The sun was shining, the birds were singing and my bicycle was glistening and raring to go. Foraging can be a trifle difficult when you’re cycling if, like me, you think you’re Victoria Pendleton. Berries can whizz past in the blink of an eye and then you need to brake, reverse to try and find the source of your distraction. When I went out to get these elderberries I took it nice and slowly to ensure I could scour the hedgerows sufficiently.
It wasn't quite as smooth as I envisaged, it wasn’t like I could grab the berries as I cycled past; that would have been a bit too suave. Elderberries seem to grow just beyond my reach and there is always a little danger involved when picking; will you fall in the ditch, slip in the mud or even lose a welly. This most recent expedition resulted in me being attacked by some stinging nettles, swearing rather loudly and then just a few moments later kicking my bicycle stand into my own foot.
Despite the mishaps, discomfort and wasps trying to fly up my nose I managed to procure a nice selection of ripe elderberries. At the weekend I had bought some apples wonderfully entitled Peasgood’s Nonsuch as I had heard they are a fantastic cooking apple. Now seemed like the perfect time to find out.
You will need (for four turnovers):
100g butter, frozen
200g plain flour
2 cooking apples (Peasgood’s if you can get them)
A handful of elderberries
1 egg, beaten
Sugar for dustingAfter watching the recent Great British Bake Off where they made rough puff pastry I asked my Granny how to make it. She said to put the butter into the freezer for half an hour or so and then grate it into the flour. So using the half fat to flour as for normal pastry I tried it. It looks a bit like you have grated a load of cheese into the bowl of flour. I worked it in with a blunt knife but didn't take it quite to the breadcrumb stage. When it’s all grated in add drops of cold water until you have a firm dough. Put into the fridge for half an hour. If you've not tried making rough puff before it is so simple I can’t recommend it enough.
Peel the apples and chop them into small-ish chunks. Put them into a pan with a little sugar and water and cook on medium until they start to soften. While the apples cook, remove the elderberries from their stalks by running your fingers down them away from the main stalk. Best to give them a wash before you put them in just in case there’s anything clinging on. Add these to the apples just as the apples are getting soft so that the berries burst and colour the apples a wonderful cerise. Turn the heat off and allow to cool while you sort out the pastry.
Remove the pastry from the fridge and divide into four. Roll each one out on a floured surface until it’s roughly circular. Put some of the apple mixture into the middle and then fold the pastry over the top to make a turnover. Seal the edges with some firm pinching, put a few slits in the top of the pastry and then brush with the beaten egg. Put into the oven at 190C for 35-40 minutes. I would advise putting them onto some greaseproof paper in case the sugary juices leak out and render them immovably adhered to your baking tray. Dust with a little sugar while they are still warm.
It’s very difficult to resist a freshly baked anything, even more so when you've used an ingredient you're yet to taste. I tucked in to one straight out of the oven with some clotted cream. It made the bruised foot and stung arm disappear instantly with its warmth, sweetness and cool, soothing cream. Peasgood’s are indeed a marvellous cooking apple keeping their shape and flavour throughout cooking. The elderberries were like tiny purple jewels nestled amongst the apple and pastry giving a wonderful tartness and distinct flavour.
This is a truly wonderful combination. I’m sure it would be lovely with bramleys but the Peasgood’s really gave it something extra. The elderberries seem to convince you that everything is ok; because they have that wonderful elderflower flavour you almost feel like it’s spring again. Next time I make them I will wait until the evenings are cooler and I can fill the house with wonderful aromas before tucking myself in and tucking in to another one of these glorious turnovers.