Friday, May 06, 2022


I have spoken before about how I feel about comfort food. It really is not about lavishness, at least for me, but all about those familiar flavours and textures that bring back or evoke a sense of comfort and even safety. Those aromas that offer a moment of peace, quiet, and enjoyment.
Apple pies are one of those familiar desserts that most of us cherish since childhood. Be it with flaky pie dough, filo, or just a humble sponge as a base, the combination of apples and cinnamon will always evoke a sense of comfort. I like to cook them down slowly, with plenty of vanilla and just a touch of sugar, until they are soft but not mushy, because they will be cooked further in the oven.
These little beauties can be served as a wholesome dessert, with a scoop of vegan vanilla bean ice cream, or a good dollop of whipped plant double cream. However, I love them just as they are. To slowly unroll layer by layer and enjoy the soft, fluff dough, and that signature melty apple flavour. Such a bliss with a cup of tea.

For the soft dough
200 millilitres water
1 heaping teaspoon loose-leaf camomile tea
30 millilitres vegetable oil
50 grams brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
25 grams fresh yeast
350 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the apple pie filling
300 grams apples, peeled and cored
50 grams granulated sugar
50 millilitres water
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
20 grams vegan block butter

Start by brewing the camomile tea. Bring the water to a rolling boil over high heat, remove it from the stove, and add in the loose-leaf tea. Cover, and let it steep for about 3-4 minutes. Strain it well, and let it cool down slightly. Once ready, pour it into a large bowl, crumble in the fresh yeast, and add in the sugar and the oil. Mix well so the yeast dissolves, and then let it stand until bubbly and fragrant, about 10 minutes.
When the yeast is ready, add in the vanilla, and mix well. Sift in half of the flour and the salt, and mix well with a wooden spoon. Sift in the rest of the flour, and proceed to knead with your hands, for about 5 minutes more, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover the bowl, and let the dough rest and rise for about an hour.
Meanwhile, make the filling. Chop the apples into small pieces, so they cook down nicely, and almost start to melt into the sugar. Add them to a heavy-bottomed saucepan, along with the water, cinnamon, sugar, and the vanilla, and place the pan over medium-high heat. Let them simmer, stirring occasionally, until all of the liquid evaporates, and they start to resemble a thick pie filling, about 15 minutes or so. If you want a firmer filling, cook them a bit longer, of course. Remove from heat, stir in the butter, and let the filling cool down.
Once the dough is ready, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll it out to about 5 millimetres in thickness. Generously spread the filling, making sure one edge is left free so the roll can seal. Roll the dough towards the free edge, pinch the seam well, and slice the roll into 8 equal pieces. Arrange them in a baking pan (20x30 cm or similar) lined with baking parchment. Cover, and let them rise for a second time, for about 30 minutes.
As soon as the oven is ready, if desired, brush the rolls generously with melted butter, and bake immediately, in a preheated oven, at 200°C, for about 15 minutes. When they are nice and golden, take them out of the oven, and either generously mist them with cold water, or brush with more melted vegan butter, and serve them as soon as they are cool enough to handle. Yields 8 large servings.