Bumbleberry Pastries

Bumbleberry…. an interesting word used to describe a Canadian mixed berry combination originating from the Maritime provinces. Since there is no such thing as a ‘bumbleberry’, as the name suggests, it is simply a mixture of berries that are in season (ones that you might ‘bumble’ upon).

Berries commonly used in this pie may include blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries. Other choices often used are apples, rhubarb, cherries, plums or fresh cranberries.

The bumbleberry concept has been used in various recipes such as cakes, crisps, soufflés or even in tiramisu. The most well known being the bumbleberry pie.

To make use of some bumbleberry filling I had leftover from a previous dessert, I made some quick little puff pastries …. worked out good!

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Bumbleberry Pastries
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Cuisine American
Servings
Cuisine American
Servings
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine fruit. In another bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, cornstarch & cinnamon. Gently toss into fruit mixture along with lemon juice.
  3. Cut thawed, cold puff pastry sheets into circles or squares (your choice). Put a spoonful of filling in the center of each & bring the corners together enclosing the filling. Place pastries on baking sheet & sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  4. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven & allow to cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet then transfer to a wire cooling rack.
Recipe Notes
  • This amount of filling is enough for a large deep dish 9-inch pie. It can be easily halved for a small amount of pastries if you wish.

‘Twisted’ Mango Pie Bread

Bread shaping as an art form has a long history. Some types of dough lend themselves well to particular shapes. For instance, a high fat mixture like a brioche can be shaped or braided easily, while a sticky variety is better suited to something simpler.

Apart from braiding bread into a variety of shapes you can simply use the twisted method. No different than making a cinnamon twist but with a bit more prep work involved.

The filling is where you can let your personal imagination and creativity take over. I chose to make some mango filling for ours but any choice that appeals to you works. A note worth mentioning about filling though is that filled strands need more care during handling and twisting as they are prone to tearing.

The question to egg wash or not to egg wash? The main purpose of it is to enhance the top crust with a shine and crispiness. Even though I’m going to brush my bread with cream cheese glaze, I think its still a good idea.

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'Twisted' Mango Pie Bread
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Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword mango pie bread
Servings
WEDGES
Ingredients
Bread Dough
Mango Filling
Cream Cheese Glaze
Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword mango pie bread
Servings
WEDGES
Ingredients
Bread Dough
Mango Filling
Cream Cheese Glaze
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Bread Dough
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together yeast, 1 tsp sugar & lukewarm milk. Set aside until yeast mixture begins to form a frothy foam, about 5 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 1/4 cup sugar & salt. Add yeast mixture, melted butter & beaten egg. Knead until dough comes together in a ball & no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Transfer dough to a greased bowl & cover with a damp towel. Set aside to rise for about 20-30 minutes.
Mango Filling
  1. While the bread dough is rising, place all ingredients for the mango filling (except cream cheese), in a heatproof bowl. Combine & microwave for 1-2 minutes until it resembles puree. Allow to cool. With a handheld mixer, mix mango puree & cream cheese to make the filling for bread.
Assembly & Baking
  1. Deflate dough slightly & divide into 4 equal parts & form into balls. On a lightly floured work surface, roll each ball into roughly 12-inch circles.
  2. Divide the filling into thirds. Spread 3 of the dough circles with mango filling. Layer them, ending with the circle that was left without filling. Using a pizza cutter, divide the layered dough into 10 equal strips.
  3. Line a 12-inch round pie dish with parchment paper. Carefully twist strips & place in pie dish, side by side. Cover with a greased piece of plastic wrap & allow to rise in a draft free place for about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  5. Brush with egg wash & bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven & allow to cool for about 10 minutes. While the bread is cooling make the cream cheese glaze.
Glaze
  1. In a small bowl, Beat together cream cheese,, butter & vanilla. Add sifted powdered sugar & beat to a smooth consistency. When bread is still warm brush with glaze.

Herbs de Provence Shrimp

If you are not familiar with ‘Herbs de Provence‘, it is a mixture of dried herbs considered typical of the Provence region in Southeastern France. This region is known for endless vineyards, olive groves and its vibrant, purple lavender fields. Lavender is the herb that adds a distinctive scent as well as working beautifully with the rest of the herbs (thyme, marjoram, savory, oregano & rosemary) that make up this blend.

Prior to the commercialization of the product in the 1970’s, the person responsible for bringing the French phrase into the vocabulary of cooks around the world was non other than Julia Child (American-turned-French chef), who included it in a recipe in her classic cookbook ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking‘.

This iconic French spice blend can easily elevate any number of meals. Like most spice blends, there is no set formula for the ideal Herbs de Provence. While it uses ingredients that are found in the North American creation known as ‘Italian Spice‘ (with the exception of basil), it also includes lavender flowers and has a strong floral taste.

Although I am using the individual herbs in this recipe, you can easily substitute with bottled, dried Herbs de Provence with no problem. They are readily available in the larger grocery stores. This makes such a great tasting meal …. well worth your time.

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Herbs de Provence Shrimp
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, fry chopped bacon until crisp, about 3 minutes; remove from pan & blot on a paper towel. Saute mushrooms, onion & garlic in bacon drippings until softened.
  2. Add peas, basil, lemon zest & 1 Tbsp oil. Season with salt & pepper.
  3. In a bowl, combine shrimp, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, lavender & remaining tablespoon of oil. Add shrimp mixture to saucepan; cook, turning once, until opaque throughout, about 2-3 minutes. Place in a dish & set aside to keep warm.
  4. In the saucepan, bring vegetable broth to a boil & add couscous. Cover saucepan & remove from heat; set aside until liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add shrimp mixture along with cooked bacon, lemon juice & tarragon. Gently stir together with a fork. Serve immediately.

Apricot Lemon Chicken Breast w/ Couscous

The flavors of the meal hint of Moroccan cuisine to me. It wasn’t until Brion & I visited Morocco on a holiday one year, that I realized how many of their spices appealed to me.

Moroccan cuisine is very refined because of its interactions and exchanges with other cultures and nations over the centuries. Its dishes are layered with sweet and spicy, earthy and bright flavors that reflect the vast array of spices available in their local markets.

Often referred to as the national dish of Morocco, couscous is made of tiny balls of wheat semolina, steamed so they’re are soft and fluffy. Subtle cumin and ginger spices add an exotic flavor to it.

Pairing apricot and lemon flavors with the chicken breast and serving it over couscous makes this simple meal quite special.

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Apricot Lemon Chicken Breast w/ Couscous
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Instructions
Chicken
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Beat egg & water slightly. Stir together baking mix, lemon pepper & garlic powder. Pound chicken breasts gently to achieve uniform thickness. Dip chicken into egg mixture, then coat with baking mix mixture. Place on baking sheet & drizzle with melted butter.
  3. Bake uncovered 20 minutes; turn chicken. Bake about 10 minutes longer until no longer pink inside. While chicken is baking prepare couscous & sauce.
Couscous
  1. In a saucepan, heat 1 tsp oil; add green onion, cumin, ginger & garlic. Cook & stir for about 3 minutes until green onion is softened.
  2. Add honey. Heat & stir for about 30 seconds until green onion is coated. Add broth. Bring to a boil. Add couscous & second amount of oil. Stir. Cover & remove from heat. Allow to stand for 5 minutes without lifting lid. Fluff with a fork & stir in remaining 3 ingredients.
Apricot Lemon Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine sauce ingredients, stirring occasionally, until warm.
To Serve
  1. Place couscous on a serving platter. Top with chicken breasts & drizzle with apricot lemon sauce. Serve.

Angel Food ‘Grilled Cheese’

More than ever, our souls need Valentines Day right now. It’s time to embrace the challenge and think outside of the box on how to create something special for the occasion. Since February 14th falls on a Sunday this year and the pandemic keeping many celebrations at home, its the perfect excuse to enjoy a brunch with a grilled cheese …. ‘angel food grilled cheese‘ that is!!

When most people think of grilled cheese they imagine a savory, cheesy sandwich served over lunch, but have you ever tried a sweet grilled cheese? Is it dessert? Is it breakfast? It really doesn’t matter.

Sometimes we get stuck in a rut with that cheddar on white bread thing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just that there’s so much more cheesy goodness out there to be melted. Grilled cheese ideas only continue to evolve.

Obviously, a good cheese is the key to grilled cheese success, but the truth is, you can never really go wrong. Its your personal preference that really matters.

The tone is set for a great grilled cheese with the first slice of bread or in this case, loaf of angel food cake. Lime flavored cream cheese gets melty and gooey spread between the cake slices. Its the perky part of the sandwich that adds something unexpected.

If strawberries aren’t your thing, try raspberries, blueberries, mango or even kiwi and if you prefer a sturdier outside, use a sweetened brioche or challah bread. Whatever works for you!

Brion absolutely L-O-V-E-S angel food so for me the choice was clear. The fact that the ‘grilled cheese’ is not overly sweet made it a real nice brunch item for us.

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Angel Food 'Grilled Cheese'
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Servings
Ingredients
Angel Food Cake (Yield = (8) 1-inch thick slices)
Strawberry Sauce
Lime Cream Cheese
Servings
Ingredients
Angel Food Cake (Yield = (8) 1-inch thick slices)
Strawberry Sauce
Lime Cream Cheese
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Instructions
Angel Food Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Have a 9-inch loaf pan available. Do not line or grease the pan in any way.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup sugar, flour & cornstarch. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, add egg whites, vanilla, cream of tartar & salt. With a hand mixer on medium speed, beat until foamy, about 30 seconds. Slowly stream in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Continue to beat on high speed until soft peaks form, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, gently FOLDING them into the egg whites using a rubber spatula. Repeat with remaining flour mixture in two increments. FOLD EVERYTHING TOGETHER GENTLY so egg whites do not become deflated in the process.
  5. Pour batter into the loaf pan. Place the loaf pan on a baking sheet & bake for 35-40 minutes. When cake is baked it should not be sticky to the touch.
  6. Once the cake comes out of the oven, immediately turn it upside down & invert it over two cans. The cake needs to cool upside down so it doesn't deflate. Allow it to cool for at least an hour.
Strawberry Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, add sliced strawberries, sugar, lemon juice & cornstarch. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, & cook for 6-8 minutes or until mixture has thickened. Remove from heat.
Lime Cream Cheese Spread
  1. In a small dish, beat together cream cheese, lime juice & powdered sugar until smooth & creamy.
Grilled Cheese Assembly
  1. Slice angel food loaf into 8-inch slices. In a shallow container, whisk together 2 cups milk or half & half, 2 eggs & 1/4 tsp cinnamon.
  2. Soak cake slices in milk/egg mixture for a couple of minutes, then cook on a griddle (or skillet) like you would with French toast. When the slices are golden on both sides, divide cream cheese spread between four of the slices. When cheese is warm & melted, top each with one of the remaining four slices.
  3. Place on four serving plates & top with strawberry sauce. Serve warm.

Anise Pineapple Barley Mousse

One fruit that is always ‘in season’ is pineapple. You can count on these spiky beauties to help brighten up winter, especially when you’ve tired of apples and pears.

When it comes to barley recipes, pudding may not be the first thing that springs to mind. But combined with pineapple and anise, this humble grain is transformed into a comforting, yet exotic mousse, with a zingy fruit flavor and a creamy texture.

One of the oldest of all cultivated grains, the whole barley grain is vastly under-used compared to its more commercially successful but nutritionally poorer cousin, whole wheat.

I have always had a love for barley in anything. Whether its used in savory or sweet recipes, that mild nutty flavor and soft chewy texture make it so appealing. Another favorite of mine, is the flavor of anise. Its slight sweetness adds a complexity and an interesting dimension to otherwise ‘ordinary’ recipes.

This simple little mousse makes such a nice little winter dessert …. no fuss, no muss!

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Anise Pineapple Barley Mousse
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SERVINGS
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Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan, combine barley & water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to simmer; cover & cook for 40 minutes; drain & chill.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, pineapple, lemon juice, rum extract, anise powder & pudding mix. Stir in chilled barley until evenly coated.
  3. Prepare Dream Whip topping as directed on package & fold into barley mixture. Divide between serving dishes. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Recipe Notes
  • This recipe is easily halved if you need less servings.

Oatmeal Mincemeat Cookies

I confess to being a bit ‘old school’ when it comes to mincemeat. When I was a kid, it was always closely related to Christmas baking. Generations past made it with beef suet, but the only kind I’ve ever known is the ‘all-fruit variety’.

I realize its simple to make but there are so many fantastic mincemeats you can purchase ready made that are just as good if not better than homemade.

My favorite, is one I have used for years, PC Suet-Free 5 Minced Fruits Mincemeat. It contains apples, raisins, currants, orange & lemon peel, rum, brandy and molasses as well as a number of different spices. I like to add a bit more apple, nuts and lemon juice to it for my own personal taste.

Mincemeat is very versatile so there’s no need to limit your repertoire to tarts or pie. Swap the traditional date filling with mincemeat in any date square or use it in Christmas cake. It makes the prep work far easier and has similar flavors and a finer, cakier texture. Of course there are always muffins, cookies or an apple-cranberry mincemeat crumble.

I know that mincemeat is not for everyone but the combination of oatmeal and mincemeat makes these ‘retro’ cookies pretty tasty.

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Oatmeal Mincemeat Cookies
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Servings
Ingredients
Cookies
Filling
Servings
Ingredients
Cookies
Filling
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Instructions
Cookies
  1. In a bowl, cream butter & sugars; add egg & rum extract.
  2. In another bowl, combine oatmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda & cinnamon.
  3. Add flour mixture to butter mixture & combine well. Place cookie dough in refrigerator to chill, (about 30 minutes) while you prepare the filling.
Filling
  1. Peel & chop apples. Chop nuts. Spoon jar of mincemeat into a bowl & combine with apples, nuts & lemon juice.
Assembly & Baking
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll chilled cookie dough into generous 1-inch size balls. Place on cookie sheets making sure to give them some room to spread a bit. Press your thumb down in the center making a dent big enough to hold a generous teaspoon of filling. Divide filling between cookies.
  3. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven & allow to rest on cookie sheet for 5 minutes then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

Persimmon & Almond Brioche Buns

I never fail to get drawn in by the sight of fresh persimmons at the grocery store. Not only do they have a wonderful flavor but you can use them in so many ways.

Their strangely tropical characteristics pair nicely with many spices, such as cinnamon and cardamom. With a little imagination, cakes, cookies, pies and even some ‘persimmon brioche’ can be made from the persimmon fruit.

In reading about this fruit, I came upon some interesting weather folklore. I’m unsure if its true or not, but it said you can predict winter weather with a persimmon seed.

The first thing was to find a locally grown persimmon, which of course, is not possible for us in our location. You wait to pick and cut into the persimmon after it gets a bit soft … almost mushy. Then you open the fruit and cut open the seed.

Look at the shape of the kernel inside:

  • If the kernel is spoon-shaped, expect plenty of snow to shovel.
  • If it is fork-shaped, plan on a mild winter with powdery, light snow.
  • If the kernel is knife-shaped, expect fridgid winds that will ‘cut’ like a blade.

Interesting!!

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Persimmon & Almond Brioche Buns
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Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
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Instructions
Brioche Dough
  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add milk & heat until lukewarm, but not hot. Stir in yeast. Allow yeast mixture to proof for about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar & salt; add both eggs & combine. Add the yeast/milk/butter mixture. Continue to mix until the dough forms a ball & there is no dough sticking to the sides of the bowl.
  3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface & knead well until dough is smooth (about 10 minutes). Form dough into a ball. Grease mixing bowl with butter. Place dough in the bowl, cover & allow to rise until its roughly doubled in size (about 1 hour).
Persimmons
  1. Peel, halve & slice persimmons into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place in a shallow dish with sugar & cardamom; toss gently to evenly coat slices. Set aside.
Cream Cheese Filling
  1. In a bowl, whisk together softened cream cheese with milk. Gradually add in the powdered sugar, beating until mixture is smooth. Add lemon juice & set aside.
Brioche Dough
  1. Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured surface & punch down. Divide it into 12 equal parts. Roll the dough balls into discs 4-5-inches in diameter & about 1/4-inch thick. Place the discs onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with a buttered piece of plastic wrap. & allow the dough to rise again in a draft-free place for about 25 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. When dough has risen, using your fingers, press the center of each disc down, leaving about a 1/2-inch rim. If necessary, you can dip your fingers in egg wash to keep the dough from sticking during this process.
Assembly & Baking
  1. Spread about a teaspoon of the cream cheese filling in a thin layer in the depression of each disc. Press some persimmon slices in the center over the cream cheese. Brush the outer edges of the discs with egg wash mixture. Place buns in the oven & bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven & transfer to a wire rack, keeping them on the parchment paper.
  2. Combine the apricot jam & warm water. Microwave to thin the jam to a liquid consistency. Brush buns LIGHTLY with glaze & garnish with almond slices & pearl sugar.

Mini Harvest Galettes

Its like a mix between carrot cake and apple pie. Vegetables and fruit in a pie …. this recipe never fails to be fantastic even if you don’t like zucchini.

The oral history of pie predates its written record. Many cooks stand by family secrets scrawled on stained index cards. It seems, pie is eaten for breakfast, with lunch and for dessert after dinner. In many ways, pie is more prized because it takes time and effort, a slice carries more importance than a cookie, but is less fussy than cake.

The perfect pie (or galette), is built on two things …. a well made crust with a flaky texture and golden color and a fresh, well set, flavorful filling.

The combination of carrots, apple and zucchini is something special. The carrots and zucchini are really interchangeable, so if you’d like to use more of one than the other, no problem.

When baked, zucchini has a similar texture to an apple; it gets soft but retains some texture. Add the same warm, fragrant spices as in an apple pie, lemon juice, a bit of extra sugar to compensate and you got it!

This recipe has been one of my fall favorites for many years and we still enjoy its wonderful flavor.

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Spicy Harvest Galette
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Instructions
  1. Prepare pastry & either use 6 mini flan pans or one 9"deep pie pan. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine apples, zucchini, carrots, nuts & flour; toss to coat.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream together brown sugar & butter; add cinnamon, cardamom, salt, lemon juice, vanilla, orange zest & 2 eggs. Blend well. Add apple mixture & combine well.
  4. Roll out pastry larger than your pans. Line pans leaving the jagged edge to fold over filling. Make a few pastry designs for the tops if you wish. Spoon filling into a pastry lined, mini pans. Flip rough edges over filling. Top with pastry in a fall leaf pattern. In a small dish, blend egg wash & brush over crust.
  5. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until deep golden brown. If necessary, cover pies loosely with foil during last 15 minutes of baking to prevent excessive browning.
  6. Serve warm with whipped cream. Store any 'leftovers' in refrigerator.
Recipe Notes
  • I laid the grated zucchini on paper towel  & placed the grated apple in a strainer while I prepared the rest of the ingredients. In both cases, I did NOT hand squeeze them as you still need some of that moisture to prevent having a dry filling when baked.

Apple Walnut Mini Tarts

There is nothing more enjoyable than baking with the flavors and scents of fall. Sometimes I feel like apple season takes a back seat to pumpkin but in my opinion its equally important. With their sweet scent and crisp bite, apples are one of those things that define ‘fall’.

The apple pie as we know it, originated in Europe. The most widely known variations are the English, Dutch & Swedish apple pies. While all made their way into North American food culture, the English version is the one familiar to most of us. Worldwide, there are over 7500 types of cultivated apples, reflecting both their versatility and popularity.

Apples, perfectly spiced in a fall dessert, can be amazing. Like most spice blends, the flavor of apple pie spice is variable since the maker can choose the components according to their preference. In all cases, the goal is to provide warmth and sweetness that compliments the tartness of apples.

These little mini tarts started out with an idea I had to incorporate an upside down cake with some shortbread pastry and spiced apples. They actually turned out better than I had expected. After baking, it seemed like they might be quite dry, but instead were real tender and not too sweet. I’ve always enjoyed to use the cardamom spice. It gives such complexity and depth to the flavor of whatever its used in.

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Apple Walnut Mini Tarts
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Servings
Ingredients
Shortbread Pastry
Apple Filling
Walnut Topping
Servings
Ingredients
Shortbread Pastry
Apple Filling
Walnut Topping
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Instructions
Shortbread Pastry
  1. In a bowl, whisk together flour, sugar & salt. Using a pastry blender or a fork, cut in butter & add vanilla & lemon zest. Mix only until combined, divide in half & wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Place in freezer until slightly frozen & ready to use.
Apple filling
  1. In a bowl, combine sliced apples, lemon juice, sugar, flour & spices. Set aside.
Walnut Topping
  1. In a small bowl, combine chopped nuts, brown sugar & melted butter. Divide mixture between 4 mini tart pans. If your tart pans have removable bottoms, I suggest using a large paper cupcake liner, placing it first in the pan & then putting 'bottom' on top. This will avoid having any of the filling leaking out.
Assembly/Baking
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Remove one half of the pastry from the freezer. On a CHEESE GRATER, grate pastry. Divide between the 4 mini pans, placing the pastry on top of walnut mixture.
  3. Strain apples, reserving liquid. Divide apples between mini tarts. Microwave reserved juice for a few seconds just to thicken it a tiny bit, then pour over apples in each tart.
  4. Remove second half of pastry from freezer & grate. Top each mini tart with grated pastry. Bake tarts for about 45-50 minutes or until apples are soft. If browning too fast, float a piece of foil paper over the tarts.
  5. Remove tarts from oven & allow to cool for about 5 minutes before inverting onto serving plates. Nice to serve warm with a little ice cream or whipped cream.
Recipe Notes
  • If you care to make your own, here is a recipe for apple pie spice. It makes about 1/3 cup & of course you can always customize the levels of the spices to suit your own taste. I like to keep some handy in my spice drawer to use for various baked goods.
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 4 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • Mix together & store in an airtight container in a cool dark place.