I am so excited for this coming week. I have been invited to go on Channel 5’s Talk of the Town show this Wednesday!!! (Yes, triple exclamation marks!) I have been on one other show, totally by luck, and they liked my dessert enough that they told someone else at the station and I got a phone call. They left a message on my answering machine and I have to confess it’s still there… I only listen to it every day to start grinning. No, not erasing it yet! (Thanks, Tawanda!)
I will be making my Bacon Apple Rosette Pie for them. This recipe started as as simple apple pies for a client, but as I was thinking of ways to make it even better, we happened to have had some bacon that morning at breakfast, and … well, bacon goes with everything, don’t you think? So I decided to see if I could use bacon the same way. And lo, it worked! I don’t know if someone else did this first, and I have no intention of poaching recipes, but I was really chuffed with this. I could say that it was inspired by the observation that apples and pork are often paired in savory dinner dishes. Or that I saw the strips of bacon and was reminded of rolling up cinnamon bun pastry and gumpaste rose petals. Though these are all true statements, let’s be honest. It’s screaming – yes, screaming – to be tried! Bacon and apples with caramel? Come on!
There are three basic parts to making this pie. The pie shell, the caramel “glue,” and the apples and bacon filling. Of course, each of these components can be used for so many other recipes. So take whichever part of this appeals and run with it. Myself, I could go for each individually but all together, talk about a masterpiece for your dinner party!
The pie shell:
Cookie dough can be used in so many ways, beyond just to make cookies. This is my go-to recipe for cookies for royal icing (like a shortbread, butterry, flat and strong enough to be used to stack on top of). But for some pies, this can be the perfect crust too — a bit like a pate sucre but not quite as brittle.
1-2-3 Cookie Dough
A wonderful short-bread-like cookie, sturdy but slightly chewy at the same time.
- 450 g sugar
- 910 g unsalted butter, soft
- 1 Tbsp vanilla paste (or extract)
- 255 g eggs, whole, at room temperature
- 1.36 kg all purpose flour, sifted
1. Cream sugar and butter together until fluffy in stand mixer with paddle attachment.
2. Add your eggs gradually, allowing them to be mixed into your sugar and butter mixture.
3. Add your vanilla, or another extract if using.
4. Sift your flour, if you haven't done so. Yes, this is necessary. Then add your flour, 1 cup at a time to your dough batter.
5. Mix the dough until just combined and it all sticks together. Scoop out onto a floured work surface, knead slightly to roll into a ball, and wrap the dough in cling film.
6. Chill your dough at least 1 hour, but up to 2 weeks. It can also be frozen and thawed as needed.
7. Roll out your dough to the desired thickness (usually about 1/4 inch) and use cutters or press into pie pan. Bake at 375 until edges are slightly brown and the middle of each form is light and dry. For most cookies, this can take about 8 minutes, but watch them.
This 1-2-3 Cookie dough is adapted from the Culinary Institute of America’s Baking textbook. I’ve changed the type of flour and have often fiddled with which flavor extract I use, plus I use a bit more eggs than they do… Sometimes a little flexibility is necessary, and though I usually advise sticking to baking recipes exactly, this one does have some wiggle room.
The Caramel “Glue”:
For the Caramel filling for the base of the pie and a drizzle on the finished product, there are so many recipes. The one I use is a simple one, and makes a thick fudgy-ish sauce that holds the apples (or whatever else!) nicely.
Fudgy Caramel Sauce
Adapted from Les Petits Macarons by Gordon and McBride, this fudgy caramel is easy, thick, oozes flavor and can be adapted so easily.
- 120 g heavy cream
- 400 g granulated white sugar
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice (or water in a pinch)
- 1 pinch salt
1. Moisten your sugar with the lemon juice in the bottom of a sauce pan and heat without stirring on medium high until your sugar melts. Continue to let it bubble and use a pastry brush dipped in water to brush down any sugar granules that stick to the sides of your pan.
2. Meanwhile, microwave your heavy cream for about a minute. Heating your cream helps to minimize spatter. (You can add herbs, etc, to your cream to steep and really grab extra interesting flavors at this step.)
3. When your sugar begins to turn an amber color and you can smell the toasting caramel, stand back and pour your hot cream into your melted sugar. Stir to mix, getting all the sugar and cream mixed evenly.
4. Remove from the heat, add the pinch of salt and pour your caramel into a clean glass jar. Try to wait for it to cool before licking your utensils!
The Bacon-Apple Rosettes:
The trick to these Bacon-Apple Rosettes is to cook the bacon to soft but not crisp and the apples to a similar consistency. Use evenly cut apple slices to help cook evenly and work with the cooked apples and bacon while they’re warm but not too hot to touch. Having multiple plates prepped with paper towels, though they do clutter your space, really helped me when my hands were full of slippery apples.
Bacon Apple Rosettes
Bacon and slices of apples arranged in spirals resembling roses, perfect to nestle in pie shells or to gobble whole.
- 1 lb bacon strips, fairly thick cut and with fat stripped away
- 2 lb apples with dark red skin, such as red delicious
- 1 C sugar
- 1 tbsp diced fresh ginger
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 C apple juice
- 2 tsp lemon juice
1. Gently pan-fry your bacon strips until done but not crispy. Drain the cooked bacon on paper towels until cool enough to handle.
2. Slice apples with peel on into disks approximately 3/8 inch thick. A mandolin can come in handy here to make even pieces so they'll cook at the same rate.
3. Cover a single layer of sliced apples in the bottom of a wide pan with the apple juice and lemon juice. Toss in the ginger and cinnamon and sugar. Warm the apples gently to a simmer and turn the apple slices over. When the apple slices feel flexible enough to roll without snapping, take them out and let them drain on a paper towel.
4. Add more apple slices in a single layer to cook evenly. Don't overload your pan with apples or you won't have a good eye on when they're done.
5. When your apples have cooled enough to touch, take three slices and overlap them. Cut off the bottoms to create a straight edge and place a strip of bacon over the row of apple slices. Gently pick up one end of the bacon and apple strip and roll them up as tightly as you can. It helps to turn the pieces so the straight edge is on the bottom, touching your work surface. Add more apple slices to your spiral until your get a nice large rosette. Place your rosette on a clean plate to cool further, allowing the cooling to help firm up your flower.
Into your cooled pie shell, pour some caramel. About a centimeter thick. Place your rosettes in the pie shell, making sure they touch. Let them lean into each other like rugby players in a scrum. Fill in the nooks and crannies between rosettes with extra small rosettes made with individual apple slices. Let your pie chill in the fridge; it helps your rosettes to be more firmly held in your pie. Then warm some extra caramel and drizzle it on top — it doesn’t hurt, wink! Then stand back and prepare for the standing ovation. Have a crisp glass of viognier or prosecco to cut the caramel with … Delicious!