Um, hello – it’s nearly the end of October… How on earth did that happen? We’re entering colder, darker days and the very busy month of November, yet it feels like we just started school. Sometimes when life feels like it’s going a little too fast, I like to stop and bake. Baking is a soothing, calming activity for me and always makes me feel much more grounded. I figured if *I* am feeling a little stressed at the rapid passage of time this school year, my students most definitely are, so this week for cooking club, I decided we’d slow down and make a lovely comfort food dish that would be on the easy side for everyone (them and me!).
I’ve been wanting to make Dorie Greenspan’s Custardy Apple Squares from Baking Chez Moi for a while now and had previously thought I couldn’t make them with the boys in the time available (1 hour from start to finish). Last week, when Dorie wrote about this dessert for her Everyday Dorie column in The Washington Post, I started thinking about these again and wondered if we might minify them and make individual portions of this in muffin tins (instead of making one large portion which takes up to 50 minutes to cook)…. Everything’s better minified, right?
The recipe itself is fairly easy – you make a simple thin custard and dunk some thinly-sliced apples into it. The boys worked very independently on all these tasks…. I gave them the recipe and set up stations and briefly told them what they needed to do but honestly I was just there to make sure it was all on track time-wise. They didn’t need any help at all from me.
We prepped the muffin tins…
I knew the boys would be asking “What will we do while they bake?” because it seems they feel they always have to be “doing” something. Well my plan was that we would clean our work stations and load the dishwasher, then sit down and read the recipe from start to finish and chat about what we’d done differently (so they can replicate this at home should they choose).
We read the ingredients, talked about the importance of not making random substitutions (i.e. not skim milk in the place of whole milk etc…) and why it’s important, especially in baking, to follow the recipe – as one of the boys told us “Baking is an exact science.” Right. We chatted about the terminology used in the recipe to make sure they understood it and I stressed the importance of reading the recipe all the way from start to finish before you start making it and also, how getting all your ingredients in place (“mise en place”) is a good way to double check you’ve got everything you need before you go ahead and start cooking or assembling a dish…
(Later that night I attended a talk at George Brown College by Yotam Ottolenghi and he, too, stressed the importance of recipe reading and getting your mise en place organised. I felt like a good teacher when I heard that!)
I baked the custardy apple muffins at 380˚F for about 15 minutes. They came out perfectly!
Considering how many of these did NOT make it out of the room, let alone the school, I’d say it was a fabulous success. Now, I can’t wait to make these again. They are the perfect late October dessert, I think. And a great project to bake with your kids.
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