Today my flexible pastry savant/prep cook baked off a slew of English cream scones, Jumbo cookies, cupcakes and more. Our baker's racks were lined with massive amounts of goodies in every shape and size. I tried really hard to eat only one gooey chocolate chip cookie, but I have issues with restraint. My reasoning is that I have to make sure it's good enough to sell! My skin is perfumed with the smell of sugar, vanilla, chocolate and butter. M'mm hmm, that's right! Somehow I need to figure out a way to bottle that up. People walk by the Kitchen and tell us that the smells outside are tempting them. We have a hood vent over the oven that sucks up all the delicious sweet smells and blows wafts everywhere behind the commercial building our Kitchen is located in.
It's funny when people smell baking and sugar, I think it reminds them of home or their grandma or maybe an aunt who liked to bake. A few days ago, Rhonda, our new baker, and I were talking about how great apricots smell while she was mixing our Apricot-White Chocolate scone dough, and before we knew it we were both reminiscing on apricot turnover memories. And they are good ones!
My grandma, Zerelda, used to make them for us when were kids. She was a wonderful woman with bright blue eyes and gray hair always pulled in a bun, and one of the hardest working women I have ever known. Her rough hands, tan and weathered, but so able, would roll out a thin pastry dough (made with shortening only!) on her flour-dusted counter top. She would cut out rounds and then fold in a blob of apricot paste. The paste was made with old-school sour apricots that are dry and leathery, the skins are thin and a dark burnt persimmon color (unlike the plump sugary ones in my picture posted). She would boil them with water and sugar until they broke down into a soft bright orange mush. The kitchen windows would fog up with the apricot steam wafting up from the stove.
After filling the rounds of pastry dough, she would fold them over in a crescent shape and use the tins of a fork to crimp the edges.The turnovers then sat lined, white half-moons on an old blackened sheet pan.
Sometimes she would fry them in a shallow cast iron skillet, and as her and grandpa Gene became more cholesterol conscientious she just baked them. Afterwards if we were going on a picnic, she would wrap each turnover in wax paper. Opening the wax paper slowly, hearing it crinkle, my eyes would light up with glee and anticipation. Hands would appear, darting out and grabbing them--they were always gone in about 10 minutes. She would laugh and shake her gray head at our greedy impatience.
Either way we would hunker into the flaky rich pastry and it shattered into a crisp floury goodness in your mouth and all you could taste was the tart-sweet, mouth watering apricot flavor.
Now every time I bite into our Apricot White Chocolate scones, I smile and remember grandma Zerelda.