Apple Roses

This summer I have been lucky enough to have been invited to two very lovely tea parties. I’m talking about the real deal here with smoked salmon sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches, lots of lovely cakes and scones, a choice of beautiful teas and a couple of cheeky glasses of champagne.  Afternoon tea is a lovely tradition, not one I have the opportunity to indulge in too often, but a lovely way to get together with friends and loved ones for a proper catch up and to enjoy some delicious food.

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The first tea party was hosted by a very dear friend Barbara as an opportunity to get together with some of her girlfriends. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon and she really pushed the boat out for us. I was particularly impressed by some little apple pies that she made which looked like beautiful, icing sugar dusted roses. She confessed they were pretty straightforward to make, so when my mum hosted a tea party too, I decided to make some for us all to share.

This post is photo heavy, and not such great photos at that, but if you decide you’d like to make these, it’s a useful “how to”.

Ingredients (to make 12 mini or 6 large pies)

  • 1 pack of all butter puff pastry (ready rolled is easier)
  • 2 large red apples
  • water
  • 2 teaspoons of apricot jam
  • a little lemon juice
  • a teaspoonful of honey or a heaped teaspoon of sugar
  • icing sugar

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C and you will need some cupcake cases to support the pies while they are baking

Start by cutting the apples in half and removing the cores. Slice fairly thinly and put all the slices into a bowl with 3 tablespoons of water, the sugar or honey and about a tablespoon of lemon juice. Mixx, cover the bowl and microwave on high for 3 minutes. You can also do this in a saucepan if you don’t want to use the microwave, simply boil the apples gently in the water, lemon and honey for about 3 minutes.

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Whichever method you use, drain the apples and leave them to cool down slightly.

Next, roll out your pastry (if it is not prerolled) into a large rectangle and cut into 6 strips (lengthways). Dust your work surface with a little icing sugar to prevent the pastry from sticking.

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Melt the jam with a teaspoon of water (microwave or saucepan).

Working with one strip of pastry at a time, brush the pastry with the melted apricot jam and lay overlapping slices of apple along the edge. Allow a little of the top of the apple slice to come over the top of the pastry strip.

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Fold the bottom half of the pastry strip upwards and press down gently.

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For large pies, roll up the whole slice (like a snail shell!), for smaller pies, cut the appe and pastry slices in two and roll up into two smaller rolls.

Put them into a cupcake case to support them and bake for about 45 minutes until the pastry is golden.

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Allow to cool and dust with icing sugar before admiring your bouquet of apples roses!

Coffee, Pear and Almond Cake

Some friends were coming over for “Merienda” which is afternoon tea in Spain, so it was a good opportunity to bake a cake. My Spanish pals do make me smile as when we get together for coffee and cakes, they always mention what a lovely English custom it is. I smile and agree, secretly thinking that I could probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of occasions I stopped for a proper afternoon tea when I lived in England. Oh well, I am certainly making up for it now.

This is a quick cake to pull together.  Sometimes it takes longer for the oven to warm up than it does for you to prepare the cake batter.

Ingredients (serves 10-12 slices)

  • One large pear, peeled, halved, quartered and then each quarter cut into three or four pieces
  • 1 ½ cups of self raising flour, ½ cup of ground almonds, a pinch of salt, a cup and a half of sugar all mixed together in a bowl
  • 3 large eggs, ½ a cup of vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon of almond essence, 2 shots of very strong cold espresso, half a cup of natural yogurt beaten together until well blended

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix gently with a wooden spoon. Using a large cake tin (mine was silicone, so no need to line but I sprayed with a little oil) line the base with the pear slices to form a circular pattern.

Pour over the cake better and smooth out the mixture.

Bake at 180ºC for about 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Leave to cool slightly before removing from the tin. Eat warm or cold. Keeps well for a few days – which is good as it is quite a large cake!