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how to write a cookbook: photography for #weeknightbakingbook

October 18, 2019

Portland, OR, USA

Weeknight Baking, my first cookbook, is coming out on October 29th and I'm spending the next few days celebrating with special giveaways, sneak peeks, and lots of behind-the-scenes stories of how the book came together. In case you missed it, so far I've talked about:
And today we're going to be talking about something near and dear to my heart: the photography behind the book. There are 80+ recipes in Weeknight Baking, and almost all of them are accompanied with its own full-color image (or more, if it's showing off a process like how to decorate cakes, lattice a pie, or brown butter), all of which were shot by yours truly.

how to write a cookbook: recipe development for #weeknightbakingbook

October 16, 2019

Portland, OR, USA

My first cookbook, Weeknight Baking, is coming out on October 29th and I’m spending the month celebrating with lots of giveaways, sneak peeks, and behind-the-scenes posts about the making of the book. So far I’ve talked about how I came up with the concept of the book and shared two recipes (for cake and pie!) demonstrating how to turn more elaborate baking recipes into weeknight friendly ones, as well as the nuts and bolts of how I sold Weeknight Baking to my publisher. But today we’re talking about what I consider to be the HEART of it all: the recipes of Weeknight Baking. Specifically, I’m going to talk about my recipe development process and how I made over 80+ brand new recipes for the book.

My Recipe Development Process

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I sometimes do extensive behind-the-scenes posts when I develop recipes for Hummingbird High where I make the same recipe over and over again in a row, but with slight variations to the recipe each time. Usually, I start with a recipe concept—something that sounds good in my head, or a copycat of something delicious from a bakery that I wanted to recreate at home (see: these Levain Bakery copycat blueberry muffins)—and then spend a few hours researching recipes to see if one exists for that particular idea already. If I’m lucky, I’ll find a handful in cookbooks or the internet that sound promising. I’ll create a Google doc to store these links for reference when testing recipes later. But if it’s something more obscure or unique, I’ll start with one of my trusted base recipes (from Weeknight Baking, actually!) and tinker with it to incorporate my ideas and the new flavors.

Creating A Table of Contents

My process for developing the recipes for Weeknight Baking is similar to what I described above, with one exception: instead of being randomly inspired by new ideas or bakeries, I followed a hypothetical Table of Contents that I’d written during the proposal process. Doing so was incredibly important—because my publisher had judged the merit of my idea for a book based on my proposal, I needed to stick to the idea that had sold them. I’d sold them a book for weeknight baking recipes, and I probably would have lost my contract if I’d then turned in a book full of savory recipes or something, lol.

Of course, I still had a lot of leeway and control when developing the Table of Contents in the first place. Too much, almost—I know some other authors who have really struggled with narrowing down what to include in the limited space and time frame of a cookbook. But because the concept of Weeknight Baking was crystal clear to me, I had no trouble defining the types of recipes I was going to include in the book. I wanted to only focus on classic, accessible recipes like chocolate chip cookies, fudge brownies, banana bread. Because although I baked a ton of fancy things for my Hummingbird High all the time (see: 24 Hour/24 Dollar Chocolate Chip Cookies, Carrara Marble Wedding Cake, and Coconut Lemon Saffron Panna Cotta), it was usually the simple stuff that I found myself craving the most on the weeknights, and suspected that was what most people only had time for on a random Wednesday night, too. I brainstormed a TON of recipes, and from there, I worked backwards to create the “chapters” for the Table of Contents. Classic pound cake, banana bread, and pumpkin loaves all went into a chapter appropriately called “Loaf Cakes”; chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, and snickerdoodles all slid into the “Drop Cookies” chapter. You get the idea, lol.


How to Develop Recipes: Research and Taste Testing

Once the Table of Contents was set, it was time to actually do the work. I started by researching and making a list of the most popular and/or well-recommended recipes of whatever baked good I was developing that week. I did this in a handful of ways—there was a LOT of perusing cookbooks and food magazines, and even more Googling and crawling around on major food sites and blogs. But my favorite method was simply to ask you guys for your favorite recipes. As much as I like to hate on Instagram, one of its biggest benefits is how it’s made it SO EASY for you to give me feedback. Not only would I run surveys in Instagram Stories asking you for your favorite recipes and recommendations, but I was able to do quick polls like “Do you prefer your brownies to be fudgy… OR CHEWY?” and “Lemon zest in blueberry muffins: YAY or NAY?” Your preferences really helped narrow down the recipes I was collecting, as well as give me an idea of what flavors, tastes, and styles would work best for everybody.

Once the research part was done, it was time to figure out what I liked best by making them all and taste testing them. Not only was this helpful in figuring out what *my* ideal version of the baked good was, but making the recipes also exposed me to a ton of different methodologies and ways of making the same thing. Doing so allowed me to see which one worked best within the constraints of my book's weeknight baking concept. But in order for this to really work, all the recipes would need to be baked and sampled in the same day (because it’s not really a fair comparison to compare a fresh blueberry muffin to a three day old one, right?).

And so began the long, LONG hours: the day before a baking day, I would bike (at the time, I didn’t own a car) to various grocery stores and arrange deliveries from Costco to make sure I had everything I needed. If the recipe included an ingredient that required lots of prep—say, I was making 8 different recipes for lemon tarts, all of which required 1 cup or more’s worth of freshly squeezed lemon juice—I would go ahead and prep that ingredient the day before, too. This is a true story: I vividly recall spending blowing through an entire season of The Walking Dead on Netflix all the while hunched over my coffee table squeezing bag after bag of lemons. I think I blew through about six 5lb bags that evening and was up way past midnight. I remember my hands being sore afterwards.

The next day would be the intensive baking day. After biking to a gym class at 7AM, I would come home at around 8:15AM, immediately turn on the oven, and start pounding through the recipes. Depending on how time intensive the recipe was, I would bake around 6 to 8 different versions of the same type of baked good in one day. While the first recipe was in the oven, I’d prep and make the next recipe. Then, if there was time left over, I’d do the frenetic dance of running to the shower/eating a quick meal (usually something terrible and half hearted, like leftover pastries, a sad fried egg with ketchup, or avocado toast if I was being “healthy”)/clearing my inbox before the timer dinged and I shoved the next recipe into the oven and started over again.


How to Develop Recipes: Developing the Recipe

At the end of a test day, I’d have a line-up of the completed version of the different recipes. I’d sit down and sample them one after another after another. I took note of what I liked, what I didn’t like, what method paid off and was worthwhile, and finally, what was too complicated for hardly any different results. This was harder than it sounds—although I tried to limit myself to only one bite of each recipe, I frequently had to go back and compare the third and fourth version to the first, etc, etc.

But once I figured out which recipe I liked best, this is when the magic started to really happen. I would go back and look at the different ratios of the recipes I tried—I literally had a Google spreadsheet comparing the volume measurements of each ingredient in every recipe I made—to see how it made the recipe different. I also looked at the recipes I liked but didn’t deem “the best”, taking note of what I specifically liked about each one. Like sure, this chocolate chip cookie recipe was the “best” overall, but this other one had really awesome toffee notes and this other one had better color and more consistent spreading. I would then take note of those recipe ratios too, to try and see what gave them those specific qualities.

From there, I would start to tinker with the winning recipe and try and incorporate the methods, flavors, textures, and results that I liked from the other recipes. I kept handwritten notes along the way—in fact, one of my most prized possessions these days is a ratty, stained notebook showing all these meticulous notes from all my tests! I would then have a second baking intensive day in which I made the winning recipe over and over, using these notes to change one element at a time to achieve a specific taste/texture/look until I was happy with the result. There are maybe four recipes in the book in which I didn’t change a whole lot from the original recipe—specifically, the pumpkin loaf recipe in my book is based on Tartine Bakery’s, a chocolate cake from Ina Garten and a peanut butter one from my friend Molly Yeh, and a vegan chocolate chip cookie from America’s Test Kitchen—because they were already SO good (you go, guys!) and are credited accordingly. But overall, most of the “winning” recipes still went through about 5 or 6 changes until I deemed them worthy enough to be included in Weeknight Baking.

On average, it took me about a WEEK to run research, taste test, and ultimately develop a single recipe for the book. This is incredibly SLOW, and I found myself rushing towards the end of the year that the publisher had given me to write the manuscript (think about it: there are 52 weeks in the year, and my book has 80+ recipes, lol). Later, when I talked to other authors about their process, they would tell me that they were able to develop three or so recipes in a week. Somebody even told me they blasted through five a day! Oops. Of course, these books weren’t exclusively baking books—baking recipes tend to be more time-intensive, especially when compared to say, salad or drinks recipes. And with savory recipes, it’s also easier to fix mistakes and errors: if something is too salty or sweet, most can easily be remedied without having to do the recipe again. But if a cake comes out too flat or fluffy, you can’t simply reduce the amount of baking powder or soda in the recipe and hope for a similar result. Baking is a form of chemistry, even more so than cooking; even ¼ teaspoon change of leavener can lead to a cake overflowing from the pan or sinking in the middle. And if you change too many things at once, it’s really hard to figure out which change made the specific result.

After Development

After I was happy with the recipe, I wrote up the ingredients and steps and sent them out to a handful of recipe testers. This is another super important part in the recipe development process—I needed to make sure that the recipes worked in kitchens and ovens beyond my own! Sometimes the recipe testers would report back issues like cakes sticking in the pan or things coming out under- or over-baked. I’d then remake the recipe to see if I could recreate the issue. If I could, I’d have to figure out what went wrong and either clarify my instructions further or continue tinkering with the recipe more. Other times, the recipe testers would report back qualitative feedback, like something was missing specific spices or had too much chocolate. In those instances, although I considered their feedback, I would sometimes disagree and keep the recipe as it was since it was just a matter of differing tastes (I LOVE chocolate, okay?).

For my recipe testers, I relied on a handful of friends and acquaintances—a mix of professional bloggers and home cooks. All of them were solid bakers, whose tastes and opinions I trust, and most importantly, who knew how to follow recipes exactly as they were written. I tried to open up recipe testing to everybody, but I’m not going to lie: it was a low-key disaster! Many folks made changes to the original recipe, making substitutions for ingredients and skipping over the necessary equipment or steps needed for the recipe. While this is fine for a completed cookbook—in fact, I encourage folks to do this kind of experimentation with the Single Lady Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe in my book—it’s no bueno for a book that’s still in development. I needed to make sure what I’d written worked as is.

What All of This Is Really, Really Like

Although developing and testing the recipes was for Weeknight Baking was probably the most fun that I had during the entire cookbook writing process, I’m not going to lie. It was SO. MUCH. WORK. Both physically and mentally. I needed to get special shoes to wear in the kitchen because my lower back and feet hurt from standing all day—to this day, I have a pair of Danskos that I wear just for when I develop recipes. The hours were endless, and definitely even longer than the hours I worked when I was in tech and finance (two industries notorious for long hours). To meet my deadline, I worked during the weekends too. It was not atypical for me to begin my baking at 7AM and complete at 7PM—in the evenings, I’d catch up on the work I needed to do to maintain this blog (which, don’t forget—the blog was what was paying my mortgage, after all) and my other obligations in life, staying past midnight many nights. That year, my social life was in shambles; I rarely saw friends, and if I did, they hardly understood why I was so low-energy and exhausted. “But you don’t have a real job now! You just bake all day!”

My one respite from the kitchen was the gym (which is not really a respite). Because I knew I would be consuming even more sugar and baked goods from the testing and development, I made a promise to myself that I would go to the gym every day in order to work off the extra calories. Even despite the long hours, I did make the time to attend an hour-long HIIT class five days a week, and a 45-minute long spin class on the other two. Later, towards the end of my deadline, when the recipe development intensified and I was eating triple the trials in one day, I doubled down on my gym classes and did BOTH classes in the same day—HIIT in the morning, spin at night—six days a week. But it didn’t work. My weight still ballooned. When I turned in my manuscript, I was 20lbs over my regular weight. I don’t know the exact figure because I stopped weighing myself.

If this all sounds self-pitying and whiny to you, there is a somewhat happy ending to the story. After my manuscript, I went on a STRICT diet with complicated fasting schedules that eliminated everything good in life: alcohol, dairy, grains, sugar, fun. Because I had been exercising so religiously, the weight slid off fairly quickly—I was back to my normal weight in around a month and a half. And I hate to say this, especially as a baking blogger and official cookbook author, but seriously: it’s sugar that’ll kill you. You can see the below Before/After photos of me, where I’m posed in a similar fashion over a tray of cookies I’m shooting. The photo of me in the blue shirt was taken towards the end of the year I spent developing recipes for Weeknight Baking, whereas the photo of me in white shirt was taken about six months after I’d turned in the manuscript and lost the recipe development weight. I guess it's hard to tell because these are both relatively flattering photos of me, but I'm two pants sizes larger in the left picture and you can definitely see my face is a little swollen and puffy:


But unrelated to my appearance, my year of developing recipes for Weeknight Baking undoubtedly taught me how to be a better baker. These days, I can confidently identify what’s missing from recipes without having to sample a variety of different versions of the same thing. I can reverse-engineer baked goods from bakeries and restaurants that I love—it may take me a few tries, but I eventually get the results.

Furthermore, as you’re hopefully finding out from these posts, writing a cookbook is not as straight-forward or easy as it seems. There’s usually a fair amount of differing opinions and ideas between the author and the publisher about the book; it can sometimes feel like the final book is a series of compromises. But the recipes in the book is the one spot where I NEVER made any concessions, and where I’m really, truly happy and proud of the results. Even though my process was intense, I really do believe that my hard work in testing and developing recipes for Weeknight Baking will pay off. I’ve released some early copies of Weeknight Baking into the world already, and seeing folks bake from the book and have their baked goods turn out exactly the way they’re supposed to is so incredibly rewarding.

Pre-order Weeknight Baking

Pre-order Weeknight Baking here:

how to write a cookbook: writing and selling a proposal for #weeknightbakingbook

October 14, 2019

Portland, OR, USA

In case you missed it, my first cookbook, Weeknight Baking is coming out at the end of the month and I’m celebrating the occasion with lots of giveaways, sneak peeks, and behind-the-scenes posts! Be sure to check out this post to learn more about the concept of the book (like what is weeknight baking, anyway?) and pre-ordering info, because today I’m actually going to be focusing on something different: how the cookbook publishing process works, why I decided to write a cookbook, and what happened after I decided to do so.

One of the most frustrating things about working with the publishing industry is how opaque and withholding they can be with information. To remedy this, I decided to write the kind of post that I was looking for when I first started my cookbook writing process, complete with anecdotes about my own personal experience. It’s long and unwieldy, and I would be 100% surprised if the majority of you have the time and patience for it all. Sorry!

Although the post is meant to be read consecutively, I also divided the post up into different parts to help find what’s relevant and interesting to them. Some sections are full of information for aspiring authors, and others are specifically dedicated to telling the story of how #weeknightbakingbook came to be. Use the links below as shortcuts to each section:

Resources for Aspiring Authors


The Story of Weeknight Baking


chocolate peanut butter cake

October 9, 2019

Kyoto, Japan
This chocolate peanut butter fudge cake uses a peanut butter and brown sugar cake base from my upcoming cookbook, Weeknight Baking, that comes together in a flash. The cake is then covered with an easy creamy, dreamy chocolate fudge frosting that requires no candy thermometers or fussing—jump to the recipe.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

When I was writing Weeknight Baking, I made sure to develop recipes that used ingredients that most folks would have on hand in their pantry. The book is meant to save bakers time in the kitchen, and I figured that one of the easiest way to do so is to avoid sending folks out on a goose chase for rare ingredients. Yep, that meant actively skipping the specialty ingredients like tonka bean and fancy flavors like dried blackcurrant powder and yuzu zest that I occasionally splurged on for the recipes on Hummingbird High and instead focusing on the basics. In fact, I actually brainstormed a lot of the recipes for the book while standing in front of my own pantry and fridge to see what was already in there.

One thing that immediately became obvious to me was how many jars of nut butter Erlend and I hoarded for two people. On any given day alone, we had a massive, seemingly unending jar of peanut butter from Costco for use in breakfasts, snacks, and more. But peanut butter was an ingredient that would work well in desserts too. In particular, my friend Molly has a wonderful snack cake recipe in her book, Molly on the Range, that was so moist and flavorful from the generous amount peanut butter in the recipe. The best part was that she described the cake as "idiot proof" and "hangover proof", which I took to mean as "perfect for weeknight baking." And when paired with a chocolate frosting? It was absolutely delicious.


Easy Chocolate Fudge Recipe

In my experience, it's hard to find a good chocolate frosting recipe. Most chocolate frosting recipes rely on cocoa powder to give the frosting a chocolate flavor. However, it's hard to get the ratio of cocoa powder in the recipe correct. Too much, and the frosting turns out stiff and hard to work with, and too little leads to a bland and not chocolatey enough frosting. I wanted something that was incredibly chocolaty, but silky and creamy as well.

Luckily, I already had a solid chocolate fudge frosting recipe that I'd been making for years. Unlike most chocolate frostings, my fudge frosting recipe gets its flavor and texture from MELTED CHOCOLATE. The melted chocolate gives the frosting SO much flavor, and makes it a dream to work with. The resulting frosting is so silky and smooth that it's almost like spreading a chocolate flavored cloud on the cake. As it cools, it hardens into a "fudge"-like texture that's in between that of traditional American buttercream and cake fondant.

To me, this is some kind of magic—traditionally, fudge is a type of sugar candy that's made with sugar, butter, and milk. You then need to cook it to what's known as the "soft-ball stage", a specific temperature that enables you to get the smooth, creamy consistency of the fudge. There's a lot of futzing around with candy thermometers and whatnot. But there's absolutely none of that with this recipe, despite having similar results.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake... On A Weeknight!

Traditionally, layer cakes aren't considered to be "weeknight baking friendly." More elaborate cake designs can take hours to frost, and even more simple cakes like this one requires a ton of steps: making the cakes, waiting for them to cool, making the frosting, frosting a crumb coat, waiting for the crumb coat to set, etc, etc.

And here's the cold, harsh, truth: for more elaborate desserts like this one, you have to run the race. There's no fast and easy fix that will get you out the door with a beautifully frosted three layer cake in half an hour.

"So why is this recipe even in the book?" I hear you grumbling.

Well, similar to my pie recipe, this recipe works best if you divide the work over the series of a few days. In fact, here's a secret: almost all the layer cake recipes on Hummingbird High were made in this way. Without dividing the work up, a layer cake recipe means you'd be stuck in the kitchen for hours at a time. But here's how I do it:
  • Day 1: I make the cakes.

  • Day 2: I make the frosting, assemble the cake, and leave it with a crumb coat (a thin layer of frosting that not only keeps the cake moist overnight, but makes it easier to frost later as it "seals" the crumbs into the cake).

  • Day 3: I finish frosting the cake and eat it!
Because most of cake and frosting recipes in my book take half an hour or less of Work Time (in fact, most of the frostings only take about 5 minutes or so), splitting it up over this schedule ensures that I'm only in the kitchen working for half an hour at a time. I am free to go live my life and do as I please, and, if I wanted to, could ostensibly bake a different cake every night of the week.

In fact, that's the theory behind these new cake toppers that I designed with my friend, Amy, the talented artisan behind AHeirloom. You may already know her internet famous cake stands (including the one you see in these pictures!) and very adorable state-shaped cutting boards. Together, we designed these "Days of the Week" cake toppers featuring a different fun phrase for a new cake everyday of the week. Head on to my Instagram account, @hummingbirdhigh, to enter the sweepstakes to win a set (hint hint: if you pre-ordered a copy of Weeknight Baking, you get triple the chance to win by sending a copy of your receipt to michelle+AHPO@hummingbirdhigh.com) and watch me make this cake in Instagram Stories!


Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake Recipe Tips

  • Although this recipe is for a chocolate PEANUT butter cake, you can actually go ahead and substitute with whatever nut butter you have on hand—I've made this cake with almond butter and cashew butter in the past, and was super pleased with the results. Whatever nut butter you decide, I recommend you go with the "all natural creamy" kind that doesn't have any added sugar—there's already a TON of brown sugar in this recipe, and I don't want you to end up with something that's too cloyingly sweet! 

  • Similarly, the recipe below calls for almond extract, which I always like to pair with nut butter to enhance its flavor. But if you don't want to go out and buy almond extract, no worries! Just use vanilla extract instead. It's just as tasty.

  • To make the fudge frosting, you'll be adding a warm melted chocolate mixture into some butter. There's a chance that the chocolate will be too warm and lead to a frosting that's a little too liquidy. If this happens, don't panic! Just stick your frosting in the fridge for about 5 minutes to cool; it will firm up to the right texture. Just don't leave it in there too long or you'll need to warm it up to the right consistency once more.

  • In my Instagram Stories and the recipe below, I skip the crumb coat and just frost the cake directly. That's because not only is this frosting such a dream to work with, but I froze the cake overnight, too. Freezing the cake helps prevent crumbs from leeching into the frosting. If I were making a more elaborate frosting design, I wouldn't recommend skipping the crumb coat, but because this frosting design (I dub it "rustic swirls" in the book) is so chill and easygoing, you can go ahead and skip crumb coating the cake! If you really have no idea what I'm taking about, head on over to Instagram Stories where I do a full demo of how to frost the cake. 

easy apple pie

October 2, 2019

Portland, OR, USA
This easy apple pie recipe uses a stand mixer to make the pie dough, very thinly sliced apples to speed up the baking process, and divides the work of the recipe up over a few days to ensure that you're not stuck in the kitchen for hours at a time—jump to the recipe!


Easy Pie Recipes

If you're a long-time reader of Hummingbird High, you should know by now that pie and I weren't fast friends. In fact, quite the opposite—for many years, I hated making pie. I thought pie crust was a pain in the butt to make, especially with all the chilling and re-chilling of the dough. Worst of all, the pie lattices and designs that I always worked so hard on usually came out ugly and shrunken! What gives.

But determined to be a better baker, I decided that I would teach myself how to make a good pie no matter what. I embarked on a year long project that I dubbed #humhipieamonth, in which I made a resolution to bake a different kind of pie every month. I tried a ton of different pie doughs and fillings, and learned many new tips and tricks along the way.

Fast forward to now: my first cookbook, Weeknight Baking, is coming out at the end of the month and is filled with recipes for desserts and baked goods that anybody can make on a weeknight hopefully without too much fuss (learn more here!). I knew that the book would be incomplete without a pie chapter, but let's be honest—most pies are weekEND projects and tend to take hours at a time because of the nature of the pie making process. How on earth can pie be a weekNIGHT recipe?

Well, you start with a good pie dough recipe.


Easy Pie Crust

On paper, pie dough is a simple recipe. It requires only a handful of ingredients—flour, butter, and some kind of cold liquid (usually water), with a few teaspoons of sugar and salt for flavor. The difficulty comes in execution. To bring the dough together, all the ingredients must be kept cold. Most pie recipes instruct you to make pie dough in the following ways: using your hands to rub cold butter into flour, using a pastry cutter or two knives to "cut" the cold butter, or using a food processor to do so.

Unfortunately, the first two methods are time-consuming and messy—and the longer you take to blend the butter into the dry ingredients, the warmer your dough will be (leading to a pie dough that's difficult to work with—that's why many recipes instruct you to chill the dough for at least a few hours afterwards). Using a food processor is faster, sure, but it's easy to overwork the butter into the pie dough (leading to a flat, dense, crust) since it's hard to tell what's going on, and it doesn't eliminate the need for you to knead the dough together afterwards.

What if I told you there was a better way?

In Weeknight Baking, I instruct you to make your pie dough using a STAND MIXER. After chilling the ingredients for five minutes or so, you throw everything into the stand mixer and mix it on low speed like you would a cookie dough. It takes less than 5 minutes to come together and eliminates TONS of mess and work. Furthermore, unlike a food processor, a stand mixer allows you more control and visibility as the dough comes together—no flat, dense crusts here folks!


Homemade Apple Pie

The following apple pie recipe is based off the "Any Kind of Fruit Pie" recipe in Weeknight Baking. In the book, you can use the recipe to make a pie out of whatever fruit you happen to have on hand!

For today's blog post, I used apples (it is October after all, prime apple season in Oregon). Some folks like to peel their apples before baking them into a filling, but I find that unnecessary—I like the texture and flavor the peel adds to the pie. My only advice is to core the apple (you can do this by using an apple slicer and corer like I did—well, technically, I think that's a pear corer but they do the same thing, really—or use a sharp chef's knife to do so), cut it into quarters, and then slice each quarter into -inch thin slices. Thin slices help the filling cook faster in the oven, helping prevent soggy-bottomed pie crusts and saving you time in the kitchen.

Be sure to read my recipe tips below to learn more time-saving tips and techniques from my upcoming book, Weeknight Baking. If you like what you read, be sure to pre-order the book—I go into MUCH more detail about the hows and whys of pie making there! Also, to see me make this pie in real time, head over to my Instagram account @hummingbirdhigh where I'm doing a demo of this recipe in Instagram Stories and a giveaway of some of my favorite pie making ingredients by Vermont Creamery. If you already pre-ordered a copy of Weeknight Baking, please send a copy of the receipt to michelle+VCPO@hummingbirdhigh.com to win a care package of my favorite fancy butters and other yummy baking ingredients from Vermont Creamery. The giveaway will end next Wednesday, October 9th—good luck!


Easy Apple Pie Recipe Tips

  • Making pie is a time consuming process because the pie dough needs to be chilled after making and before rolling it out, then again after being rolled out and assembled into pie. You cannot skip this process—room temperature dough will stick to your counter and rolling pin, and if you do manage to wrestle it into the pie pan, it will likely melt and lose its shape during the baking process. Because of this constant resting and chilling, it's rare that I make a pie from start to finish in one day. I've divided the recipe up over the course of 3 days to reflect this—it may seem like a lot, but I promise you're only going to be in the kitchen working for 15 minutes at a time. If you INSIST on making this pie all in one day, you can rest the dough in the refrigerator for an hour, then freeze the assembled pie for at least 4 hours before baking.

  • The first day, in which you make the pie dough, is the least intensive—it will take you around 10 minutes to make the pie dough and prep it for chilling overnight. Because it only takes 10 minutes, I suggest preparing the fruit for the apple pie filling at this time too. Prepping the apples is the most time consuming part of the recipe; you'll need to core, then slice them very thinly according to my method above. You can store the sliced apples with the lemon juice in the recipe overnight in the refrigerator in an airtight container or ziptop bag; alternatively, you can toss the prepared apples with the rest of the filling's ingredients (essentially making the filling) and store the entire thing overnight too. Don't worry too much about your apples browning—they'll lose their color in the oven anyway! 

  • Unlike my other recipes where I include weight measures for volume measures over 1 tablespoon, I don't include weight measures for the apple in this recipe. Why? The weight of the fruit will vary significantly depending on the type of fruit you use, what season it is, and other factors. This is one of the few recipes where it makes sense to go by volume!

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