Double Chocolate Chili Muffins

On the weekends, Jonty is my resident muffin-man. It’s his one baking luxury of the week – he loves to bake them, and I love to eat them, so it’s a win-win situation, really. Around mid-week, he asks if I have any requests; often, it’s a slight modification to the previous weeks muffins. For the past month or so, he’s been making tweaks to these double chocolate chili muffins, and I think he’s mastered them! They’ve got a sky-high muffin top, are studded with big chocolate chunks, and have the perfect warming heat at the end of your bite.

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Now, before we scare you off with the name, just know that these chocolate chili muffins can be made to tailor to your spice tolerance completely.

  1. If you really like chocolate and love a bit of kick to your food: Follow the recipe as stated.
  2. If you really like chocolate but have uber-sensitive taste buds: Leave out the chilis completely.
  3. If you really like chocolate, but you’re not sure how awesome the chocolate + chili combo is: Start with fewer chilies, one say.

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What I love about these muffins is that you just taste a simple chocolate muffin in your first bite. Maybe you’ve hit a jack-pot chocolate chunk, and you’re in chocolate heaven. Then you wonder what that other subtle flavour is? So you have another bite, then you get a lovely warmth on the back of your tongue – that’s the little chili kick at the end. It’s really a great combination of flavours!

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Jonty still follows his basic muffin ratio quantity and I think this is a great base for any chocolate chunk muffin:

1 part egg : 1 part sugar : 2 parts liquid : 2 parts flour : 1 part butter : 1 part add-ins

For anyone not aware of how these ratios work, we’ve talked about it before (here and here and here), but essentially it really makes for an easy way to bake and to scale recipes. The only caveat is, you need a kitchen scale. And if you don’t have one already, and love to bake, you really should invest in one! You can pick up a decent one for less than $25.

The ratio recipes will usually start with the weight of a large egg, which will be around 50 g. For this recipe, we’re using 2 eggs, which usually comes out to 100 g. All the other ingredients scale from there.

So for 100 g of eggs, you’ll need 100 g of sugar, 200 g of milk, 200 g of flour… You’re catching my drift? It’s math, but it’s easy math. Honest!

It doesn’t take long to figure out how awesome it is to bake from a recipe using weight measurements versus measuring cups. In most cases, you only need one bowl – and when you don’t have a dishwasher, less time in the sink is always a good thing. The other benefit to baking with ratios is that it makes for scaling recipes up or down, a breeze!

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So, if you don’t have one, go out and purchase your first kitchen scale, then make these muffins as a reward for being such a smart baker.

From taste-testing experience, these muffins are fantastic with your morning/afternoon coffee or tea and taste excellent on their or with a dollop of raspberry jam 🙂

Double Chocolate Chili Muffins
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 100 g (2 large) eggs
  • 200 g milk
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 150 g cake and pastry flour
  • 50 g dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 100 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 100 g (1 medium) ripe banana
  • 2 - 3 red thai chilis, chopped (optional, depending on heat sensitivity)
  • 100 g dark chocolate chunks
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 7 g baking powder
  • 7 g baking soda
  • chopped walnuts, for the topping (optional)
Instructions
  1. Measure out all your ingredients before-hand. Melt the butter and leave it to cool slightly.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda.
  3. In a large bowl, or stand-mixer bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk until frothy. Add in the sugar and vanilla and whisk on high speed, until the mixture is foamy, about 1 minute.
  4. While the mixer is running, slowly add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and whisk until just combined. Scrape down the sides, as needed.
  5. Add the melted butter and whisk on high speed until completely incorporated. When fully incorporated, the mixture should look very fluffy and almost like a well-aerated cake batter. This should take about a minute on high speed.
  6. Add the ripe banana and whisk on high speed until combined. Finally, add the chilis and chocolate chunks and stir to incorporate.
  7. Place the batter in the fridge overnight to bake in the morning. If you want to bake these right away, still place the batter in the fridge while the oven is pre-heating.
  8. Pre-heat the oven to 400 F and line a standard muffin tin with 6 muffin cups. Equally divide the batter into the 6 muffin cups. You want to aim to over-fill the cups. It's okay - they won't spill over too much! If desired, sprinkle the tops with chopped walnuts.
  9. Bake at 400 F for 5 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 F and bake for another 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. The muffins are done when a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the centre.
  10. As soon as the muffins come out of the oven, run a knife between the top of the tray and the base of the muffin top, to prevent them from sticking when you remove them from the pan. Leave the muffins to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then remove and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.

 Enjoy these Double Chocolate Chili Muffins!

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Whole Wheat Za’atar Flatbread

As a gift from food-loving friends, we were given a 6-month subscription to the Raw Spice Bar. Every month we get three new spice blends in the mail, along with a variety of recipes to try them out with. Each month often focuses on a different ethnic region, and last month was filled with flavours of Navajo cuisine. We tried a few of the recipes (the posole was fantastic!) and the sumac za’atar spice blend had me super-excited. I baked a batch of whole-wheat za’atar flatbread and loved the flavour!

Sumac is a spice predominant in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking. It has a wonderful, lemony flavour and brightens whatever dish it’s added to. Note to self: I really need to find my own source!

Za’atar is a mixture of spices, which starts with sumac and adds in sesame seeds and thyme. So, I just need to double my efforts in finding sumac, and the rest will fall into place 🙂

Flatbread is one of the easiest types of yeasted breads to make. You still have to play the waiting game, to give the dough time for an initial rise, but the baking time is quick compared to a standard loaf of bread (like sub 10 minutes). And because it’s a flat bread, you don’t have to worry about the bread not rising enough 🙂 Your house will smell amazing and your tummy will be filled with better-than-bought carbs.

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We ripped our za’atar flatbread into pieces and used it for dipping into a trio of spreads: homemade hummus, our weekly staple roasted beet dip, and a concoction of our red curry paste + yogurt + peanut butter. The flatbread also makes awesome, carby tacos and wraps.

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If you’ve never made bread before, but would like to ease into the world of yeasted baking, earmark this recipe for the weekend. Even without the za’atar spice-blend, a glug of olive oil and a sprinkle of your favourite spices (even just sea salt!) will ensure this flatbread tastes superb.

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Whole Wheat Za'atar Flatbread
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Snacks
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Flatbread is one of the easiest yeasted breads to make. In no time, your house will be filled with the wonderful aroma of freshly-baked bread.
Ingredients
  • 115 g (1/2 cup) warm water
  • ¼ tsp sugar
  • 4 g (1/2 pkg) instant yeast
  • 135 g (1 cup + 2 tbsp) bread flour
  • 45 g (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp) whole wheat flour
  • 3 g (1 tsp) sea salt
  • 15 g (1 tbsp) olive oil
  • 2 tbsp za'atar spice blend (or make your own using a recipe like this)
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the warm water, sugar and yeast. Let it sit for 5 minutes, until it starts to foam and bubble. If this doesn't happen, the yeast may not be active anymore, and you will have to start with fresh yeast.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the bread flour, whole-wheat flour and salt. Add in the yeast mixture and knead briefly with the dough hook, until the dough just starts to come together. Let the dough rest 5 minutes, in order to allow the flour to hydrate fully.
  3. Using a dough hook (or by hand), knead for 6 to 7 minutes, until the dough turns into a soft, supple ball. Press a finger into the dough - the dough should stick to your finger for a moment, but then release. If the dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour, 1 tbsp a a time, until it reaches this consistency. If the dough is too dry, add water (1 tbsp at a time), until you have the right consistency.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to a clean, lightly oiled bowl and cover with a cotton dish towel. Place in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 30 to 60 minutes.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 400 F and line an overturned baking tray with parchment paper.
  6. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Lightly dust a counter top with flour and use a rolling pin to roll each piece of dough into a thin (3 to 5 mm) oblong shape. Place the rolled dough onto the parchment-lined tray. Spread ½ tsp of olive oil onto the top of each piece, and sprinkle with 2 tsp of za'atar spice blend. Allow the dough to rise while the oven is heating up.
  7. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the bottoms of the flatbread turn a golden brown.
  8. Serve with your favourite dips or spreads.
Notes
The flatbread are best served warm. They will keep in the freezer, wrapped in a freezer-proof bag, for up to a month.

Enjoy the whole wheat za’atar flatbread!

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Multi-Seeded Bread

I try to bake bread once a week, often on a Monday when I’m not in the office. There’s something really great about easing into the start of the week with a home smelling of freshly baked bread, I urge you to try it sometime, perhaps as a New Years goal? It doesn’t even have to be on a Monday! 🙂

I was all ready to go with the bread baking last week: the mixer was out, the oven was pre-heating and I started to weigh out the ingredients for my go-to marbled rye bread, when alas, I realized we didn’t have anymore yogurt!

We needed bread, and I didn’t want to run down to the store for more yoghurt. So I begrudgingly picked up my bread book, in a pouty attempt to find another loaf inspiration (yes, a somewhat first-world problem I admit).

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The bread gods must have sensed my pain, though, because the book magically opened to a recipe for a multi-seeded bread. And, aside from a few seed swaps, I had everything I needed! Phew!

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I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but all of the breads I make can either be made in one sitting, or can be split over a few days. While I often choose to make a loaf in the morning, you can easily mix up the dough the night before and leave it in the fridge (up to 4 days) until you’re ready to bake. It’s a great way to make bread, if you’ve got commitment issues 😉

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This particular loaf has all the health benefits of whole-grain rye flour, as well as enough seeds to make it taste interesting. I used a combination of pumpkin, sunflower, flax and poppy seeds. I think next time I make this I’ll try adding a few walnuts into the mix too.

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And then as soon as the multi-seed bread was cool enough to slice, I slathered it with homemade peanut butter and raspberry jam, and all was right in my world again!

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Multi-Seeded Bread
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This gives a nice, soft sandwich loaf. It tastes great toasted or as it is! Recipe adapted slightly from Artisan Breads Everyday.
Ingredients
  • 325 g (~2.5 cups) unbleached bread flour
  • 45 g (~1/3 cup) rye flour
  • 15 g (~2 tbsp) pumpkin seeds
  • 15 g (~2 tbsp) sunflower seeds
  • 15 g (~1.5 tbsp) flax seeds
  • 15 g (~2 tbsp) poppy seeds
  • 2 tsp coarse kosher salt
  • 7 g (1¾ tsp) instant quick-rise yeast
  • 30 g (1.5 tbsp) pure maple syrup
  • 170 g (3/4 cup) lukewarm water
  • 85 g (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp) lukewarm milk (any kind, or more water)
Instructions
  1. Toast the seeds in a dry skillet or under the broiler, until they become fragrant. About 7 to 10 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all of the ingredients and mix with the dough hook attachment, until just combined (about 2 minutes). Stop mixing and let the dough sit for 5 minutes, to allow the flour to fully hydrate.
  3. On medium-low speed, knead the bread with the dough hook attachment for 3 or 4 minutes, until the dough starts to come together into a smooth ball. Add more flour, 1 tbsp at at time, only if the dough is very sticky. You want the dough to be soft and supple and slightly tacky (so the dough just sticks to your finger when you press into it).
  4. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and gently knead by hand for a few minutes. Add flour, only when necessary. You should have a nice soft, smooth ball of dough at the end.
  5. Place the dough in a lightly-greased, clean bowl. Cover with a cotton kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place until the ball has doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.
  6. Prepare a 8x4-inch loaf pan by lining it with parchment paper. Take the dough out of the bowl and pat it into a rectangle shape. At the short end, tightly roll up the dough into a log shape, pinching the seams together. Gently place the dough, seam-side down, into the parchment-lined loaf pan. Let the dough rise at room temperature, until it just starts to dome over the edge of the pan (about 30 to 45 minutes).
  7. About 15 minutes before you plan on baking the bread, pre-heat the oven to 350 F. Bake the bread for 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the bake time. When cooked, the top should be a deep golden brown, and the bottom of the loaf should sound slightly hollow when tapped.
  8. Leave the bread to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out of the pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
Notes
This bread freezes very well. Once it has cooled completely, slice up the entire loaf before placing in a tightly-sealed freezer bag.

Enjoy the Multi-Seeded Bread!

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Marbled Rye Sandwich Bread

Over the last few months, Monday’s have become my bread-baking day. They have also become our mid-morning walk day, enjoying the parks and beaches of Vancouver for a few hours when most of the world is at work. It’s a good way to start the week!

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I do love baking, and I think that baking bread (and working with yeasted dough in general) is probably one of my favourite ways to spend time in the kitchen. I love the way the dough smells and, to me, there’s always something magical about pulling that golden-crusted loaf of bread out of the oven. Seriously, I smile every time!

I first started making this version of a marbled rye sandwich bread a few weeks ago. I was looking through one of my go-to bread books and Jonty spied a picture of a marbled, swirly loaf, and asked if I could give that one a try. At first glance, I thought it might take a lot longer to make, as it called for making two batches of dough, one for the light rye and one for the dark. I couldn’t be bothered with that, so, in true Moira fashion, I’ve made a few modifications to the original recipe.

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My version is actually fairly easy to do. I’ve used my cheaters method again of adding yogurt to the rye dough, as a substitute for making a sourdough mother starter, which means you don’t have to start a bread recipe more than a week in advance. And once the dough is kneaded for a few minutes into a shaggy ball, I simply split it in half and knead cocoa powder into one ball (for the dark rye), and leave the other as it is.

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After the two balls of dough have risen, they’re split equally again, so there are two balls of each colour. Pat each of them into a rectangular shape, stack them on top of each other, then roll the entire stack into a log-shape, pinching the seams together. The log hangs around in a loaf pan until the dough just starts to dome over the edge of the pan. In a nice warm house, that will probably happen in about half an hour. Easy peasy 🙂

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Like all bread, you really need to let it cool completely before slicing into it. With the wonderful aroma of this freshly baked bread, wafting through the apartment, the wait can be hard; this is usually when we leave the apartment and enjoy a walk around town.

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By the time we get back the bread has cooled enough to slice, and the apartment smells fantastic.

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Oh man, those swirls get me every time! Jonty thinks this is one of the best toasting breads I’ve made: the bread is nice and soft, yet the crumb is dense enough that it doesn’t fall apart if you like to slice your bread fairly thin, like we do. As usual, we slice up the entire loaf and pop it in the freezer, so we can take out a slice or two whenever needed.

Marbled Rye Sandwich Bread
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Adapted from the rye sandwich bread recipe from Artisan Bread Everyday
Ingredients
For the starter:
For the dough:
  • 190 g warm water
  • 15 g molasses
  • 30 g vegetable oil
  • 1⅛ tsp instant yeast
  • 340 g unbleached bread flour (we prefer Anita's Organic Mill)
  • 1½ tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the rye flour, yogurt and water. It will be very thick and resemble modeling clay. Set aside until ready to use.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the warm water, molasses, vegetable oil and instant yeast. Let sit for a few minutes, to allow the yeast to bloom.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the bread flour and salt. Drop the rye starter, by the spoonful, into the bowl and add the yeast mixture.
  4. Using the dough hook, mix the dough on low until the dough just starts to come together into a shaggy ball. Turn the mixer off and let the dough stand for 5 minutes, to fully hydrate.
  5. After this wait time, continue to knead the dough with a dough hook until the it starts to look like a smooth ball. The dough will be quite sticky. Using wet hands, remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into equal halves (use a scale, for precise measurements). Place one half of the dough back into the stand mixer bowl, along with 2 tbsp of cocoa powder, and knead on medium-low speed for about 5 minutes, until the dough is very smooth and only slightly tacky. Place the dark rye ball into a clean, lightly greased bowl and place in a warm area to rise.
  6. Return the light rye dough ball back into the stand-mixer bowl and knead with the dough hook on medium-low speed for about 5 minutes, until the dough is very smooth and only slightly tacky. Place the light rye ball into a second clean, lightly greased bowl and place in a warm area to rise.
  7. Once the dough has doubled in size (this may take 30 to 60 minutes, depending on how warm your kitchen is), split each ball of dough in half, so you have 2 light rye balls and 2 dark rye balls. Flatten each into a rectangular shape, about 8 x 5 inches. Layer the dough in alternating colours and press each down quite firmly onto the previous layer, to avoid big air bubbles forming during the rise. Tightly roll the dough into a log shape and place, seam side down, into a parchment-lined loaf pan for a second rise.
  8. About 15 minutes before the bread is ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 350 F. Bake the bread for 40 minutes, rotating the pan after 20 minutes. When done, the loaf should be a golden brown on top and should sound slightly hollow, when tapped on the bottom. Let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
Notes
This bread freezes very well. Simply slice the bread up completely before placing into a freezer-proof ziplock bag.

Enjoy the Marbled Rye Sandwich Bread!

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Apple Streusel Pie with Rye Pastry

I feel like December is cookie season. But since we’re firmly planted in November for the next week, I’m declaring we’re still in pie season. The local Okanogan apples are plentiful in the markets, and you never have to twist my arm very much to make (or eat) pie. So, just in time for American Thanksgiving, or just in time for Canadian Anydays-giving, here’s a little Apple Streusel Pie for you.

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I was originally going to call this post Apple Rye Streusel Pie, because I find rhymes like this highly amusing. But then I thought, perhaps you might think there was rye (i.e. alcohol) in the pie, not rye (like the flour). So I caved, and went with the boring title instead 🙂

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We actually made this rye pie for our Canadian Thanksgiving last month, but time has gotten the better of me and I didn’t get around to posting it; however, posts like these are better late than never, and this was such a good pie, that I’m sure you won’t care when it was intended for. At least I’m hitting someone’s thanksgiving this week!

I wanted to make a pie but didn’t want to go through the fuss of making a double-crust fancy-pants pie. This apple streusel pie was the result.

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Rye Pie Pro’s:

  • This apple streusel pie is very easy to make.
  • The pastry base uses a good amount of rye flour, instead of the traditional all-purpose white flour. I think this adds a subtle nutty flavour to the pie, which nicely complements the apples.
  • The streusel topping bakes up nice and crunchy, and anyway, who doesn’t love streusel topping!
  • For a typical pie, there is very little sugar in it. I like to let the sweetness of the fruit come through. Can we call this a healthy pie? Probably not. But it definitely tastes like perfectly ripe apples, and that’s a good thing in my books.

Rye Pie Con’s?

  • Umm… it takes more than 60 minutes to bake?
  • Umm… you need to wait for it to cool before slicing into it?

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Apple streusel pie with a rye pastry crust

If you find yourself in need of a good dessert for tomorrow, or a good dessert in general, give this one a try. I think it can hold its own against the classic Pumpkin Pie.

Served warm, with a dollop of ice cream or whipped cream, it’s pretty darned great. Served cold, straight from the fridge at midnight, I won’t tell if you don’t 😉

Apple Streusel Pie
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This pie was inspired in part by this Apple Crumble Pie
Ingredients
For the rye pastry dough:
  • 100 g (~3/4 cup + 1 tbsp) all-purpose flour
  • 50 g (~1/3 cup + 1 tbsp) rye flour
  • 112 g (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • ½ tbsp apple-cider vinegar
  • 3 to 4 tbsp cold water
For the Streusel toping:
  • 90 g (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 50 g (1/4 cup packed) brown sugar
  • 75 g (1/2 cup) chopped walnut pieces
  • 75 g (1/3 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
For the pie filling:
  • 3 to 4 large apples, cored and sliced, about 5 mm thick (aim for 7 to 8 cups)
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 30 g (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 20 g (2 tbsp) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Instructions
Make the pastry dough:
  1. In a food processor, pulse together the flours, butter and apple-cider vinegar (or use a pastry cutter or two knives).
  2. Slowly add in the water, 1 tbsp at a time, and pulse until the dough comes together and forms little balls. When you've added enough liquid, the dough should stick together when pressed between your fingers.
  3. Shape the dough into a flat disc and refrigerate until ready to use (preferably let it sit at least 30 minutes).
Make the streusel topping:
  1. With a spoon, mix together the flour, cinnamon, brown sugar, chopped walnuts and melted butter. Set aside until ready to use.
Make the pie:
  1. Mix together all the ingredients for the pie filling, until the apple slices are completely covered. Let this mixture sit for about 10 minutes, while you're preparing your pie shell.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 400 F and place a tray in the oven, which will be used to catch any pie overflow.
  3. Roll out the pastry dough into a circle that is about 5 cm / 2 inches larger than your pie plate.
  4. Transfer the dough into the pie plate and gently press it down into the pan and up along the sides.
  5. Trim up the edges to allow a 1-cm overhang. Then pinch the dough along the rim of the pie plate, to form a lip.
  6. Spoon the apple mixture into the prepared pie shell. Do not spoon in juice that has seeped out. The pie will probably look very full. Try to mount up the apples as best you can, as they will shrink down as it bakes.
  7. Sprinkle the streusel layer onto the pie and press it down gently.
  8. Place the pie into the centre of the oven, over top of the baking tray.
  9. Bake at 400 F for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 375 F and bake for another 45 to 60 minutes, or until the apples are soft to pierce. If the top is getting too brown before the apples are finished cooking, place a bit of foil over the pie.
  10. Let the pie cool at least 2 or 3 hours before serving, to allow it to set.

Enjoy the Apple Streusel Pie!

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