15 October 2013

Hedgerow Under Frost

Fefe Noir's British heritage leaves her with a soft spot for desserts made from stale bread.  This is a handy predilection with a house full of apples and a freezer full of not-quite-successful sourdough bread.

Hedgerow Under Frost

(an interpretation of Peasant Girl with a Veil)
Rosehips add fantastic colour and depth of flavour to apples.

1-1/2 lbs apple and rosehip pulp* 
lemon juice (optional)
sugar**, to taste

8 oz sourdough bread crumbs
3 oz granulated sugar
2 oz butter

3/4 c. whipping cream
1 oz dark chocolate, shaved or grated

*mill the waste from apple-rosehip jelly after it's finished dripping  OR cook 1/2 lb rosehips with 1-1/2 lb apples in a bit of water with lemon juice until soft, then run through a food mill, then press through a sieve to separate pulp from seeds and skins to yield about 1-1/2 lbs pulp

**or honey, or syrup, or runny jelly from a batch which failed to set (wonder what gave me that idea...) 

Gently heat the apple-rosehip pulp in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, adding sugar to desired sweetness (the heat will help the sugar dissolve).  When gauging how much sugar is enough, taste it, bearing in mind that the crumb layer is quite sweet. So make a wee bit less sweet than you would want if it was on it's own.  You may need to add water if the pulp is very dry.  If you are using a liquid sweetener (like honey, syrup, or failed jelly), you can skip the heating but mix well to incorporate.  If you are boiling apples and rosehips specifically for this recipe, stir in the sugar while the pulp is still hot.  Allow apple-rosehip mixture to cool while you make the other layers.  

Mix the breadcrumbs and sugar together.  Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the crumb mixture to the pan and fry until dark brown and crispy, but not burnt (see photo).  This requires patience.  If you give up too soon, you won't have caramelized breadcrumbs, you'll have butter-toasted crumbs with butter-saturated sugar... which isn't quite right.  While frying the breadcrumbs, stir frequently, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent burning.  Properly toasting these breadcrumbs takes 30-40 minutes on our nearly-reliable electric stove.  Cool to room temperature.

Before (L) and after (R) for the breadcrumb mixture.  The crumbs are done when they are golden brown and crunchy.

Layer apple-rosehip mixture alternately with crumbs in a glass dish, finishing with a layer of crumbs.  Chill.

Whip cream until stiff peaks form.  Spread over chilled apple/crumb layers and sprinkle with dark chocolate.


This is a variation on the traditional Peasant Girl with a Veil.  Since Fefe included rosehips in it, and since all the apples were wild-picked, and since even the bread was made with wild-apple-yeast-inoculated sourdough, and since we think that in this day and age we really shouldn't be serving desserts named for peasant girls, we thought it deserved a re-naming.  We considered Pleasant Girl with a Veil, but we couldn't say it without giggling. 

Hedgerows, fields, river flats, forest edges, city parks... you may be surprised at how easily you could come by the major ingredients for this dessert.  Not that we would fault you for using market apples and bread because what's really important about this dessert is that it's frugal.  Don't throw out the stale bread.  Don't compost jelly making waste until you've milled the pulp from it.  Apples going a bit soft because you were overenthusiastic and bought more than you could eat?  Throw 'em in a pot with some water.

We know this is a thrifty recipe because (a) caribougrrl finds it endlessly entertaining whenever Fefe introduces another British*** recipe that uses stale bread as a major ingredient and (b) the back of the note paper where Fefe copied her mother's recipe is a testament to our financial stability the first time we made this (see photo).  That might have been the same week we discovered that dog shampoo leaves human hair with a lovely sheen.

Nonetheless, we remain convinced that everyone deserves a good dessert, no matter how economically creative they need to be (or not).  If you aren't saving stale bread to save money, save it to reduce waste anyway.  

***okay, caribougrrl's sample of British people who cook with stale bread are all from the same family.  And okay, it seems Peasant Girl with a Veil is of Scandinavian origin... and okay, it's not just the Brits and Scandinavians that have a way with stale bread...

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