As a child, I was told that sweet, sugar crusted apple dumplings were the secret of a Chinese baker in Vancouver. No matter how much money he was offered, no matter how many people asked, he never once gave out his prized recipe.
|The coveted apple tart from a Vancouver bakery, photo from Sherman's Food Adventures|
The recipe was kept under lock and key and locals lined up out the bakery doors to bring home a batch of the coveted bun-shaped pillows of hot, sweet, tender, flaky pastries. They say that he died with that recipe, and no how many times other bakers tried to emulate his apple tarts, none of them came out quite right.
Fast forward ten years. Add a talented aunt with a generous spatula.
The story continues with 2 packages of frozen puff pastry, a can of apple pie filling, flour, milk and sugar.
Each package of puff pastry thawed overnight, unknowingly resting before each square was to be divided into pieces of six, totalling twelve pieces per package. In total, 24 pieces of pastry were borne.
|One piece of puff pastry, after the split|
Each piece of puff pastry was laid down in a pat of flour and flattened with a floured rolling pin. After cutting the apples in the filling down to small confetti-sized bits, I scooped a small amount and placed it in the middle so that it resembled a fried egg, sunny side up.
After brushing the edges of the pastry with milk, pinch the edges of the pastry together
Turn over the tarts and brush the tops with milk and dip in white sugar. Place down onto parchment paper pinched side down. Or get your brother to help you.
|By the way, ignore what's on TV. Obama and Harper had a joint press conference... that's all.|
At this point they can be frozen, but it is infinitely better to bake them fresh. They can be warmed up in the oven later. They will puff up a golden brown, the apple filling will bubble and swell, the baker's secret will now be yours to exploit, the family's compliments will come your way, and all the boys will conspire to make you theirs.
My mother volunteered me to make these for Chinese New Year dinner before she even told me. Immediately, my family was impressed and ravenous, stealing glances towards the oven, sniffing the air in a way that was extremely obvious. Let the pastries sit before serving, as the filling inside will be extremely hot. Even grudging curmudgeon-y uncles will give you a nod and grunt of approval. And nobody will make comments about how you'll be on old maid the rest of your life.