What I Love | Équilibre Edition

I’m pleased to introduce you to Nic and Pascal – a husband and wife powerhouse duo and generally delightful people.

I can’t remember exactly how I first met them – I had spotted flyers for their business in Studio Bomba, some of my friends had attended their fitness classes, they frequent my market and just generally overlap in the foodie community. But in a way that can only be described as serendipitous, there they were.

Nic and Pascal are always just so wonderful to talk to, grounded and knowledgeable, but not in a way that’s preachy or obnoxious – there’s nothing worse than someone who’s so focused on their message that there’s no room for anything else, and that is decidedly not the van Kans. They know that some times you just need wine, or cake or time out, and that is a truly wonderful thing.

So, team, say hello!

What I Love – Équilibre Edition

Who are you and what do you do?

We are Pascal and Nicole van Kan – a husband and wife team who juggle bringing up our young children with working and building our heart-centred business, Équilibre – Fitness for Foodies.

Pascal is a fully qualified exercise professional with 2 decades of experience in the fitness industry. He is a keen tri-athlete and has a passion for all things bikes (including managing Reid Cycles in Perth).

Nic works for UWA Publishing and has always cultivated her love for good food, cooking, baking and aesthetics. With a little help from Pascal, she is also a reformed exercise-phobic!

Balancing exercise and eating well with the realities of a busy family life is not always easy – we know this! That’s why our aim for Équilibre is to take away the fear and confusion, to inspire clients to be kinder to their bodies and to help them reclaim a sense of equilibrium. We’d like to think that our approach to food and fitness is balanced, down-to-earth and filled with joy.

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Why Perth?

Nic has lived in Perth since moving from the UK as a young girl, but Pascal is a relative newcomer. Although Dutch-born, he came from Melbourne around 18 years ago for a brief working holiday and decided never to leave!

Perth is the perfect place to bring up kids and supports the kind of lifestyle we love. We like the fact that we are (somewhat) insulated from the rest of the world, but also feel a sense of pride that Perth seems to be growing up of late – supporting a blossoming food scene and a host of creative entrepreneurs. It’s an exciting place to be!

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What (or who) inspires you?

Nic: I find authenticity inspiring. I’m also attracted to people who understand what they’re passionate about and are unafraid to pursue their dreams.

I’m a huge fan of Jude Blereau and her contribution to the world of whole-food cooking. It’s an approach that has always resonated with me, long before organic and ‘clean eating’ (gag!) became trendy. The idea that food needs to have an element of deliciousness and integrity, as well as being a very individual thing makes so much sense to me.

Pascal: It’s pretty simple for me. Getting out and riding my bike always provides inspiration, any time I need it!

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Your dream food day?

Would have to begin with a breakfast at Sayers – the Potato Rosti with Poached Egg is a sentimental favourite of ours.

The rest of the day we would happily hand over to Sophie Zalokar at Foragers. Her thoughtful, creative approach to cooking and sourcing the best in local produce would mean that whatever the season, we could be confident that our taste buds would be satisfied and our souls well-nourished. (There’s a reason why we choose to run our Équilibre Retreats at Foragers!)

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What ingredient makes everything better?

Can we be cheeky and say a glass of wine?

Otherwise, it would have to be Nic’s salsa verde. Packed with fresh herbs, lemon and a salty hit of capers and anchovy, we make a weekly batch to use on just about everything – salads, eggs, fish, soup. It’s our not-so fashionable version of the green smoothie and it really does make everything better.

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What’s the best thing you’ve eaten recently?

Nic: The Emperor with pickled tomato, basil, chilli and fennel at Bread in Common. The flavours were fresh, simple and delicious. Accompanied by a glass of Flowstone Gewürztraminer, it made for a truly enjoyable birthday treat.

Pascal: Nic’s Quince and Hazelnut Crumble Cake – tastes like autumn (based on an old Gourmet Traveller recipe, with a bit of a whole-food makeover.)

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Where do you love to go to eat?

Honestly? Although we appreciate good food, we rarely get the chance to ‘go out’ to eat unless you count our local pizza shop, Pizzaca (which is good, by the way!)

These days, you’re more likely to find us hanging out at coffee shops. In fact, our kids have been well-trained in café etiquette from birth!

Favourites include Yelo, The Daily, Humblebee, Hobart Street Deli and Voyage. We also really enjoyed a visit to Gordon Street Garage and are keen to try Hylin in West Leederville. The Tenth State is keeping Nic happy since moving in to UWA next door for work.

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Where do you love to hang out?

When we’re not at a café, you’re likely to find us at the local park, or riding our bikes (Perry Lakes Reserve is a great spot).

Family outings often involve a weekend farmer’s market. Subi Farmer’s Market has the best atmosphere and arguably the best stalls. Our favourites include Wild Bakery, Macabee Dorper Lamb and Spring Valley Orchard. It’s also worth adding that our daughter is quite taken with Mr Drummond’s crumpets!

We’re big fans of City Beach, too. Whether it’s fish and chips at sunset, a morning walk or simply watching the kids in the playground, it’s one of those special places that always reminds us how lucky we are to live where we do.

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What’s your favourite thing right now?

Nic: (can I have more than one?)

– Meditation (i’m so excited to be doing the Mindful in May challenge.)

– My Baker’s Drawer.

– Cooking autumn comfort food in my new French blue cast-iron enameled pot.

Dunn and Walton (organic shopping heaven!)

Pascal:

– Autumn in Perth (perfect training conditions!)

– Wines from the Adelaide hills (in particular pinot noir).

– Thursday night food shows on SBS

What are you looking forward to?

Nic: I’ve just turned 40 so I’m very much looking forward to embracing a new decade, losing the fears and becoming the kind of confident, creative person i’m so inspired by.

Pascal: I’m looking forward to developing new coaching programs for Équilibre and writing for our blog. It still excites me to be able to help clients discover a love for exercise, and gain energy and confidence in the process.

We’re also looking forward to winter and watching the Tour de France (preferably accompanied by some good red wine!)

If you would like to learn more, you can check out the website, Facebook and Instagram (where all images are from), or this from We Love Perth

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Hand Made Heaven | Salted Caramel Apple Crumble

I have a lot of cook books. Like, a lot. I’ve just realised that, of the bookshelf that is entirely dedicated to cook books, it’s full. I have come to the conclusion that I can never ever move from my current house, because moving the books is just too damn hard.

Whether you have overflowing selves like me, or no shelves, or you just want a book that covers all your day-to-day baking needs, get your hands on this. Hand Made Baking is an instant classic, and will be your go-to bible for years to come. Everything is practical, within reach of beginners, but with enough finesse to please a more seasoned baker. His tag line of simple, sophisticated, delicious is just about the perfect description for every recipe.

And Kamran? He writes over at The Sophisticated Gourmet, a gorgeous blog that I’ve been following for a little while now. Oh, and he’s 22. That’s right, TWENTY BLOODY TWO. To be so good, so young, Kamran quite simply had to be born to this. And we are all the better for it.

The forecast for Perth this weekend is pretty monstrous – storms, wind, rain, and cold, AKA Bri’s dream weather, on the proviso I can spend it in bed with books and movies. And probably a bowl of this, because why wouldn’t you? 

This apple crumble is perfect all on its own, but I couldn’t help but add lashings of salted butter caramel that I had tucked away in the fridge. There are few recipes that I make more than once, but I made this every weekend for a month, for the guys at work, for Rob, for friends at a party, because there is no one who won’t love this recipe.

P.S. Kamran’s tip of using half sweet apples and half tart is the perfect way of getting a balanced, not overly sweet crumble. Genius.

Salted Caramel Apple Crumble

Adapted from Hand Made Baking by Kamran Siddiqi

2 tsp lemon juice
6 apples, cored and thinly sliced
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup caramel sauce (store bought is fine, or something like this)

120g plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
Pinch of cinnamon
85g cold unsalted butter, chopped
150g traditional oats
70g brown sugar

Heat your oven to 200*C. Spray a brownie pan with oil, or grease with butter.

Combine the sliced apples in a large bowl with the lemon juice. Combine the sugar, salt and cinnamon, then add to the apples and carefully stir to coat. Pour into the baking dish, scatter tablespoons of caramel over the apples.

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl large enough to get your hands into. Rub the butter into the flour mixture with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the oats and combine.

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Cover the apples with the crumble, then bake for 20-25 minutes until the crumble is golden. Serve with custard or ice cream

 
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She’s my… |Bourbon Cherry Pie

It’s no secret that one of my favourite things about summer is eating myself sick on stone fruit. I spend all winter dreaming of grilled peaches, poached nectarines and tiny plums

So, when my market was selling cartons of cherries before Christmas, I went a little crazy. Let’s be honest, I don’t make great choices under pressure. What I really wanted, was the recipe for Varnish on King’s Cherry Whiskey Sour, which is probably my favourite cocktail of all time. Sadly, Jamie isn’t giving up the goods, so I settled for putting that cocktail into pie form which was probably just as delicious, and with slightly fewer next-day regrets.

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Pie is a kind of dish that you walk away from feeling accomplished. No one can ever accuse you of it coming from a box, or ‘cheating’ in any way. From having to pit the cherries, to wait for the dough to chill, you earn this pie every step of the way. Should you have any worries that it’s a lot of effort for nought, let me assure you that the final result is nothing short of completely worth it.

Yeah, you bet I played Warren on repeat while I make this sucker. There was hip swaying, and kitchen dancing, and a rollicking good time was had by all (me). In fact, I heartily suggest that you do the same.

 

Vanilla Bourbon Cherry Pie

From Half Baked Harvest

1.3 kilos fresh cherries, pitted (I really only had about 900g, which was fine)
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons cornflour
1/4 cup bourbon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, seeds removed from the pod
zest from 1 lemon
1 egg, beaten
demerara sugar or granulated sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

 

Make your favourite pastry recipe – mine is this one from Smitten Kitchen, and it’s perfect. It’s pretty much foolproof, so if you’re a beginner, it’s a great place to start.

Once dough is chilled, let it sit on your bench for 5 minutes or so to soften enough to be rolled. Grease/butter a 22cm/9-inch pie dish, and heat your oven to 220 degrees C.

On a floured bench top, roll out one half of the dough to a 30cm/12 inch round. Very carefully, lift it into your pie dish. Trim any excess dough from around the edges, then prick the base all over with a fork.

Roll out the second half of the dough on a floured bench in to a 30cm/12 inch round. Transfer onto baking paper.

To decorate the crust: now, it’s up to you how you do this – you can punch stars or holes into the crust, or cut it into strips and go the traditional weave crust – be creative, this is the fun part! If you’d like ideas, check out here. Once done, place the dough in the fridge to firm up.

Add the cherries, sugar, cornflour, bourbon, vanilla and lemon zest in a large bowl, and toss them together to make sure it’s really well combined. Scrape the fruit and all the delicious juices into the pie dish.

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Carefully place your pie crust over the pie and remove the baking paper. Crimp the bottom and top crusts together to seal in all the goodness, then brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Whack the whole thing back in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm.

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When ready to bake, place the pie dish on a baking tray (this catches any spills when the pie bubbles up and makes your oven easier to clean – trust me on this), and bake for around 30 minutes, until the crust is golden. Reduce the temperature to 180 degrees C, and bake for another 50-60 minutes to get the juices bubbling.

Leave to cool on a wire rack for a good 4 hours before tucking in, and serve with cream or vanilla ice cream.

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What I Love – Pure Glow Edition

Man has invented many brilliant things in his time upon this earth.

The wheel is a good one. As is the ability to refrigerate food. The telephone. Penicillin. All excellent things for the advancement of humanity. My personal favourite (aside from the internets and elasticated waistbands) is the deep fryer. Is there anything it can’t do? Mac and cheese, chips, a whole turkey. Mars bars, doughnuts, even Coke.

While my diet isn’t entirely deep fried, I’ve been so busy lately that an unforgivable amount of what I’m eating is take-away or quick fixes, and I feel like crap. Surprise! It turns out your mum wasn’t lying – you are what you eat. Damnit mum, I hate it when you’re right.

My system needed a bit of recovery time. Enter: Pure Glow Cleanse.

Annett has long been one of my favourite customers on a Saturday morning when I’m slinging crumpets. When she suggested that the cure to my woes may be some time out from my beloved fries, I looked at her fabulous glowing skin and demanded that she sign me up immediately.

While I don’t believe in ‘detoxing’ in the traditional sense – my liver and kidneys function perfectly well, thus have no need for detoxing – I was keen to kind of hit the reset button for my body, giving it time out from the heavily processed foods I’d been bombarding it with.

And you know what? My skin cleared up, I wasn’t as hungry as I thought I’d be, and I felt better, pure and simple.

So today, I’m talking to the fabulous Annette! Say hi, team!

What I Love – Pure Glow Cleanse Edition

Who are you/what do you do?
My name is Annette & I’m the co-founder of Pure Glow Cleanse and editor of Wellness WA (the latter is currently taking a little nap!). My business partner Jacqueline Forth and I launched Perth’s first juice cleanse delivery business in April 2013 and have been busy getting the people of Perth nourished, detoxed and glowing ever since! I also moonlight at lululemon, selling yoga gear & hitting up yoga classes with my amazing colleagues (best retail job ever!)
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Why Perth?
Perth is such an amazing place to be right now. It’s really undergoing a huge transformation and has been for the last couple of years. It’s such an exciting time to start up a business, as there are so many fantastic ideas that exist in the Eastern states and overseas which haven’t quite made it to us yet – so for entrepreneurs there is no time like the present to take a leap of faith and just go for it.
What inspires you?
Goal setting, farmers markets, yoga, dreams of travelling to Portland.
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How did Pure Glow come about?
Both Jacqueline and I wanted a cold-pressed juice company in Perth, and at the time there was nothing available. I’d been waiting for about 4 years for a juice cleanse delivery business to start up here and when she emailed me out of the blue asking if I thought it would be a good idea to start this business, I said yes instantly! From there it’s been a very crazy journey full of challenges, highs, & lots and lots of green juice!
Your dream food day?
Ha! What a great question. My dream food day would start with our Glowing Greens smoothie, I’d then head to Subiaco Farmers Market and enjoy 3 x organic crumpets with honey from Mr Drummond’s Foods (!!!), after this I’d pat some pups and have a snack of Cheezy Chipotle Kale Chips, which at $9 for a small packet is a very pricy addiction to have unfortunately.
Lunch is a Garden Goodness burger at Grill’d, washed down wish a Little Creatures cider, and I’d then go and lie down for an afternoon food-induced-nap for a few hours.
Post-nap it’s time for some Cadbury Furry Friends & then out to dinner at Meeka in Subiaco. If I could teleport anywhere in the world, dinner would be at Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco, consistenly rated the No. 1 vegetarian dining place in America.
Dessert is either apple crumble, churros, or artisan icecream. Then home to bed to most likely have vivid, food-induced dreams!
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What’s the best thing you ate recently?
Probably some yummy pumpkin soup or banana bread made by a lovely friend of mine.
Where do you love to go to eat?
Meeka, Subi Farmers Markets, Lanna Thai, Aisuru. Anywhere with great vegetarian and vegan options.
Where do you love to hang out?
Can I say at home?! I’m usually working 7 days a week so try and get to farmers markets when I can. I also really like Double Double small bar.
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What’s your favourite thing right now?

Now, and always, hounds. I’m also pretty obsessed with acai smoothies right now!

What are you looking forward to?
Summertime, exciting new business opportunities, turning 30!
If you’re interested in trying a cleanse before summer, you can read about other people’s experiences here, here, here and here.

Good eye might: An Australian education

Shameful admission time: until this week, I had never made a pavlova before.

I can only put it down to mum not being a fan of them, and as such, I never thought to make them either. The pavlova can be a tired, worked cliche, however a well made one is still a thing to marvel.

With Eat Drink Blog being such a big event, there were plenty of other duties to partake in. First of all, was welcoming our fantastic international blogger Adam Roberts from Amateur Gourmet, all the way over from LA. We arranged a BBQ beach dinner for him, in conjunction with the brilliant team from Tourism WA, Experience Perth and Rich Keam, WA’s Taste Master. You can check out Adam’s post on our dinner here – and yes, it was me who taught Ads to ruin the English language, in true blue, ocker style.

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I told our international guests to be kind with their evaluations of my first pavlova; that if I failed at making one, then I’d be sent to Tasmania as penance. Yes, if you do badly in this life, you get shipped to the penal colony, and if you do bad in the penal colony, you get shipped to Tassie. I’m not sure they realised I was kidding.

I used this fool-proof recipe from SBS Food – it was gorgeously crisp on the outside, and chewy on the inside. I split the mix in half and made two pavs, then stacked one on top of the other, but whichever way you do it, it’s all good!

Mixed Berry Pavlova

Adapted from SBS Food

6 egg whites
330 g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tbsp cornflour, sifted
600 ml thickened cream
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 handful strawberries, sliced
1 handful blueberries
Handful of mint leaves, shredded
Strawberry syrup, recipe here

Preheat oven to 130°C.

On some baking paper, draw around a large plate or cake pan as a template for the size of your pav. Turn the baking paper over, then line a baking tray.

Using a mixer, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Continue mixing, adding a tablespoon of sugar at a time, until the mixture is glossy and thick. Gently fold in the vanilla paste and cornflour until combined.

Pour the mixture onto the baking paper, and smooth to the edges of the circle you’ve drawn. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour 45 minutes. Turn off the oven, and leave to cool with the door closed. I left mine overnight.

Whip the cream and sugar together until soft peaks form. Spread the cream over the pavlova, then decorate with berries, syrup and mint leaves.
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When it rains, it pours

Does anyone else get that thing where you’ll have no birthdays/events/work/whatever for weeks at a time, and then everything at once?

August and September are a flood of birthdays in my world. There’s a week in August where I have 10 birthdays in 7 days – that’s a lot of birthday cake for one person to eat! Thankfully, I consider myself a cake eating ninja and am completely up to the task!

My most recent birthday belonged to my beloved boss from my Day Job. When you have a job that’s as stressful as mine can be, you always take the opportunity to celebrate/eat your feelings when it presents itself. It’s the right thing to do!

So, I asked her what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday. She professed a weakness for a cupcake from a nearby shop; lemony with a crunchy coconut topping. I’d never tried it, and sadly the shop no longer sells it, so it was up to my imagination to come up with the goods.

As fate would have it, Julia Taylor posted her recipe for lemon syrup cake while I was madly trawling the internets for inspiration. Salvation! Julia’s recipes are always reliable, and always delicious. It’s a great cake for someone without a sweet tooth, when you just don’t feel like chocolate (It happens sometimes. I don’t judge) or perhaps just want to feel like you’re not celebrating your birthday in the office.

Lucy’s Sunshine Cake

Adapted from Julia Taylor and Tracey’s Culinary Adventure

Lemon Syrup Cake
250g softened unsalted butter
325g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
Zest of three lemons
80ml milk
80ml lemon juice
350g self-raising flour

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C. Grease a cake tin, then line with baking paper.

Cream together the butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high until pale and fluffy; this will take a few minutes. Add the lemon zest and vanilla extract, then the eggs one at a time.

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Turn the speed to low, then alternate the flour and milk/lemon juice until combined. Pour the mixture into the cake tin, then bake for 35 – 40 minutes. A skewer will come out sticky but clean when the cake is ready.

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I squeezed the juice on one of the lemons over the cake while it was still hot for extra lemony goodness. Cool in the tin, then gently run a knife around the edge of the tin to help get it out cleanly.

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Coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream
300g sugar
6 large egg whites
340g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup coconut milk

Place a with the sugar and egg whites in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk them together constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot to the touch.

Pour the mixture into a stand mixture fitted with a whisk attachment (or keep mixing with an electric, but it will take longer). Beat on medium high until it cools and resembles a fluffy meringue. Dice the butter into small pieces and add to the mixture a couple at a time until incorporated. Continue to beat on high for a few minutes until fluffy and glossy.

Add the vanilla extract, coconut milk and salt to the mixture, and beat again on medium until incorporated and smooth.

Once the cake is completely cool, cover the cake with a thin layer of icing (a crumb coat) and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes to firm up. This stops you from getting cake crumbs in your lovely icing, and helps give you a smooth finish. After that, ice as you wish!

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I decorated the outside of the cake with toasted coconut flakes just to give it a bit of crunch and interest.

And that’s why I’m not allowed to play with fire

Accident prone. Klutz. Breaker of nice things. Danger to self and society. I get called a lot of things, and they’re usually all true.

I set fire to my hair once. Ok, ok! I’ve done it twice. Both times were accidents though, much like the time I singed off the tips of my eyelashes. What?! Don’t look at me like that, it could have happened to anybody. All I’m saying is, don’t use a stove-top kettle with a hangover. And curling irons are dangerous. As are aerosol cans and gas stove tops.

I don’t normally like to advocate burning things. Pyromania is bad, mmkay?

HOWEVER. There is an exception to the rule in butter. Sweet jeebus, burnt butter is a miracle ingredient that makes everything taste better. Even butter better is that it has both sweet and savoury applications. That’s right, it goes just as well in pasta dishes as it does in cakes.

Remember how I accidentally ended up with 5 kilos of carrots, and it resulted in epic carrot soup? Well, I also accidentally found myself in possession of 2 kilos of apples. Thus, apple pie.

I’m a little afraid of making proper pies, so instead, I make galettes. It’s all the key ingredients of pie, but easy and ‘rustic’. The simple step of browning the butter before adding it to the apples kind of makes you wonder why you never thought of it before.

With 48 hours to go until Spring, and Winter taking its dying breaths, this weekend is the perfect time to give this a go.

Brown Butter Apple Galette

From White on Rice Couple

2 sheets of puff pastry, or my favourite recipe here
340g unsalted butter
9 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin
65g caster sugar
100g packed brown sugar
1/4 cup plain flour
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice (the fresh stuff, not from a bottle)

Preheat oven to 220°C

Add the butter to a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the butter for a couple of minutes until it starts to foam, and then turn brown. The butter will take on a slightly nutty, toasted smell. Once this happens, remove from heat and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, toss together the apple slices in a large bowl with the sugars and flour, until the apple is well coated. Once the butter has cooled, add it to the apples, making sure you scrape in all the little brown bits (because they’re delicious!). Add the lemon juice, and toss again to coat. Set aside.

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Roll out the dough between two pieces of baking paper until evenly round and about half a centimeter thick. Add half of the apples to the middle of the dough, spreading them out evenly and leaving a border around the edge of about 5cm.

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Fold the edge of the dough over the apples, creasing if need be. Repeat with the remaining dough and apples.

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Brush the edges of the dough with cream, milk or a whisked egg, and sprinkle with a little more sugar, and then a little bit of flaked salt.

Bake for 20 minutes, then turn down the oven to 180°C and bake for a further 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden.

Serve with vanilla ice cream.

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