Thursday, October 21, 2010

National Baking Week

Thanks to Verity I now know its national baking week – an idea I can get right behind, although I don’t think some banners would have gone amiss – and more fanfare generally. Actually there might have been quite a lot of fanfare but I have literally spent most my week in a cage (albeit a spacious one filled to the brim with fine wines and spirits, and oddly a collection of hoovers). The new shop is now open and I’ve been released onto the floor to dazzle with my wine knowledge. So far I’ve mostly been asked where the beer is, and one memorable moment when someone asked to see my Chardonnay. We have perhaps 60 peachy melon-y, occasionally toasty and vanilla-ish, sometimes lemony and all excellent examples of this particular grapes output before I even start to factor in champagne, prices from £5 to £105. They are not grouped together. My customer couldn’t be more specific and it looked like an impasse until she decided a bottle of pinot grigio would do – she liked the label. So 11 years of painfully acquired experience proved useful again; I miss the cage. (It really is a cage.)

Because of all this going on baking time has been limited, but I did make an apple pie and I think that counts – even better it was quite an impressive looking tart (well the blonde made all the right ooh and ahh noises when it appeared) and it’s amazingly easy too so I thought I would share the details. (It was most likely originally a Nigel Slater recipe but I like to think it’s mine now)

1 heavy based frying pan approx 20 cm diameter and with an oven proof handle – or similar.

Half a packet of readymade puff pastry (unless you want to show off or have other pastry preferences)

5 or 6 apples – the current tart was made with russets which proved particularly satisfactory

40g of unsalted butter

3 tablespoons of caster sugar – nice if it’s flavoured - either vanilla or lavender is good.

Peel the apples and chop into reasonably chunky segments – but keep one half apple aside (minus the core and pips).

Pre heat the oven to 200°C or equivalent

Heat the sugar in the pan until it melts – don’t stir it but shake the pan to try and keep it an even colour, when it’s all liquid and an even dark gold (not dark brown) take it off the heat and add the butter immediately, let that melt and arrange the apple pieces in the pan. Start with the half apple (flat side facing up) in the middle and work outwards with the rest of the segments. Keep them reasonably tightly packed.

Roll out the pastry and put it over the apples trimming off the edges so it’s nice and neat looking. Put the whole lot in the oven for about 25 mins (until the pastry is puffy golden and mouth-watering in appearance) Allow to cool for about 10 minutes and then turn the whole lot out onto a plate so that the apples are back on top. It’s very nice (not to sweet) and every time I’ve made it people think I’ve been very clever which you can see quite clearly isn’t the case. I call that a win! (The little black bits in the picture are lavender heads from the lavender sugar.)


  1. I love a nice cold glass of Chardonnay, although I am no connoisseur. Pinot Grigio will do fine, but I am a bit more selective about that.

    The apple pie looks scrummy. Would you serve it plain, with cream, with custard, or with ice cream?

    My preference would be either plain, or with vanilla ice cream, save some for me!!

  2. National Baking week no one told me either & I've not spent the week in a cage. I have eaten a lot of cake this week though so lets hope that counts.
    Apple pie looks great, been looking for apple recipes to use up the ton of bramley's I was given. Do you think it will work with cooking apples?

  3. Clover - I think it'll be fine with any kind of apples and what could be better for cooking with than cooking apples:)

    Fiction Books - plain cream lightly whipped thats what I say!

  4. Delicious looking apple tart. I've seen that recipe and wondered about it.... Happy Baking.

  5. I like it because it's such a handy stand by - going to try and fit a cake in by the end of the week...