Now that most of the series that I follow on TV have come to an end, or end of season, (eg, CSI NY, CSI Vegas, Brothers and Sisters, Game of Thrones, Camelot) I find myself finding solace once again in cookbooks, usually before going to bed. This beauty was given to me by Boolicious, as a birthday present a couple of years back, and I have so far only tried one recipe from there, one step croissants. A bit misleading, coz it's HARDLY one step. Anyway, that was a botched attempt... I think our hot and humid weather and my sauna of a kitchen are not conducive for croissant making.
One night, after a disturbing watch of Spartacus, Blood and Sand, and the uninhibited violence, which shows the slitting of the throat, and blood spurting out like a slaughtered chicken, from the bad guy's neck, (actually he wasn't a bad guy, just doing his job la, as a gladiator, much like our FRU fellas), I thought I'd dispel the gory images by flipping through some food porn. And I stumbled across what I thought was rather interesting, the BRETON APPLE PIE. The description intrigued me, it said the crust was almost cake like. But, the thing that caught my eye was the use of 4-5 egg yolks for the pastry. I always have a lot of egg yolks from Pavlovas, and apart from making custard or pastry cream, and fattening the already horizontally challenged FBB-lets, I tear my hair out wondering what to do with my yolks. Indonesian layer cakes require a lot of them, but it also requires a lot of time.
So this dough recipe, I thought, would be a good way to get rid of them yolks.
200 gm butter
1 cup sugar (which I reduced to 3/4 cup)
2½ cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (not essence)
1 extra yolk for brushing.
For the filling, get the domestic help, or child labour, or a knitting grandmother, to peel and core 8 apples. The book says 1.5kg of Golden Delicious, but I mixed it with Granny Smiths, (the green type, not a knitting grandmother).
Stew the apples (cut into 8s) in 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon, (I upped it to 1 tablespoon...I like my cinnamon in apples), with a dollop of butter and squeeze of lemon juice.
Stew stew stew until the apples are tender. Like a woman's heart. Some women anyway.
Strain the cooked apples, letting all the liquid sieve out. Afterall, you dont want a soggy pie, which is as bad as soggy biscuits.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Can someone explain to me how creamed yellow butter turns pale? Does that mean if we cream a chink enough he becomes white? Oooh, now there's a thought. Add the yolks, one by one....the way the animals boarded the ark. Oh, hangon, that's two by two. Sorry.
Chuck in the flour, and scrape with a spatula, to bind together. Although the number of yolks seem to imply an inordinate amount of liquid, surprisingly, the dough was fairly pliable, and not watery. The instruction was to roll it out into a 10 inch diameter x 2" tall pan. However, instinct told me that there will not be enough pastry, so I used a 9" pan instead. You're supposed to roll the pastry into the pan, up the sides as well.
You cant really tell here, but the pastry does creep up the sides, about 1.5 inches. One reason why I havent done more bake and take picture posts is coz its helluva inconvenient to roll pastry in one hand and handle a camera in another hand. Let alone a dslr. These are taken using the Iphone 4, which is idiot proof...somewhat.
Chuck in the apples. You can see from here, with some frame of reference, that the pastry does come up the sides.
Oh, sorry, I forgot to say, roll out 2/3rds of the pastry, leaving 1/3rd for the top. As it is, even with a smaller pan, I was struggling to have enough pastry to cover everything. Roll out the balance pastry and cover the pie. Much like a normal pie, though Nick made it sound very complicated. Brush the top of the pie with the egg yolk. (actually in the book it says whole egg with some water for the egg wash, but I needed the whites for pavlova).
Bake for 50 mins in 180C (or 160C in my oven, with fan).... I was quite pleased with the results actually, a cake cum pie, like a Chindian or some other mix. The color (okay, Iphone 4 white balance is iffy) was a lovely golden brown.
Now, the only thing missing was a dollop of Haagen Daz vanilla ice cream.
Verdict - Yummy. Actually, contrary to popular belief, this version is probably easier than a normal apple pie, because you can botch up the pastry a bit, and it doesnt require the fiddly task of rolling out pastry, lifting it into a pie dish, etc. The texture of the pastry/cake is precisely as described. Not quite pie, not quite cake. It makes for easy storage and refrigeration. Oh, and do serve it with pure cream or vanilla ice cream. That was sorely missing.