Monday, June 4, 2012

Dinner Train: Middlemarch - Wrapples

Wrapples and a fruity beer?
I doubt Casaubon would approve. 
But your mouth will, and you'll need
a cold one to help you
survive Middlemarch...

If you were awaiting my post on my March challenge of Middlemarch for the Dinner Train Book Club with bated breath, you are now dead.  Which is cool, because I didn't know ghosts can read blogs.  For the rest of you, sorry.  Not really, because this one was a big ole struggle to get through.  Long, often boring, with beautiful, realistic character descriptions, and not much else (I did enjoy the town of Freshit - come on, I'm a boy of twelve at heart!).  This, therefore, probably describes the reason why exactly zero friends, family, strangers took me up on my offer to read along and eat with me.  Which left me alone with my thoughts, and a desire to not cook a full meal based on this book.  Sure, there is some good food description throughout, like the spread described at Old Man Featherstone's estate auction, but most food seemed to veer towards hocks of meat.  Except for one scene in chapter 24 (XXIV - I make no claims to being able to read Roman numerals), wherein Mrs. Garth is making apple puffs (see below the recipe for the excerpt).  Curious, I thought.  And curiouser and curiouser, because when I realized I'd be holding a book club by myself, apple puffs in excess won out over hock of ham.

I took to the internets to find a recipe for apple puffs to make from scratch.  Friends...there really are no recipes that don't tell you to start with store made dough.  Andsothere I gave up on the interwebs and took to The Apple Lover's Cookbook, by Amy Traverso, which while lacking in things dubbed Apple Puffs, has about a trillion other apple recipes to choose from.  I settled on Wrapples, though the Apple Empanadas came in a close second.  The recipe is fairly close to hers, with only a minor change; I realized the leftover juices from marinating the apples with lemon and sugar and cinnamon were actually quite delicious, and why waste delicious?  Mrs. Garth would slap the wrist of a waster!  I reappropriated the juice for my glaze, with delicious results.  A big thank you to The Asphalt Kitchen for helping me knead and prepare the pastry dough, and assemble and then eat them, as well as to the hungry stomachs who helped test them out (H & B).  Considering my Poptart ate two before the Hunger Games even started (Peeta would approve), I think we can all call them a delicious success - even if Middlemarch was a bust.

(adapted from The Apple Lover's Cookbook, by Amy Traverso)
Makes approximately 8 fatties and 10-12 mini's (still pretty sizable)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp Kosher salt
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
18 Tbsp butter, unsalted (if you use salted, skip the Kosher salt) - freeze and chop into small cubes
6-8 Tbsp cold water

3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced thin (1/4-1/8 inch)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (or the juice of a lemon half)
1/2 tsp lemon zest (or the zest of half a lemon)
2 tsp ground cinnamon

reserved juice from the apple marinade
about 1 cup confectioners sugar

  1. Whisk flour, salt, and sugar together in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Add in your small cold cubes of butter, and smash em around together.  If you are a sissy, use a fork.  If you are legit, rub the ingredients together using your hands.  Get some good smooshing between your digits, until what you are working with allegedly looks like wet sand (mine...losely resembled it?  I'd call this description a stretch, Ms. Traverso.)
  3. Add your ice cold water and combine using a fork (or your hands).  You may need to add more; I did.  Add by TBSP until you reach a dough-like consistency, and form a loose ball. 
  4. On a lightly floured surface, knead it until it is just smooth, around 3-5 times, before wrapping it in plastic and placing it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes - longer will be better if you've got the time.
  5. In yet another medium bowl, mix together your slices of apple, sugar, lemon juice and zest, and finally, cinnamon.  Make sure your apples are well mixed, and then let the mixture rest at room temperature until you are darn ready for it.
  6. The inner voice of my mother would like to tell you that this is a good time to clean your kitchen, and give yourself lots of chilling time.
  7. Now you can preheat the oven to 400.  
  8. On a floured surface, roll out half your dough to about a 1/8 of an inch thick (this may be difficult - mine was more like 1/4, but try to get it as thin as you can.)  Try to also get it to be a squarish shape, as it will make chopping it up and wrapping your wrapples up both visually pleasing and easy.  Cut into approximately 4-6 strips, depending on what you want the size to be.
  9. Here is where the fun starts.  Attempting not to lick your fingers or eat all the apples, lay about 4 slices and, roll, repeat appling, roll, repeat appling, etc.  It's a jelly roll.  You get it. End with a layer of dough, and press firmly to seal your slightly sloppy dough packet.  Do this with all your dough. Save your juice for step lucky number 13!
  10. Arrange the wrapples on a sheet, place them in the oven, and immediately reduce the heat to 350, without peeking.  You can do it.
  11. Bake until golden brown, 30-35 minutes...except I had to keep mine in closer to 45 - 1 hour, to even slightly brown.  If they do not brown in the appropriate time, keep them in, just keep checking the bottoms to avoid burning.  Mine did not look done, as you can see in the photos below,but they did get flakey with browned bottoms. 
  12. Cool on a wire rack.
  13. While cooling, mix your reserved liquid with confectioners sugar to form your glaze.  Don't even taste it; spare yourself the trial of your self control.  When the wrapples have cooled and no longer feel warm, slowly drizzle your glaze over them (you can do it while they are hot, more will run down the sides, and onto your counter, and therefore, make you consider licking your counter a lot more seriously then you want to be considering licking your counter.)
    Before sugar.

    After sugar.
  14. EAT.  But first give away most.  Because they, and your self control, will not survive the night. Do not eat them while reading Middlemarch, the boringest book on the Dinner Train.  Save them as your reward. 


Inspirational excerpt from Middlemarch, wherein Mrs. Garth makes some apple puffs and teaches grammar - perhaps one of the better parts of Middlemarch:
"Mrs. Garth, with her sleeves turned above her elbows, deftly handling her pastry—applying her rolling-pin and giving ornamental pinches, while she expounded with grammatical fervor what were the right views about the concord of verbs and pronouns with "nouns of multitude or signifying many," was a sight agreeably amusing. She was of the same curly-haired, square-faced type as Mary, but handsomer, with more delicacy of feature, a pale skin, a solid matronly figure, and a remarkable firmness of glance. In her snowy-frilled cap she reminded one of that delightful Frenchwoman whom we have all seen marketing, basket on arm. Looking at the mother, you might hope that the daughter would become like her, which is a prospective advantage equal to a dowry—the mother too often standing behind the daughter like a malignant prophecy—"Such as I am, she will shortly be."
"Now let us go through that once more," said Mrs. Garth, pinching an apple-puff which seemed to distract Ben, an energetic young male with a heavy brow, from due attention to the lesson. "'Not without regard to the import of the word as conveying unity or plurality of idea'—tell me again what that means, Ben.""

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