I’ve said it once, I’ll say it now, and I can all but promise I will say it again – I am NOT a baker. I try to convince myself this is not the case, but every time I try out a new recipe that requires any amount of baking, I hear that little voice in the back of my head whispering “you’re not good at this, remember?” I’ve gotten really good at ignoring that voice.
This is how my baking experiences usually go…
I’m sitting at my computer, catching up on my favorite food blogs (aka procrastinating). Suddenly a recipe catches my eye, and I begin to salivate. I need it. I want it. I MUST try to make it! Okay, maybe it’s not that intense, but you get the idea. I tell myself, “Wow! This recipe is prefect! Ian just dropped off all those tasty apples (stay tuned for Anita’s thrilling account of how we came across such a lovely gift), and I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to use the word ‘pomaceous’ in a post.” So begins my delicious disaster…
That’s no joke about the word “pomaecous“. It was Merriam Websters word of the day 2 weeks ago and I’ve been itching to use it every since. Anyway, back to the story.
I head to the kitchen, pull out everything I think I’m gonna need, and set to work. I start off strong. I manage to peel and core all the apples without the loss of any of my fingers. I’m ready to start caramelizing my apples…and then things take a turn for the worse. Just an FYI, I am horrible at reading ingredient lists, and I think this is part of the reason I’m such a mess when it comes to baking. I misread tablespoon for teaspoon, baking soda for baking powder, or (like today) mix up the butter amounts for two different recipe. I start off by melting a whole stick up butter only to realize a few minutes later the recipe called for 3 tbs. Oh well. At least I caught that one early! I pour most of the butter into the sink and add some sugar to the pan…things start to smell funny. I figure that’s what’s supposed to happen so I throw in the apples. Nope. It’s not supposed to smell funny. I burned the sugar. Suddenly the engineering part of my brain kicks in…I toss my handy-dandy strainer into the sink, pour my burnt-sugar coated apple slices in the strainer and turn on the water. Okay, my apples are a little soggy, but at least they don’t taste like chemicals anymore. I start over, this time being sure to add the right amount of butter and watching the sugar a little more carefully. Finally, I have some delicious caramelized apples. On to the crust!
Sure enough I hit my first crusty road block as soon as I checked the ingredient list. Oops. We’re all out of powdered sugar. Thankfully my engineering brain kicks in again, and I throw a little granulated sugar into the food processor – voilá! powdered sugar. I mix together my flour and sugar, add my butter and egg yolk, and without giving it much thought I pull out my hand mixer…bad idea. Within seconds, there is flour everywhere. I look back at the instructions and the words “pastry cutter” jump out at me. Once again, oops. Okay, pastry cutter in hand (thankfully Anita had one) I make my first crust ever.
The actual baking process goes pretty well from here on out. Granted, they don’t turn out nearly as pretty as I was expecting, but they are absolutely delicious. When it comes time to take pictures, I hide the ugly ones on the bottom and pick my favorites to show off on top (If this is any indication of the future, I’m very concerned for any children I might have… ). As soon as I take my first bite, all thoughts of the 3 hours spent covered in flour, yelling at the burnt sugar are forgotten…It really wasn’t that bad. I could totally do this again.
(recipe adapted from The Purple Foodie)
What you need (makes about 20 puffs):
For the caramelized apples:
- 4 apples (I used granny smith and gala)
- 3 tbs butter
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 tbs apple sauce
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 pinch salt
For the crust:
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 3 tbs powdered sugar
- 1 stick butter (cold and cut into chunks)
- 1 egg yolk, beaten
- cold water to combine the dough
What you need to do:
- Peel and core your apples, cut them into thin slices and set aside.
- In a large, non-stick frying pan, melt the butter, then add the sugar. Keep a close eye on the sugar to make sure it doesn’t burn.
- Once the sugar has dissolved and starts to turn a light brown (I find it really helpful to keep stirring while it dissolves), add the apple slices, apple sauce, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Stir so that everything is evenly mixed.
- Let the caramelized apples sit on the stove for about 7 minutes until they are softened but still have some bite…let’s call them al dente.
- Set the apples aside to cool.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine your flour and sugar.
- Add in your butter chunks and egg yolk, and combine with a pastry cutter (NOT a hand mixer). If you don’t have a pastry cutter, you can probably use a large fork, but that might take a while. Continue mixing till it’s crumbly.
- Adding about a tablespoon of cold water a time, continue mixing the dough until it is just wet enough to hold together (I needed about 4 tbs).
- Place the dough in the freezer for 10 minutes.
- While the dough is setting, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Roll out your dough to about the width of a dime and cut it into small circles or squares. Place about 1/2 tbs of caramelized apples in the middle of a piece of crust, top with a second piece of crust and crimp the edges with your fingers.
- Brush each puff with some egg wash and bake for 8-10 minutes (might be longer depending on how many you bake at once).
- Let cool, and enjoy!