This is the time of the year when I love baking more than ever. I hear the Earth telling me, “Hey you guys, it’s autumn! You must bake!” I don’t how much time Jane Austen spent in her kitchen making pies, but she once said in a letter, “Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness.” I couldn’t agree with her more!
Even better than simply slaving away in the kitchen, autumn provides many ways to enjoy your pie-baking weekend with friends or family. Miss Ball, Miss Tarango, and I went apple picking in Sebastopol yesterday (with some wine tasting and found-art viewing thrown in). And today we had an apple baking extravaganza. The menu: apple cake (from Smitten Kitchen), apple pie, and apple puffs (from The Jane Austen Cookbook).
(Adapted from The Jane Austen Cookbook by Maggie Black and Deirdre Le Faye)
12 oz–1 lb cooking apples
1 tsp grated lemon peel
1 Tbsp orange marmalade
2 Tbsp brown sugar (more or less to your desired sweetness)
8 oz puff pastry
sugar for sprinkling
1. Peel, core, and slice the apples. Stew them in a little water until tender. (I have no idea what it means to stew. I simply let the water heat up and then let the apples simmer.) Drain well and reserve the cooking juice. Allow to cool. Put the cooked apple pulp in a bowl and mix in the lemon zest and marmalade (and cinnamon, if you like). Add the brown sugar.
2. Heat the oven to 425°. Grease and flour a baking sheet lightly, or cover baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Cut the puff pastry into 4-inch squares. Divide the apple purée between the squares. Fold the pastry over diagonally to make turnovers, or fold the pastry horizontally to make rectangular pockets. Pinch the ends of the pastry to seal. (Alternately, what I ended up doing—mostly out of sheer laziness—press the square of pastry into a muffin tin, add apples, and add a bit of pastry cut into fun shapes for decoration.)
4. Brush the pastry lightly with the reserved apple juice and sprinkle with sugar.
5. Bake the puffs on the baking sheet for about 20 minutes. Serve warm, topped with a little extra marmalade or vanilla ice cream.