In our third episode of At Home With Robb, Jaan’s Kirk Westaway teaches us how to make an English apple pie. The live series continues with Ivan Brehm from Nouri this 14 May at 9pm. Sign up below
The tricky thing about baking is its precision. If you’re the kind of person who loves cooking with intuition, we’ve got bad news for you. Whether it’s cake or cookies, there’s no way you can eyeball a teaspoon of baking powder, throw in a pinch of this or a pinch of that, and hope for the best. 200 grams of flour will always remain 200 grams of flour.
It sucks to be constrained by rules, but it’s still all very rewarding. The exactitude of baking doesn’t stifle creativity, but challenges you. Make Kirk Westaway’s (of Jaan, 21 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants) English Apple Pie, and you’ll get it. Based on the dessert he grew up making with his mother and grandmother, Westaway’s version involves caramel, an oat-macadamia nut crumble and delicate puff pastry lattice. It’s simple enough for any aspiring baker, but not so simple that you won’t feel accomplished.
Make it, and to complete the experience, crack open a bottle from Angra Wines. We recommend the Renato Ratti Barolo Marcenasco (2013), a glorious full-bodied red with traces of liquorice and tobacco that was enjoyed on episode three of At Home With Robb. Get a bottle or two, and until 31 May 2020, enjoy S$20 off your order (no minimum required) when you use this code, ROBBKIRK.
Ahead of our next episode with Nouri’s Ivan Brehm (psst, he’s making ceviche), we speak with Westaway on life’s curveballs, what you will never see on his menu and finally, how to make apple pie.
It’s currently a strange moment in unprecedented times for many around the world, but I try to see the positivity in all situations. I am taking this time to cook and refine my personal dishes at home while reading books, learning new stills, spending quality time with my fiancée and keeping in touch with friends and family across the globe.
What’s your secret to handling life’s curveballs?
Always stay one step ahead. Plan, prepare and anticipate situations that you think will occur before it actually happen. I enjoy consistency and routine. To run a successful restaurant like Jaan or any restaurant in the world, you need to know how to make it profitable through consistency and concerted efforts.
How can restaurants come back stronger, once this pandemic blows over?
Encourage customers to visit your restaurant by sourcing quality, organic ingredients that allow dishes to shine. I strongly believe that when you reopen your restaurant doors with a new menu, guests will be excited. This is especially so for regulars who might be looking to try something new. It gives them reasons to return to you and remain a regular guest.
What kind of food trends will be the new normal?
Chefs might potentially reduce the number of courses.
How do you keep a multi-course meal interesting without boring the diner?
The visual aspect is very important and the dish can only be delicious when the restaurant has a passionate and talented culinary team and front-of-house. Their personality and dedication to the entire operations of the restaurant is key to changing the diner’s experience from an average meal to an exceptional night to remember.
What is the most essential item in your kitchen?
Nothing more than a happy brigade.
What’s your favourite comfort meal?
A great British Sunday roast beef ribeye, with a stack of crunchy vegetables, Yorkshire pudding and bountiful gravy. It’s a staple on Sundays back in the UK. The elements of each ingredient ticks every box of what’s needed in the perfect dish.
What’s the one food that you dislike?
One food I really try to avoid is octopus. I’m not a fan of the texture and the shape of the suckers. I have zero allergies but this is something I don’t want to eat, and you will never see it on my menu.
Have you ever gotten in trouble in the kitchen?
When I was 16, I cut the top of my finger while working on a cold winter morning in the kitchen. I guess I am lucky it managed to grow back.
What sandwich best represents you?
You’ve ended up in an apocalypse. What are your five essentials to bring into your underground bunker?
Chef Kirk’s English Apple Pie
Makes one 25cm pie
7 red Gala apples
25g golden organic sugar
0.5g cinnamon powder
Peel the apples and cut out the core. Simmer sugar and butter until it turns into a light caramel. Add the apples and toss them until the caramel turns semi-dark. Add cinnamon powder, then remove the apples and in a 25cm round pan lined with parchment paper, arrange them into place. Zest a lemon over the top – this will perfume the dish nicely.
Boil and reduce to a golden caramel. Tip over the caramelised apples and leave it to cool.
Porridge oat crumble
100g muscovado sugar
200g roasted macadamia nuts
200g porridge oats
1/2 nutmeg, grated
Grind the dry items until semi-coarse. Mix in the butter and bake in a preheated oven at 175°C for 20 minutes.
Once done, cover the top of the roasted apples. Let it set before turning it over onto a plate.
Lattice pie crust
150g puff pastry
With a lattice dough cutter, roll and cut the entire piece. Using a greased upside-down 25cm round pan, place the puff pastry over. Brush with a little egg wash to glaze it, and bake at 175°C in a preheated oven for 20 minutes. Once done, gently remove and place over the top of the apples.
Chef’s tip: This dessert is best served with a scoop of English clotted cream. Feel free to substitute the apples for pears, too.
Staying home during this period of time isn’t easy, we get it! But we’ll be keeping you company. Subscribe to our digital magazines for free, and check out what ideas we have for you. #StayHomeWithRobb #LoveYourLocalSG