Friday, August 27, 2010

The Country Fair

As the end of summer nears the harvests begin. This weekend at Heritage Park they are having their Harvest Sale which include truckloads of fresh foods at turn of the century prices. Along with that we start to see the harvest moon along the horizon looking swollen and red. Farmers markets, transient produce sellers and the country fair are bulging at the seams with all the delights. Get your turkey, chicken and all the fixin's. Corn, peaches and fresh baked pie. Tart Raspberries, wild strawberries and Saskatoon Berry Jam. Buy it all while munching on Kettle Popped Corn, Soft Pretzels, Candy Apples and Doughnuts.

Indulge in a little end-of-summer nostalgia of your own.

Candy Apples

12 red-skinned apples
3 cups (750 mL) granulated sugar
½ cup (125 mL) light corn syrup
1 cup (250 mL) water
12 Popsicle sticks

1.Wash and dry the apples thoroughly. Ensure the apples are crisp and unblemished. Remove the stems, and insert a Popsicle stick into each stem spot until secure. Place apples on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
2.Add the sugar, corn syrup, and water to a large saucepan set over medium heat. Set a wooden spoon, a glass of water, a pastry brush, and a candy thermometer beside the stove.
3.Use the wooden spoon to stir the mixture until it boils. Attach the candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan. Dip the pastry brush in the glass of water and brush down the sides of the saucepan to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Continue to cook the mixture, without stirring, over medium heat. When the mixture reaches 300°f (150°c), immediately remove the saucepan from the heat.
4.Working quickly and carefully, twirl each apple until well coated with the hot candy. Transfer to the baking sheet to cool.
5.Place on a decorative platter or individually wrap each apple in cellophane and tie with a ribbon. The apples will keep for 3 days.

Tip: Local red-skinned apples suitable for making candy apples include McIntosh, Ida Red, Cortland, Red Delicious, Empire and Gala.
Serves 12.

Soft Pretzels

1 ½ cups (375 mL) water, heated to 110°f (43°c)
1 Tbsp (15 mL) granulated sugar
2 tsp (10 mL) fine sea salt
1 Tbsp (15 mL) active dry yeast
4 ½ cups (1.125 L) all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp (30 mL) unsalted butter
1 Tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil
½ cup (125 mL) baking soda
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp (15 mL) water
¼ cup (60 mL) kosher salt

1.Combine the warm water, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Sprinkle the yeast on top. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes, until it begins to foam. Add the flour and butter. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Mix on medium for 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth and comes together into a ball.
2.Grease a large, clean bowl with oil. Place the dough into the bowl, turning it to ensure it is well coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm spot for 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
3.Preheat the oven to 425°f (220°c). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
4.Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the baking soda. While the water is heating, remove the dough from the bowl. Cut into 16 equal wedges. Roll each piece of dough into a 12-inch (30 cm) rope. Make a “U” shape with the rope. Cross the ends over each other and press together at the bottom of the “U” to form a pretzel shape. Transfer the pretzels to the baking sheet.
5.Add the pretzels, one at a time, to the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove the pretzels from the water, and return them to the baking sheet.
6.Beat together the egg yolk and water. Brush each pretzel with the egg wash. Generously sprinkle each pretzel with the kosher salt. Bake for 15 minutes or until the pretzels are dark golden brown and smell amazing.
7.Cool for 5 minutes on a rack. Serve warm with honey mustard sauce.
Serves 16.

Tip: These pretzels are at their best the day they are made.

Jam Doughnuts

2 ¼ tsp (11 mL) active dry yeast
1 tsp + ¼ cup (5 mL + 60 mL) granulated sugar, divided
½ cup (125 mL) water, heated to 110°f (43°c)
½ cup (125 mL) milk
¼ cup (60 mL) unsalted butter
1 tsp (5 mL) fine sea salt
2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
1 large egg
½ cup (125 mL) homemade fruit jam
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup (250 mL) icing sugar

1.Soak the yeast and the 1 tsp (5 mL) sugar in the warm water for 10 minutes in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
2.Heat the milk in a small saucepan until bubbles form around the edges. Remove from the heat. Add the butter, the ¼ cup (60 mL) sugar, and salt, stirring until the butter melts. Cool the mixture until it is lukewarm. Add the milk mixture to the risen yeast. Add the flour and the egg. Mix the dough for 5 minutes on medium speed.
3.Scrape the dough into a mound. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise 2 hours in a warm, draft-free spot.
4.Punch the dough down, attach the dough hook to the stand mixer, and knead for 5 minutes at medium speed. Roll the dough out to a ¼-inch (6 mm) thickness. Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. (The dough is very soft; this step makes the dough easier to handle.) Cut out circles with a 2½-inch (6 cm) round cutter and let stand another 5 minutes.
5.Place 1 heaping tsp (7 mL) of jam in the centre of half of the rounds. With a wet finger, moisten the edges around the jam. Top with the remaining rounds and seal the edges firmly. Let the doughnuts rise, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
6.Pour 3 inches (8 cm) of oil into a medium-large saucepan and heat to 350°f (180°c). Carefully place no more than 2 or 3 doughnuts into the oil at one time. As they rise to the top of the oil and turn dark golden brown, turn them over. Each side will take about 3 minutes. Remove the doughnuts from the oil and drain on a plate lined with paper towel. Before adding more doughnuts to the oil, make sure the oil has returned to 350°f (180°c). Continue cooking in batches.
7.After the doughnuts have been fried, let them cool for 10 minutes.
8.Using a fine sieve, dust both sides of the doughnuts with icing sugar before enjoying.
Serves 12.

Tip: We like using bumble berry jam in this recipe, but any jam will work well in these doughnuts as long as it is quite thick.

Excerpts from The Harrow Fair Cookbook by Moira Sanders, Lori Elstone and Beth Goslin Maloney. Copyright © 2010 by authors. Excerpted by permission of Whitecap Books Ltd.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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