Apple, Toffee & Flor de Sal Hand Pies
This recipe comes from two different places.
While backpacking through the Northern half of Portugal last March we had to make a decision between visiting Coimbra and Aveiro. Both are in the same general area (about 20 minutes apart), both are small & culturally rich university towns and both have their own unique appeal.
What made us decide on Aveiro (besides its proximity to several gorgeous beaches and a Venetian-like canal system snaking its way through the town) was its interesting culinary traditions. There have been salt flats there for hundreds of years and the salt is some of the finest I’ve tasted (especially sprinkled over blistered padron peppers – I’m salivating just thinking about it).
They also specialize in a weird little pastry known as ovos moles. Made into the shape of seashells, the outer shell of the pastry is made from a manna-like wafer, similar to what you’d receive at mass for communion. Not much taste to it, and depending on where you buy, it can be a bit stale and chewy.
I’m not making it sound very nice, am I?! Maybe I’ll do better with the filling.
The filling is made from egg yolk, but not in the way you might expect. It’s not a custard. You make a simple syrup and mix it with rice flour before beating in the egg yolks. The end result is kind of like a sweet deviled egg. Strangely delicious.
Before we left Aveiro I stocked up on flor de sal. Months later, I still have a cupboard-full (go me!). I save it for special occasions. It’s better as a garnish than a seasoning (though you can get big bags of rock salt, as well, to use in your grinder for every-day seasoning).
We’re well into October now and the gorgeous weather we were enjoying here in Ireland has left. Now we’re having day after day of rain and high winds. Aside from reminiscing about our lovely, sunshiney holiday in Portugal, it’s definitely a time for hearty desserts and, as we have such beautiful apples here in Ireland and so many right now, why not combine a sweet apple pastry with a luxuriant sprinkling of flor de sal? The combination is good for the soul.
Besides turning (ahem)… 30… this week, I will also be attending The Night of 1000 Feasts (hashtag #1000Feasts) at the Savour Kilkenny Food Festival, taking place Sunday the 26th. It’s a fantastic event for a great cause – to raise funds for the Town of Food project in Thomastown to build a new food training and enterprise centre. There will be plenty more happening over the weekend so keep in touch with me via Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. If you want to host a feast of your own on the night, the info you need should be on this photo:
I’ll be in excellent company with some other fabulous Irish bloggers – Foodborn and Bred, Cork Billy, My Busy Farm Life, Greenside Up, The Art of Exploring and Where Wishes Come From, among others, so give them a follow as well to see what we’re up to.
In the meantime, enjoy these sweet, salty and tart apple hand pies. They’ll make the bad weather seem not-so-bad.
Apple, Toffee & Flor de Sal Hand Pies
For the pastry:
2 cups AP (Cream) Flour
1 cup cold, cubed butter
scant 1/2 cup ice water
pinch of sea salt
For the toffee sauce/apple filling:
1 cup white sugar
scant 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup cream
1/4 cup cold, cubed butter
2 large bramley apples, peeled and sliced
1 Tbsp AP flour
Flor de Sal/Fleur de Sel/Irish Atlantic Sea Salt/Maldon Salt, for garnish
- Make the pastry: cut or rub the cold, cubed butter into the flour & salt until the mixture is well-incorporated and looking crumbly. Gradually add the ice water and mix with your hand until a ball forms (you might not need the entire 1/2 cup of water).
- On a floured surface, knead the dough a few times just until everything comes together. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions and chill for 30 minutes.
- Make the toffee sauce: in a medium saucepan, add the sugar and water. Place over med-high heat and leave it. Don’t you dare stir it! When it starts to bubble, wait until the colour begins to change, then every now and then you can swirl the contents of the saucepan, but still, don’t stir. Seriously.
- When the caramel turns a deep copper colour (and starts to smell like a caramel), take it off the heat. Add the cream and immediately put it back on the heat. It will bubble up for a few seconds. Don’t be scared. Now you can stir. Stir until the caramel & cream are incorporated. Then beat in the cold butter piece by piece.
- Set the toffee sauce aside to cool.
- I should mention that you can actually just buy some toffee sauce and skip that last step. It’s easier, but cheating.
- Peel and slice your apples.
- When the dough is chilled and the toffee sauce has cooled, preheat your oven to 425 degrees (210 degrees Celsius). Mix the apples, toffee sauce, and Tbsp of flour together in a bowl. Beat the egg slightly in another bowl (for brushing).
- Roll out two portions of pastry at a time. Scoop two heaping Tbsp of apple filling onto one rolled out pastry. Brush the edges with egg and top with the other round. Crimp the edges, poke a few breather holes on top, egg wash the top and sprinkle on some sea salt.
- Continue until all the pastry has been used (this should make four hand pies).
- Bake the hand pies for around 30 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the tops are golden brown.