So, in the immortal words of the Sound of Music, let’s start from the very beginning, a very good place to start!
My first alphabetical cooking challenge is one that I have been wanting to try since I first saw the idea on Tip Hero (if you haven’t ever checked out Tip Hero it’s brilliant, you can follow the group on Facebook and voilà, your news feed is full of weird and wonderful tips, hints, and tricks to try at home)
Now Tip Hero made Apple Roses seem simple but effective… and in many respects they are. Not many ingredients, not many instructions, not many problems right? Uhhh sort of… anyway I’m getting ahead of myself.
Firstly the ingredients:
(NB… other supermarkets and brands and what not are available ahem)
4 apples (leave skins on)
Lemon juice (half a lemon/ 1 small lemon would do)
3 tbsp fruit preserve (aka favourite jam)
2 tbsp water to mix with jam (plus more to soak apples in)
1 sheet of puff pastry (pre-rolled just makes life simpler)
Cinnamon (if you want it)
Icing sugar to hide the burnt bits… I mean uhh give a nice decorative dusting to your roses
I actually found that 3 apples were more than enough for the size of my pastry etc, and that 3 tbsp of jam seemed a bit excessive (although it was only at the end that I realised that I probably was meant to use ALL the jam mixture on the pastry and not be a stingy so-and-so as the jam would definitely help with sweetness!) but otherwise not much tweaking required.
Once you have your ingredients in place, the fun really begins. The video below is a great simple demonstration of what you SHOULD do…
Here is also the link to Tip Hero’s very clear instructions as to how to make the roses if you’re interested in trying it out for yourself:
Of course things are never quite as simple…
After starting to pre-heat the oven to 190C, the first step is to core and half the apples ready to be sliced thinly (as demonstrated in the video). Tip number one GET AN APPLE CORER. I failed miserably at coring the apple just with a knife… which is how I learnt that 3 apples were more than enough (which is lucky as I destroyed the other one…)
Step two was a little easier… place apples in microwavable bowl. Check. Squeeze lemon juice over apple slices. Check. Fill bowl with water until all apple slices are submerged. Check. Microwave on full power for three minutes… ummm it wasn’t my microwave and for some reason it decided to try and defrost the apples rather than work on full power so my ‘soften the apples’ technique was not as successful as it should have been! So tip number two MAKE SURE MICROWAVE IS ON CORRECT SETTING. I didn’t realise until I was trying to fold up my first rose…
Steps three and four went without a hitch, unroll pre-rolled puff pastry, cut it into 6 strips and voilà, pastry prepped for apple rose construction. Mixing the jam and water and spreading it on the pastry was also easy, lulling me into a false sense of domestic goddess security. Even layering the apples, sprinkling on some cinnamon and folding the pastry over on to the apples posed little challenge.
Now remember how I had said that the microwave was not on the correct setting and so the apples had not softened as they should have? Well it all became abundantly clear to me as to why softening the apples is such a key step when I came to the next stage…
Here is what a rolled up rose should look like:
Here’s my first attempt (with un-softened apples)…
Nailed it! Ahem. So, uhh, yeah, if your apples aren’t soft enough they break all the pastry and create what can only be described as an apple cactus…
After re-microwaving the apples, the next roses were slightly more successful at which point I bunged them in the oven for 30-40 minutes and vowed to keep an eye on them. I then promptly forgot what time I’d put them in, remembered half way through cooking that I hadn’t greased the tin so there was every chance that they wouldn’t come out of the tin even if I had baked them properly, and felt the domestic goddess security ebb away. Luckily my gorgeous guinea pig of the week (my lucky boyfriend Sam who is probably going to be ‘treated’ to the fruits of my challenge most weekends) was on hand to save the day, remembering what time I had put them in, giving me a reassuring pat on the back, and making appropriate “mmm they smell nice” comments every time I opened the oven to check on the beasts.
In the end, the roses only caught ever so slightly (although the pastry could have done with a bit more time, probably not helped by the fact that I kept opening and closing the oven door every 30 seconds) But at least they all made it out of the tin in one piece, so for a first attempt they turned out better than I had expected…
A bit of icing sugar sprinkling later, they looked (almost) good enough to eat. My guinea pig and I settled down with an apple rose each and a nice cup of tea to enjoy the last part of our afternoon together before I flew back to Edinburgh.
All in all, not a bad start to Alphabetti Kitchen’s culinary escapades!
Next week, B is for… bagels! (I hope)
Oh by the way, feel free to comment below of any suggestions you may have for letters in future weeks. Some letters have already been snapped up with requests/ideas, but I’m always open to suggestions (as long as it won’t cost the earth to get the ingredients, I am a student after all!)
Happy Monday to all!