This coming Thursday is Thanksgiving and whilst in the UK we don’t celebrate the holiday, it felt a shame to let it pass by without acknowledging it. I think sometimes we are all guilty of forgetting how lucky we are and forget to be thankful of the small things that make each day a little bit brighter.
With that in mind I gave some proper thought to what I’m really thankful for (sorry upfront for a soppy blog!)
First and foremost I’m thankful that I have a loving husband who will be there for me whatever the circumstance and has the ability to make me laugh when I’m feeling down in the dumps. Without him, my world wouldn’t be complete and nearly as much fun as it is.
I’m thankful for Skype! Otherwise I’d never get to see my sister who lives all the way in Hong Kong. How else would we pull stupid faces at each other across thousands of miles to make each other giggle when either of us has had a bad day. And following on from that… I’m thankful for WhatsApp which means Emily and I are able to be in constant communication which allows us to send photos of new tops and dresses to get the other’s opinion. The next best thing when she can’t be here. And thankfully, I know she is in safe hands with her boyfriend Dan, looking after her out there.
I’m thankful I’ve discovered such a love of cooking. Cooking because it’s given my Dad and I so many wonderful conversations about our latest tested recipe or the news of a new restaurant that we both want to try. We really could talk for hours about food… and we do.
I’m thankful that I have found a love of baking and the result of it is my blog. This baking passion is only rivalled by my mum’s and a mutual passion has brought us closer together. I look forward to the weekend and spend far too much time thinking about what I might bake. It’s also surprisingly given me a love of writing, something my secondary school English teacher would be most proud of.
I’m thankful my brother Alex has unrelenting positivity and drive to raise funds and find a cure for Duchenne to save his son’s life. Donna (his wife) is a rock to him and I’m thankful they’ve got each other.
I’m thankful that my other brother JJ has moved down south, finally! He has the patience of a saint and will always give as much time as you need to talk through a situation to find a solution. The added benefit of JJ moving much nearer is that I get to see Vix (his wife) and my gorgeous niece Liv and the cutie pie surfer dude of a nephew, Jacob. Vix, you never cease to make me laugh, especially with half a glass of wine down you. Oh the stories you tell…
I’m thankful that I was brought up with sport being ingrained in my life. It has given me a life-long love of exercise and keeping fit. Thank God, or I’d be the size of a horse with all the food I eat!
And finally, I’m thankful to Mark and his orchard of apple trees. I was in a big debate whether to make apple pie or pecan pie and this made my decision a lot easier. The beautiful fresh ripe apples will be the star in my mini apple pies. Much better than buying them from a supermarket.
On to the mini apple pies… one word… Delightful.
The pastry was a lovely golden colour and delivered a bit of structure to the apple centre sitting within in. The apples were slightly caramelised and you felt transported to a diner in America enjoying sweet apple pies as they should be served.
Whilst proven on many previous baking adventures, making things look pretty really isn’t my forte. I tried to create a pretty lattice effect, which I think I sort of achieved. But in my opinion, flavour will always override prettiness, and on this occasion, flavour was produced by the bucket load!
I was definitely thankful for each and every mouthful of these delicious mini apple pies.
Mini Apple Pies (taken from a blog I love reading Mama’s Gotta Bake)
Makes 9 mini apple pies
Approx 900g tart apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4 inch slices small enough to fit into each cupcake opening
50g brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
60g granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or ground if that’s what you have)
2 1/2 teaspoons corn flour
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
325g shortcrust pastry
For the top
1 egg whisked with a tablespoon of water
Sprinkling of granulated sugar
Creme fraiche swirled with maple syrup
In a large saucepan, stir together the apples, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and corn flour.
Cook covered over a medium heat stirring occasionally until the apples are tender which will take about 15 – 20 minutes.
Once the apples are tender, remove the lid and cook until the liquid has thickened which will take about 5 minutes but keep an eye on it. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and let cool to room temperature which will take about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Flour your work surface and roll out the shortcrust pastry to 1/4-inch thickness. Butter the cavities of the cupcake pan. Cut circles, using a round cookie cutter or a glass larger than the size of the cupcake opening.
Gently fit the circles into the cupcake cavities and then spoon in the apple mixture, piling it in the centre. Be aware that the mixture will shrink so you’ll need to fill it generously with apple filling. Dot the top of apple mixture with a small piece of butter.
If you want a top crust, you can create a lattice top or another circular piece of pastry on top. To create a lattice just cut strips of pastry about 1/2cm thick and alternate under and over to create the lattice effect. Use a fork to try and stick the top crust to the bottom crust, so that they seal together so that when they came out of the pan they do not separate.
Brush the top crust with the egg wash followed by a sprinkling of granulated sugar over the top of each crust.
Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes or until the pastry looks a golden colour.
Once baked, let the pies cool in the tin for about 5 minutes, then run a sharp knife around the edges of cupcake cavities to loosen pies and using a spoon gently ease pies out of pan.
Serve with crème fraiche swirled with maple syrup, or if you prefer a dollop of ice cream.