Friday, 28 February 2014

RECIPE: Salted caramel apple crêpes (for the Waitrose World Cuisine Challenge!)


I love Waitrose. Whenever I’m home, I ask Mama when she’s next going shopping so I can tag along for the pure enjoyment that is a trip to Waitrose.

So, when an email inviting me to take part in the Waitrose ‘World Cuisine’ Recipe Challenge for Pancake Day popped into my inbox, I was unsurprisingly very excited. 


I also love Pancake Day, mainly just because I like eating pancakes (who doesn't?) – they’re just so versatile, aren’t they? Thick, fluffy ones with berries, banana and syrup for breakfast, savoury thin buckwheat ones topped with caramelised onions, ham and melty cheese for lunch, and sweet crêpes (whether with simple, classic lemon juice and sugar or smothered in nutella, marshmallows, banana and more) for dinner. Oh yes, that would be a good day. Bring on Tuesday, eh?

Those wise people at Waitrose have realised quite how much you can do with a pancake, hence their Recipe Challenge. Tragically, it would appear Pancake Day isn’t really a ‘thing’ abroad – I tried to explain it to my German housemates and they thought it sounded like the most random and weird but awesome thing. Which it is, to be fair.


So, Waitrose have asked various people to get creative with the traditional pancake, assigning each person a designated place from the top countries people search for when looking for world cuisine type pancakes, and then asking us to create a pancake recipe inspired by that country. Sounds like awesome fun, right?

After telling Waitrose I was most definitely in, I was assigned my country – oooh, the nervous tension! And I got... FRANCE! Lovely, foodie, Frenchy France.

With a generous £50 to spend on ingredients (it was like Christmas had come early – thanks Waitrose!), the creative juices in my brain were flowing as I started brainstorming and concocting ideas for my French-inspired pancakes.


Obviously, the pancake is in itself French. Crêpe-style ones, anyway, so that was obviously going to be the basis for my creation. There are so many delicious French dishes that I almost didn't know where to start, however, after re-reading my blogs about our family trip to Brittany last summer, inspiration hit me.

Inspired by the amazing caramel au beurre salé (a regional speciality) I sampled in Brittany last year, with a nod towards the gorgeous flavour of a classic appley tarte tatin, I've concocted what I think is something of a winner: Classic crêpes with apple and salted caramel sauce.

Ooooh they were delicious! I only got home from six months in Germany late this afternoon, but had sent Mama to Waitrose for me with an ingredient list. She and I have had a fab chilled evening - me whipping up crêpes, us both devouring them, and catching up in between expressions of 'mmmm', 'oof' and 'YUM!'


The basic pancakes are so simple to make, and the salted caramel apples are so much easier than most people would think. Because you make the sauce with the apples, not only are you saving on washing up, but the salty-and-sweetness is also complemented by the tang of the apple juice which oozes out of the fruit as they cook.

The saltiness of the sauce is quite subtle, and it just stops it being too sickly. The apples are also just the perfect texture: soft rather than crunchy, but definitely not mushy. Golden Deliciouses are the best for this if you ask me, both flavour and texture-wise. 

Look! 'Pomme du Limousin'! They're French!
As the caramelly apples are so full of flavour, they are a match made in heaven with a simple pancake. Mama and I may have even eaten the last few spoonfuls of the sauce by itself at the end. SO. GOOD!

So, Pancake Day came early for us and jolly delicious it was too. I'm so glad actual Pancake Day is a mere few days away! More pancakes, come at me.


This makes six smallish pancakes (it served mum and I perfectly for pudding as we're greedy!), but you could easily multiply the quantities to feed more. Thanks to Waitrose for inviting me to the challenge and for allowing me to treat myself to Waitrose ingredients (although the egg was from our own chickens, hence our extremely bright yellow batter). Check out this page for more Waitrose Pancake Day inspiration!


Sorry the lighting in my pictures isn't the greatest.. Night-time and all. But trust me (and mum), you wanna try these babies. If you're feeling extra indulgent you could serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. How délicieux does that sound!?


Ingredients : For the pancakes :

50g plain flour
Pinch salt
1 egg
140ml semi-skimmed milk
1 tbsp sunflower oil or vegetable, plus extra for frying

For the caramel apple topping :

25g salted butter
Pinch salt
90g light brown muscovado sugar
2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and chopped into small chunks (I cut mine into sixteenths)
150ml double cream



Method

1. First make the pancake batter: Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the egg with 50ml of the milk and the oil. Beat well, gradually incorporating the flour with the wet ingredients until you have a thick, smooth paste, then add in the rest of the milk, whisking as you do so.


2. Leave to rest for 30 minutes or more to allow the starch in the flour to swell while you make the topping: Melt the butter, salt and sugar together in a saucepan set over a low heat, and stir until the sugar has dissolved. 



Stir in the chopped apples until they're coated and cook until the apples are softening and their juices have started to flow (around 5-10 minutes). 


Add the cream and simmer gently for a 5-10 minutes more until the sauce has thickened and darkened in colour - take off the heat to cool slightly, whereby the sauce will continue to thicken.

3. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat, add a splash of oil and then wipe it around the pan with kitchen roll. Tip a small ladle-full of batter (or pour from a jug) into the pan and quickly tilt the pan to swirl the pancake mix round until you have a thin even layer. If you pour too much into the pan, you can quickly pour it back into your mixing bowl or jug. When the edges of the pancake start to turn golden and the surface looks dry (should be around 30 seconds), use a big spatula/fish slice to turn the pancake over... Or be brave and give it a flip!


4. Cook for about 30 seconds on the second side then serve when each side is golden. (Don’t worry, everyone knows the first one never turns out well, but once covered in your delicious salted caramel apples it’ll be divine nonetheless.)


5. To serve, either fold each pancake up and spoon the apple mix over the top, or spoon the apple mix on to one quarter of an open pancake and fold the pancake over it. Devour, and feel oh-so-sophistiqué and French as you do. Bon appétit!

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