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Really rosy: Puff pastry, apples a beautiful combination

This simple dessert marries apple slices with puff pastry and a sprinkling of cinnamon-sugar.
This simple dessert marries apple slices with puff pastry and a sprinkling of cinnamon-sugar.

Everything on the Internet is coming up apple roses.

At least, that’s how it’s seemed so far this fall when my Facebook and Twitter feeds blew up with these beautiful baked blooms. I know I’m not the only one to fall in love with these rosy rounds of puff pastry, apple slices and cinnamon. They were simply too charming to pass up.

Light and lovely, apple roses also are super-simple to make, if you don’t skip a particular step like I did the first time I made them. (Who isn’t tempted to try a short-cut sometimes?)

The end result was still entirely edible. But, since my apple slices were crisp, not pliable, many of them snapped. I wasn’t able to roll them as tightly as I could have if they were warmed and flexible – and it shows in the photos.

So, be sure to cook the apples. There seems to be two most popular methods: placing apple slices in a bowl of water with lemon juice and microwaving them for 3 or 4 minutes, or softening them in a pot on the stovetop in a simmering mixture of water, lemon juice, sugar and sometimes honey. Slices apparently can also be wilted in a nonstick pan with cinnamon and sugar and maybe a bit of butter, too.

Be sure to slice the apple thin. It also helps if you halve and core the apple first.

The first time I made apple roses, I opted for whole apple slices, apparently thinking bigger “blooms” would somehow be better. In fact, they were a bit unwieldy. The too-big slivers folded over during baking, making my roses look a bit over-bloomed.

I used a lot of cinnamon-sugar and that showed, too, browning up even more when baked, so my apple roses weren’t as rosy as they were toasty. This could easily be resolved by sprinkling cinnamon-sugar over top after baking or brushing butter onto the puff pastry, then sprinkling that with cinnamon-sugar before baking, which is what I did on my second attempt. For even more flavor, use apple-pie spices: a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cardamom and clove.

Or, dress up your pastry flowers by spreading a thin layer of jam – raspberry, fig, apricot, peach – on the pastry before placing the apple slices and rolling everything up. Apple or pumpkin butter would especially be good this time of year.

So would a sprinkling of chopped walnuts or pecans.

Red- or rosy-skinned apples look prettiest, or most red- or pink-rose-like, but use your favorite. A caution against soft and creamy Red Delicious, though. The don’t seem to cook up well and are generally best eaten raw.

Using store-bought puff pastry is a short-cut I didn’t take. But this is probably where I should’ve tried to save time. Making and rolling out the dough took the most effort in this recipe.

To serve, dress with a dusting of powdered sugar or drizzle of salted caramel sauce or dulce de leche or a brush of honey, maple syrup or agave.

A scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream – bourbon- or vanilla- or maple-scented, perhaps? – on the side would be nice, too, if you want to make this dessert a little more rich and decadent.

The second time I made apple roses, I warmed the apples slices on the stovetop so I could better roll them. But I still enjoyed the rustic appeal of my cinnamon-crisped, over-sized apple roses. Even though they were fat and folded-over, they were still cute and sweet, a perfect treat for an autumn evening or weekend brunch.

Puff Pastry

From foodnetwork.com

10 ounces cold unsalted butter

1/2 cup cold tap water

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)

Cut 8 ounces (2 sticks) butter into 1/4- to 1/2-inch dice, place on a plate and refrigerate while preparing remaining ingredients. Measure water and add salt; stir to dissolve and set aside.

Coarsely dice remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Place flour in work bowl of food processor fitted with metal blade; add 4 tablespoons butter and pulse until butter is absorbed – about 10 to 12 (1-second) pulses.

Add remaining butter and pulse once or twice to distribute. Add water and pulse 3 or 4 times, just until dough forms a rough ball. Do not over-process.

Flour work surface and scrape dough from work bowl. Shape dough into a rough rectangle and place between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Press dough with rolling pin to flatten, then roll back and forth several times with rolling pin to make a 12-by-18-inch rectangle of dough.

Peel away plastic wrap and invert dough to floured work surface. Peel away second piece of wrap. Fold dough in thirds in the width, folding the top third down and the bottom third up, to make a 6 by 18-inch rectangle, then roll up the dough from one of the 6-inch ends, making sure to roll end under dough. Press the dough into a square, wrap in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour, or until firm.

Apple Roses

From http://catalinakolker.blogspot.com

1 recipe puff pastry dough (see recipe above)

3 to 4 apples

3 to 4 cups water

2 tablespoons lemon juice

8 tablespoons sugar, divided

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 pinch nutmeg

Powdered sugar, for sprinkling

Wash the apples, cut in half and core them. Then slice into very thin slices, slightly smaller than 1/8 inch.

In a saucepan, bring the water, 5 tablespoons sugar and lemon juice to a boil, and place the apple slices in. Boil for 2 minutes, or until the slices soften and you can easily bend them. Have a colander and a bowl close and when the time is up, just fish the apple slices with a slotted spoon and let them cool in the colander.

On a wide plate, put some paper towels and nicely arrange the apple slices so that they can cool down completely and also dry up a bit.

Prepare your work surface by lightly sprinkling it with some flour and lay the puff pastry sheet down. Roll out to a 12-by-18-inch rectangle. With a pastry cutter, cut dough along the short end into long strips, approximately 1/2 inch wide.

Then mix the zest, remaining sugar and cinnamon and nutmeg and evenly spread it over the pastry sheet. After spreading the cinnamon mixture, slightly press it down into the dough.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Take a few apple slices and place them on the pasty strips, overlapping them so they do not fall out and also make the rose-like design (petals) of the finish product. Now start rolling, making sure each is fairly tightly rolled.

Place on parchment-lined baking sheet or in muffin cups sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes, or until nicely golden.

Let cool a bit, then sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

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