Bondepige Med Slør (Danish Peasant Girl With a Veil)
Yes, I admit it was the name that intrigued me. And as the title might indicate, this is not a fancy dessert. In fact, it looks like the thrifty sort of dish whipped up from the bottom of the fruit bowl and a freezer stash of leftover bread – and it is, really, but that’s part of the charm. It is possible to tart it up a bit but honestly, why bother? I present to you this traditional recipe borrowed from a fantastic old book belonging to my lovely mother-in-law. It is essentially stewed apples and sweetened toasted breadcrumbs, chilled and layered in a glass dish and topped with cream (the ‘veil’.) All the Scandinavian countries have claimed responsibility for this recipe in some form or another, but in the spirit of the Eurovision Song Contest today, held in Copenhagen, I will trust the title and assume it is a Danish recipe. It doesn’t take long to make and could probably be completed in less time than it takes for four European countries to convince you never to visit.
The recipe specifies cooking apples, however there is nothing to stop you using dessert (eating) apples, just omit the caster sugar. Dessert apples will be sweet enough. I’ve seen updated versions of this, specifying a mixture of brioche and rye crumbs in lieu of regular breadcrumbs, and hazelnuts scattered on top as a finishing touch; if you happen to have any or all of these handy then by all means use them. But generally speaking, this is a thrifty, happy-go-lucky dessert and will satisfy a sweet tooth just the way it is. However, I have added cinnamon as frankly, I think any apple-based dish tastes a bit weird without it.
Serves 4, preferably served in individual glass dishes; or you can just use one large bowl.
750g/1lb 8oz cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
75g/3oz caster sugar (omit if using dessert apples)
50g/2oz unsalted butter
100g/4oz breadcrumbs (about four small slices – any bread will be fine)
25g/1oz soft brown sugar
150ml/1/4 pint double cream
A handful of chopped hazelnuts (optional)
Peel, core and chop the apples and place in a pan with the sugar and a little water – about half a tablespoon per apple used. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the apple chunks have softened.
Squash with a potato masher until mostly pureed and set aside to cool. To cool quickly, spread it in a thin layer over a chilled plate.
Blitz the bread in a processor to make fine crumbs.
Melt the butter in a saucepan or frying pan over a low heat and add the breadcrumbs and 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Stir to thoroughly combine and continue to ‘toast’ the breadcrumbs on low heat for a few minutes, stirring continuously.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool (or if you’re in a hurry, use the quick cooling method above.)
Layer the apples and breadcrumbs in each glass, using 2 level tablespoons each time in the following order: apples/breadcrumbs/apples/breadcrumbs, ensuring you spread each layer evenly to create a pretty striped effect (that’s if you’re using glasses; if you’re chucking it in opaque ramekins then frankly it matters not a single jot).
Top with thick double cream, lightly whipped if you like, and a teaspoon of chopped hazelnuts. (I didn’t do this.)