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A Tale of Three Apples

Final 3 apple (2)Sometimes you never know where a recipe will lead you. Recently, while making a boiled apple pudding, it occurred to me that there are many recipes that use the exact same ingredients—some type of pastry plus a filling. For example, a Beignet of Red Currant Jam, a Boiled Apple Pudding, and Kickshaw, are all essentially created using the same ingredients. What is different is the way in which they are cooked or baked.

That led to even more pondering. What if I baked or fried this instead of boiled it? Would they be flakier? Heavier? Which one would taste better? Which would be the preferred recipe? I decided to make all three recipes using one standard recipe of puff pastry (see our blog), three apples mixed with sugar and a little spice, and egg to bind them. Here are the results of my culinary experiment.

Boiling: A Boiled Apple Pudding

For this version, I took a large piece of puff pastry (see our blog) and filled it with the apple filling. The pastry was brushed with some beaten egg around the edges, brought together and squeezed shut. It was then placed into a prepared pudding cloth and boiled for an hour and a half. Once it cooled, the pudding was turned out into a dish and a hole was cut in the top to observe the filling.

Frying: Beignets of Red Currant Jam
(albeit apple in this case)


For this version, another piece of the dough was rolled out into a thin sheet. The pastry was then brushed with beaten egg. The apple filling was added in little sections about three inches apart. A second sheet of pastry was placed on top, and sealed by using a pastry jagger. The little pastry packets were then dropped into hot lard and fried until golden brown on both sides.   After removing them from the oil, they were allowed to cool slightly before being covered with confectionery sugar.

Baking: Kickshaws


The pastry was processed in the same fashion as for frying, but instead of dropping the little pastry packets into hot lard, I baked them in our brick oven. The pastry was allowed to bake until it was crisp and lightly golden.

The Consensus

Final 3 apple (2)

Hands down, the fried version was the winner. The baked version was a close second. And the boiled version was a distant third. When asked why people did not care for the boiled version, most of them answered it was because of a boiled “breadiness” they tasted. It’s a flavor most of us are not accustomed to in modern baking. Of course, that didn’t mean it wasn’t tasty—just different.

The Challenge

Why not try this experiment on your own? Instead of using apples you could use jam or jelly or even butter and brown sugar! This would be a great activity to do with a group (Scouts or Church) or with your children. If you do try it, let us know! Enjoy!

Kimberly Costa
Historic Foodways

NOTE: The recipe for the Boiled Apple Pudding will be available in an upcoming blog. So, stay tuned!