Saturday, September 27, 2014

Second-Stab Saturday: Put Apples on the Primordial Ginger Paste

We at A Book of Cookrye are pleased to announce our newest feature: Second-Stab Saturdays! This is when we go back and have a second go at something that was disappointing but seemed like it was only a few revisions away from being really good. Or, like today, taking the leftovers from a disastrous culinary perpetration and seeing if they can't somehow be repurposed into something good. Like our other weekday-themed feature, this will be occasional and subject to no set schedule (other than always being on a Saturday).
The name will occasionally be literal.

For our first Second-Stab Saturday, we will be revisiting the first (and to date only) reader-submitted recipe I ever got! Coincidentally, it's also the first reader-submitted recipe to make me want to seriously reconsider whether I want to do reader recipes.
Primordial Gingerbread Apple Crisp
250 g (≈¾ c) honey
250g (≈9 oz) rye breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
3-4 apples (I used Gala)
4 tbsp. butter
¾ c. brown sugar (either will work, I prefer dark)
Cinnamon to taste
2 tbsp. butter
¼ c. brown sugar
Flour (whole-wheat adds a nice flavor)

For the crust, warm the honey just until it boils. Meanwhile, stir together the breadcrumbs and spices. When the honey boils, remove from heat and stir in the breadcrumbs. Spray a deep 9" or 10" round or square pan well. It needs plenty of room for the filling to boil up lest it spill over and produce a smoke bomb on the oven floor. When cool enough to handle, press the crust onto the bottom of it, not the sides. Set aside.
For the filling, cut up the apples, leaving the skin on. Melt together the butter and brown sugar. Take off heat and stir in the cinnamon. Add the apples and stir to coat.
For the topping, cream the butter and sugar. Add enough flour to make it crumbly.
Put the apples in the crust and pour any syrup that remains over them. Sprinkle the topping over all. Bake at 350° until the apples are fork-tender, about 45-60 minutes.

*crust adapted from Source
You can add nuts, oatmeal or whatever you like to this.

You see, as... interesting as the primordial gingerbread was, I couldn't bring myself to waste nearly a whole pan it. Sure, people thought it was a pan of beef jerky. Yes, if you had more than one bite you felt like you'd swallowed a bag of concrete mix which then set inside your stomach.
Sure, it had the flexibility of shoe leather.
But I just couldn't bring myself to actually throw it out. For some reason, it grew on me. As I tasted the conflicting flavors of rye, honey, and spice cake, for some reason I thought it would be perfect underneath a lovely apple pie. It was 6AM and I was extremely tired and therefore more likely to entertain such daft thoughts. I imagined the flavor of apples and tons of brown sugar permeating the ginger-jerky, tempering the rye, harmonizing with the honey...
I also imagined stabbing it for embarrassing me in front of my friends. Then I trimmed it to fit the pan.

Butterscotch in a pot. Divoon.

And hey, if throwing more ingredients and time at something can produce tasty things out of orange peels, why not see if it works on gingerpaste?
The pot was too small to mix in the apples. Fortunately, someone left their rice cooker downstairs (yes, I washed and dried it).

If you take away the Tudor "gingerbread", this is my apple pie recipe. So if nothing else, having made this before, I knew everything above the bottom crust would be good. The only difference is I threw together a crumb topping of flour, butter, and brown sugar. Usually, when I make a pie crust, I take up the little scraps and pebbles that remain off the counter, rub in some sugar and whatever spices, and use that on top.
Yes, I baked it in a saucepan. I had nothing else.

Crumbs are the salvation of those who don't feel like rolling out a pie crust.

It came out bubbling away, meaning that hopefully the syrup had permeated the crust beneath.

However, this thing did not want to slice. I had to bring in the Iron Spoon of Flirtation to cut through it.
On the bright side, it lifted out of the pan nicely once one managed to cut it.

Eventually, I got a piece on a plate. The harmless vegetable dye in the crust made it look like I'd put apples atop a slab of raw beef. Hmm... you know how these days it seems people who are seriously stuck-up about food want their beef as uncooked as possible?
I think I have an idea to serve to those who put snobbery before taste.

But you know what? This worked. Somehow, it all added up. I don't mean the apple pie covered up all the taste of the ginger "bread" under it; somehow it was the last thing that somehow made everything else come together. Also, the boiling softened out all the gritty breadcrumbs.
I even took it to work and people ate it all.
So, you know what? I'm going to go out and say this is totally worth trying! Just... don't put red food coloring in the crust. And make it at most half the thickness that the gingerpaste was for this (hence cutting the crust amounts in half for the recipe).

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