Apples aren’t in season, but we’re eating Pie.

Do Granny Smith apples even have a season? Either way, if you’ve never made pie with Granny Smith apples, give it a go. We can wait until fall to take advantage of the delicious local varieties.

 

Granny Smith apples are tart, and although when baked in this pie its toned down, it still shines through, giving this pie the little flavor punch it needs. Cinnamon is used to balance out that flavor and fill the kitchen with that lovely cinnamon, sugar, and apple smell. Just thinking about the smell makes me want to run to the kitchen to make another pie.

 

For this pie, I use my All Purpose Pie Crust recipe; however, if you have a favorite crust recipe then by all means use it! Just make sure that you have a double crust (a top and a bottom).

For the last couple years I’ve been slicing my apples with a corer/slicer. It is helpful, but absolutely not necessary. I made this many times peeling and slicing the apples by hand, and it is equally as tasty. I do find it best, though, to make sure the apple slices are thin. Try not to succumb to the typical wedges.

If you are worried about the tartness, and pondering switching out part (or all) of the Granny Smith for a sweeter variety – don’t! It would be too sweet and wouldn’t have that nice balanced taste. If you want to use another variety of apple, then I fully endorse experimenting, but I would reduce the sugar in the recipe if I were you. Regardless, have fun – happy baking!

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Robert's Favorite Apple Pie
A cinnamony sweet pie, made with Granny Smith apples.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Pie
Servings
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Cuisine Pie
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Put the butter in a small pot on the stove over med-low heat.
  3. When the butter is melted, add the flour, sugar, and brown sugar. Stir until combined.
  4. Add the lemon juice and water. Stir, and bring to a boil. Let boil for two minutes and then remove from heat.
  5. In a mixing bowl, pour the sauce from the pot over the apple slices. Use two forks to toss the apples (the sauce will be hot).
  6. Once the apples are coated in sauce, sprinkle the cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg over them, and toss again until the apples are evenly coated.
  7. Pour the apples into a pie dish with a prepared bottom crust. Drizzle any remaining sauce from the bowl over the apples.
  8. Place the top crust over the apples, and seal the edges to the bottom crust.
  9. Cut vents in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Place a sheet of tinfoil over the top.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove the tinfoil* and continue baking for 35-40 minutes. *Note: If you would like to farther protect the edges of the crust, instead of removing the tinfoil completely, rearrange the tinfoil so that it only covers the edges, and leave it over the edges for an additional 5 minutes.
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Pie Dough 101: Can it really be stress-free?

I will be the first to admit, I hate making pies. And to be more specific, I hate making pie crust. Getting that nice, flaky crust with the right balance of flavor and texture… it just didn’t come easy for me. I can’t be the only one. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you want to look at it) for me, my apple pie gets requested at least a couple times a year. So I have had more than a few years to slowly learn how to work with pie dough. I hate to say it, but pie dough still makes me want to turn around and walk the other way… but at least now it’s a walk, not a run. And I can also admit that when I take the time to make it, I make a darn good crust!

So now that you understand my position, I would like to announce that I am stepping up and confronting my discomfort. The next few weeks will be recipes that involve pie dough. I’ll start by sharing the very first building block:  the pie dough recipe that I’ve found works best for me. I’ve tried more than a few recipes… some fancy, some simple. What I’ve landed on is simple. It’s a slight variation of this Genius Kitchen recipe. Do note, that a big part of what makes a perfect pie crust is not the ingredients, but the process. It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure this out. If you struggle with your dough game too, here are the top 10 lessons I’ve learned over the years.

  1. Chill. Chill the butter. Chill the shortening. Chill the water. Chill your attitude.
    Dough makes me nervous, so I tend to throw everything together and go. What that means is I end up with a sticky, overworked mess. It pays to make sure your ingredients are cold, and that you’ve taken a deep breath to calm your mind.
  2. Start with a little water, then add more if needed. I almost always need less water than I initially think I’ll add. On that same note…
  3. You only need enough water so that your flour mixture doesn’t completely crumble. The flakiest of crusts almost resembles a pile of four before its rolled out… the important this is that when it is pressed/rolled, it sticks together.
  4. Let the dough (pre-rolling) sit (covered in plastic wrap) in the fridge. This lets the fats get cold again, but also lets the moisture even out among the flour.
  5. If you’re going to be doing fancy weaves or cutouts, its easier to do if you substitute more butter for shortening, and work it a little more than you otherwise would (but don’t overdo it).
  6.  Rolling the dough between two sheets of parchment paper means you don’t need to use any extra flour (more taste, less cleanup).
  7. A cake lifter makes a lovely pie dough lifter as well… I’ll use it if the dough is really fragile. Otherwise, I just use the parchment paper I rolled it out with to flip it onto the dish.
  8. If the bottom crust cracks (or breaks) and ends up looking like Frankenstein, likely nobody is going to care (and depending on the pie, they also might never know). Just roll with it.
  9. If you’re making a fruit pie, brushing the top of the bottom crust with egg white will help prevent the fruit juice from turning the bottom crust into a soggy mess.
  10. You can use tinfoil to prevent the top from burning. At the start, I like to cover the full thing, then I cover just the edges, and finally I remove all the tinfoil.

Happy baking!

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All Purpose Pie Crust
This is a lovely flaky pie crust dough. Ingredients are enough to make a top and bottom, as well as some pie dough cookies with leftover scraps.
Cuisine Pie
Servings
Ingredients
Cuisine Pie
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour and salt.
  2. Cut the shortening and butter into smaller chunks, and scatter throughout the flour mixture.
  3. Use a pastry cutter to work the butter into the flour. You should end up with "chunky flour"... a relatively loose mixture with pea-sized chunks of butter/shortening in it.
  4. Sprinkle the vanilla and water over the chunky flour. Use your hands to distribute the liquid evenly throughout the chunky flour. At this point, you'll have your dough... try to work it as little as possible. It is ready when the flour starts barely coming together. If the flour doesn't come together, keep adding water a little at a time. Try not to go beyond 3/4 total cup of water.
  5. Lay out two sheets of plastic wrap, and divide the dough so that one part is slightly bigger than the other. Put the dough pieces in their respective sheets of plastic wrap. Cover them completely in the wrap, and them press them into a disc. Put these in the refrigerator for two hours.
  6. After two hours, the dough is ready to be rolled out.
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We can all agree: Cake Tastes Way Better Than Tide Pods

Tide Pod Cake

So lets not eat laundry detergent. Seriously. A friend texted me yesterday saying people were still eating Tide Pods. I thought we were over this! I guess not. So for those of you who are enjoying the Tide Pod memes still going around, this one is for you!

It just so happens, that my birthday was Sunday (as well as the first official birthday of my gaming blog – which I floundered with last year, but hope to tend this year). What that meant was that I had a chance to make a cake for myself. Now, you have to understand the mindset here. One of my favorite things to do is play in the kitchen and try something new. No obligation. No expectation. Only experimentation. So this birthday cake wasn’t going to be just any cake – it had to involve recipes and techniques I had never tried before. My original plan was a floral cake. If you haven’t checked out Angela Shim’s instagram (@envyflowercakes), you should go do that now – she makes the most beautiful flowers. Whenever I see her posts I get super jealous of her skills. So I went out and bought myself a flower nail to make my attempt at piping flowers. I think I lasted half an hour before my friend, Aaron (who makes badass metal dice – check out Trayser Metal Works), threw out the idea of making a Tide Pod cake instead. At first I just chuckled and continued going about my flower piping business… but the more I thought about it the more fun it sounded. It would be a carved cake, with orange and blueberry, I would have to find a way to get the liquid looking swirls on top, and that plastic appearance. In other words: bright colors, odd shape, interesting texture. Perfect for a fun experiment cake!

Inside the Tide Pod Cake

Armed with 6 oranges and a bunch of blueberries, I set off to bake. All I can really say about this part was that my house smelled amazing for a full day. After zesting and juicing all of the oranges, and cooking up the sauce and baking the cakes… pure citrus bliss.

Now, I’m getting ahead of myself here. Actually, the first thing I did was worry about the plastic. I knew I could make “edible plastic” out of gelatin, but I had never done it and wasn’t sure quite how. Thankfully the internet gave me a good start, but trying to get a decent taste, texture, thickness, size… that all required experimentation. For the better part of a week my house featured random trays, pans, dishes, anything really that I thought might work to form a thin sheet of gelatin. I would make my gelatin first thing in the morning, check it before bed, and adjust my recipe/method the next morning to rinse and repeat. It was an interesting process, and ended up working fairly well. I was pretty happy with the outcome (although when putting it on the cake I was rushing, so the overall appearance of the cake suffered from poor gelatin application).

I do hope that someone else tries to make a Tide Pod cake and nails the appearance. It was fun to make, and the thin layer of piping gel I used to color the “liquid pouches” (which are really just carved cake) really did make it look like the liquid pouches in the Tide Pods. When it was done, it was also neat to be able to pick up the whole cake in my hands, toss it in the air, catch it, and set it back down without any mess whatsoever.

Tide Pod Cupcakes

All in all, this cake is pure orange delight. Real orange, not the artificial flavor orange, which was refreshing. The blueberries, cinnamon, and cream cheese add the perfect compliments. I highly recommend making this cake if you’re in need of a nice, sweet citrus pick-me-up. Here is the recipe I came up with. Oh! And did I mention, it makes a dozen cupcakes, too?

Print Recipe
Orange Cake
This dense, moist, orange cake features an orange sauce filling, accented by flavorings of cinnamon and blueberry. The recipe makes a small cake and 12 cupcakes.
Inside the Tide Pod Cake
Course Dessert
Cuisine Cake, Cupcakes
Servings
Ingredients
Orange Sauce
Additional Filling
Course Dessert
Cuisine Cake, Cupcakes
Servings
Ingredients
Orange Sauce
Additional Filling
Inside the Tide Pod Cake
Instructions
  1. Prepare one 6" cake pan, and 12 muffin cups, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cream together butter and sugar
  3. add vanilla, zest, and eggs, two at a time, mixing just until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Pour the milk into the orange juice, and pour 1/3 of the combination into the butter mixture. Mix until combined
  6. Pour 1/3 of the flour mixture in, and repeat, alternating with the juice mixture.
  7. Pour cake batter into pan and muffin tins, and bake at 350 degrees. Take the cupcakes out at around 25 minutes, and bake the cake an additional 12-15 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean).
  8. For the sauce, combine the sugar, zest, juice, eggs, and yolks in a double boiler. *If you don't have a double boiler, you can use a metal mixing bowl over a pot of simmering water.*
  9. Whisk together ingredients over low heat, until the liquid thickens up. This took me roughly 15 minutes.
  10. Once thick, remove it from the heat and strain.
  11. At this point, I added some food coloring to get a brighter orange color. This step is optional, of course.
  12. Let the sauce cool, and place in the refrigerator until the cake and cupcakes are ready to fill.
  13. Cut the cake into two layers, and core the center of the cupcakes.
  14. Once ready to fill the cake and cupcakes, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and cinnamon. Add powdered sugar to taste. Spread a thin layer for the cake filling, and a thicker border on the edges to create a dam for the sauce. Spread a thin layer on the top of the cupcakes as well.
  15. Place blueberries on top of the cake's cinnamon spread, and in the center of the cupcakes. Then pour the orange sauce over the blueberries, filling the available space.
  16. Place the top layer of cake over the bottom, and ice the cake and cupcakes with a frosting of your choice. I used cream cheese frosting.
Recipe Notes

The sauce recipe makes much more sauce than you need. If you love oranges, like I do, you can put it on anything from pancakes to pies. Or, reduce the recipe... for the cake and cupcakes you will need about 1/3 of the sauce.

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Zesting Oranges Zested and juiced oranges. Tide Pod Cakes Pre-Icing

Cinnamon Swirl Layer Cake

A spaghetti meatball monster. That’s what I wanted. When I first saw the game, Overcooked, I figured I would make some little hamburger cookies or something. But no… as soon as I saw the first (and final) boss, I knew what had to be made. A spaghetti monster. Everything after that just kind of fell into place.

If you’ve ever graced us with your presence for a spaghetti dinner, you’ll notice something relatively uncommon around these parts; I make my spaghetti sauce with cinnamon. So naturally, the cake I needed to make for my spaghetti monster was a cinnamon cake. Now, I’ve tried to make cinnamon cakes before, based on recipes I’ve found online. I had yet to find one I was completely happy with. This particular cake also needed to fit some requirements – namely, it needed to be moist, dense, and structurally able to hold up to being stacked four layers high (after all, a tiny spaghetti monster isn’t very intimidating). So I did some searching online. I couldn’t find anything that looked like what I wanted. Sure, I was being picky, but I really wanted to find a solid cinnamon cake recipe. There was only one thing left to do… create my own recipe (dun dun duuuuuun!).

With a laugh of half determination, half uncertainty, I grabbed the nearest paper and pen. I knew my monster had to be four layers. Generally, I determine how big a batch will be by looking at the flour, and sometimes the butter. For four layers I would need somewhere over four cups of flour and a few cups of butter. One of the biggest problems I have with cinnamon cakes is that they are good for a bite or two, and then the cinnamon taste is either overwhelming or boring. So I wanted to mix that up a bit. I wanted to make a buttery, delicious, not sweet base cake, with very distinguished parts of overly sweet, intensely cinnamony goodness. With that in mind, I knew I wanted to divide my cake into two batters: two parts less sweet and one part more sweet. The batters both needed to be around the same consistency, and both needed to be moist and sturdy. This was worrisome because sugar can play a part in bringing out moisture. I was worried that the flour in the less sweet cake would absorb all the moisture and turn out dry. Milk, and more importantly, eggs were my saving grace. Eggs would provide moisture as well as the sturdiness I was seeking. All in all I spent a good 10 minutes with my pen and paper, tweaking numbers and ingredients until I found what I thought looked good and cohesive. When it was time to actually pull out the mixer, the only thing I decided to change was adding a teaspoon of cinnamon for good measure.

After both batters were good and mixed, I was pleased that they both did end up with the same consistency – hurdle one was over. I layered them in my cake pan, popped them in the oven, and then did my dishes while occasionally glancing at the oven, in true Nervous Nelly fashion.

Upon pulling them out of the oven, I discovered that they baked relatively evenly – hurdle two was now behind me. After a few minutes, I threw them onto the rack to cool. I was in the home stretch of recipe nerves… I knew that as soon as they were cool I could cut the tops off and have a taste. It was too much. In a panic I threw caution to the wind and started sawing the tops off while they were still warm! Okay, okay… so it wasn’t all that exciting… but I’m trying to make this more interesting to read here, guys. Anyway – they tasted great. Hurdle three was over, and I was relieved. I still had to transform their appearance into Spaghetti Monster style… but at that point I knew I had my recipe.

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Cinnamon Swirl Layer Cake
A delicious buttercake, complimented by stripes of cinnamon that packs a punch. Goes wonderfully with mocha buttercream frosting.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Cake
Servings
Ingredients
Cinnamon Batter
Course Dessert
Cuisine Cake
Servings
Ingredients
Cinnamon Batter
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F on convection.
  2. Prepare two 8" rounds and two 6" rounds.
  3. Beat the butter and sugars together.
  4. Add the vanilla and the eggs, one egg at a time.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  6. Add one third of the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Then add a third of the milk. Keep alternating and mix until they are all combined.
  7. Scrape the batter into a separate bowl.
  8. Into the newly emptied bowl, place your other set of butter and sugar. Beat together until well combined.
  9. Add the vanilla and eggs. Mix just until combined.
  10. In a separate bowl (feel free to use the one from the previous flour mixture), stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
  11. Into the mixing bowl, pour half the flour mixture, mix, and then half the milk. Repeat.
  12. At this point, I added some food coloring to achieve a darker reddish brown color. This gives the cake more contrast, but is completely optional.
  13. Place a large spoonful of the first batter in all four rounds and using your spoon, flatten it out a little bit into a thick disc.
  14. On top of the disc, use a different spoon to place a large spoonful of the second batter, and use that spoon to push it down, into the first batter.
  15. Alternate the batters and keep pushing down to spread.
  16. When all the batter is used, place your rounds in the oven, then turn the oven down to 300°F convection.
  17. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick can come out clean.
Recipe Notes

I used dark brown sugar because I was worried about the moisture content and wanted all the extra molasses I could get; however, any brown sugar would be fine.

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Go-To Chocolate Cake

Chocolate cake inspired by the PS4 game Horizon: Zero Dawn

To give this cake its funky look, I incorporated elements from Horizon: Zero Dawn. Its an extremely fun PS4 exclusive that I highly recommend you check out. The first thing I made was the white chocolate feathers – they were great because they weren’t particularly time-sensitive, so I could do them a few weeks prior to the rest of the cake. I did the stylized Celtic-knot type pattern (utilized by the Nora tribe in the game) by making a buttercream transfer. The metal flower cake topper I made out of modeling chocolate. If you want to see the process in more detail, you can check out my tutorial here.  It was by far the most time intensive part of this cake. After I got that done, the rest was just putting it all together (adding some sanding sugar and piping some buttercream flowers). My original plan was to pipe the flowers in a triangle around the cake, like they appear around the metal flowers in the game. Sadly, my cake stand wasn’t big enough to do that. Obviously I didn’t think it through very well, otherwise I would have just used something else as a cake stand… but by the time my brain caught up, it was too late (and because of the giant lip on my stand, picking the cake back up wasn’t very feasible).

If you haven’t played the game Horizon: Zero Dawn yet, I highly recommend you pick it up. Check out my review here.

Go on now, give this recipe a go and let me know how it turns out!

Print Recipe
Go-To Chocolate Cake
This basic chocolate cake recipe is moist and the perfect density for a layer cake. The chocolate is a highlight, but isn't overpowering and allows for a nice filling or icing flavor to shine through. This recipe has been tweaked numerous times, originally based off of the Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake from Serious Eats.
Chocolate cake inspired by the PS4 game Horizon: Zero Dawn
Course Dessert
Cuisine Cake
Servings
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Cuisine Cake
Servings
Ingredients
Chocolate cake inspired by the PS4 game Horizon: Zero Dawn
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease and flour two 9" cake pans
  3. Beat the eggs and sugar until the color lightens.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.
  5. Add mayonnaise and vanilla extract. Continue beating for another minute.
  6. Add in the flour mixture, 1/3 at a time.
  7. Slowly add the hot water and stir until the batter is an even consistency.
  8. Divide the batter into the cake pans, and bake in the oven about 30 minutes.
  9. Immediately remove the cakes from the pans, and let them cool on a rack.
Recipe Notes

Mix the hot water in at the end by hand. If you must use a mixer, I highly recommend mixing on the lowest speed, with a cover over your bowl if you have one.

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Hello Food Lovers!

Orange and Blue Strawberry Drip Cake

Hello, and welcome to The Wright PLAYce Eats! This is my little blog that revolves around the recipes I have come to know and love. I’ll keep this brief – there are only a couple points I want to drive home:

  1. Everything on here is from me, personally. I will never post about a recipe I haven’t tried, nor a product I can’t stand behind.
  2. I’m a baking (and cooking) enthusiast, but not a professional. My experience over the years has lent itself to some insights that I hope to share along the way… but I will not pretend to be a master of this craft. With that in mind, I hope you will join me on this journey; learn from my mistakes and rejoice in the delicious foods we eat!

Ginger Ale Cupcakes

Lords of Waterdeep Tabletop Game Cupcakes

The concept of baking with soda pop was recommended to me by a house guest I had recently. He reminisced about the 7-Up cake his mother used to make for him. I’m not sure why I hadn’t considered baking with pop before – I certainly cook with it (slow cooker pork, anyone?), and I’ve baked sparkling wine cupcakes for New Years. So naturally I had to grab my favorite carbonated beverage and give it a whirl.

Ginger ale always feels like a treat for me. Growing up, the only time I would ever get it was on an airplane (read: family vacation)… so my brain likes to associate it with feelings of excitement and joy. Cut to a discovery of a recipe posted by SprinkleBakes, one of my favorite baking blogs. I took her base cupcake recipe and made a few minor alterations.

I did make her frosting, but didn’t care for it, and ended up making my own ginger buttercream that I felt gave these cupcakes a bit more of a kick that they needed. To top them off, I took some modeling chocolate and made some gold coins from the game, Lords of Waterdeep.

Print Recipe
Ginger Ale Cupcakes
These cupcakes have a great vanilla base with a slight ginger ale twist, accompanied by a buttercream that gives a slightly spicier kick of ginger.
Lords of Waterdeep Tabletop Game Cupcakes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Cupcakes
Servings
cupcakes
Ingredients
Frosting
Course Dessert
Cuisine Cupcakes
Servings
cupcakes
Ingredients
Frosting
Lords of Waterdeep Tabletop Game Cupcakes
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together.
  3. Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ginger together.
  5. Stir 1/3 of the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Repeat until fully incorporated.
  6. In the now empty bowl, whisk together the sour cream and ginger ale. It should be fizzy.
  7. Stir the ginger ale mixture into the batter.
  8. Fill cupcake liners about half way. The batter should make about 18 cupcakes.
  9. Bake for about 25 minutes.
Frosting
  1. Beat the butter in a stand mixer on high for a few minutes until butter turns very pale.
  2. Mix in the vanilla and ground ginger.
  3. Mix in half the powdered sugar, then half the heavy cream, then repeat.
  4. Frost the cupcakes after they have completely cooled.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Sprinklebakes Recipe

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Lords of Waterdeep is a board game that I recently picked up. It’s a really fun play, so if you are looking for a new game to try out, give it a shot!