Apples and pastry.
And with that, I take my leave.
I doubt I am the only one with a weakness for this combination. The comforting, familiar taste of juicy apple softened by the heat of the oven, enclosed in pastry, has always been my go-to treat. The days when my parents took Fiona and I to a bakery for an afternoon snack while out shopping or sight-seeing has long gone, no matter how much I still beg them (it probably doesn’t help that I bake 24/7 so any additional sugar would be ludicrous… right?) but back in the day it was an adventure. With little decision making required, Fiona and I would deliver our orders – a large chocolate éclair for her, and sugar-speckled apple turnover for me. Some days, depending on the selection, I might have daringly branched out to an apple Danish, still with the crisp flaky pastry and the gooey apple jam.
This was probably my most decisive stage of life.
My method of eating the apple pastry became a ritual, which has inevitably reinforced over time. I nibble the edges, devotedly turning the pastry as I slowly devour the dry crumbly flakes around the whole circumference, saving the centre – the best part – until the end. This is soft (soggy pastry is just divine) from the sticky apple chunks, sweetly caramelised yet the apple remains tart with a crunch. I always like to remember a meal from the last mouthful so the final chew can be of pure satisfaction. Maybe I put too much thought into it. Maybe I should just eat and be happy.
This French Apple and Calvados Tart which I made at Leiths School also ticked my boxes. Not only does it have a layer of crisp slithers of rosy apple, but they’re hiding a whole layer of apple puree spiked with calvados. Yes, I know, it just gets better and better. My friend, Georgie, and I had a moment of confusion while stewing our apples, however. Bramley apples combined with sugar, water, lemon juice and butter and cooked slowly over low heat. On one of our inspections of the softening mixture we noticed the puree was a much deeper shade than our neighbours’, quickly turning the shade of bronzer. Perplexed we continued, wondering if we had put in less lemon juice.
Only upon scraping the contents into a freezer bag did we notice a rogue burnt apple chunk stuck to the base. When we removed the packet from the fridge the next day we noted, in pure shame, how everyone else’s apple puree was a delicate shade of green while ours looked the colour of fake tan.
Nonetheless the tart was delicious! I had to carry it home in another freezer bag (I lack large plastic tubs) so the result was crushed-apples-and-pastry-chunk goo but that was perfect for me as I didn’t need to eat around the outside first.