Here’s something I created following on from the post about Fat-Free Crispy Oven Chips a few weeks ago.
I wanted to see if it would work with something sweet and after a bit of trial and error, found the perfect pairing: Bramley Apples.
Bramley Apples are native to the UK and are the most popular choice for a cooking apple, because when cooked, they fluff up into a froth of apple puree without releasing too much juice – ideal for baking pies and for this recipe! The coating of spices and egg-white emerges from the oven deliciously crisp, yet as you bite into them, the apple inside collapses in a puff of froth.
Delicious as a dessert or a snack, they’re fat-free, wheat-free, gluten-free, sugar-free and paleo friendly – and ready in just 20 minutes!
I like them plain, but then I’m especially fond of sharp-flavoured apples. You could always add a sprinkle of sugar or some cream for dipping if you wanted to be indulgent, but the dazzle on your halo after eating such a healthy dish is almost as delicious as the fries themselves!
2 large Bramley Apples
3 large egg-whites
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
1½ tsp ground nutmeg
- Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
- Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
- Add the spices to the egg-whites and whisk in thoroughly. This might seem a lot of spice for the mixture, but the blast in the oven will eliminate much of their strength.
- Peel the apples and cut into quarters.
- Remove the cores and, depending on the size, cut each quarter into 3 or 4 wedges. Don’t cut them too thin – ideally, you want them to be thick enough to be able to ‘stand upright’ on the baking sheet on their curved outside edge, for maximum crisping.
- Toss the apple slices in the egg-white mixture and stand them upright on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until crisped. NB: these wont be as crisp as the potato wedges. Try a taste test after 20 minutes to decide if they need a little longer.
- Although they are still nice once cooled, these are best enjoyed straight from the oven.
As I believe I’ve mentioned before, I tend to get side-tracked a lot when browsing the internet, and the inspiration for this week’s recipe is the result of just such a wandering.
Apple and cheese is a classic combination, and together with some smoked ham is one of my favourite toasted sandwiches. But that’s another story. In Yorkshire, it is traditional for Wensleydale cheese to be served alongside slices of apple pie, and a saying dating back over 250 years tells us
‘An apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without the squeeze.’
An alternative to serving cheese alongside, is to bake it into the pastry, where it rounds out the flavour of the apple deliciously, without being obvious.
The recipe today pushes this a little bit further by adding green chillies to the apple mixture, and is an adaptation of one served at Chile Pies and Ice Cream, in San Francisco.
Although I found several versions of the pie online, after baking it as per the original, I decided that it needed tinkering with (sorry Chile Pies and Ice Cream!) and the results are below. I was unable to find the roasted chillies specified in the original recipe (Confession: I didn’t even look), so I went with fresh chillies and de-seeded them, which I found gave a real freshness and just enough of a hint of heat without swamping everything. Adding the zest of the lemon as well as the juice really brings out the apple flavour and I’ve reduced the amount of spices, which I found too strong in the original. Even with almost double the original amount of cheese in the pastry, the flavour is not too much, so if you want to go really cheesy, maybe add some grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, and as always, the dry mustard powder really rounds out the flavour. The walnuts in the crumble tended to burn very easily, so I swapped them for oats which I love for their nutty crunchiness.
Bramley Apples are fabulous for this recipe. For anyone who is unlucky enough not to be familiar with them, they are a specialist cooking apple grown in the UK. When cooked, they hold their shape until touched, whereupon the apple pieces dissolve into a froth of apple snow, literally melting in the mouth (if that is possible with hot food). If you’re unable to find any Bramley Apples, use a sharp dessert apple such as Braeburn, which will hold its shape and not release too much juice – which means you might want to reduce/omit the cornflour in the filling. Also, reduce the oven temperature to 180°C, 160°C Fan and cook a little longer.
Green Chilli Apple Crumble Pie
50g unsalted butter
80g strong, tasty cheddar
200g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
ice water to mix
35g brown sugar
100g caster sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
zest & juice of ½ a lemon
2 Bramley Apples
2 green chillis
20g light Muscovado sugar
60g plain flour
Pinch of salt
40g steel rolled oats
- Cheese Pastry
- Put the lard, butter and flour into a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Roughly chop the cheese and add to the mixture.
- Pulse 3 or 4 times to break up the cheese.
- Slowly add the ice water, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture comes together in a ball.
- Tip out the pastry and knead a few times until smooth.
- Wrap in plastic and place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove from the fridge and roll out to about 5mm.
- Grease two 20cm loose-bottomed tart tins and line with the pastry. Alternatively, make individual tarts.
- Mix the sugars, cornflour and spices in a bowl and set aside.
- Grate in the lemon zest and stir.
- Peel and de-seed the chillis and chop finely.
- Peel, core and chop the apples into small slices.
- Put the chopped apples into a bowl and toss in the lemon juice.
- Scatter over the chillis.
- Sprinkle the sugar and spice mixture over the apples and chillis and stir gently to combine.
- Divide the filling between the tarts.
- Put the butter, lard, sugar and flour into a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Tip the mixture into a bowl and stir in the oats.
- Sprinkle over the apple fillings.
- To Bake
- Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180ºC Fan.
- Put the tart tins onto a baking sheet, preferably one with a raised edge, as there might be some overflowing of juices.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the baking sheet around 180 degrees and bake for a further 15-20 minutes. For individual tarts, begin baking the same way, but cook for just 10 minutes after turning the baking sheet.
- Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tins and cool on a wire rack.
- Serve warm with pouring cream
As some of you may know, I made it into Series 2 of The Great British Bake Off. The show is currently being shown in the UK on BBC2 on Tuesdays at 8.00pm. Each episode has a baking theme, and this week it was tarts. For the final round, we bakers had to present 24 miniature sweet tarts, of two differing types – so two batches of twelve. My butterscotch brulée tarts in pecan pastry didn’t get any airtime (*sob*) – but my apple rose ones did, and so I thought I’d post about them.
There’s three separate elements to these – the pastry, the filling and the decoration. The pastry is a crisp sweet shortcrust, and the filling, a delicious apple custard, is based on several 18th and 19th century recipes I found. The crowning glory though, are the apple roses – slices of apple poached in apple juice and sugar and then rolled into a beautiful rose. I’ve included a little diagram I put together to help show how the roses are created.
When my daughter saw these cooling on a rack, she exclaimed “Oooh! Apple posies!” – which I am REALLY tempted to use as a name because they’re so cute!
A name for the tarts, that is – not as a name for me. I couldn’t pull off cute in a million years.
Anyhoo – on with the recipe!
Apple Rose Tarts
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
250 g plain flour
125 g butter, chilled and diced
75 g caster sugar
1/2 lemon, grated zest only
1 egg, beaten
- Blitz the first 4 ingredients in a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs
- With the motor running, pour in the beaten egg IN STAGES. This is important. Add about a tablespoon at a time and give the flour time to absorb the liquid. The mixture will comes together when sufficient liquid has been added.
- When the mixture has come together, tip it out of the processor and knead once or twice into a ball.
- Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.
8 red-skinned eating apples – as red as you can find – I used Pink Lady
1 litre apple juice
500g caster sugar
- Stir the sugar and apple juice together in a large pan until the sugar is fully dissolved.
- Cut apples in half vertically.
- Remove core and cut into thin (semi-circle) slices.
- Put the slices into the apple syrup and simmer gently for 10 minutes or until tender – You need the apples to be soft enough so that you can roll them, but not so soft as to fall apart. Depending on how thickly you sliced the apples, probably no more than 15 minutes. You’ll find that the colour from the skins leeches into the syrup, and turns the flesh of the apples a wonderful dusky pink.
- Lift the apple slices from the syrup with a slotted spoon and allow to drain/cool in a sieve.
- When cool enough to handle, lay out the apple slices as follows.
-  Place 1 slice of apple on the left-hand end of your chopping board, flat side towards you.
-  Lay the next slice so that it overlaps the first by half.
-  Continue in this manner until there are 12 slices laid into a single strip
- Lay out 12 strips, one for each tart. Cover with cling film until required.
Apple Custard Filling
3 Braeburn apples – or apple of your choice.
120ml extra thick double cream
1tbs lemon juice
grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1-2 tbs cornflour
- Mix the sugar, cream, egg, yolks, lemon zest & juice.
- Peel, core and grate the apples finely over a sieve to drain off excess juice.
- Stir into the egg/cream mixture.
- Put the cornflour into a cup and add some of the apple custard mix to it. Stir until fully combined. Stir cornflour mix into the main mixture.
- Heat oven to 200ºC, 180ºC Fan
- Roll out the pastry thinly – about 3mm.
- Line the holes of the cupcake tin with pastry by whatever method you prefer – I quite like the gently folded creases created by using a round cutter and parchment, but for a neater finish you could use the template method suggested here.
- Spoon in filling, 1-2tbs per hole.
- Roll up the apple slices, starting from the left hand side of the board. The overlaps will help keep everything together. Drop the resulting roses gently into each cup.
- Cook for 10 minutes.
- Turn pan 180 degrees, then cook for another 10 minutes, until pastry is cooked and browned.
- While the tarts are cooking, simmer the apple/sugar mixture over a medium-high heat until thickened into a syrup.
- Remove tarts from the oven, leave for five minutes and then remove from the tins. Set aside to cool on a wire rack.
- Brush tarts with the apple syrup and sprinkle with a light dusting of icing sugar to serve.
NB Make apple custard tarts with any leftover filling and pastry – 10-15 minutes in the same temperature oven, or until filling is set. If making tarts larger than cupcake size, blind bake for 10 minutes to avoid the dreaded soggy bottom, then just 10 minutes with the filling!
This is a lovely coleslaw if you fancy something a bit different or, if you’re like me and not overly fond of raw onion. It goes especially well with barbecued meats that have a fruity element about them, in the marinade for example, or with slow-cooked dishes like pulled pork with apples.
Fennel is a vegetable bulb that looks a bit like the bottom of a head of celery. It has has a slight aniseed flavour and can be eaten raw or cooked – the raw crunch makes it excellent for use in coleslaws and salads. It also has frond-like leaves which look similar to dill – which also have a slight aniseed taste and can make attractive garnishes, but sadly, they are usually chopped off before they get to the shelf. If you have a local farm shop, you might get lucky and find untrimmed bulbs there.
Apple Fennel Coleslaw
1/2 a white cabbage – about 500g
1 bulb fennel
2 tart, juicy apples – Braeburn, for example
Juice of 1 lemon
150ml ‘light’ mayonnaise – I recommend Hellman’s
150ml Low fat yoghurt
1-2tsp freshly-ground black pepper
- Using the knife, cut the cabbage into thick slices from root to tip. Remove the hard core. I chop it finely and add to the dish.
- Shred the slices finely. Add to bowl.
- Squeeze the lemon juice and pour into the small bowl.
- Peel, quarter and core the apples and cut into thin slices. Toss the apple slices in the lemon juice to prevent discolouration.
- Trim the fennel bulb and shred finely.
- Add finely chopped fennel and apples to the cabbage and mix thoroughly.
- Mix dressing ingredients together until well combined and add to the vegetables a little at a time until desired consistency – personally, I don’t like it to be swimming in dressing, just nicely coated – but you can easily either keep any excess in the fridge or mix up extra if the quantities given seem a bit stingy for your tastes.
Cost: £2.48 (August 2011)