It’s Friday evening and I for one am seeking refuge from this cold Autumn night with a cup of hot tea and a weekend’s reading worth of holiday magazines. But wait. Something is missing.
Is it chocolate? No, I have that.
Is it my favourite blankie? No, I have that.
Is it Daniel Craig? Just kidding … I don’t have that … wish I did, though.
Ah, yes. I know what it is.
I don’t have anything sweet.
But this is not a problem. I shall remedy that with a delicious apple pastis based on a recipe I found at www.epicurious.com. Warm and spicy, it goes perfectly with my tea. So I shall spend my evening drinking tea, eating apple pastis and dreaming about my 13-course holiday dinner with Daniel Craig.
Have un bon weekend!
- 1 cup, sliced blanched almonds (you can toast them if you like, but I don’t)
- 3-1/2 to 4 pounds apples (between 8 and 10 depending on size), peeled, cored and cut into thick slices (I used Gala apples as in the original recipe.)
- 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup icing sugar
- 10 phyllo sheets, thawed (I used a standard package of phyllo. The sheets were about 17 x 12 inches)
- Place a rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.
- Combine the apples, the lemon juice and 1 tsp. of the cinnamon. Set aside.
- In a large pan, combine 1 tbsp. of the butter, the honey and granulated sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring often until the sugar has dissolved.
- Raise the heat to medium-high and continue cooking for 5 to 6 minutes until the mixture reduces slightly and turns a golden colour (be careful not to burn the mixture).
- Add the apples. The mixture may harden slightly but don’t worry, it will melt again. Over medium heat, cook the apples for about 10 minutes until they are tender. Drain the apples and place in a bowl to cool for about 20 minutes. (Note: The original recipe directs you to make a caramel glaze with the reserved liquid, but the first time I made this I found that it didn’t work very well so I no longer make the caramel glaze. Instead I reserve the liquid and add a teaspoon or two to flavour my tea. It’s very good!)
- After the apples have cooled a bit, add the sliced almonds, reserving a few tablespoonfuls for the top of the pastis.
- Brush a 9-inch springform pan with a bit of the melted butter (bottom and sides).
- Mix together the 1/2 cup of icing sugar and the remaining 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
- Take one sheet of phyllo, brush with butter, and line the bottom of the springform pan with the phyllo. The edges of the phyllo will come up the sides of the pan and hang over slightly. (When working with phyllo, be sure to cover the unused phyllo with a damp cloth to prevent it from drying out.)
- Sift a bit of the cinnamon sugar over the sheet of phyllo.
- Brush a second sheet of phyllo with butter and lay it over the first sheet, turning the pan slightly before putting in the phyllo layer. Sift a bit more of the cinnamon sugar on the second sheet.
- Repeat with 7 more sheets of phyllo, making sure to brush each sheet with butter and turn the pan slightly each time you are about to lay in a sheet. And don’t forget to dust each layer with some cinnamon sugar.
- Once you’ve layered in the 9th sheet, take your cooled apples and pour them in the centre of the pan. With a spoon, even out the apples.
- Grasping the edges of the overhanging phyllo sheets, pull them all in towards the centre of the pan. They should cover the apples.
- Brush your last sheet of phyllo with butter and place it on top of the pastis. Scrunch it up slightly for effect. Brush again with butter and sprinkle on the reserved sliced almonds. Sift some of the cinnamon sugar over the almonds.
- Bake the pastis for 30 minutes. It should be golden and you should be able to smell the apples.
- Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F. and bake for an additional 10 minutes. The pastis will be deeply golden.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. Once cool, carefully remove the springform ring and bottom.
- Before serving, dust with any remaining cinnamon sugar.