By Louise Oliver
With the crisp autumnal air upon us, there is no denying that it’s time to start thinking warmth and comfort. Alongside this, the late summer/early autumn harvest has delivered an abundance of local apples – certainly enough to keep the doctor away for a while. Apples: to many the staple of a packed lunch or the backbone of the fruit bowl, however their appearance does not necessarily provide inspiration in the kitchen. Those days are in the past. We are not talking the usual tasteless supermarket suspects such as the bland Jazzy, the air-freighted, supermarket-perfect Braeburn or the ubiquitous Gala variety here (which research suggests carry among them some of the highest amount of pesticides residue). This year Fife has produced many different varieties, from sweet to crisp, eater and cookers alike. The plethora of deliciously crunchy and fragrant apple breeds is truly inspiring and deserves top billing in the kitchen.
A celebratory warming pudding, or three, aside from the usual pie and crumble is in order. In a delicious desert the only thing covering these tasty fruits are pastry and sponge – no wax preservatives here. Time for a whistle-stop tour of Europe to gather a few seeds of inspiration.
Firstly to France, home of the classic tarte tatin. Tarte Tatin is all about the flavour of the fruit, perfect for tasty local apples and is a more sophisticated toffee apple for adults and kids alike to savour. It really is simple to make – remember that the dish was borne from a cooking disaster cover up! The pastry is merely a blanket to serve the apple on and truly allows the delicious flavours to shine. In this recipe I have used a mixture of slightly sour apples and sweet varieties. Whilst some recipes call for cookers, I think a firm, crisp apple that will hold its shape is really what’s called for. I’ve taken a top hint from the classic French Chef, Raymond Blanc and adopted his fool-proof method of allowing the magical transformation of sugar and water into caramel before adding the apples, which makes for a complication-free tart. Leaving you time to enjoy the crust, all you have to decide is one slice or two.
Next on to the Kafee houses either side of the Danube for a delicious slice of Apfulstrudel. Layers of crisp, light filo pastry encapsulate a scrumptious filling of apples, dried fruit and sugar – a simple delight. Now whilst filo pastry may be something that you have not thought of making from hand, trust me it is far easier than expected and it really does make a difference to the strudel, think deliciously flaky. It really is worth giving this Viennese classic pastry a whirl. With the trickier pastry complete, the filling is a doddle, again I used a variety of eating apples. They hold their shape and allow the pastry to remain crisp. Whilst I soaked the dried fruit in brandy-a sucker for boozy fruit- that may just be thoughts of Christmas cake more than anything else, apple juice is a suitable alternative. The recipe requires breadcrumbs to soak up the juices but, for those on a gluten free diet, as an alternative, Demerara sugar works just as well and adds a delicious crunch. The only conundrum left is whether you can leave it to cool long enough to serve with ice cream.
Thirdly on to the classic English dish of Eve’s Pudding, a real comforting winter warmer, a delicious Victoria sponge nestled on top of a base of stewed cooking apples. This recipe is adapted from the queen of baking herself, Mary Berry and though simple to make is sure to win you Star Baker.
So armed with the best recipes from around the globe, think global: eat local and wrap up undercover with the best apples in town.
See below our apple recipes to download and enjoy!…