Food inspires me visually first; always! It usually starts with an obsession over an ingredient and evolves to take many shapes or forms until I feel content and ready to move on.
I have a vivid memory of my first year as a new comer in Finland. My best friend came to visit me in Helsinki. I was incredibly proud to show her how well I had adjusted to my new life and how perfect the Finnish produce were! What better way to do demonstrate my confidence than to head off to the nearest grocery store and bake her an apple tart? How grown-up and well integrated!
Proud to showcase my brand-new Finnish language skills, I proceeded to ask from one of the store employee, which fruit would be best suitable as “Kukka Omena”.. As she looked puzzled, I quickly dismissed the concern to my friend by explaining that most likely my French accent was the issue and proceeded to ask repeatedly where to find the “Kukka Omena” using different voices & intonations. I started adding sign language imitating the shape of cake-making (don’t ask…) when finally, in a sudden burst of inspiration, the lady reaches runs out to a basket nearby, smiles at me excitedly and hands me… A pomegranate!
Undeterred, I thanked her with a confident “Kiiiiitooos!!!!” or thank you in Finnish (I later learned that the proper way to pronounce it was to act as if in fact NOT grateful at all!) ; headed to the cashier to pay, and as she turns around in a relieved “swoosh” gesture, hurriedly grabbed the nearest bag of apples and returned the useless pomegranate!
It’s not until I was halfway into the recipe that I realized that I had made a total fool of myself by, instead of asking for “Cake apples” or Kakku Omena (i.e that would be strong enough to hold in a tart recipe ) – I was frantically begging for a “Flower Apple*” –Kukka Omena- !!
This is how this recipe was born and this is why, when I do take the time to prepare it I enjoy adding a flowers as part of the design, and to reminisce of more naive me (aka – who thought she could actually speak Finnish one day 🙂 )
- For the “Kukka Omena” crust:
- 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) flour
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 3 large apples,
- Half a jar of Apricot jam
- Opt. Apple sauce
Mix the butter in a bowl, Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add the egg, until just incorporated. Add the flour and salt and mix just until it forms a ball. Don’t overwork or your pastry will be hard when baked.) Flatten dough into disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour. Preheat the oven at 200C , Roll your pastry (try to keep some extra pastry for the flowers) and place onto the tart pan. Bake in the oven with some weight on it (cover with baking paper & place some rice, dried chickpeas or beans) to prevent the dough from rising.
To prepare the apples- you can either cut them and place them directly on the pie; or to get the rose shape, cut them thinly and place in a microwave proof bowl for about 1 min 30. When the apple are cooler, they are soft enough to be folded into rose shapes; Place them on the dough you covered with jam & sprinkle the whole thing with Sugar & Cinnamon. Bake for an additional 20 min and enjoy!
By the way, I still try to speak Finnish in stores, yet the clerks insist on responding back to me in English…. I’m guessing it’s got to be the accent right?