Cheat’s Cookery

Today I spontaneously decided to bake. You know how it is, you get nice new jars to put things away tidily in the cupboard, but the dry ingredient cupboard is already full! You must get rid of some of the packets and bags of random ingredients that accumulate over time. So, a cunning plan forms…

My main ingredient had to be apple, as I had a baking apple in the bowl that has been hanging around for a little while, and yet another jar of apple puree that needed to be disposed of. This made me think of apple turnovers, which immediately suggested to me the packet mix of puff pastry that I had bought some months ago, on a whim, purely because it was reduced to just a few pence at the supermarket.

So off I went. I thought I’d test out a mix of turnovers, apple tarts and random apple pastry creations. I put the requisite amount of water in the puff pastry mix. I had my doubts about it, hence why it has not already been used. The packet requires you to roll in the layers yourself, by rolling it out, folding it up in thirds and then rerolling. I dutifully did this several times, stuck the oven on to heat and go on with my improvised filling.

I put a few spoonfuls of apple puree in a bowl, added a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg, then finely chopped my peeled half of bramley apple and added the pieces. Noticing that my apple puree was unsweetened, I added have a teaspoon of splenda, to give sweetness but without bumping up the calories (probably a bit late for that, but there you go). Then I put together all my sweet treats, topped the turnovers with a fake egg spray (another wonder cheat ingredient) and threw a small pinch of caster sugar over the lot for that crunchy top.

And it all came out pretty well! I think perhaps I would have benefited from sweetening the pastry and perhaps I should have rolled a few more layers in it. The pastry was nice and light and quite flaky, but certainly didn’t have that proper puff pastry rise to it. The egg spray worked well, but seemed to brown at a slightly quicker rate than I would have liked for my pastry to cook thoroughly. The filling is tasty, but not too sweet. All in all, a success. Now I just need to find people to give the apple food away to so I don’t eat it all…

Finally, I must confess that in reality, the real reason for baking today was that I got a shiny new, big glass bowl for baking in. A proper one, like what Delia has. And I hadn’t used it yet. Using up ingredients in the cupboard was just to make me feel better about randomly making sweet food.


Bestselling author and freelance drinks writer. Champion of pubs and breweries. Occasional printmaker.

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