This time of year is fantastic for all the wonderful fruit that is available in the Orchard.
Apples, pears and quince are in abundance (well this year anyway). Last year wasn’t such a good year, but this year is ….. So many recipes and so many nice things to eat.
I have the smell of the sweet crispy apples with the buttery pastry filling the kitchen as I write this. I did make these apple and caramel pies last week, but writing this post this morning, I could not resist the thought of them, so in between writing and uploading the pictures, I went into the kitchen to whip up another batch…. (yes they are that easy).
Apple & Caramel Pies
The great thing about apples, pears and quince are they don’t need to be just for dessert, they can be the heart and sole of a fantastic tea time treat too.
These apple and caramel pies were a little ‘extra’ treat to bake while I was making a gift for a friend…….
Last week I made a fantastic cake Apple Streusel Cake, (My recipe to follow) the recipe I found was great, but had all the american measures, so I had to convert and tweak a bit, although it did produce a great cake, a lot bigger (thankfully I put a large paper collar on my baking tin) it took a lot longer to cook than stated on the original recipe, I know my husband assumed I was feeding the 5 thousand…….
I was glad in the end that we had such a large offering as I had a couple of friends that I decided needed to share in our good fortune.
When I passed on a large slice of this cake to a girlfriend who had been to a hospital appointment and needed a bit of cheering up, I received a lovely email to thank me for the cake. It made my day….
“Just popping in to thank you for the delicious apple cake. What a tonic. It reminds me of my childhood when we visited our grandma in Somerset …………she would bake us an apple cake, and we loved it.”
As by way of an excuse to re-work the recipe and produce a smaller cake, I just had to make the cake again and send it to my friend for testing and continued path of cheering her up. IT WORKED.
Of course I also need to create something nice for us as I was waiting for the cake to bake and I had some left over chopped apples, I decided some apple pies would be the order of the day.
I checked to see what pastry I had (I always have pastry in the freezer), a nice piece of rough puff pastry was in the fridge as I had it left over from making a chicken pie (a recipe for another day).
So puff pastry apple pies, it had to be.
This recipe is great, as there is no pre-cooking of the apples, they just need chopped into smallish pieces, some lemon juice (to stop them from browning), a little sugar and flour and away we go. I have added some caramel to these pies but you can leave out if you prefer to.
Choose nice, crunchy apples, as you want them to keep their shape while cooking and of course their flavour.
Chop the apples and place them in a bowl with the lemon juice, mix them around to make sure they are coated and then sprinkle in the sugar and flour and toss to cover, this will help with an juice that coves out the apples and help to make a bit of a sauce, so the pastry doesn’t get too soggy. (Don’t want soggy bottoms to our pies).
Roll out your rough puff pastry, I make my pastry as it is not easy to get good puff pastry here, but by all means use shop bought puff pastry.
Using a pastry/cookie cutter or just a glass/cup/plate, what ever you have to hand that is the right size for your pies.
Cut out 12 circles, (an even number, from the size of your pastry) crack the egg into a small bowl and beat it, then brush 6 of the circles with the beaten egg and then place a spoonful of the chopped apple mixture into the centre and then top with a small spoonful of caramel. (You can use shop bought caramel).
Cover the pies with the remaining pastry circles, taking care not to pierce the pastry with the apple pieces, pinch the edges of the pies with your fingers and then with the tips of a fork, just to make sure they are sealed.
Place them on a covered (grease proof paper) oven tray and brush again with the beaten egg and sprinkle with some castor sugar.
Place the tray in the oven and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.
Please take care when you take the pies out the oven and don’t be tempted to ‘just take a bit’ as the apple and caramel filling with be piping hot…… allow them to cool for at least 5 minutes, enough time for you to put on the kettle, get your cup sorted, a little plate and then you can sit down and take a bit of your apple and caramel pies.
I do hope you enjoy them as much as we did.
Delicious apple pies in a buttery rough puff pastry. Crunchy apples with caramel and a touch of sugar, allows the flavour of the apples to shine through.
There are a number of fantastic recipes for French Apple Tarts, I particularly like this one as it includes an almond frangipane sponge, ensuring you have a light sponge base for your apples.
French Apple Tart
I start with a wonderful butter shortcrust pastry as the base of my tarts, it works well as you freeze it in the tart tin and then fill with the frangipane mixture and cook it all together, no need to blind bake your pastry cases.
The shortcrust pastry is a great basis for many tarts, so make up a batch and keep it in the freezer until you need it.
Make the short crust pastry in your food processor, this cuts down on time and also ensures you have a nice short (crumbly) pastry as the butter has no time to melt.
Place the flour, sugar and chopped butter into the food processor and process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Crack your egg into a cup and whisk lightly to break up the yolk, then start the processor again and start pouring the egg into the dry mixture, continue mixing until it all comes together as a ball of dough.
As soon as it has all come together, stop the processor and place the mixture/dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, press down and wrap with the plastic and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.
Take the shortcrust pastry out of the fridge, sprinkle the table top with flour and roll out the shortcrust pastry, decide which tart tins you are going to use and roll out to the desired thickness, this is dependent on the size of your tart tin, small tins will require thinner pastry, larger tins, thicker pastry.
Using a appropriate sized cutter/bowl/plate, mark out the size of your pastry and then working quickly place the pastry into the tart tin. Put the pastry on top of your tart tin and work it into the edges of the tin, making sure your don’t have any bubbles on the bottom, (if you have a bubble, use the tip of a sharp knife to pierce the pastry and work the air out and then push the pastry back together to close the hole) and if you have any excess around the top, push it down into the sides and then press around to ensure you have a nice consistent thickness, then trim off the excess with your thumb or with a knife by running it across the top of the tin.
Place the tart tins into the freezer and freeze for 15 minutes. This serves two purposes, it allows the pastry to rest and reduces the risk of shrinkage in the oven and you can bake the tart without needed to blind bake the pastry case first.
Weight everything out so it is all ready to start making your frangipane, now you can start making the frangipane mixture. Take a large bowl and add the butter and sugar and whisk until pale and fluffy, if the butter is very cold, put the bowl into the microwave and blast for 10-20 seconds to soften the butter, don’t allow it to melt, just soften.
Add one egg to the butter/sugar mixture, then add half of the almonds, and then repeat with the other egg and remainder of the almonds, it may look like the mixture has curdled, but don’t worry, just add a spoonful of flour and continue mixing, it will all come back together.
Continue mixing and add the remaining flour and the almond essence until it is all combined.
Fill the pastry tart with the frangipane mixture
Take the tart tin(s) out of the freezer and place on your table top. Using a spatula, fill the tart tin with the frangipane mixture, just to the top of the pastry tin.
Apple topping on frangipane
Take your apple and cut it into thin slices, and place on top of the frangipane mixture, pushing in slightly so they are just in the mixture.
Sprinkle the top with some caster sugar and place in the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes.
Once they are ready take them out of the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes before serving.
For the rich shortcrust pastry:
225g Plain flour
150g Butter, soft (I use salted butter, if you prefer, use unsalted butter and add 1/2 tsp of salt to the mixture)
For the Frangipane filling:
100g Unsalted butter
100g Caster sugar
100g Ground almonds
50g Self Raising flour
1 teaspoon Almond essence
For the apple topping
1 large red apple, thinly sliced
Start by making the short crust pastry, place the flour, sugar and chopped butter into the bowl of your food processor. Process the mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs. Mix the egg in a cup, turn on the processor and slowly add to the mixture until it comes together as a ball. Take the dough out of the processor and wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.
Preheat the oven to preheat oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C/400°F/ Gas mark 6 and grease your tart tin(s).
Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll out to the appropriate thickness, using an appropriate sized cutter/bowl/plate, mark out the size of your pastry and place the pastry into the tart tin, make sure you take the pastry into the edges of the tin. Place the tart tins into the freezer and freeze for 15 minutes.
Now make the almond filling. Beat the softened butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
Beat in one egg and then half of the ground almonds and repeat with the other egg and remaining ground almonds. The mix may curdle but don’t panic add a spoonful of flour and it will correct itself.
Add the flour and almond essence and mix until it is fully combined.
Take the tart tins out of the freezer and spoon enough frangipane mixture into each tart tin, just to the top, use a spatula to smooth the top. Place slices of the apple on top of each tart, pushing then gently into the mixture to ensure they are sticking to the mixture. Sprinkle the top with some caster sugar and put in the oven.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and leave for 15-20 mins before eating.