Bake along with ESB : My French Recreation

Updated: Feb 1

Hello everyone!

I hope you are all well and enjoyed my latest post about my visit to the Biscuiteer’s Shop and Icing Café. I really enjoyed the experience and if you want to hear what I thought about my visit, click here.

As I said a couple of posts ago, I am going to attempt to recreate one of the my favourite pastries, Chausson aux Pommes, a sort of French apple turnover. If you haven’t read about my adventures in France yet, you can catch up with them on my front page. Chausson means a turnover but also a slipper or bootee. I rather like the idea of an apple filled slipper and it definitely gets you in the right frame of mind for a soft pillowy comforting pastry!

Having taken my time to get around to making one myself, this week I started my research. In this situation, Google becomes your best friend as you can flick through various recipes to find the one that sounds closest to what you want to try to recreate. The joy of the internet is finding other bloggers or food writers who have done some of the work for you. I found two brilliant blogs – La Petite Paniere and Butter Baking – who had the two recipes most like I had imagined. I highly recommend both their blogs as they are full of inspiring recipes and beautiful photos.

And so, armed with recipes and all the ingredients, I set to work. In this blog, come along with me as I attempt one of my favourite pastries with my thoughts about how it goes and photos to tell the story.

To put you in the French mood, I have recorded a new song which you can hear here or click on the track below. It is written by Gabriel Faure (one of my favourite French composers) and based on a poem written by Victor Hugo (one of my favourite French writers.) It is called Le Papillion et la Fleur (The Butterfly and The Flower) and to read the lyrics and translation go to the Soundcloud track description.

Now without further ado, here’s how I got on….

ESB’s French Recreation : Chausson aux Pommes

Ingredients I used

For the filling

2 huge Bramley apples

2 1/2 to 3 tbsps. of soft brown sugar

A mug of water

2 cloves

A sprinkle of cinnamon

(additional sprinkle of caster sugar to taste)

For the pastry

A shop bought pack of ready rolled puff pastry (I used Sainsburys own brand)

An egg yolk

Equipment I used

A big casserole

A sieve

A big bowl

A tablespoon

A rolling pin

A sharp knife

A smaller bowl or round template

A fork

A pastry brush

And a baking tray lined with baking paper

What I did

Having got to grips with the basics of the recipes I had read, my first goal was to create a smooth silky apple filling. Some other recipes for Chausson aux Pommes use apples in slices or cubes in their fillings, but the pastry filling I remembered was like a puree. Having found from one of my chosen recipes, that apple sauce was a simple option,  I started with a recipe that our family often use as a yogurt topping.

I cut up two very large Bramley apples into big chunks without peeling, coring or seeding them. Then, I put them in the casserole with the water, sugar and spices. I turned on the heat and brought the mix to a simmer and waited for them to break down. The apples, I discovered, took forever to soften. They take about half an hour, so if I did this recipe again I wouldn’t sit watching it bubble away, but turn the heat down and wait for them to become mushy. Having done all the jobs I could do, from lining the baking tray to wiping down the top, I sat and watched the apples break up and become a volcano-like bubbling green liquid. (This might be a good moment to listen to a song or two….) When it had completely broken up, I took it off the heat and put it through a sieve to make it very smooth and take out any skin or seeds that you didn’t want in the final filling. Having pushed as much as I could through the sieve, I left it to cool while I turned my attention to pastry.

I went down the quick and easy route here, using ready rolled puff pastry but rolled it a bit more to make it slightly thinner. Having rolled it out, I found a bowl template and cut around it to make a circle, and then slightly curved the corners with a knife to make it more of an oval shape, as I had read that the pastries are more oval than round.

Before putting it all together, I tasted the cooled apple mix and sprinkled in another spoon of sugar as it wasn’t quite sweet enough. Component parts ready and raring to go, I assembled the Chausson aux Pommes. I put a big spoonful of apple filling into the middle of each round of pastry and then brushed around the edges with sprinkle of water as you can see from the photos above. Then, I folded the pastry in half to seal in the filling, crimped the edges with a fork, before moving the assembled pastries gently to the waiting baking trays. The pastries are very delicate so I took my time. I brushed them with egg yolk, for a deep shine, and put four lines in the top of each before putting them in the oven.

After baking for  25 to 30 minutes at 180’C, I took them out of the oven and was very pleased with the result. They looked very burnished, like shiny conkers and although the filling had spilled out, they looked very delicious. The moment of truth was the taste test. I thought it was a very close replica of the one I had eaten in France, as the deliciously sweet filling was the same texture, but also piping hot,  so very easy to burn your mouth on! The pastry worked well but I think using a block of pastry would make a bigger rise so that’s something to try next time. Overall, I was delighted with the finished result and hope to make it again in the future.

I hope you enjoyed this chatty recipe and my thoughts and ideas on this scrumptious French pastry. It was a fun experiment and I enjoyed the whole process. If you liked this post, comment on this post and tell me whether you would like to see more like this.

Thank you for coming by. I hope you will join me for another ESB post in a couple weeks but in the meantime,

Happy Baking!

English Singing Baker x

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