Bobbette & Belle’s Apple Galettes: Like Cupcakes, but in Pie Form


What’s not to love about a personal apple pie?

After baking Bobbette & Belle’s blueberry hand pies, I fell in love with the idea of individually sized pastries. I don’t like making cakes because I find it’s too much of a good thing – I far prefer cupcakes, which are easier to share. Same goes with pies: making an entire pie seems like such a commitment (who wants pie for dessert… again… for the fifth night in a row), but mini pies? Sign me up.


To be fair, these aren’t mini apple pies – they’re galettes, which are basically a flat pie. (Cedric called them toaster strudels.) They consist of two components: the galette pastry and the apple filling.


The galette uses a standard pastry recipe and, as I’ve come to love with Bobbette & Belle’s recipes, the ingredients can easily be found in any generic store. In fact, you probably have most of them on hand already – this recipe uses all purpose flour rather than pastry flour, for instance.


Though the recipe calls for cutting in the butter with a pastry cutter, I used my hands (as I always do with pastry). The butter cutting is pretty short and sweet, so the damage from the heat of my hand is pretty minimal.


Crumble City, USA

When it comes to handling pastry, less is more. The recipe states, “Turn the dough out onto a work surface and form a disc by pushing it together a few times.” My disc was awfully crumbly (see photo), so I sprinkled an extra tablespoon of ice water (in addition to the 1/4 cup used in the recipe) and it did just the trick to make everything come together in a slightly more solid form. The dough was still a little shaggy as I folded the pastry into thirds, but I used my bench scraper to keep the dough more or less gathered and it seems to have worked out alright.


I don’t own a six-inch round cutter (or a six-inch plate, as the book suggests as an alternate), but I printed out a six-inch round template and used the cut-out as a stencil. It worked just fine.

Though the recipe indicates it makes 5 individual galettes, I had enough dough to cut 8 rounds of pastry – and I didn’t even roll it out all that thin. I had extra scraps, so I freestyled a few festive leaves (viva la fall!)


As for the filling, I stuck with the suggested Granny Smith apples, which aren’t terribly exciting but they do the trick. If I were to make these again, I’d probably mix up a few different varieties of pie-friendly apples. I used five apples instead of four, but I kept the rest of the ingredients the same.


The recipe calls for heating some butter, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. This forms a caramel-like sauce, in which the apples are cooked for just a few minutes. The smell and texture are phenomenal – think caramel apples in a pan. Yum.



apple-galette-9Even with 8 galettes, I had plenty of apple filling to go around. I probably overstuffed them a little, which made it slightly finicky to fold the sides up, but galettes kind of have a rustic, imperfect look that is very forgiving. I was slightly concerned that the apple filling would ooze out and create a smoky mess in my oven, but that didn’t happen.


I sprinkled each galette with some chopped pecans, topped each with a couple of my pastry leaves, and gave the crusts a little egg wash, then into the oven they went. As I now do with all of my B&B recipes, I gave the galettes extra time in the oven – the book recommends 25-30 minutes, whereas I kept mine in for 45 minutes. (I checked in on them every 5 or so minutes after the first 30 minutes had elapsed. Truth be told, I probably could have kept them in a minute or two longer, but ah well.)


(This is before they were baked, lest you be concerned about the paleness of the pastry.)

After sampling a galette to ensure it was edible (it was), I stacked them in a tupperware with parchment paper between each layer and stored them overnight. We had a couple of friends over the next day, and I heated them up in the oven and served them with my favourite vanilla gelato, the Whistler-made KO Vanilla by Lucia Gelato.


The final product was delicious and perfectly presentable (not pictured: a scoop of gelato melting on top of the galette – YUM). The galettes make for a great autumn dessert. They’re a nice twist on traditional apple pie. Thanks, Bobbette & Belle, for another Magee-approved recipe!

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Hitting the Gym: Strong Curves with Bret Contreras

A little while back, I wrote about my fondness of Millionaire Hoy’s free YouTube workout videos. I still love ’em, but I’ve put them on the back burner for now. I’m sure I’ll get back at it this winter when I’m not getting as much of a cardio fix from running outside.

I dropped off the Millionaire Hoy train last spring when I sprained my ankle. His videos involve lots of jumping around, which wasn’t ideal for a healing ankle, so I sought out something new that focused more on weight training and less on HIIT type stuff.

I stumbled across Bret Contreras’ Strong Curves program. This is based on a book that has a serious cult following. Apparently, Contreras is the glute guy – and glutes happen to be the “en vogue” muscle of the day. That’s lucky for me, because in my ankle repairing physio, I discovered that I actually have very weak glutes.


Apparently this man is the guru of women’s butts.

This was somewhat shocking to me, as I’d always done lots of bodyweight squats and lunges and stuff as part of dryland training for snowboard season. It turns out I’d been doing them all wrong, relying on various leg muscles to do all the work while letting my glutes chill out. My weak glutes meant I’d been running (and actually even just walking) inefficiently. Say whaaaaat!

So I humbly turned to the Glute Guru and his Strong Curves program. You can get the 36 page free PDF right here, FYI.

A little bit about the Strong Curves program:

  • It actually consists of several small programs with ridiculous names (Booty-ful Beginnings, Gluteal Goddess, and the like) that are divided into different weeks. The weeks progress… or something… to be honest, I just printed out the whole stack and did each workout once. Once I worked my way through the stack, I started over.
  • It’s not all glutes. While there are lots of hip thrusts, bridges, and squats, there are also exercises for your abs, arms, shoulders, and back peppered throughout (usually it’s glutes + one or two others per workout).
  • Each workout takes me between 45 and 60 minutes to do. I always start off with 15 minutes on the bike to get warmed up.
  • Most of the workouts involve gym equipment, though there is one program that’s 100% bodyweight focused.
  • The workouts are all structured like this:
    • Part A: Two exercises, A1 and A2. You do three sets of each, alternating back and forth (A1, A2, A1, A2, A1, A2). They usually work different muscles so you get a little break by switching around.
    • Part B: Same idea as Part A but with two new exercises – B1, B2, B1, B2, B1, B2.
    • Part C: Three sets of a new exercise. I think you’re supposed to do the sets in a row, but I alternate them with the exercises from Part D.
    • Part D: Three different exercises, only one set each. The way I do it is C, D1, C, D2, C, D3.

A lot of these exercises were new to me and I wanted to make sure I was doing them right, so every morning before a new workout, I’d open YouTube and look up video demonstrations while I ate breakfast. I started seeing a few of the same faces over and over, so here are the YouTube personalities I would recommend for learning the basics:

Buff Dudes

The Buff Dudes look ridiculous and at first I thought they might be a joke, but they’re actually my favourite instructional videos. The videos are informative, straightforward, and full of helpful cues.

Scott Herman Fitness

I don’t know Scott Herman, but I do know that he never, ever wears a shirt. I’m not sure of the reasoning – he wants us to see his muscles move as he demonstrates exercises? He wants to prove he knows what he’s doing and has the muscles to prove it? He’s incredibly vain? Who knows. If you can get past the shirtlessness (come on – nobody goes shirtless in the gym!), he’s very helpful and covers a wide range of exercises.

Girls Gone Strong

Girls Gone Strong’s videos are refreshing, since they don’t feature a massive dude with 0% body fat. Their weakness is that they don’t cover a lot of the exercises in the Strong Curves program. Still, whenever they do happen to cover the exercise in question, I find them to be a great resource.

My gym is somewhat limited in equipment (e.g., no squat rack), but I make do with what I’ve got. Whenever there is an exercise I can’t due do to lack of equipment, I usually Google “[exercise name] alternative” and I can find a good substitute that works the same muscle group.

I do the Strong Curves program in addition to trail running (and lately, road running) and yoga, hiking, or whatever else I’ve got going on. On average, I do about two or three days a week of the program, and I definitely feel like I’m getting stronger. Plus, the whole glutes activation business has revolutionized my running, which is a bonus – hopefully I’ve dodged a few future injuries by getting putting in this work.

At the very least, I find the program to be pretty fun. It’s nice gaining confidence with heavier weights and I’ve come to look forward to my gym days.

If you’re serious about Strong Curves (more serious than I am), I’ve heard the book is super helpful:


You can also check out the Reddit group here.

Happy gains. (Just kidding – that feels weird to say.)

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Bread Illustrated’s Oatmeal Raisin Bread


After my disastrous Portuguese Sweet Bread experiment, I wanted to redeem myself with another recipe from the “Sweeter Side” chapter in the Bread Illustrated cookbook. The oatmeal raisin bread recipe seemed approachable and foolproof – plus, I happen to love oatmeal and raisins.


Similar to the quinoa loaf I made awhile back (I actually make this one every few weeks – it’s really tasty), this recipes gets a little boost of moisture, only instead of quinoa, it uses oatmeal. You make the oatmeal ahead of time, then incorporate it into the dough as it comes together.


Step one is to make the oatmeal. The recipes calls for old-fashioned rolled oats and cautions against using instant or quick oats, which evidently make the loaf “stodgy”. I’m not exactly sure what stodgy bread tastes like, but I certainly didn’t want to find out, so I bought the right kind of oats.


I made the oatmeal and while I was waiting for it to cool, I melted the requisite three tablespoons of butter. I’ve found a little hack to get my milk to room temperature quickly: often, a recipe that calls for room temperature milk also includes melted butter. I pour the milk into a metal bowl and I place it on the turned off, but still-warm stove element that I used to melt the butter. Boom.

The wet (melted butter, milk, and a bit of brown sugar disintegrated into the mix) gets kneaded into the dry (bread flour, whole wheat flour, yeast, and salt), then the oatmeal gets added in bit by bit. Then, it’s time to toss in the raisins.



Of course, no bread making process can go perfectly – not under my watch, at least. As I prepared to measure out half a cup of raisins, I was horrified to discover I’d accidentally bought prunes. They must have been hidden among the raisins at Craig’s. I texted my sister to see if I might be able to substitute finely chopped prunes in place of raisins. She told me that it sounded disgusting, so I covered my partially mixed dough and ran to the store to acquire raisins.


Much better.

Crisis averted. I mixed the raisins in, kneaded the loaf a little by hand, let it rise for an hour and a half, then rolled it into a log that looked kind of like a sad, cute animal.


The recipe calls for spraying the loaf with water then rolling it in oats. Check out this action shot: imagine the skills that were involved in taking the picture while simultaneously spraying the spritzer bottle. That is art.


Sad little animal – am I right?


I popped the oat-y log into a loaf pan, let it rise while the oven preheated, then baked it for 45 minutes.


The result? A lovely little oatmeal raisin loaf. No surprises here – in a good way.


The loaf shed quite a few of the oats as I cut through it, but I have to admit they make the loaf look rather pretty. As for the taste, here’s are some of my notes:

  • This isn’t the most exciting loaf, but it’s good. The best way I can think of describing it is “Grandma-y”.
  • I love the raisins and would probably add more next time.
  • The oatmeal doesn’t come through in the taste (I mean, oatmeal doesn’t have a particularly strong taste), but it does add a lot of moisture.
  • I think spices would kick it up a notch – cinnamon, nutmeg, something like that – but the book already has a recipe for cinnamon raisin bread, so I won’t fault it.


In short, I will have no problem eating my way through this tasty little loaf.

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Thanksgiving Weekend Finale: Capra’s Turkey and Trails Run


Despite what my previous two Thanksgiving weekend recap posts might suggest (pumpkin pie and butter rolls), I did more than just eat over the long weekend.

Capra, the local trail running store and the hub of Squamish’s trail running community, put on a fun, family-oriented trail run this past Saturday, October 7. The run is called Capra Turkey & Trails, and it was the second year in a row that they put on the event (not bad, considering they recently celebrated their first anniversary).


As advertised: the weather looked exactly like their promo pic (above)

I haven’t been doing a ton of trail running lately, but recent runs have included running up 50 Shades and running down Credit Line. I was relieved when I found out that the 6k trail run consisted of running halfway around Alice Lake, out on Jack’s, up 50 Shades,¬† down Credit Line, and back to Alice Lake via Jack’s. These aren’t necessarily easy trails, but at least I was very familiar with them.

The race was right up my alley: small and informal, but well executed. I had signed up online (the $35 fee includes a donation to the food bank), so I just had to pick up my bib before the race and I was good to go. Though the forecast looked iffy, the weather ended up being prime for a fall run: cool and overcast.


I watched the tail end of the kids races (a 1k – the Gobble Wobble – and a 3k youth trail race), then I set out alongside 38 other runners to take on the trails. I started towards the back-ish but ended up passing a few people on the 50 Shades ascent. I ran the majority of the trail – something I definitely don’t do when I’m running it on my own.

The technical descent down Credit Line made for tricky passing. Luckily, we were pretty well spaced out by then. One dude passed me, and I passed a couple more people (mostly because they had to pull over to take off an outer layer or re-tie shoelaces – but hey, I’ll take it).

Arguably the toughest part of the course is “gentle” ascent back to Alice Lake on Jack’s Trail. This darned trail doesn’t look very daunting, but the up is just enough to be annoying – especially after having conquered the ups on 50 Shades. I made it back to the finish line in 45:15, which put me in 23rd place out of 39 runners. (Technically the last runner was the sweep guy so I’m not sure he should count…)


Although Turkey & Trails is one of the smaller races I’ve done, they seem to have had the largest prize table of any race I’ve attended – and the best part is that prizes were drawn, not earned. That’s always good news for a middle (er… back) of the packer like myself. I didn’t walk away with either of the grand prizes (Altra shoes or La Sportiva shoes – I wish!), but I did get a snazzy, squishy Capra cup.

Will I be back next year? Heck yes! Will I be running Credit Line anytime soon? Heck no – apparently, a cougar has made it his local hang out, and he’s not that keen on sharing it with the rest of us.

Turkey & Trails – make it part of your Thanksgiving weekend traditions!

Thanksgiving Week Continued: Bread Illustrated’s Butter Fan Rolls

Earlier this week, I blogged about one Thanksgiving baking project: Bobbette & Belle’s Perfect Pumpkin Pie. Today, we keep with the Thanksgiving baking theme, but we move to a different course.


We attended a huge Thanksgiving potluck dinner over the weekend, and I volunteered to bring a seriously underrated food item: dinner rolls. In my experience, dinner rolls usually suck. In a buffet, if there are dinner rolls, I will usually skip over them – there are simply too many better options to fill my plate with.

However, every now and then, a roll will blow my mind. My friend Charlotte’s grandmother makes the most divine butter rolls (we call them grandma buns). I knew that if the butter fan rolls in the Bread Illustrated cookbook were even a fraction as good as the grandma buns, they’d be a hit.


The recipe for the butter fan rolls is oddly placed in the “starting from scratch” chapter. This is first chapter in the book. Most of the recipes here are introductory and easy; however, I’d say the butter fan rolls are a little more labour intensive than others in this chapter.


The good news is that the buns can be baked in a single day. The first step is to combine the dry ingredients (all purpose flour, yeast, salt), then the wet ingredients (whole milk, melted unsalted butter, eggs, and sugar – okay, sugar isn’t a wet ingredient, but it dissolves), then you mix the dry with the wet.



I’ve baked a few enriched doughs lately, which I find tend to have a little difficulty “catching” in the stand mixer. I scraped the bowl often, but still – after the first step, my dough looked an awful lot like BRAINS.


Cool? Yes, but wrong holiday – this is Thanksgiving, not Halloween. For what it’s worth, I made this recipe twice in the same day because I had many mouths to feed. The second time around, it still looked like brains.


The dough looked less brain-like after some kneading by hand. I then left it to rise. It didn’t puff up as much as I had hoped. I left it about half an hour longer for my second batch, which did make a difference. I guess that’s the effect of the weather getting cooler – now I have to proof just a little longer.


Here’s where the dough requires a little extra love. First, you split the dough in two. You roll each half out into a large rectangle, which you trim to ensure your ends are nice and tidy.


The rectangle is divided into six strips of dough, which are brushed with melted butter and stacked atop one another. The stacked dough is once again divided into six mini stacks. The process is repeated for the other dough half, yielding 12 mini stacks.


The stacks are then placed in a muffin tin. The first batch (pictured) were a little flimsy looking – the second, longer-rise batch were a little sturdier in the muffin tins. I also rolled the second batch a little more evenly so the taper effect in the photo above was a little less pronounced.

The dough is given time to rise in the muffin tins before going into the oven.


In theory, the dough pieces should fan out nicely in the oven. I mostly achieved this, although I did learn to really pinch the bottom of the stacks together in my second batch. I had a few split buns that fell into two pieces in the first batch.


I have to admit, the buns had quite a wow-factor – they’re definitely showier than your average dinner roll.


As for the taste – well, they aren’t quite the caliber of the grandma buns – but they’re very good. They have a nice buttery flavour and the inside is nice and soft. They’re perfect for mopping up extra gravy and cranberry sauce.


Beginner buns, they are not – but they’re also far better than your average dinner roll.

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Post-Thanksgiving Week: Bobbette & Belle’s Perfect Pumpkin Pie


Aaaaand that’s a wrap on another successful Thanksgiving. Get excited: this week’s blog posts are all themed around the Thanksgiving weekend. I managed to stretch my festivities across three days – if that’s not a successful Thanksgiving, then I don’t know what is.


Today’s post is all about pumpkin pie – specifically, Bobbette & Belle’s recipe for the so-called “Perfect Pumpkin Pie”. I’ve mentioned before that I’m so-so on pumpkin pie. I enjoy a particularly well-made pumpkin pie, but I’ll usually reach for another dessert over pumpkin pie if given the option. However, Cedric loves pumpkin pie, so I’m happy to whip one up once a year.

Last year, I had great success with the recipe from The Pie and Pastry Bible. This year, it felt natural to borrow Bobbette & Belle’s recipe, as I’ve been baking my way through their cookbook since the beginning of the year.

The pastry used by B&B is the same sweet pastry used in the mixed berry tart and the mini blueberry hand pies. A few thoughts about this:

  • It definitely seems unconventional to use a sweet tart crust for a traditional pie.
  • As I’ve learned in the past, this dough is finicky as heck to work with. It’s virtually impossible to roll out and lift up in one piece.
  • Luckily, it’s also very forgiving. A patchwork approach is most definitely acceptable here.


The pastry recipe made enough for a full tart, and I had enough leftovers to bake five mini pie shells, too.


First up: the blind bake. This was a little tricky since we had the turkey sitting in the oven at 325 degrees, whereas the blind bake calls for 350 degrees. I just left the pie shells in extra long – as in, double the recommended time. This is standard for B&B recipes, in my experience – even if the oven had been at the right temperature, I would have given it plenty of extra time to bake.


Once the light golden crust had been achieved, I let the pies shells cool completely before pouring in the filling. The filling is comprised of pumpkin puree (the book says canned, but I made my own), sweetened condensed milk, sour cream, cinnamon, ground ginger, ground allspice, nutmeg, and egg, and some vanilla. Although this is a semi-long list of ingredients, the actual assembly is easy: just whisk it all together in one bowl (the egg and the vanilla are added after the first several ingredients are combined).


I poured the filling in, and it was the perfect amount for a single pie. The book recommends half an hour in the oven, but I think I had mine in there for 55 minutes. It came out looking pretty darned good: the crust was not burnt, the middle was not wiggly, and it was a lovely colour.


The Bobbette & Belle cookbook recommends a Chantilly cream to go with the pumpkin pie, but I took some creative liberties here. I don’t love Chantilly cream, but I do love vanilla gelato (especially if it’s Lucia Gelato’s KO Vanilla). Since I already don’t love pumpkin pie, I decided to go with the gelato to make it a little more exciting for me.


Excellent gelato to pie ratio, right?

For what it’s worth, Cedric believes that whipped cream is a more suitable side for pumpkin pie than gelato. We’ll have to agree to disagree here.


I deem this pumpkin pie a decent success, though I’m not sure I’d call it perfect. First, I would argue it’s more of a pumpkin tart. Second, I liked it, but I wasn’t blown away by it – I remember loving The Pie & Pastry Bible recipe a lot more. However, Cedric – who is clearly the pumpkin pie purist in our family – thought it was incredible. Out of our entire Thanksgiving meal, the pumpkin pie earned more enthusiasm than any other dish.


Final thoughts? It’s a finicky dough, an easy filling, and a quality pie if you’re a fan of pumpkin.

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Bobbette & Belle’s Apple Crumble – YUM.


We celebrated Cedric’s birthday in the Yukon. It occurred on the one evening that I glossed over in my recap – and I glossed over it because it was pretty bad. We had a good enough time, but the major elements (accommodations, dinner) were both easily the worst of their respective categories of the entire trip. Suffice to say, don’t order the on-special beef ribs at a trucker restaurant.

I wanted to make up for it with a post-birthday celebration dinner at home. Cedric didn’t get to blow out candles on his birthday – which is sacrilegious, in my opinion. I hoped to recreate the experience at this make-up dinner. One caveat: Cedric isn’t a big fan of cake. I know.


Searching for a cake substitute, I landed on the Apple Crumble recipe in my Bobbette & Belle cookbook. For years, I have known that Cedric adores apple crumble – and yet, it’s the one dessert I’ve never wanted to bake for him. The reason is simple: it won’t ever measure up to his mom’s apple crumble. This is the stuff he grew up on – it’s not just about the apples or the crispy crumbly topping – it’s about the memories and the nostalgia. We all have that thing that our moms make better than anyone in the world. Even the world’s most talented chefs can’t hold a flame to mom’s cooking.

(By the way, I’ve had the opportunity to try his mom’s apple crumble. It really is that good.)

I tentatively proposed to Cedric that, for this special occasion, I would attempt to make an apple crumble, but to be aware that it would like be very different (read: not as good) as his mom’s. That didn’t seem to bother him.


The B&B apple crumble serves 10 to 14 people. We are but two, so I decided to halve the recipe. (I also don’t have¬† 9 x 13 inch baking pan, which is required for this recipe – that may have played a role in this decision.)

I used seven apples: five from the farmer’s market (I can’t remember the variety, but the seller said they were good for pies) and two Granny Smith’s (as recommended) to fill in the extras I needed.


I immediately – and I mean immediately – forgot that I had halved the recipe. Aside from only having half the apples, I made the rest of the apple filling as written in the book. While my sliced apples cooked away in a bath of butter on the stove top, I started away on the crumble topping. The recipe calls for 2 and a 1/4 cup of pecans – but the little bag I’d gotten from the bulk section at Save on Foods (i.e., the best bulk section in Squamish) didn’t have nearly enough. That’s when it dawned on me: I was only baking half the recipe. D’oh.


I was able to split the dry ingredients I’d measured so far for the crumble topping, and I poured out a bunch of the butter-sauce from the apples. There was nothing I could do about the amount of lemon juice, flour, sugar, and apple pie spice I’d used for the apples – oh well.


Aside from the doubling hiccup, the rest of the baking process went smoothly. Despite having halved the recipe, it still made a lot. I filled the baking pan to the very top and still had extras, so I filled a couple of little ramekins as bonus dessert.


The recipe suggests 30 to 40 minutes in the oven. I always err on the side of too long with B&B recipes (often going over the suggested time). At 40 minutes, most of the crumble looked good, but some of the topping wasn’t quite as golden brown as I’d hoped. I tried broiling it for a couple of minutes, but I realized that it wasn’t browning because that particular section was mostly dust from the oats – it didn’t have enough butter to brown.


I served a couple of hot, gooey slices with some vanilla Lucia Gelato (the finest, in my opinion, and locally made in Whistler. You can get it at Nesters in Whistler or Squamish.) Cedric finally got to make his birthday wish, and then we tucked in.


I only need one word to describe this crumble: delicious.

The ratio of filling to topping is perfect, and the pecans really take the crumble to the next level. The ice cream is a must to cut the sweetness a little (because nothing balances sweetness like more sweetness, I guess).


When the spoons had been licked clean and the leftovers had been covered and stashed in the fridge, I had a moment of food-coma-induced introspection. No, it wasn’t his mom’s crumble – but it was darned good. It’s like comparing one delicious pizza to another – different but equally fantastic. Apple crumble, I’m sorry I waited so long to bake you – but I’m glad I picked the Bobbette & Belle recipe because it was top notch.

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