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Recipe: Nancy Silverton's apple borsellini

January 05, 2013

Osteria Mozza's Nancy Silverton is renowned for always trying to find the one perfect way to prepare a dish. So imagine her surprise when she learned she'd been using the wrong dough for her apple borsellini — beggar's purses filled with baked apples. No matter, she went right to work fixing it, and the result was good enough to be one of our best recipes of the year. The secret is a "rough puff" pastry dough that is easier to prepare than the classic and makes a better wrapper.

Apple borsellini

Total time: 2 hours, 15 minutes, plus macerating and cooling times

Note: From Nancy Silverton of Osteria Mozza

Servings: 12

4 pounds tart apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored and cut into ¾-inch cubes

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (¾ stick) butter

2 vanilla beans

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons apple juice

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Prepared puff pastry, refrigerated

2 egg whites, lightly beaten

1/2 cup cinnamon sugar (½ cup sugar plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon)

Powdered sugar, for dusting

1. In a large bowl, toss the apples with the granulated and dark brown sugars. Set aside until the apples start to break down and just begin to release their juices, at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

2. In a medium saucepan heated over high heat, melt the butter. As it is melting, use a small paring knife to split the vanilla bean. Scrape the pulp and seeds out of the bean and add to the melting butter, along with the bean pod. Swirl the pan to ensure the butter cooks evenly and doesn't burn. Continue cooking until the bubbles subside and the butter is dark brown with a nutty, toasty aroma. Remove from heat and discard the bean pod.

3. Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Cut 12 pieces of kitchen string, each 15 inches long.

4. Toss the apples in the bowl with the cornstarch, apple juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown butter. Transfer the filling to a rimmed baking sheet, spreading the apples in a single layer. Roast the apples until they're tender but keep their shape, 30 minutes, stirring the apples every 10 minutes for even roasting.

5. Transfer the pan to a rack, and cool the filling completely. The filling can be stored, covered and refrigerated, up to 3 days.

6. Remove the puff pastry dough from the refrigerator to a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into circles using a 4½-inch cutter (a small bowl or cake pan will work). You will need 12 circles; save the scraps for another use (stack the scraps and pat down before using; do not press the dough into a ball, or the layers will be lost).

7. Using a floured rolling pin, roll each circle to a diameter of 7 inches (the circles do not have to be perfect).

8. Scoop one-half cup of the filling and mound it into the center of a circle of dough. Pull up the bottom edges to meet in the center of the filling. Holding the dough with one hand, gather up the edges to meet in the center to pinch it closed like a beggar's purse. Tie a piece of the kitchen string loosely around the purse, giving it about an inch of slack (the dough will puff as it bakes, so the string should not be tied too tight). Repeat to make the remaining borsellini.

9. Place the borsellini on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them about 3 inches apart. Chill the purses at least 30 minutes, up to 3 days before baking.

10. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush the borsellini with egg wash, and sprinkle them liberally with cinnamon sugar.

11. Bake the borsellini until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, 45 minutes to an hour, rotating the baking sheets every 30 minutes.

12. Remove the sheets to a rack to cool. Dust the borsellini with powdered sugar before serving.

Each serving: 706 calories; 5 grams protein; 80 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams fiber; 44 grams fat; 27 grams saturated fat; 114 mg cholesterol; 46 grams sugar; 298 mg sodium.

Rough puff pastry

Total time: 3½ hours, plus overnight chilling time and 3 hours of relaxing time

Servings: Makes a generous 4 ½ pounds of puff pastry

Note: European-style butter (which has a lower water content than most commercial butter) and pastry flour can be found at most well-stocked supermarkets as well as at gourmet markets and cooking stores.

1 1/4 cups (5.3 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

5 1/4 cups (21 ounces) pastry flour

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt

9 ounces cold European-style butter, cut into 1- to 1½-inch cubes, plus 1 pound plus 7 ounces cold European-style butter, cut in 1½-inch cubes, divided

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold water, more if needed

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold milk

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