Taken on 11.11.11 at 11:11.
I woke up to a white frosty world yesterday. The grass, neighbour's rooftop, hedges, our still blossoming roses - all covered with frozen mist. We were blessed with first subzero temperatures of the season. It looks magnificent every time and I never tire of it. Even more beautiful than snow.
It has been pretty unbelievable autumn, plants have just kept on producing. Tomatoes didn't want to stop at all, so in the end we just had to cut them down and clear the beds to clean and prepare the greenhouse for winter. I picked the last strawberry just a week ago, in the beginning of November. Outside from the field where it was slowly-slowly ripening. Oh how delicious it was!
I'm rather picky when it comes to apples. Basically, there's only one variety I love to sink my teeth into, just like that, plain, right off the tree. The golden liivi kuldrenett. With the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity, it's crisp, fresh and juicy with a thin unnoticeable skin - it ticks all the right boxes. When it reaches that absolute state of ripeness, it becomes partly translucent, like glass candy.
It's been lurking in the back of my mind for a while to bake apples encased in pastry.
For baking, use any firm apple with a slight tang.
Apple bombes aka pastry apples
4 firm apples, with a diameter of about 10cm
4 tsp sweetened blackcurrant puree
1 egg, divided
20g sugar, plus extra
vanilla extract or powder
175g butter, in small cubes
1/4 tsp salt
80ml cold water
Start with the pastry. Sieve flour into a bowl of a food processor, add butter and salt. Whiz until coarse crumbs form. You can use a bowl and a fork instead if you don't have the machinery. Now start adding the water until the dough comes together, no more. Knead into a ball, divide in two and wrap in cling film and place in the refrigerator to chill.
Next prepare the pastry cream. Take the egg yolk (reserve the white for brushing) and whisk with 20g sugar and vanilla. Sieve in the flour. Mix well. Heat that dash of milk in a microwave until hot and pour over the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Tip it into a small saucepan and cook the mixture over a medium-low heat until thickened. It should bubble for a few minutes. Cover and let cool.
Wash and peel the apples. Remove the cores from the tail side without cutting all the way through, sort of like carving holes in the apples. Make sure to remove all the nasty bits. Fill the cavities with marzipan, pastry cream and blackcurrant puree.
Mix the egg white with a bit of extra sugar.
Start rolling out the pastry, one half at a time, into a long rectangle, about 3mm thin. The rectangle should be about 40cm long and 30cm wide. Cut it in half lengthways, creating two slender strips of dough. Wrap a strip of dough around each apple, trimming the excess and brushing all the edges and overlapping parts with egg white. Now pick up all the excess bits of dough, rolling again if necessary, and cut out leaves and stalks for the apples. Brush with egg white before applying. Lastly, brush the bombes with egg white for even colouring and place on a baking tray.
Bake at 210ºC for 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 170ºC and bake until the apples have softened and the bombes look crisp and golden.