Looking out of the window this morning, the brilliant blue almost cloudless sky with stunning sunshine, it’s hard to believe the last couple of weeks’ worth of weather that have wreaked havoc in the garden. Our willow tree spent the beginning of the month with her spindly branches sideways slanted in the wind, the delicate pretty pink clematis petals have all been scattered across the lawn (which I was going to mow, until it got really windy). Although it’s standard for this time of year here, it always unnerves me a little as I see the plants we nurture all year round getting a blustery battering from the winds & rain. At the weekend, we did a bit of tidying up, trimming of the willow & eucalyptus trees, even discovering lost treasures (the chiminea was actually a wedding gift, found buried under a pile of leaves & plant pots – we’ve been married 13 years!). The last of the peppers, beans & tomatoes have been harvested from their vines, with the tomatoes currently sat on the windowsill, getting a top-up tan from the Autumn sunshine.
When my parents visited recently, they brought with them a lovely gift of freshly picked apples from their neighbour (thank you, Lisa!), which I added to the wonderful wonky apples I got from our local Aldi & filled a large bowl on the table (although why they’re called wonky is beyond me – they’re beautiful, just all different shapes & sizes). The scent of apples, especially when just plucked from the tree, is simply beautiful & their fresh fragrance fills the room. The russet reds & pale green shiny dappled skins, with that tart crispness just beneath, are always a welcome addition to Autumnal desserts & salads. Many Sundays gone, I would make a tasty sticky Tarte Tatin as a fruity delight to be devoured after dinner. Flaky, buttery puff pastry would crown the curved apple quarters, all bathed in a thick, gorgeously gooey caramel syrup (usually with a bit of spillage in the oven, because I always made too much).
It’s these kind of traditional desserts that inspire me to make dainty, more petite portions to nibble on or adorn a cake. As you probably know, I love making sugar roses & what better way to show off slender slices of apple than to turn them into floral treats. This is a really simple recipe & I prefer to use my homemade buttery flaky puff pastry as it crisps up perfectly – if you are buying it though, please make sure it’s the all-butter proper stuff to do your dessert some justice. The recipe for butter puff pastry is here if you want to make it & although it’s simple to make, it does need an hour to rest & allow all the layers to appear (it’s well worth it though & tastes lovely!): http://hopeyourehungry.co.uk/puff-up-the-volume/
Now even if you’re knife skills are good, cutting wafer thin apple slices is not as easy as anticipated, so any odd shaped slices can always be piled into in a pie with some blackberries or under a crispy topped crumble (freeze it for a lazy dessert another day, even in individual portions so you can have a treat anytime). My Mum suggested using a vegetable peeler & it works brilliantly for this. Alternatively, you can always use a food processor. Ready to get rosy? Hands washed & aprons on, here we go!
What you need:
8oz All Butter Puff Pastry (recipe link above for homemade)
4 small Apples, washed well & dried (any apples you like will do)
2-3oz Light Muscovado Sugar
1 large Egg, beaten with a tiny pinch of Sea Salt (for glazing before baking)
2 tablespoons Milk (for glazing after baking)
Ground Cinnamon (for dusting)
Icing Sugar (for dusting)
What to do:
Pre-heat the oven to 190*C & prepare your baking tray or muffin tin. Rub butter all over the inside of a muffin tin & that’s it, you’re done. If you’re using a baking tray, line with greaseproof paper, pressing it down well, remove & turn it over, press it down again, ensuring no bubbles are visible. Run cold water onto the butter lined tin, shaking off the excess.
Prepare your apples. Leave the peel on, especially if they are crimson red or a peachy pink colour, as their colour will intensify as they cook. Cut them into quarters & remove the cores (chuck these in the composter or feed them to the birds).
Slice your apples thinly using a vegetable peeler or you could put them through the food processor if you like, whatever’s easiest for you. They need to be flexible, so the thinner the better. Set aside & if you want to stop them going brown, squeeze a few drips of fresh lemon juice over them (don’t go mad, otherwise they will make your ears flap).
Roll out your pastry thinly (not see-through though) & cut into strips twice the width of your apple slices.
Score lightly down the centre, as you’re going to fold them & want them to do this easily.
Overlap the slices of apple along the pastry, flat side towards the score in the middle & the curved side of the apple slices should be slightly popping over the top.
Sprinkle a little of the sugar along the flat edge of the apple slices, then fold the pastry over & press gently down.
Roll up carefully & place in the prepared tin. Repeat with the rest until you have a bunch of apple roses.
Glaze with beaten egg around the tops & bake in the centre of the oven for about 25 minutes, depending on how large you have made them (the ones I baked in my muffin tins were huge, so they needed a bit longer).
Once cooked, they will be all golden on top & the sugar will have turned into a slightly darker caramel colour.
Gently slide out onto a wire cooling rack using a pallet knife & glaze with the cold milk, then dust with a pinch of the cinnamon while they’re still warm. Using a tea strainer, lightly shake some icing sugar over the tops & serve!
To be honest, I made lots of different sizes when I baked these, mostly to use up all the odd bits of pastry that were leftover (after all the effort of making puff pastry, I really can’t bear to throw any away). These go great with a scoop of my Mascarpone & Greek Yoghurt ice-cream (see my Fig-Get Me Knots recipe for details), or you could just pour over a little cream. Don’t think these are just for eating as a sweet either – try with a little piece of Brie, Camembert or soft blue Gorgonzola Dolce (I have a fondness for this creamy blue cheese, spread on warm crisp toast with a few splodges of cranberry sauce – don’t knock it til you try it!).
So while they’re at their finest, go grab some colourful Autumnal apples & bake a bunch of beautiful blooms! Stay hungry! A 😉 x