London's fog...


about perfection, my boring cups and saucers, and baking with apples
Tart Normande and Almond Apple Cake

Luckily, we don't get to see London's fog in it's full glory any more, but the fog that marked the beginning of the month was pretty stubborn and occasionally looked very close to the infamous peas soup fog.... that thick and prominent one that dominated over London's life for long enough to find its place in the best known pieces of English classical literature and music.
The first foggy morning was seriously heavy and gloomy, I had to check twice if I forgot to open the shutters. Understandably, going out was not an option, I tried to figure out what would brighten the mood on a foggy day, but really, I didn't stand a chance..  the fog spread it's misery quickly, it seeped through the walls on my watch leaving me with not much energy. Sitting down with a book on my lap and a cup of coffee by my side looked like the proper way to spend my day.
We all went to bed hoping to wake up to a sunny Monday morning, but to our disappointment the first hours of the new week didn't look any better, and we had to make our way out through the fog. But it didn't bother me any more...  I was heading  to my photography class.
I was almost there, moving slowly, completely lost in thoughts about the project I submitted last week, when I became aware of the silhouette gently emerging from the fog, creating one of those beautiful  images that you sometimes see in magazines.  It took me awhile to realise that I have a camera in my bag and that I may have enough time to take a shot, or two. So I did.. no time to frame the image, no time to adjust the settings. Just seconds later I could clearly see the old lady's face smiling at me, out of courtesy or because she realised what I was doing I don't know. I smiled back at her, while my thoughts drifted back to my previous day's reading, and to one sentence in particular that wouldn't leave me alone ever since I read it- Perfection is the enemy of  your progress. It kept resonating with me in a weird way because part of me protested against it, while another part was telling me that it makes a lot of sense.

But, while I was experiencing  that  just do it  moment,  I began to understand the meaning of the old saying. "Mrs everything has to be perfect", wouldn't even consider taking a picture in such rush, she would've been only deeply disappointed that the circumstances were not better, that she hadn't have her camera in hand, that there was no more time, that .......

You'd start to think that I was looking for excuses to not do things!

To honour that newly found understanding but also because my bestest friend told me that my pictures with pretty cups and saucers are a bit boring) my (imperfect) photos that I made for the photography class project get a bigger share of space in today's post than my usual  food photography ones.. And because I have been baking a lot, but procrastinated over post writing for the last few weeks, today I give you two recipe for the price of one. I figured, if my trend to bake more than I write continues, my draft box, which is already pretty full will be completely overloaded soon. 

Tarte Normande

4 apples
130 g caster sugar
20 g butter
100 pouring cream
1 egg
1 egg yolk

Tart base:
90 g butter room temperature
50 g caster sugar 1 tsp vanila paste
pinch of salt
1 egg
160 g plain flour
20 g ground almonds

To make a tart base mix the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt, add the eggs, flour and almond, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more. Roll the dough into a 25 cm diameter circle then place onto prepared tart tin. Press in the dough against the edges so there are no air pockets in the corners. Rest in the fridge for another 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 175 C/345F and bake blind  for 20 minutes.

Make the caramel apple filling: Peel and core the apples and cut each into 8 wedges. set aside.
Sprinkle the sugar in the frying pan and place over medium heat until sugar caramelise. When it reaches a dark honey colour, add the apple wedges and the butter. cook until they are coated with caramel and are al dente.
Drain the apples using  a sieve over a bowl and set aside.
Combine the cream with caramel mixture in the bowl. In a separate bowl beat the egg and the egg yolk, then add to the caramel mix. arrange cooked apple wedges over the tart base and pour the caramel filling. Bake for about 20 minutes at 170 C. let it rest for 10 minutes before unmoulding. 

Nigella's Apple and Almond Cake

For the apple pure

  • tart  apples, i used  Cox and Russet
  • tablespoon lemon juice
  • teaspoons caster sugar

For the cake

  • large eggs
  • 325 grams ground almonds  
  • 275 grams caster sugar
  • tablespoon lemon juice
  • 50 grams flaked almonds

  1. Peel, core and chop the apples roughly. Put them in a saucepan with the lemon juice and sugar and bring the pan to a bubble over a medium heat. Cover the pan and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes or until you can mash the apple to a rough puree with a wooden spoon or fork. Leave to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4/180ºC/350ºF; oil a 25cm  spring-form and line the bottom with baking parchment.
  3. Put the cooled puree in the processor with the eggs, ground almondscaster sugar and 1 tablespoon - or generous squeeze - of lemon juice and blitz to a puree. Pour into the prepared tin, sprinkle the flaked almonds on top, and bake for 45 minutes. It's worth checking after 35 minutes, as ovens do vary.
  4. Put on a wire rack to cool slightly, then spring open. This cake is best served slightly warm, though still good cold.

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