inch squares from the two strips. There should be about 9-10 squares in total. Place parchment paper on a large baking sheet and lightly dust with flour. Space each dough piece about 3-inches apart from one another. Cover with a thin towel and let them rise for 25-30 minutes or until doubled in size. Meanwhile, fill a large pot with 5 cups of oil(about 2-inches deep) and heat to 350°F. I recommend using an oil or candy thermometer to keep track of the temperature. The oil to stay at or close to 350°F. Cook the fritters, just two at a time, for 2 minutes on each side. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked fritters to a cooling rack(place paper towels under racks to catch oil). 
  5. To make the glaze, sift the powdered sugar, then add the maple syrup, vanilla, and bourbon. Whisk until smooth, then drizzle onto the fritters once they have cooled until warm to touch and no longer hot. 

GINGER SPICE LAYER CAKE WITH APPLE BUTTER MASCARPONE FROSTING

  The Barley and sorghum fields have been harvested and the {once} green, rolling hills of Northern Virginia are now brown and withered; meanwhile the bronze, red, and yellow hues from the hickory, beech, and red maple trees are scattered about the mountainside and valleys, creating a fiery picturesque scene.  Dotting the sides of the road are small farm stands selling freshly picked apples by the bushel, locally made ciders by the jug, mason jars filled with jelly of all kinds, and honey.  The air is crisp with the pleasant scent of burning wood and chimney smoke here and there- Oh, there are hundreds of things I could write about this beautiful time of the year, as well as the scenes and feelings felt within it.  It’s already passing by so quickly.  Soon all the trees will be bare and it will be brutally cold once again.

  But to every season there is always a downside, to me that downside is the withering of all the lovely flowers.  Flowers are a very crucial part of my blogging as they are practically the only ‘props’ that I use.  Just when I was saddened by not having any flowers to decorate with, I went on a walk around my neighbor’s farm and found a lone pink rose in one of the garden beds.  It was laden with rain droplets and was perfect in every way; alongside the rose were the prettiest purple mums.  In the end, I ended up smiling as it worked out.  But, pretty soon I won’t be so lucky.

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  As you can see if you scroll through my recent posts I’ve been doing a lot of baking with apples.  I don’t think I’ll ever tire of baking with them and I’ll be saddened when the season ends.  Usually I would make my own products using apples as that’s something I like doing instead of buying it pre-made from a supermarket, but I was really anxious to bake this cake that’s been on my mind for quite some time(and was unable to bake as I was away from my kitchen); so, once I got home I made my way to one of the many farm stands in my area that was selling their locally made apple products.  I found the most delicious apple butter and it happened to be made by the local Lions Club members.  Every year they go out and pick apples from the orchards nearby and dedicate an entire day of their time in the kitchen of a community cannery making the apple butter.  They can a thousand or so jars of it and sell it around the county!  Even though I didn’t have time to make my own apple butter, I still got to use it fresh(with local apples, too).

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  My absolute favorite part about this cake?  Well, that would have to be the frosting.  I really wanted something delicious that wasn’t your mundane American buttercream, so I played with it a bit and added mascarpone cheese and a custard that was flavored with that delicious apple butter I bought.  It’s like a hybrid of American and German buttercream(and it’s oh so good).  It’s smooth to the palate when eaten and it spreads beautifully!  In the layers are the spices of fall(as I call them), a hint of vanilla, and for that tender and moist crumb:  more apple butter.

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*Majority of measurements used is in metric units.


GINGER SPICE LAYER CAKE WITH APPLE BUTTER MASCARPONE FROSTING

cake

175 grams unsalted butter, room temperature

500 grams granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 large fresh eggs, room temperature

1/3 cup local apple butter

250 grams cake flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

312 grams milk, room temperature

 

frosting

2 large fresh egg yolks

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/3 cup + 3 tablespoons milk

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1/3 cup apple butter

8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

dash of ground cloves

pinch of salt

method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease and line(with parchment) three, 8-inch cake pans.
  2. In an electric standing mixer with whisks attached, combine the sugar, butter, and vanilla; beat on medium speed for 7-8 minutes until light and fluffy.  Meanwhile in a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, spices, baking powder, and baking soda until combined.  Set aside.  Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the eggs; beating one at a time until just combined(about 10 seconds each egg).  Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Add the apple butter and half of the flour mixture and half the milk.  Beat on medium until just combined; scrape down the bowl once more and add the remaining milk and flour, beat till just combined.  
  3. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 23-25 minutes.  Check for doneness at 23 minutes using a toothpick; if it comes out clean it’s done, if not, bake 2 more minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean.  Let the cakes rest in their pans for 10 minutes, then using a sharp knife, gently loosen the cakes from around the edges of the pan.  Invert onto wire racks to cool completely, about one hour.
  4.  Once cooled, assemble the cake.  Place the first layer flat side down on your cake board/plate/stand and add about 3/4 cups of the frosting.  Spread around with an offset spatula, then add the second layer, flat side facing up.  Add 3/4 more of the frosting, spread; then place the third layer, flat side facing up.  Add the remaining frosting to the top of the cake and around the sides(it’s a naked cake so there will be a very, very little frosting for the edges).

frosting:

  1. Place a small mixing bowl in the refrigerator for later use.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the milk and vanilla and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring often so it doesn’t burn.  Remove from heat and stir in the apple butter, let it sit for five minutes(it will look very grainy, so don’t freak out!).  Using a fine mesh strainer/sieve, strain out the mixture over a bowl to catch the liquid.  Discard the pulpy stuff and set the liquid aside.
  3. Create a double boiler by filling a medium-sized pot with a few inches of water, then place a heatproof bowl large enough to fit on top of the pot without touching the water.  Bring the water to a slow simmer over medium-low heat then add the egg yolks and sugar to the bowl; stir with a whisk until the sugar dissolves and egg yolks look a bit pale.  Continue to whisk the eggs, then slowly stream in the milk mixture.  Whisk constantly till the mixture is thick, this may take a few minutes.  Once the mixture has thickened, immediately remove the bowl from atop the pot of water and pour the custard into the chilled bowl.  Again, whisk frivolously until the mixture is cool to the touch.  
  4. In an electric mixer with beaters/whisks attached, add the soft butter and mascarpone cheese.  Beat on medium speed until combined and smooth.  Add the powdered sugar, salt, and custard and beat on medium-high until the mixture is combined and has become light in color and quite volumized, about 2 minutes.

CHOCOLATE RUM BROWNIE WITH SALTED APPLE CIDER CARAMEL

    Comfortably snuggled up in a warm, cozy sweater, quietly contemplating the morning view from a window seat someplace far away with a steaming cup of coffee warming my hands;  that is an ideal chilly, October Thursday.  One I laughingly wish I woke to.  Instead, I awoke to the worst bedhead, no clean clothes to wear to work, and an empty coffee bean container.  Even though the day began in such bad taste, I am grateful that the weather is beautiful and that there was a pot of homemade chili to eat for lunch on this semi-chilly Virginia day.

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  It’s been a busy past two weeks as my family awaits the birth of my eldest sister’s little boy any day now.  We’re hoping he stays put a wee bit longer until hurricane Matthew passes (they happen to live in North East Florida).  It’s quite nerve racking being six hundred miles away from almost all your family while there’s a dangerous hurricane on its way that will affect them and others where ever it goes.  I am staying hopeful that all will be safe during its chaos.

  On top of all that, I was having yet again one of (what I like to call) my rut weeks.  To refresh my mind, I made a quick trip to the apple orchard not nine miles down the road from me.  Upon arrival is a barn, and inside lie crates full of freshly picked red and green apples of all varieties.  In the back of the barn are more crates, but instead of apples, these are full with some of the prettiest looking decorative gourds, local pumpkin, and butternut squashes.  Lining the walls are glass jugs and mason jars filled with apple cider, honey, and maple syrup.  Each time I go to this particular orchard, it’s so hard to leave with only the apples I came for.  They also make some of the best fruit preserves!  It’s rather tempting.

  Arriving home I had my heart set on apple cider and chocolate, but what to create with two.  So, I decided on this apple cider caramel(which makes the sinfully rich brownie even more sinful), with a decadent chocolate brownie flavored with rum; there wasn’t but a couple tablespoons left in the bottle so, why not?

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CHOCOLATE RUM BROWNIE WITH SALTED APPLE CIDER CARAMEL

-brownie-

7 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cups cocoa powder

3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons rum

2 large eggs, cold

-salted apple cider caramel-

1/4 cup apple cider

2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 tablespoon water

1-ounce unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

sea salt 

-method-

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.  Grease and line with parchment paper one, 8-inch cake pan.
  2. Fill a pot with a few inches of water and place over medium heat till it simmers.  Place a heatproof bowl that will sit over the top of the pot(don’t let it touch the water).  Add the butter, chopped chocolate, sugar, and cocoa powder.  Stir until just combined.  Let it sit over the simmering pot till the butter has melted and the mixture is somewhat hot when you dip your finger into it.  Remove the bowl from the pot and stir in the rum.  Let it cool until it’s just warm to touch.  Once cooled, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  The mixture should be glossy.  Whisk together the flour and salt in another bowl, then add to the chocolate mixture.  Stir well with a wooden spoon till all the flour is combined.  Pour into prepared pan and evenly spread around the pan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, checking for doneness at the 20-minute mark with a toothpick(if it comes out clean it’s done, if not, bake for 5 minutes more).  Cool in pan for 20 minutes, then using a sharp knife, loosen around the edges.  Invert onto a wire rack then peel off the parchment.  Let it cool completely, then pour the caramel over the top.  Garnish with more sea salt(optional).

-caramel

  1. In a medium sized saucepan, combine the apple cider, cream, butter, and sugar.  Stir slightly until just combined.  Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.  Stirring occasionally, boil till the mixture till it becomes a light amber color, then remove from heat.  Add a pinch of sea salt and stir.  It should thicken after sitting for a few minutes, but make sure you don’t let it sit too long in the pot or it will start to become firm.  After letting it sit for a couple 3-4 minutes, pour over the brownie and garnish with more sea salt(optional).

APPLE RUM PEACH PIE WITH MAPLE OAT CRUNCH

  Almost two weeks have passed since I went traversing through an orchard in search of my favorite autumnal fruit.  It was the first of September, a very damp and dark one at that, but not at all in a depressing way.  It set the mood for the month, and since that day I have found myself wishing the last of summer away and yearning for fall to arrive with all its color and ecstasy.   

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  I rather loved the weather that day, I’m typing this now wishing I could go back as it is currently miserably hot and humid today.  It was quite cool that day and the fog was hanging low in the mountains; both the peaches and apples looked like candy dangling from a tree, but the apples looked especially pretty as they were bright red and glimmered with fresh droplets of rain.  I’m already excited about going back the end of this month or in early October when all the other varieties are ready.  

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  Walking under that canopy of peach trees reminded me somewhat of Alice in Wonderland as if in any given moment a white rabbit would emerge from somewhere, wearing a waistcoat and brandishing a pocket watch.  As silly as that sounds, that was the vibe I had while walking under these trees.  I really did have a smile on my face the entire time, I felt like a child who found a hideout somewhere amongst the brush.  I brought my baby sister with me (who is ten years old) and she had the same air to her.  She had so much fun picking the peaches all by herself.  I’m not sure how it would’ve felt if the sun was bright and shining.

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  Since I’ve probably talked enough about my orchard trip, I will now talk about these pies.  I’ve had this idea for mini pies, each donned with a different look, for quite some time but I didn’t have any mini pie tins.  Lucky for me I stumbled across a few just recently and was able to make them with the fruit I had just picked.  You don’t have to use mini pie tins as I did, though.  The dough amount is a perfect fit for an eight or nine-inch pie.  

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  I really love the combination of apples and peaches, though the sound of such a pie doesn’t flow as well as “apple and pear”, which was my first idea, then I switched fruits.  I see this combination as a last hoorah to summer, as peaches go out of season here around the first or second week of September and then the apples begin to arrive.  When the two are paired with rum it really is delicious!   

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RUM APPLE PEACH PIE WITH MAPLE OAT CRUNCH

pie crust

12 ounces all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

6 ounces unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

3-4 ounces water, ice cold

filling

3 peaches, cut into thin slices

3 apples, cut into thin slices

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 tablespoons rum

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

dash of ground nutmeg

oat topping

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (or pecans)

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

other 

egg wash, (1 egg, 1 tablespoon water)

turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

METHOD:

for the pie:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Have on hand three, 4-inch pie tins or one, 8 or 9-inch pie tin.  
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt, whisking till combined; add the cold butter and cut into the flour using a pastry blender or by pulsing in a food process till it clumps into pea-sized nuggets.  Push the flour to one side of the bowl and then add about two or three tablespoons of the cold water.  Gently toss the flour into the side with the water, using a fork, till it all comes together and forms a soft dough.  Add more water if needed.  Cut the dough equally in half and press each half into a flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 25-30 minutes or till ready to use.
  3. Cut the apples and peaches into thin slices and place in a bowl, toss in the lemon juice, then add the rum.  Let the fruit soak in the rum for about 25 minutes.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, and spices.  Drain the rum from the fruit, add the sugar mixture to the fruit and toss gently with your hands or a spatula.
  5.  In another bowl, combine the oats, finely chopped nuts, one-half teaspoon cinnamon, and maple syrup.  Stir till it all comes together and is crumbly(but not dry).

 Assemble the pie:  

  1. Remove one of the dough halves from the refrigerator and place on a floured surface.  Gently roll into a wide enough circle that will overhang your pie plate by about 3 inches.  Press the dough into the pan and add the fruit, then place the pie in the refrigerator as you roll out the other half of the dough the same as you did the bottom crust.  Gently roll the dough onto the rolling pin and place over the top of the pie.  Crimp the edges together and brush the pie top with egg wash. Using a sharp knife, cut slits around the center of the pie.  Sprinkle on the oat topping and extra sugar and bake for 35-45 minutes.