Apples LeRoy

apples-leroy

The Backstage Baker made this apple sheet cake for the company of Plenty.    Cast member LeRoy McClain (who plays Mick) really, really liked it, so it was unanimously decided to name the dessert Apples LeRoy. (And that’s pronounced Apples LE-Roy, not Apples Leeroy!) The recipe originally came from the Better Homes & Gardens website, but our Backstage Baker did some fiddling with it to make it even tastier.

Here’s a very happy LeRoy with the (almost) empty pan.

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I had the opportunity to chat with LeRoy who, it turns out, is quite an accomplished baker himself.  A native of Cambridgeshire, England, he shares a lot of the same holiday baking memories that I have — mincemeat pies, Christmas cake, lemon curd tart . . .   But he’s also mastered new delights, such as French Vanilla Pineapple Upside Down cake (“Oh, I bring this one to all the Thanksgiving dinners I get invited to — it’s obviously not a holiday I celebrated as a child.”  Hmm, what are you doing for Thanksgiving this year, LeRoy?)  He’s promised to share a recipe for the blog – -perhaps his Caramel Apple Candied Pecan cake or his Raspberry Streusel Crunch Cake.  So stay tuned!

Apples LeRoy

Ingredients:
2 medium baking apples
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 2/3 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup apple sauce
2 eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried apples, finely chopped

Maple Icing:
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan; set aside.

2. Peel, core, and coarsely shred one of the apples. Thinly slice remaining apple, removing seeds; cover and set apples aside.

3. In a large bowl whisk together the butter, brown sugar, apple butter, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; whisk until combined. Fold in dried and fresh shredded apple. Spread batter into prepared pan. Arrange apple slices over batter.

4. Bake about 40 minutes or until golden and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack. Spoon Maple Icing over hot cake; spread evenly, using a pastry brush if necessary. Cool completely. Dust with ground cinnamon.

for Maple Icing:

In a small bowl stir together 1 tablespoon melted butter, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 tablespoon milk until smooth.

Golden Syrup Cake

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Emily Bergl and her cake

Ah, Golden Syrup!  Also known as “light treacle,” it’s a British thing.  Thick, sweet and (duh!) syrupy, it has the same color and consistency as honey, but is made from cane sugar.  So it’s basically just melted sugar.  100% sugar. Sweet, pure, delicious sugar.  And doesn’t the name Golden Syrup sound delightful and kind of magical?

My mother is of British extraction — well, she’s from New Zealand, which was a British colony back in the day — so we always had a can of Lyle’s Golden Syrup slowly crusting up in the back of a cupboard.

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I loved this stuff — I think my Mum grudgingly allowed me to use it as an oatmeal topping, but only on special occasions!  Because, you know, she grew up when sugar was rationed, so  . . .

This recipe below is from Emily Bergl, currently appearing in Plenty at the Public Theater.  (She found this recipe on a BBC site called Good Food.)  I’ve adapted it to American measurements.  (I hope I did the math right!)

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Golden Syrup Cake
Ingredients:
1 cup butter (that’s two sticks)
1 cup sugar (light brown adds depth but white is fine
1 1/3 Golden Syrup
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 Large Eggs
1 1/4 cups milk *
4 tbsp Golden Syrup

Notes:
— You’ll need a 10″ springform pan for this cake.

*Emily substituted coconut milk

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 140C/fan (or 160/C – gas mark 3). Grease the tin and line the base with baking (parchment) paper, leaving a little to cover the bottom corners and sides. Press into place.
  2. Place butter, syrup and sugar into a large pan and heat gently until the ingredients are just melted together, stirring occassionally. Leave to cool for 10 minutes – it helps if you place the pan away from the hob during this time since it will remain warm.(Oh, the hob!! The hob!!  It’s like we’re sitting down to tea with Mr. Tumnis in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe!)
  3. Beat the eggs with the milk. Add the flour and milk/egg mixture to the cooled syrup mixture in the pan and beat steadily with a wooden spoon until all the lumps have gone. This may take a few minutes, so you will need a little patience. Pour the mixture into the tin.
  4. Bake for around 50 minutes. The cake will be well-risen and springy, but still very moist. After a few minutes cooling time, pierce the cake all over with a skewer and spoon the extra golden syrup over the top. Leave to cool completely in the tin.
  5. This cake keeps for a week and only improves with time.  It’s a real treat and a cake you will be asked to make again and again.

Chicken with Apple-Vegetable Slaw Stir-Fry

Two posts in one day!  It’s unheard of in the history of the Backstage Baker blog.  But here’s a real food recipe the Backstage Baker made to carry him through a busy week of rehearsals.  So many people asked for the recipe that I just had to post it here right away (and make it myself!)  Please to enjoy.

Chicken with Apple-Vegetable Slaw Stir-Fry
Ingredients
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
2 cups sliced fresh Cremini mushrooms
1/4 cup sliced shallots
3 cups coarsley shredded green cabbage
8 ounces fresh asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium tart apple, cored and thinly sliced
Snipped fresh cilantro

Method:

For the sauce, stir together the first eight ingredients (through salt) in a bowl. Set aside.

In a wok or very large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook and stir 4 to 6 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Transfer to a bowl.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in skillet. Add mushrooms and shallots; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes. Add cabbage. asparagus, and apple; cook and stir 3 to 5 minutes more or until vegetables are crisp-tender.

Push vegetables from center of wok. Stir sauce; pour into wok. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Return chicken to wok. Cook and stir 1 minute more. Sprinkle with cilantro.  It’s delicious the next day too!

 

Mini Raspberry Cheesecakes

The Backstage Baker’s new show is a revival of the award-winning David Hare play Plenty.  Check it out here.   It stars Rachel Weisz and I think is already completely sold out.

For their first Wine and Unwind, our BB outdid himself with these gorgeous looking mini cheesecakes.  I mean, can you stand them?  And can you eat just one???  (There’s a joke about plenty in here that I can’t quite find . . .)

mini-raspberry-cheesecakes

Before you start, you need to get a mini-cheesecake pan with removable bottom sections.  (OMG, more kitchenware??  Yet . . . these little darlings sure look worth it!) Here’s a link to the one the Backstage Baker uses.   

Mini Raspberry Cheesecakes

Ingredients

1 cup crushed Chocolate wafers or ginger snaps or whatever crisp cookie you are in the mood for
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
24 fresh raspberries
Chocolate chips (white or dark, depending your taste)
2 ounces dark chocolate, melted, for drizzling

Method

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease mini-cheesecake pan.  Stuff 12 raspberries with dark or white chocolate chips.  (James tells me he was able to get two chips into each raspberry.)

Place a heaping teaspoon (more or less, depending on how much you like crust) in each cheesecake well. Tamp down with fingers or a teaspoon. Place in the oven for 3 minutes. Let cool.

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until well mixed. Add eggs one at a time, then vanilla; beat until light and fluffy.

Fill cheesecake wells half-full, them place one raspberry stuffed with chocolate on top. Cover with the rest of the batter. Bake for 13-15 minutes. Cool completely.

Gently push each cheesecake out of its well from the bottom. With a thin spatula, remove each cheesecake from the bottom plate and place on parchment paper or lightly greased tinfoil. Drizzle with melted chocolate and place a raspberry in the center.  Heaven!

corey-stoll-who-plays-brock-jesca-prudencio-assistant-director-and-maria-goyanes-associate-producer
Corey Stoll who plays Brock, Jesca Prudencio – Assistant Director and Maria Goyanes – Associate Producer wining and unwinding

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Emily Bergl who plays Alice and her contribution a delicious Golden Syrup cake. (Notice the colorful pile of spike tape on the table in the back!!!) I’ll ask her is she will share the recipe.

 

Summer Mixed Berry Pie

Pie
Summer Mixed Berry Pie

The Backstage Baker is in rehearsals for Troilus and Cressida at Central Park’s Delacorte Theater.  He made the succulent pie above for a recent Wine and Unwind.  You can almost taste it from the photo, can’t you?

Ingredients:
For the crust (a basic Pâte Brisée):

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, cubed
4-5 Tbsp chilled water (as needed)
1/4 tsp sea salt
Pinch sugar

Method:

In a food processor combine flour, salt, and sugar. Pulse in butter until it is broken up into very small beads. Add water until just incorporated.

Form dough into a ball and knead on a floured board just until it is uniform. Wrap in plastic wrap and allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured board roll out dough to 1/8″ thick and a 12-13″ circle. Place in tart shell and form it to the side. Brush with egg white to keep it from getting soggy.

For the Filling:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Dash salt
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 cup halved fresh strawberries
3/4 cup fresh blackberries
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons butter

Method:

In a large saucepan, whisk sugar, cornstarch, salt, water and, if desired, cinnamon until smooth; add blueberries. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened. Cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 400°. Gently fold raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and lemon juice into blueberry mixture. Pour in prepared tart pan. Bake 10 minutes.

Reduce oven setting to 350°; bake 45-50 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool on a wire rack.

Andew Burnap
Andrew Burnap who plays Troilus giving his approval

KeiLyn Jones and Andrew Chaffee
KeiLyn Jones and Andrew Chaffee enjoying Wine (or Whiskey) and Unwind in the rehearsal space- LuEsther Hall at The Public

Ancho Chile Brownie Cookies

The Backstage Baker is still in San Diego at the Old Globe Theater.  But now that tech and previews for Rain are over, he’s had time to bake again.  As he told me, “Inspired by the tastes and flavors of being so close to Mexico I made some Ancho Chili Brownie Cookies.”

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Ancho-Chile Brownie Cookies on the tech table.  (Headset, God mic and Altoids to the right.)

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 healthy teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 -3/4  teaspoon ground ancho chile pepper (depending how much heat you like)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups semisweet chocolate pieces
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl stir together flour, cocoa powder, salt, cinnamon, and ground chile pepper. Set aside.

In a large bowl beat butter and margarine. Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, and baking soda. Stir until combined, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Add the flour mixture. Stir in chocolate pieces and almonds.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons about 3 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are firm.

Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool.

Makes about 4 dozen

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Cast members Betsy Morgan, Marie-France Arcilla, Jeremy Davis, Rusty Ross, Mike Sears, Eden Espinosa the final day in the rehearsal room. Rehearsal set in the background.

 

Hamantaschen

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Caroline here, hijacking the Backstage Baker’s blog to share a recipe I’m baking right now.

I’ll celebrate any holiday if it involves baking.  And today is one of my all-time favorite holidays – Purim – because it features the delectable pastry (pictured above) called hamantaschen.  (For those unfamiliar with them, hamentaschen are a sweet pastry/cookie filled with apricot, prune or poppy seed jams.)

Now, in case you don’t know, Purim is a Jewish holiday.   Described in the book of Esther, it celebrates the escape of the Jewish people from the annihilation planned by the evil Haman.  Long story short (and the long story involves people named Ahasuerus, Xerxes, Zeresh and many, many others) Haman was hanged on the very gallows that he’d built to exterminate the Jews, so Purim is a joyous holiday, full of festivities, costumes and fun.  I’m not quite sure why triangular pastries have such significance – some say they represent Haman’s ears, others that they resemble the pyramidal dice Haman used to decide the day of destruction, and still others say they look like popular hats worn back in 500 BC.  Regardless, they are unique and delicious!

Hamen Taschen
(Note, you’ll get the best results if you can refrigerate this dough overnight.  I’ve only been that organized once, but it really is worth it.)

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice (extracted from above orange)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
Apricot, prune, poppy seed fillings (you can find these in the baking section of your grocery store)

Method:

1. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.

2. Add orange zest, orange juice, vanilla extract and 2 eggs.

3. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt.  Slowly add to butter mixture until just combined.

4. Divide dough into thirds, wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.

5. Remove each chunk of dough one at a time and roll to 1/8” thickness.  With a 3” round cutter, cut out as many circles as possible and place on a cookie sheet. Whisk remaining egg and brush on edges of circles.  Put one teaspoon of filling in the middle of each dough circle and fold in sides to form a triangle.  Pinch the corners well to ensure the pastry keeps its shape when baking.  Put in refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill.

6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Bake until golden, 12 – 15 minutes.  Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then remove to racks.

Makes about 40.