MY MUM BAKE
A long time ago, when my family and I still lived in the two-story red-brick cottage along Sea Breeze Road, I used to sit on the ledge of the kitchen door, watching my mum as she baked for hours on end.
Across the light brown tiled kitchen floor, she’d sometimes be mixing the batter with orange zest for her specialty butter pound cake; or making my granny’s almond cookies; or rolling the dough for pineapple tarts whenever Chinese New Year was right round the corner.
I would sit cross-legged on the floor, lured by the zesty aroma of citrus fruits, or the twirls of brown butter cooking in a pan, or the smell of baking pineapple tarts wafting around the kitchen, mesmerized by this lovely concoction of amazing perfumes and delicious aromas.
Yet, while I was attracted by these amazing smells that emanated from the kitchen, I never quite understood the magic of baking. I’d watch my mum dedicate Sunday afternoons in the kitchen, and wondered in my child-like innocence, what it was that kept her there, kneading and mixing and baking.
Remembering those early days of my childhood, during which I observed my mum in fascination and curiosity, I marvel at how baking, something I never felt attracted to when I was young, has now become a completely unexpected passion.
So there I was last weekend, again, standing in the kitchen, warm from the heat of the oven, with my hands white with flour and sticky with dough. I’d been thinking all week about making another fruit tart again, after my first attempt at a strawberry and lemon mascarpone tart turned out much more successful than I expected. And later, when I saw how beautiful Shanna’s strawberry peach tart on maple shortbread cookie crust was, the idea of making another fruit tart was stuck so firmly in my head that I had no choice but to set about making one.
The attraction of kneading dough and then making a tart was just too strong to resist.
While I had really aspired to make a blueberry or peach tart, or something of that kind of exotic fruit variation, I was left with little choice except to make one with fruits that are available now, in winter.
Eventually I decided on making a simple, rustic apple cinnamon galette.
A galette made with thin slow-baked apple slices well mixed with sugar and a dash of cinnamon, all wrapped in a deliciously sweet shortcrust pastry shell.
You know, the kind that smells of a bountiful harvest at a fruit orchard, and the kind that looks so tempting and welcoming, you can’t help but cut a slice to eat. There’s something comforting about the taste and smell of warm apples; like memories of apple puree we ate when we were mere babies. The sweetness mixed with the slight sourness of fresh apples, warm and all melting in your mouth, is just pure delight.
And, really, I’m so excited my mum and my sis will be coming to visit me so soon – I can imagine baking with my mum, hanging out with Valerie, and basically just having so much fun, I’m thrilled to the bones.
Meanwhile, enjoy this apple cinnamon galette & have a beautiful week!
APPLE CINNAMON GALETTE (Serves 4)
Shortcrust pastry adapted from A Cup of Mascarpone’s Blueberry and Lemon Mascarpone Tart recipe
1) 125g – 180g of all purpose-flour, sifted
2) 115g of butter, cut into small cubes
3) 65g of icing sugar, sifted
4) 3 egg yolks
5) 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
6) 1 tablespoon of iced water
7) 2 teaspoons of sugar
Apple cinnamon filling:
1) 2 apples, peeled, cored, cut into quarters and then sliced as thinly as possible (I used green apples, because I prefer the slight sourness, but you can always use red apples, or a mix of both)
2) 1/2 cup of sugar
3) 1/2 – 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon powder
1) Mix flour, butter and icing sugar in a bowl using two knives to cut the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
2) Add in the egg yolks and vanilla extracts and mix well, then add iced water until the dough starts to come together
3) Shape the dough into a ball on a cool, flat, floured surface
4) Flatten dough into a disc and then wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes
5) Meanwhile, peel, core and slice the apples into as thin slices as possible
6) Mix sugar and ground cinnamon powder with sliced apples and let it rest for a while
7) Pre-heat oven to 180 deg cel
8) Once dough has chilled, roll pastry dough on a sheet of parchment paper until it has expanded to the size of the tart mold (I used a rough mold the size of a large pizza)
9) Leaving at least an inch of dough free, arrange apple slices by overlapping them slightly in the shape of a circle, starting from the outermost part of the circle, until you reach the inside
10) Fold the edges of dough over the filling and then sprinkle the dough with a bit of sugar
11) Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the apples are soft
12) Serve warm, with a side of whipped cream or ice cream (optional)