Thursday, October 21, 2010
It would have been extremely rude to complain about a country that has been my home for the past fourteen years, and has been nothing but friendly to me but, especially in this season, I have one pet peeve about America--APPLES!.
I just cannot understand how on such an enormous continent it is impossible to get a good quality apples that are suitable for cooking. In Europe we have probably hundreds of different apples, which are excellent to be eaten raw, but we also grow apples that are destined exclusively for cooking. They usually are stronger in taste, more or less juicy depending on the dish they are used for, more sour and having this specific winy taste that you can always find under the sweetness of added sugar in all kinds of tarts, preserves, and desserts.
Some would consider Granny Smith cooking apples, but in my opinion they are not and I am sure that my European readers understand exactly what I mean. Granny Smith lacks this natural tartness and does not soften desirably during cooking. It is just another version of the same apple on the supermarket shelve, and not the one unique in taste, like those from my family's backyard orchard.
During my recent visit to Poland I saw a recipe for apple half moons (or "apple kisses" as they are called back home), which my grandmother used to make when I was a child; every Friday or Saturday evening she was baking something sweet for Sunday. I used to help her making the yeast dough for them and when I saw the recipe for them in a cooking magazine, I realized how much I missed them with their smell filling my grandma's kitchen adding to its warmth and comfort.
My grandmother was a master of all kinds of cakes and pies. I have learned from her all of them, except for those that were based on yeast, which I still cannot get to be as light and fluffy as they should be. But this recipe is fairly easy as it is half butter and half yeast dough. I made with them with Granny Smith apples but any of the European cooking apples would be better.
Apple Half Moons
2 sticks butter,
2 and 1/2 cup flour,
1 egg and 1 yolk,
1 sachet dried yeasts,
1 tbsp sugar,
a pinch of salt,
3 sour cooking apples,
1 tbsp butter for the baking tin,
confectioners sugar and cinnamon for taste.
To make the dough:
1. Place butter and flour in a big bowl.
2. Using knife or hands make small crumbles.
3. In a smaller bowl or a measuring cup mix eggs, sugar, yeast, and sour cream.
4. Add egg mixture to the flour and butter crumbles and make a smooth dough.
5. Wrap in foil and chill for at least one hour or over night.
To make the half moons:
1. Heat up the oven to 350 F.
2. Peel off the apples, remove the cores and cut apple in 1/2 inch quarters-about 10-12 per apple.
3. Roll out the dough--it should be 1/4 inch thick.
4. Using a cookie cutter cut out circles that have about 3-4 inches in diameter.
5. Place a quarter of apple on each circle, fold the circle to cover the apple and place on a buttered baking tin.
6. Using a brush paint each half moon with egg white.
7. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until gold.
8. Serve them still warm or cold dusted generously with icing sugar and cinnamon.
My apple half moons came out pretty good, but the apple slices did not soften, as much as Polish cooking apples would have. If you try this recipe and find a suitable kind of apples, please share it with me, as I still dream about the perfect ones.