Apple Roses: A Rant
If you’re the kind of person that literally only eats with their eyes, meaning that you love looking at food pictures more then actually trying out the recipes yourself, then chances are that you derive your satisfaction not from making the food you see online, but simply by seeing it. So, in other words, you’re a food porn connoisseur that gets off on some sick version of food voyeurism. I don’t blame you, and you’re definitely not alone in doing so (you weirdo). I myself scour the internet looking for my food porn fix on the daily, but once in a while I like to try out the stuff I see, just to see what happens. Cue the Apple Roses Gif that’s been making its rounds on the internet.
Easy-peasy lemon squeezy. A monkey could watch this and start baking, right?
When you see the gif, you’re probably thinking to yourself: “if this mysterious pair of hands could make such pretty roses in a matter of minutes, then I, too, can make them in a matter of minutes.” It’s like that time I saw a video on parkour and I was convinced that I could jump from building to building, but fell on my ass instead and nearly dislocated my knee.
If it looks easy, it probably is easy, right?
I couldn’t resist putting these gifs in here. I absolutely LOVE Michael Scott.
Alas, food porn, like all other kinds of porn, is very far removed from reality. Unlike the Apple Roses Gif above, it actually does not take 30 seconds to make apple roses, and it certainly does not turn out even remotely (or in my case at all) like the gif will have you believe. So let me (painstakingly) describe my experience in making apple roses – and failing horribly in the process.
Making Apple Roses
Let me start out by saying that it takes a lot for me to get frustrated to the point where I’m willing to chuck my project, whatever it may be, right into the garbage and walk away from it. It takes a special kind of frustration, one that I experienced making these stupid, stupid apple roses, to say “F*** it, I’m done!”
On the upside, guess who finally learned to embed gifs into their blog!
The ingredients used in the gif are very simple, and I’ll just spell them out again in case you want to try recreating my failure, which I would definitely not recommend.
- 2-3 Apples (Not the iPhone kind, but Granny Smiths and that other, red kind of apple)
- Granulated Sugar
- Thawed, ready-made puff pastry sheets
- Apricot Jam
The first step to this disaster, obviously, is to cut the apples into really thin slices to then either gently sauté them in a lightly buttered pan, or put them in the microwave to soften up.
Considering that it took the gif maybe 10 seconds to go through this process, I decided to cut all my apples into really thin slices, fill a bowl with water and freshly squeezed lemon juice, put the slices into the water mix and microwave it for the said 3 minutes:
These apples are still very apple-y (read as stiff and inflexible) at this point, and they’re going to brown soon, so what the recipe (and common knowledge) dictate is to cover them in lemon juice and soften them up.
Being the bright star that I am, I initially filled a metal bowl with water and freshly squeezed lemon juice to microwave, only to realize that metal and microwaves go together like toothpaste and orange juice.
At this point in time, matters deteriorated rather quickly and I stopped taking pictures altogether in an attempt to make at least one rose perfectly. If I could do that, then I could take pictures of the process and write about it, like I usually do. Needless to say that that never actually happened, so instead, let me attempt to explain what happened when I tried to put my apple roses together, using somewhat colourful language:
“I may as well have sat on [the apples] on a particularly flatulent day and expected them to soften up beneath me.”
First and foremost, 3 minutes in the microwave does jack-shit to your apples: I may as well have sat on them on a particularly flatulent day and expected them to soften up beneath me. The reality of the situation was that I microwaved the apples for a whopping 12 minutes before they became even remotely soft. That being said, the apples actually did taste as though I had sat on them and farted the previous evening’s baked beans to get to this point. The sweetness of the apple disappeared almost completely and the slices tasted super watery. That aside, the apples were also very hot, so they needed time to cool down…and possibly dry.
Now here’s the thing about puff pastry and why people prefer to buy it ready-made rather than making their own. Puff pastry sheets are literally 50% butter and are super messy to make on your own, especially if you don’t have the right tools to make them. Puff pastry sheets generally do poorly when exposed to room temperature, oh, and did I mention that they have a tendency to dry out if not used fast enough? Yea, they’re pretty flaky (haha totally used an unintended pun).
You’ll notice in the gif that the mysterious hands actually rolled out the puff pastry sheets and then cut them to size. I wasn’t able to do that, because my sheets were a) going soft very quickly and b) I don’t actually own a roller. In an attempt to roll it – or at the very least not have it stick everywhere – I did cover one of my sheets with flour to make it more workable, but that ended up making the dough even harder to work with.
Regardless, I cut the sheets into strips, as shown in the gif, covered them with apricot preserve and cinnamon, and attempted to roll them up – without success. I tried several times, using various sizes of strips, and here are some general observations I made in the process:
- Make sure your apples are dry when you’re putting them on the puff pastry sheets – even the slightest moisture disintegrates the sheets and you’ll be left with a sticky mess.
- Make sure your apples are not warm, or even room temperature. Again, if they’re warm they’ll just melt the sheet and you won’t be able to roll it.
- Don’t put too much apricot preserve, because of everything I said above, and then some.
I mean I genuinely tried to make the roses, and I managed to make one proper rose, while throwing away 6. Despite what the video shows, and despite knowing that it is not impossible to make apple roses (I’m looking at you, Facebook friends that have successfully made the roses and posted them online), it’s not a 30 second process and it definitely is not as easy as the video purports it to be.
The result for me, ultimately, was to just throw it all out, puff pastry and apple slices, because they were more or less useless by the time I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to come up with a successful post. All is not lost, though!
Apple Strudel-ling It
I mentioned earlier that I actually got twice the ingredients I needed, in case I messed up royally (which I did). Another thing about puff pastry is that once you thaw it in the fridge, you need to use it within 2 days, so instead of making apple roses, I decided to make apple strudel….and not take any pictures making it.
The process, however, is simple enough and I’ll walk you through it step-by-step (assuming you’ve cut your apples into strips, but NOT microwaved them):
- The first thing you need is a thawed sheet of puff pastry ready to take out of the fridge and work with.
- Take your puff pastry sheet, lay it out flat on wax paper, and cover a strip 1/3 the size of the sheet in the center with apricot preserve/jam.
- Next, dump cinnamon and granulated sugar over your puff pastry and apricot strip.
- Now, neatly align your apple slices over your strip of apricot jam from one end of the pastry to the other. I did 2 rows of strips parallel to one another.
- Next, put more cinnamon and apricot preserve over your sheets, not too much though.
- Align one last strip of sliced apples over your 2 other strips of apples, and cover it again with cinnamon and granulated sugar.
- Next, fold the ends of the puff pastry sheet that do not have any apricot/apple slices on them over what should now be a mound of apple and apricot preserve, creating a kind of pouch.
- Press down to seal the puff pastry over one another, cover with more cinnamon and granulated sugar and then cut lines (or air holes) into your pastry pocket.
- Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes at 380 degrees.
I know the above is confusing, because it’s not accompanied by any pictures, but the end result should look something like this:
That pool of apricot jam only happens when you go buck-wild trying to get rid of it. Overall it didn’t affect the look or taste of the pastry. Notice also that I forgot to cut lines into the top of the pastry, causing it to bloat. I did do that on my second attempt, however, and it turned out great!
I don’t want to toot my own horn, but the apple strudel turned out unexpectedly good, especially in light of the failure the other day. The above picture was made using one sheet of puff pastry, so I conveniently made another one that I also didn’t take pictures of. To give you some insight on the taste, it tasted very much like the apple strudels that Costco sells at cut-throat prices, only much, much better.
To go full circle on this rant, “tip hero”, the people that made the gif, can go choke on an apple or two with their stupid, beautiful gif on how to make apple roses. As I mentioned before, the reality of making apple roses is far from what the gif spells out, and is a gross oversimplification that does not take the essential elements of making pastry into account. Yet, it makes you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside because seeing it done with such grace and ease genuinely makes you believe that you, too, can recreate this recipe in no time. Thus, the moral of the story is that not all food porn reflects the realities of cooking, and that you should always take what you see online with a grain of salt.
In the end, I wasn’t able to make the Apple Roses that I was hoping to take with me as a surprise Thanksgiving desert. While making the apple roses and simultaneously watching Netflix, however, I did learn something amazing: the highest lake on the planet is found in Peru and has the funniest name in the world, Lake Titicaca:
And while I’m in the Thanksgiving spirit, I should also give a special shout-out for my friends mom that made the most visually appealing (and tastiest) turkey that I’ve had in a very long time. If I were the dog in the picture, I would throw obedience training out the window and run away from home with that turkey.