I found this beautiful book the other day: Home Baking. It’s written by a husband and wife team, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid who are known for their award winning book Hot Sour Salty Sweet. Sub-titled ‘the artful mix of flour and tradition around the world’, it’s a treat for the eye and the imagination as it shares recipes and photographs collected by the couple on their travels. They’ve also included some of their favourite home-based recipes.
The book is divided into pastry (tarts, pies & pastries), bread (festive, family, artisan), smaller breads (rolls, bagels, sweet buns, skillet breads, pancakes, flatbreads, crackers), cakes & cookies (everyday, fancy, cookies). Jeffrey and Naomi celebrate the tradition of home baking and the idea of enjoying it, taking your time about it, doing things your own way at your own pace without chasing any ideas of perfection – ‘going relaxedly into the kitchen to make bread or a batch of cookies, knowing that you can and that it’s an easy, rewarding thing to do…’
Baking is seen as an art not a science and there is plenty of opportunity to play and experiment. I gave their first recipe a bash this morning ‘the simplest apple pie’ – for my sister and her family:
For the pastry, mix 2 cups all purpose flour with ½ cup sugar while separately mixing 12 tablespoons of soft, cubed unsalted butter with 3 tablespoons of sour cream and 2 large egg yolks. Combine the butter mix into the flour – mix together with a wooden spoon. Add 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, should you wish. Work out the lumps with your fingers until the mixture resembles ‘a coarse cornmeal texture’. Add 1-3 tablespoons of cold water until the dough combines into a solid mass. Wrap in plastic and place in the fridge to rest.
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F (I put my oven on 180 degrees C).
For the filling, coarsely grate 8 medium/large apples (8 cups) and add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and sugar to taste (not too sweet). Mix well.
Roll out half the pastry (about ¼ of an inch thick) and line a greased baking tray (about 8 inch square). Pile the grated apple on top (I squeezed out the excess juices) and crumb (or grate) the remaining pastry on top so that the apples are well covered. (I used a smaller rectangular quiche tin and had pastry left over which I’ve stored in the fridge for the time being).
Bake until the pastry is golden brown (about an hour). Serve with cream or ice-cream at room temperature or hot out of the oven (leave for a little while to allow the juices to settle).
The pie smelled scrumptious and I set off to deliver it to my sister as soon as it had cooled down a little… only to discover that nobody was home. I left the pie in their kitchen on a beautiful wooden board as a surprise but have yet to hear how it tasted… I hope it’s great!