Saturday, 3 April 2010

The trials of Raymond Blanc's Apple Croustade

We had planned to have a leg of lamb for lunch on Easter Sunday. So was vaguely planning to make a bit of effort. Out of the blue we got an email from a cousin of Him Outdoors that we have seen only occasionally who is in the area and is now joining us for lunch. Co-incidentally we saw Raymond Blanc cooking Apple Croustade on the television and waxing lyrical about how you must try it (the best pudding ever), it only takes 2 days to cook! Well what else are we doing this horrible dull weather. Here goes.

First challenge is to find the recipe on line and print it off. Fight temperamental printer. Only one new printer cartridge to find.
Careful study of the recipe reveals that there are two occasions when you have to leave the pastry overnight so how does that make 2 days. But that's ok, we are ahead of ourselves.
Serve with honey and ginger icecream. Lets admit defeat here and serve with good vanilla. We could put some stem ginger in syrup on the top.
But we can make the apple sauce. Well, we could if we'd got the apples. M Blanc says Coxes Orange Pippins - bet votre mere didn't use them when she made it M Blanc. All going well until 'transfer the mixture to a food processor and blend'. Oh no it's all leaking out the bottom. Help........ Aaaaah so that new gasket wasn't entirely successful then. Hand held thingy will do. It's a bit runny and we haven't got one of those cheffy squirty bottles but never mind.
Its going to need clarified butter. Vaguely remember that but better check. Potter about melting. Umm muslin. Used to have some of that in the attic. Move box of photos and spend half an hour browsing. Find muslin but it's holes are too big, decide to use the kitchen roll I first thought of.
Day 2. Make the pastry.Two eggs umm but we only have bantams'. How many of those to a normal egg? Out with the scales. Then M Blanc does all the kneading in a Kenwood Chef with a dough hook. Have the Chef but not the dough hook. Diversion via ebay to put in a bid for a dough hook even though there is no chance that such a thing will be available by Day 3! Immediately outbid, don't really knead (!) one. Ten minutes kneading is fine. Quick check on iPlayer to check that I'd done it right. Only to find that the timings of kneading and leaving were different anyway. Oh well bung it in the fridge 'overnight' and think about it tomorrow.

Day 3. Oh no, it needs 4 hours to come to room temperature before we can stretch the dough. It's already ten o'clock and the room is freezing, I don't think that's 'room temperature'. OK light fire, put pastry near.

Him Outdoors has decided that making the apple rosace bit is his job. Must be the use of tools and the Calvados. (Need 1 1/2 tsps so have to have a bottle.) Where's the apple corer? What apple corer, we've got a thing that chops apples into segments will that do? Quick trip to the shed to find a tool to loosen the screws of the mandolin to make the slices thinner, and moan about the general state of the tool. After a fairly steep learning curve they are all beautifully aranged and in the oven. Bravo.

Oh no, it says 40 minutes at 200C and after 20 minutes they are soft but burning not 'caramelised'. Umm put them back at a lower temperature with some sugar sprinkled on and hope. All ok. Getting more like M Blanc's as they cool.

Now for the pastry. They did it over a cushion big enough to spread the pastry on. First find your cushion. After a lot of pulling and stretching and making holes we end up with a nearly big enough square. No way are they going to make crusty baskets. Leave to dry the butter/sugar misture you have to paint them with and manage to make some fairly lumpy baskets.

Leave to dry for another 24 hours. Then after an already boozey lunch, try and assemble calmly in our open plan kitchen, next to waiting guests.
Et voila!!

By the end of it, we were bored with the whole thing. It tasted ok and next time will be much better but not sure it's up there with 'best pudding ever times ten'. Ho hum, definitely not my sort of cooking. Much prefer 'mix together in ten minutes, bung in the fridge and serve as required'. Trouble is need more than chocolate brandy cake and lemon crunch which everyone seems to have had often!


  1. I have to agree - way way too fiddly. Try Pavlova with berries sometime - quite easy but very impressive ....and delicious. :)

  2. Oh yes, I'd forgotten that one and it sits in the freezer til you want it - if you don't smash it with something frozen :-)

  3. hahah well PRETTY certain I'll never be making that ;-)

  4. Blimey, that sounds like a marathon cooking session....I'm not sure I could be bothered with all that but well done with the perseverance!!

    C x

  5. Oh, how reconisable!
    The hours I have spent with cookery books that don't work for me.
    Oddly enough, Gordon Ramsey always works..most of his ingredients are available and his instructions are clear.