Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Crabapple and lavender compote

For some reason both Saba (the true heroine of this story) and I both recall being told that these little red pigmy fruit were poisonous.  As children we would look at them longingly as they hung in big clusters off the tree outside the lounge.  In fact it wasn't until very recently when we saw our cousins from overseas devouring them that we realised that although extremely sour, they are very much edible! 
Having just come back from learning to be a pastry chef in Paris, Saba is full of great ideas on adapting classics with whatever wonderful delights we can pillage from the garden.  So last Sunday I was instructed to come over nice and early (well early for a Sunday) with a big bag of crabapples and a handful of lavender. 
Oh boy the result was too good not to share.  Lights fluffy scones, healthy dollops of whipped cream, a sour lavender infused compote and a drizzle of homemade caramel sauce.  Should I go on?  Or are you already half way to the kitchen?

Saba's Crabapple and Lavender Compote
You probably won't find crabapples in your local supermarket, but your local farmers market should have them in early Autumn.  Or if you're really sneaky you might be able to pinch them off your neighbours tree.

What you'll need:
245g Crab apples - Cored and cut into quarters (I like to leave a few in halves, for extra texture)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
25g Unsalted butter
30g Sugar
10g water
Lavender Syrup:
75g Water
75 Sugar
4 x Lavender flower heads
What you do (this sounds long and complicated but is actually very easy!):
To make the lavender Syrup:
- Combining equal parts water and sugar in a small pot, 
- Heat until the mixture comes to a boil and the sugar is completely dissolved. 
- Remove from the heat and immerse the lavender heads in the syrup
- Put the lid on and let it infuse for 5 minutes
- Remove the lavender and reserve it for later
To make the compote:
 - Cut the crab apples into quarters and remove the core (some recipes say this isn't necessary, but I find the  core is a bit woody when cooked). I like to keep about a quarter of my crab apples cut in halves, because it adds a little more texture.
- Squeeze the lemon juice over the apples, to stop them from browning.-
-  Melt the butter in a medium sized pot (on medium heat)
 - Stir until it is well browned and emits a soft caramelised smell.
- Add the crab apples and sugar, mix to combine, and put the lid on the pot.  
- Cook for 5 mins, stirring occasionally
- Add 10g of water.
- Mix well and pop the lid back on, cooking for another 5 minutes or so, until the apples are soft, but not quite falling apart.
- Add 40g of the lavender syrup
- Cook until the mixture becomes thick (almost jam like in appearance at the edges)
- Lastly, pick the lavender petals (including the small 'buds') from two of the lavender heads reserved from the syrup, and mix evenly through the compote. At this stage I also like to mix in a dash more of the lavender syrup.
Best served with scones and lashings of cream!  (We are big fans of the trusty Edmonds scone recipe which you can find here)
- Crab apples are very tart, and this compote is too! We love it, but if you would like some extra sweetness, just add 10g of extra sugar before you add the lavender petals, and cook until the sugar is combined.
- Don't have crab apples?  This recipe would also work well with any tart apple variety.

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