PLATE OF SUNSHINE RATING: Sunny spells, warm
My dear gastronauts! If it’s Saturday, it must be apple pie, or in Floyd’s case, Pompe aux Pommes. A simple French apple pie which was easy to bake and, I’m delighted to report, a success. I was nervous about the pastry falling apart and the apple being either too sweet or too sour, but the verdict was two thumbs up from Ryan, and another plate of sunshine taste of happiness. Let’s start with the recipe, from the excellent Floyd on France:
For the pastry
350g flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
175g butter, cut in pieces (I used unsalted)
For the filling
Juice of 1 lemon
5-6 apples, peeled, cored and finely sliced
5-6 tablespoons sugar
1 egg yolk, beaten
How to make it:
First make the pastry. Mix the flour, salt and butter together with your fingertips. Add enough water to make a firm but not sticky dough. Don’t handle any more than necessary. Roll into a ball and leave in the fridge for 1 hour.
Pre-heat the oven to 220C, gas mark 7.
Pour the lemon juice over the sliced apples and toss until each slice is coated.
Roll out two-third of the dough on a floured board and carefully line a pie dish with it. Arrange the apple slices on top and sprinkle on the sugar. Roll out the rest of the dough and cover the apples with it. Make sure that the edges of the pastry are well pinched together. Cut slits in the top to allow the cooking steam to escape. Paint with egg yolk.
Pop into the oven for approximately 45 minutes, until the pie is nicely browned. Allow to cool before turning out. (From Auvergne).
Now, I was a tad on the petrified side at times. It felt like an age before the pastry began to feel “firm but not sticky”, but when it did switch from lumpy goo to firm it happened quite instantly, and I could shape my ball of dough without any problem. Unfortunately, the rolling pin we have here is Ikea crap, and half of it is covered in splinters, so when it came to rolling the dough out, I was using one half of the pin and a lot of patience.
Apple peeling, coring and slicing is a surprisingly therapeutic discipline which I recommend for those in need of relaxation. This isn’t a British or American apple pie with large chunks and oozing apple sauce; it’s very finely sliced and the only thing that is added is the sugar.
Lining the pie dish was also unnerving, as I had to make a bit of a patchwork pastry quilt to fill in the gaps which my sheet of pastry didn’t quite cover. Again, I was expecting the whole thing to crumble when it caught sight of a spoon, but fortunately the egg yolk (I didn’t have a pastry brush, hence why the baked pie looks a bit too gold in places) acts as a bit of a glue. Important, also, to cut little slits in the pastry lid to let the steam gush out.
After 45 minutes or so in the oven, I served it hot – although it can be served cold, and it tastes just as good – with a dollop of ice cream. I afforded myself that little bit of Englishness.
The taster was Ryan and his verdict was positive. He thought the pastry was full of flavour – a trait didn’t usually notice in pastry. The apple was soft and not overwhelming like a supermarket pie, perhaps due to the thin slices. Overall flavour was not too sugary, unlike the supermarket fare, but full of taste. Most exciting of all, Ryan said he’d be happy receiving that in a restaurant and slapped an 8.5 out of 10 rating on it, which means the Pompe aux Pommes receives a firm “Sunny spells, warm” in the Floydian plate of sunshine taste of happiness ratings system. I shall clarify the scale of ratings forthwith, but you get the idea – heatwave scorching summer is a top rating; torrential downpour and thunderstorms rock bottom.
So it’s onwards with my Floydian experiment. This weekend I shall return to savoury dishes – keep an eye open to find out what’s cooking.
A final word from Floyd on Auvergne: “The green mountain pastures of the Auvergne on the eastern slope of the Massif Central are famous for cheeses, among them Cantal and Bleu d’Auvergne. Regional dishes include Coq au vin, sheep’s trotters, and ham with lentils.”