Recipe of the week: fried apple pie bites from 'Cook As You Are' by Ruby Tandoh

07 October 2021
Recipe of the week: fried apple pie bites from 'Cook As You Are' by Ruby Tandoh

These are like something from a sweet-toothed fever dream: apple slices rolled in butter, cinnamon and brown sugar, then enrobed in spring roll wrappers and deep-fried. When cooked, they're shatteringly crisp on the outside, jammy and sweet within. They're inspired by two very different culinary masterpieces: Filipino turon – sweet plantain dipped in sugar, wrapped in spring roll pastry and fried – and the McDonald's apple pie.

You can get spring roll wrappers from lots of larger supermarkets and pretty much any East or South-East Asian grocery shop. Look for square ones roughly 20 × 20cm (you should find them in the freezers).

Makes: 16 mini apple pies

Ready in: roughly 1 hour 30 minutes, or less if you're speedy when rolling the little spring rolls

  • 16 spring roll wrappers
  • (roughly 250g)
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 75g soft light brown sugar
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 4 medium apples* (roughly 400g)
  • 1 1/2 litres sunflower or vegetable oil, or more if using a deep-fat fryer

Serve with: ice-cream, optional

Special equipment: sugar thermometer or temperature probe; deep-fat fryer, optional

*I used eating apples as these hold their shape best when cooked. If you want to mimic the McDonald's apple pie flavour – that green apple tang – you could try Bramley apples instead, though they may collapse and leak from the pastry while frying.

Start by getting the spring roll wrappers out of the freezer if you haven't already done so: they'll need 30-60 minutes, in the packet, to defrost.

Once the spring roll wrappers are defrosted, you can prepare the filling. Melt the butter and put into a small bowl. Into a separate bowl, add the sugar and stir in the cinnamon. Once everything is in order, peel and core the apples and slice each one into quarters. Have a damp tea towel to hand: this will stop the spring roll wrappers from drying out once you start working. Get out a small bowl or glass of water, to help to seal the pastry shut.

To assemble each apple pie bite, take one spring roll wrapper (replace your damp tea towel over the remaining stack) and lay it on the work surface in front of you. Take one apple piece and dip it in the melted butter, rolling it over to coat it. Now roll the buttered apple in the cinnamon sugar mixture until well coated. Lay the sugared apple slice near the bottom edge of the spring roll wrapper, in the centre.

Roll the wrapper up over it so that it's cradled near the bottom, then fold in the left and right sides of the wrapper so the apple is tightly enclosed, and your roll is as wide as the piece of apple. Roll up from the bottom to create a fat parcel of apple and pastry. Once you're nearly done rolling, dip your finger in the water that you got ready earlier and smear across the top edge of the wrapper: this will seal the pastry shut as you give the apple a final turn and encase it in its wrapper. You should be left with a neat(ish) tightly packed spring roll.

Repeat the above process until you've buttered, sugared and wrapped all 16 pieces of apple. When you're nearly done, heat the oil in a medium to large saucepan, making sure it's at least 3cm deep, but comes no higher than halfway up the sides of the pan. Monitor the oil temperature with a sugar thermometer or temperature probe.

When the oil is hot and the spring rolls are ready, you can start frying. Add the spring rolls to the hot oil in batches of no more than eight. Let them fry for 10 minutes, turning them regularly. They'll sizzle and spit as they cook, and a few beads of sugar may leak out into the oil: all this is absolutely fine, just watch over them and keep an eye on the oil temperature. Once they're done, they should be a deep gold colour and will rattle crisply when you move them with a slotted spoon.

Remove from the oil with your slotted spoon and transfer to a plate or board. Your instinct might be to blot these with kitchen paper to remove excess oil, but I'd caution against it: the paper can stick to any caramelised flecks of sugar on the outside of the rolls. Let cool slightly before enjoying either by themselves or with ice cream.

Variations and substitutions

For a vegan version, swap the butter for 20g coconut oil. Caster sugar will work in place of the soft light brown sugar, but won't give the same toffee flavour.

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