Nobody hears an apple scream…..

Had the Swiss version of apple ducking taken place in the present “caring” climate, William Tell’s son would have been whisked away by Social Services before you could say “Please, Daddy, stop firing arrows at my head”. The Swiss, with that irrepressible sense of humour for which they are so well known, preferred to call it “arrow ducking”: more precise, more funny. Precision gives the Swiss a hard on, whereas smiling or laughing just wastes time and there’s certainly no money in it. As so often happens, the sport was adopted by the good ole US of A who, with the memory of General Custer’s inept display of “arrow ducking” during the contretemps at the Little Big Horn still fresh in the common memory, Β decided to rename it “apple” ducking. As the Constitution allows, and Moses (that’s Charlton Heston) demands, that they carry assault rifles, it is now more commonly known as “apple fucking”. There is another version of the game that doesn’t involve weapons, but it’s quite dull unless someone drowns.

apple puff pastry tart

apple puff pastry tart

I recently did three things with apples that didn’t involve anyone getting hurt. The apples didn’t like it, but nobody hears an apple scream. ( Is that a good name for an apple dish, or is that a good name?) This is the simplest of apple confections on a puff pastry base. What makes it so delicious, if not handsome, is the cooking of the apples before they find their way on to the pastry. Sweet apples are peeled, cored and sliced before being slowly cooked in a great deal of butter. Several heaped tablespoons of dense, dark sucre vergeoise are added, followed by a good teaspoon of vanilla paste. This mixture bubbles on a low heat until the apples have softened, at which time the heat is turned up until the sauce reduces t0 a stickiness and the apples start to catch. The apples are then put on the pastry base and cooked for 25 in an oven at 190C.

baked Granny Smiths with molasses

baked Granny Smiths with molasses

Baked apples in my experience have on occasion, on quite a few occasions, been a dreadful let down. They’ve looked the part, but not tasted as good as the tart.These apples were traditional large, green, Granny Smiths: the ne ultra plus of apples for baking. On this occasion they were cored, and stuffed with sultanas, raisins, walnuts and tamped down, like naval cannons, with crumbly demerara sugar. A bag of hardened molasses, reminiscent of a bag of concrete that had been left out in the rain, was beaten into pieces and the shards and lumps showered over the tightly packed apples. More molasses were melted and poured over the waiting fruit, I think, and maybe some other ingredients, but that’s all in the past. I do remember cooking them for a good 50 mins in an oven at 190C. They were unbelievably good with some Ginger Pig Vanilla ice cream which my son, Sam, had wisely invested in.

apple crumble

apple crumble

Finally there’s a simple apple crumble. I made this from an often used recipe in Caroline Conran’s 70’s classic “Poor Cook”. I still treasure a battered copy of this gem on my book shelves, and never was a book more appositely crumble recipe_poor_cookI made my crumble with dessert apples, as I didn’t have any Granny Smiths, or should it be Mamet Smiths, as we’re in France. Β When you have prepared the dry ingredient mix for the topping, it is worth splashing on some drops of cold water and mixing it in with a spoon. This creates lumps in the mix that are delicious when cooked.

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
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54 Responses to Nobody hears an apple scream…..

  1. Sinclair 3168 says:

    Looks scrumptious… I’ve eaten it all in my mind already, including ginger pig.

  2. Mad Dog says:

    Someone should have told Mrs. Burroughs about apple ducking!
    Three great recipes – we are being spoiled today πŸ˜‰

  3. Those baked apples look marvelous! You’re forgiven the snide comments about the US of A πŸ™‚

  4. I will have to make the crumble for my dad, Roger. It sounds very like one he liked at a French restaurant. I still do not know how we wrangled him into that establishment, but thank God for that apple dish.

  5. Thank you for these funny and tasty recipes!

  6. Ha! That’s a terrifying thought….”an apple scream”….

  7. brambleoak says:

    Absolutely drooling over the Apple Puff Pastry Tart!

  8. You…
    *tummy rumbles involuntarily*

  9. Eha says:

    That statement about the precision of the Swiss will keep a smile on my face all day; the mention of the Gun Lobby in the US kind’of removes it! Thank God I live Down Under where two of our erstwhile Olympians were sent home early from the Games for just visiting a SF gunshop and putting it briefly on Facebook! Slight overreaction but it sure made a point!!

    • I just can’t understand how the Gun Lobby has so much sway. Correction . I can, sadly, understand how the Gun Lobby has so much sway, I just can’t believe it.

      • Eha says:

        We had our Prime Minister on a rather important TV panel show with a large group of high school students from all over NSW last week: this came up again and again – one of her thoughts was that it had to do with lack of compulsory voting [We have certainly always had it! Nobody minds!]. Because so many of the midstream did not bother to vote, groups with strong agendas had a chance to make themselves heard???

      • I think there’s a lot of truth in that, but it doesn’t explain how a Western nation, with huge advantages, can allow such self inflicted mayhem to continue.

  10. Tandy says:

    Thanks for the crumble tip. Last week I made an apple tart following a recipe from a very expensive book. It was a dismal failure! Yours looks amazing πŸ™‚

  11. Brillaint, brillaint and what a great title! Loved the name of the ice cream too and now I know I need to make a tarte tatin at the weekend…

  12. Really, it’s hard to beat any of these three – especially as no apples were killed int he process πŸ™‚

  13. Maxine Clark says:

    Apple DOOKIN here in Scottieland!! LOVE Poor Cook too….mx

  14. fransiweinstein says:

    My mouth is watering!

  15. Apricot rather than apple for me, every time. And I have that same edition of Poor Cook…..somewhere among my old cookery books!

  16. Gotta’ love a post with the words “apple scream” and “Ginger Pig.”
    That tart looks insanely good!

  17. Karen says:

    Our apple trees are blooming now. Five months from now I’ll be trying your apple dishes…especially the puff pastry tart.

  18. ChgoJohn says:

    One of our satirical “news” papers announced Heston’s death with the headline: “Charlton Heston’s Gun Taken From His Cold, Dead Hands”.
    All 3 dishes look so very good, Roger, but I’ll be making that crumble, no doubt. Thanks for posting the recipe.

  19. Well, I can’t top John’s comment, that’s for sure. But boy do all of these look wonderfully decadent. But hey, apples are good for you.

  20. Sally says:

    Ouch! Swipe at the Swiss – very funny πŸ™‚ Apples and gun laws – that’s a new combination for a food blog post and has me reappraising all mine in a different light. I’ll be back (mental picture of Arnie with a crossbow and a sack full of Granny Smiths).

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