Brrrr. Autumn has definitely arrived. In fact, I think winter might be knocking on the door. I swear I saw a snowflake the other day. I might have flipped it off (my apologies if you thought I was randomly providing you with a one-finger salute). The good news is, with all of the wind we’ve had lately, all of the fallen leaves in our yard have conveniently relocated to our neighbors’ yards. Hooray for reduced yard work! As Mother Nature wails outside and the wind howls and whistles through our windows (very energy efficient, let me tell you), I want nothing more than warm, comforting foods. It is this time of year when I start to put the kitchen to work as a furnace, warming our house and filling the air with the scents of slowly braised meats, bubbling pots of slow simmered sauces, and spicy notes of cinnamon and baking apples.
Apples abound at the grocery stores and at the last farmer’s markets of the season. I had grandiose plans for traipsing around an apple orchard, but bathroom projects galore have prevented me from doing so (or trying to talk B into going). With the cold weather expected this weekend, I think my fingers and toes will thank me if I pluck my apples from the grocery store shelves instead of from the trees blowing in the brisk wind. But no matter where the apples come from, my plans for them remain the same. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and sugar. I was looking for the comfort of apple pie, but with a ceiling to paint, a floor to seal, and a whole house to clean once this project is finally in the books, I needed to find a way to get the same flavors without all of the fuss.
I’ll be the first to admit that I really dislike making pie dough. I’m not terribly good at it, nor am I very good about rolling out nice even circles. So that was out the door. I do like puff pastry though. It’s not very hard to go wrong with butter-laden dough that puffs into golden brown airy layers. But to take advantage of those flaky layers, I needed to get the apples into small enough pieces to blend them into the dough fairly seamlessly once cooked. Enter the vegetable peeler. I’ll admit, I’m pretty proud of this idea. Slicing the apple into long, thin strips using a vegetable peeler lets all of the apple flavor shine through the pastry without thick chunks of apple distorting the flaky dough. Toot, toot! (Yup, that was me and my horn!)
Call them palmiers, elephant ears, pinwheels or tarts. In the end, they taste like apple pie regardless of the name. Warm and spicy cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove dance with the apple in the heat of the oven, filling your home with the smells of fall. I’ll take that over an “Autumn Spice” or what-have-you candle any day. Plus, you can’t eat a candle. At least you shouldn’t. It’s apple pie in half the time and at half the cost. And I bet you can’t eat just one.
apple pie palmiers
recipe: jb’s pour house
1 baking apple, such as pink lady
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
1/16 tsp. ground cloves
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed overnight in refrigerator (reserve other sheet for additional use)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Remove peel from apple and continue to shave apple lengthwise into long thin strips using a vegetable peeler. Place apple strips in a medium mixing bowl and toss gently with sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Set aside.
Lightly dust a working surface with flour. Unfold puff pastry sheet and place on working surface with seams running lengthwise. Lightly flour dough and rolling pin. Roll dough out to an approximately 12” x 18” rectangle. Slice in half lengthwise. Take about half of the apple mixture and lay across one puff pastry rectangle in an even layer, leaving about ¼” around all sides. Starting at a long end, gently roll pastry jellyroll style, tucking apple slices as needed. When nearly to the opposite edge, dip finger in water and lightly brush edge of exposed dough. Roll the pastry cylinder on top of the exposed edge to seal. Slice pastry cylinder into about ½” pieces and place cut-side up about 1” apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and apple mixture.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until dough has puffed and is golden brown. Let cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Enjoy apple season!
All content and photographs © 2010 jb’s pour house