Apples for Autumn

(Candied apple ice-cream)

Long before I ever needed to worry about keeping the doctor away, I was your average apple-a-day kind of gal for many years. First it was the rosy kiss of Red Delicious apples, then the crisp, juicy tartness of Granny Smiths. Then I gradually lost interest in them altogether. Sure there was the occasional flaky pie, muffin or crumble, but essentially I had grown bored of apples.

We were lucky enough to visit the US late last year during what I would consider perfect weather. The frost had not yet set in, and arrangements of pumpkins were still gracing door steps. It was during this trip that my interest in apples was reignited. In New York there was hot cider on sale at every market we visited and a dazzling array of heirloom apples filled boxes and baskets in many fresh produce stalls. We had a simple but tasty sugared apple tart at City Bakery and a very memorable slice of lard and butter-crusted apple pie from Shandaken Bake. Just picked, cute as a button Lady apples were presented to us as petit fours at Dan Barber’s restaurant, Blue Hills.

In San Francisco, I had apples, mascarpone and hazelnuts on generous slices of pan de mie at farm:table, and pickled apples and cajeta at Napa Valley’s Ubuntu. Bored of apples? What was I thinking!

Now in Sydney, this gentle change from Autumn into Winter reminds me of our trip and has me dreaming of apples. I was recently gifted an ice-cream machine by B’s co-workers, hence this candied apple ice-cream, which when paired with pickled apples and a spoon or two of oat crumble, creates a smile that starts at the corners of your lips and ends deep in your belly.

Candied Apple Ice-Cream :
(adapted from a recipe in Frozen Desserts by Francisco J. Migoya)

1000g milk
195g cream
90g egg yolks
80g liquid glucose
small pinch of ground cinnamon
180g candied apples (recipe below)

If you have a Thermomix :
Place all the ingredients in a Thermomix. Cook to 76’C and pass through a fine strainer. Chill well (preferably overnight) before churning in an ice-cream maker.

Otherwise :
In a pot, scald the milk, cream, cinnamon and glucose. Whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl, add slowly add half of the hot milk mixture, whisking to combine, then pour all the contents of the bowl into the pot, whisking. Turn the heat down to medium and stir the mixture continuously until it reaches 76’C. Strain and chill well. Add the candied apples that have been pureed and strained before churning in an ice-cream machine.

For the candied apples :

1kg sugar
20g lime juice
250g water
400g Granny Smith apples (weight after peeling and dicing into 1.25cm cubes)

In a large pan, combine the sugar, lime juice and water. Bring to boil over high heat. When the sugar begins to turn a pale yellow (130’C), add the apples and continue to cook over medium heat until the apples are translucent, about 15 minutes. Strain the apples and allow to cool on a lined tray before using.

[NB : This makes more than you need for the ice-cream mixture, but the leftovers are great as a garnish, or used in other ways, such as in an apple and ginger cake]

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Changing the seasons with a lime yogurt pudding

(Lime yogurt pudding)

A few weeks ago I bought the last of the cheap and flavoursome blueberries from the shops and stored them in the freezer for future consumption (a bit weird I know, but I like snacking on berries and grapes while they’re still semi-frozen).

Now that the days have gotten cooler, and the short sleeves have gone back into storage, I’ve been thinking of things I can bake with fleshy persimmons, custard apples and new season apples. This is the season when the dreamer in me also hopes to spend an afternoon at an apple farm, picking sweet and impossibly crisp apples to be later transformed into a hot pie or crumble.

In the meantime, the reality is that as I rarely have time to cook at home and usually obtain most of my produce more locally. It’s hardly romantic to enthuse about the bag of apples and limes you bought from the supermarket, but that’s what I ended up with the last time I went shopping. With the lime zest, I made a tangy and creamy yogurt pudding. The juice was reserved for a curd which I’ll feature in a future post.

We had the pudding with spoonfuls of apple compote, frosted blueberries and wheat-free Finnish cookies. A nice way to segue into a season of scarves, cups of tea, fallen leaves and if truth be told, also the season to find yourself side-stepping spiders!

Lime yogurt pudding :
(serves 6; based on a recipe in Wild Weed Pie by Janni Kyritsis)

4 sheets gold strength (10g) leaf gelatine, soaked
200ml 35%-fat cream
80g caster sugar
zest 2 limes
600ml plain yogurt

Combine half the cream with the sugar and lime zest in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring. Meanwhile, whip the remaining cream and keep chilled. Squeeze the gelatine to remove as much water as possible, then add to the heated cream and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool a little before whisking in the yogurt and finally folding in the whipped cream.

Divide the yogurt mixture between 6 greased dariole moulds or cups and refrigerate until set.

[NB : I set the whole mixture in a large bowl from which we scooped as much or as little as we wanted]

Finnish Barley Cookies (Ohrapiparit) :
(makes about 4 dozen cookies ; recipe from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas)

1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups barley flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

In a large bowl, whip the egg and sugar. Add the melted butter and cinnamon. Combine the flour and baking soda and mix in until a smooth dough forms. Chill until firm.

Preheat oven to 200’C.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to about 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into 2-inch or 3-inch rounds, then cut each round into halves to make half-circles. Place on lined baking sheets and bake until lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.

[NB : Instead of cutting into rounds, I cut the cookies with a rectangular cookie cutter]

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The Beginning of the End : Apple Red Wine Tart

(Apple Red Wine Tart)

Yesterday I flipped through David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert and came across a recipe for Apple Red Wine Tart. That was the beginning of the end.

In the beginning, I marched down to the shops for a bottle of red wine and a bag of apples.

Somewhere in the middle, I burnt my red wine reduction and wished I could blame David for this. Actually I had been distracted by Twitter, but never mind, start again, because it’s only the middle of the end.

Finally, I pulled the tart out of the oven, flipped it onto a plate, cut a slice, bathed it in custard, and that. That was truly

The End.

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