Try a slice of apple perfection!By Chris Barber
September 30, 2008
In a summer which has hit fruit production the good old apple has done slightly better. Chris Barber, of The Castle pub in Hurst, sings the praises of the apple – often overlooked in favour of more exotic fruit – and comes up with another of his delicious recipes, for Baked Apple in Pastry
Oh what a summer we have endured! Rain, rain, and oh yes, a touch more rain.
One would have hoped that a benefit of all the rain would be a bumper harvest of autumn fruits.
Sadly, there seems to be a dearth of Victoria, or plums of any variety.
Summer rainfalls when the trees were in blossom put bees off their vital work; I would normally expect to gather at least 50kg of plums and greengages from my father’s garden in Nettlebed, and from the trees in my own garden.
This year’s harvest is zero. Yes, not one single fruit to be had.
Thankfully, that rather uncelebrated friend, the English apple seems to have fared slightly better.
Wild blackberries have also been bigger, juicer and more plentiful than I can ever remember.
As a result, blackberry and apple combinations have featured much at The Castle but also in the Barber household.
Incidentally, blackberries have much more use than just filling out the stewed apple mix.
I make a fruit purée from them by bringing them to the boil with sugar and a squeeze of lemon.
I then liquidise briefly with a hand blender so as not to also blend the pips – which can be very bitter. Then I pass through a sieve and allow to cool.
You now have a star culinary ingredient; this can be mixed with Greek-style yoghurt for a great breakfast or dessert, swirled on ice cream, or just eaten on its own with a spoon of crème fraiche and shortbread biscuits.
Often, apples are a little overlooked in favour of more exotic and glamorous fruits. However, there are many wonderful apple-based recipes – both sweet and savoury.
There are some dishes that have a more celebratory feel. Tart Tatin, for example, can grace the table of a grand dinner or gastronomic restaurant while being equally apt when served for family and friends.
The baked apple is a classic old family favourite. I was brought up with a small orchard at home and, hence, Sunday lunches often featured apple in some description.
I have fond memories of a baked apple, stuffed with raisins, brown sugar and golden syrup swirled on top.
At The Castle, Jerome has come up with a way of making the simple baked apple fit for celebration and any occasion.
Baked Apple in Pastry
6 large Bramley or any other seasonal apple
100g raisins or sultanas
100g soft brown sugar
500gm all butter puff pastry
1 cinnamon stick
1 egg whisked with 1tbsp of water (egg wash)
Crème fraiche, ice cream or custard to accompany
Core the apples, leaving them whole – you can peel if you wish but this is optional. Fill the cavity of the apple with raisins or sultanas, whichever you prefer, and top with a good spoonful of sugar and a pinch of cinnamon.
You can add a little individuality here if you wish; if you have a sweet tooth, you can add a teaspoon of golden syrup or honey to the top of the apple.
Roll the pastry to about 5mm thick. Then cut into long strips, about 2.5mm wide.
Place the apple on the end of a strip of pastry and then carefully enrobe the apple by twisting the pastry around it in a spiral, overlapping by half on each turn.
Finish the pastry neatly on top of the apple, and stick down the end of strip with a little egg wash. For a final touch, place a little strip of cinnamon stick in the top of the apple to resemble a stalk.
Brush the whole of the pastry with a coating of egg wash, place on a baking tray and allow the pastry to rest for at least 20 minutes before baking. Bake in a medium oven – about 160° for around 25-30 minutes. The oven needs to be fairly low to allow the pastry to brown, while the apple cooks thoroughly.
Serve with your choice of accompaniment – I like a spoonful of crème fraiche or clotted cream, whereas my children would go for a ball of vanilla ice cream every time.
Vanilla custard is probably the best option; if you have time make fresh crème Anglaise, failing that there are some acceptable shop bought ‘fresh’ custard options from most stores.
Whichever you choose, just make sure it is not packet custard; pouring this stodgy, artificial yellow gloop over the pudding is no way to treat this noble apple! fm