Ok, who took my week away and what have you done with it? Is it just me or do the days seem as if they’re getting shorter? Oh wait, they are! (In our hemisphere anyway :) )
Thanks for visiting while I was away camping. We had a great time (thanks for asking), and I had a chance to play with a couple of new toys.
And the tripod.
Remember the cake baking attempt the last time we went camping? We thought perhaps lifting the base of the camp oven off the coals might help prevent charcoalisation.
Instead of cake though, I attempted an apple pie this time. Shortcrust pastry seems to scare many cooks, but it’s really not as difficult as it sounds. Take it from me, if I can make it from scratch while camping, you can definitely do it in your home kitchen. The key things to remember when making pastry is to use a light touch, and to chill, chill, chill.
And once you get a taste of home-made shortcrust pastry, it’s pretty hard to go back to storebought.
Let’s take a look at how it went:
First, the ingredients: Sometimes I use a proper recipe, and sometimes I just wing it. Most of the time, the ratio of flour and butter that I use is just under 1 part butter to one part flour. This makes quite a short and crumbly pastry. For an easier to handle pastry, use more flour. Check out this Gourmet Traveller link for more information and a basic pastry recipe.
This time I used 1 1/4 cup plain flour, 100g butter, pinch of salt, 1/8 cup water and grated rind of 1/4 lemon - optional (can also be varied by using a spice such as ground cinnamon to flavour). (I didn't have any scales, I just used the markings on the butter paper to cut the right amount).
Chop the butter into small cubes, then cut it into the flour.
When the butter is about pea-sized, start "rubbing-in". This means gathering the flour and little bits of butter between the fingertips (fingertips only), and letting them fall through, rubbing lightly as you go. Do not be tempted to squish the bits of butter or grab the flour in your palms. Keep rubbing in until the flour resembles breadcrumbs. Don't worry if one or two little bits of butter remain. The rubbing-in process does take quite a long time.
When it looks like this, slowly add the water and stir with a spatula or flat blade of a knife until it starts coming together.
Gently knead the dough together. I try to handle it as little as possible at this point. When it looks sort of clumpy together, I tip it onto a piece of plastic wrap and pat it into a disc, then wrap it up.
If you have a fridge, stick it in there to chill for at least 15 minutes. If you are camping, stick it on ice, grab a drink while you're at it :).
After chilling, roll out the pastry to required thickness. If camping, use makeshift rolling pin.
Press into tart pan, prick base with fork. Chill again, for about 15 minutes. Sometimes, pastry cases are baked blind, but in this case I filled everything up and baked it.
In go the cooled, stewed apples. I used 3 apples (2 granny smith, 1 royal gala), 3 tbsp of sugar, and a squeeze of lemon juice. This does give the tart a bit of a , ehem, tart finish, but we like things a little sour over here at the Skewer place. Leave out the lemon if you prefer it sweet.
Decorate the top. Hard to do well with limited tools :)
Bake as long as it takes to get a golden crust.
Voila, an apple pie. A bit burnt at the bottom, but very highly edible. Next time I think I need to line the camp oven with something to stop the direct, high heat from burning the bottom of things.
(Just scrape it off, it'll be fine)
What it really needed was a scoop of ice-cream but I still haven’t worked out how to do that bit yet :) (Actually, we carted the leftovers home and ate it with ice-cream, and it certainly lived up to expectations).
Have a great weekend.
Ps - to those who asked about the mole, here's a pic of it. Not sure if I'll do a post about it, since I'm not sure if it was very authentic as I had to do a lot of substitutions. It was very tasty though.