Sunday, 3 July 2016

First Impressions, Fabulous France, Sensational Caramel Sauce and Apple Pie

Caramel Sauce
It's back to the real world today after 5 weeks on holiday in Europe. It is an interesting exercise for Bed and Breakfast owners to travel the world, seeing how other people do things. Over the last 37 days we have stayed in 17 different places and slept in 17 different beds, some hotels , some B & B's and even bunks on a ship. The experiences have differed from the really great to the truly dreadful. The worst was a very large 100 year old hotel in Geilo in Norway where the staff were indifferent, the room was dingy, the bedcover looked like it hadn't been changed for months and the breakfast was so forgettable we struggled to choose anything to eat. The best two were in France, an apartment in St. Malo, beautifully furnished and equipped in typical French style, and a B & B in the beautiful old city of Bayeux. Here we received the warmest welcome of all. Our host, Sandrine, from 'La Tour Louise' was truly a delight. She spoke good English, clearly loved sharing her lovely home with guests from all over the world and made each guest feel special. She was a breath of fresh air and a lesson in 'doing it right'. One wall of her dining room had been painted with blackboard paint, with 'WELCOME' in every imaginable language chalked on it. The breakfast she served was delicious, not the bacon and eggs we are accustomed to but fresh pancakes with a delicious caramel sauce. They were served warm and were utterly delicious. She recommended two restaurants for us to try, one serving authentic French cuisine and the other a Creperie that made the most delicious galettes. Sandrine explained that crepes are pancakes with a sweet filling and galettes are pancakes made with buckwheat flour and served with a savoury filling. Our room looked out on to a quiet street on one side and the cathedral could be seen from the other. Although somewhat cramped, it was well appointed with lovely thick towels and some tasty treats on arrival. The finishing touch was a cellophane pack of little crisp biscuits stamped with 'THANK YOU', stapled closed with her business card, for us to take away. The whole experience was a delight and demonstrated the importance of first impressions.
Savoury Galette in Bayeux
Here at Harbourlights B & B we pride ourselves on the welcome we give our guests. A warm smile and a bit of assistance with their bags costs us nothing, but for the guests the memory will continue long after they have returned home.
The following recipe is my version of the yummy caramel sauce we enjoyed in Bayeux. I made it to pour over a delicious apple cake that we had enjoyed in Sweden. The hostess here, Heidi, shared her recipe for the apple cake and my family gave it a 10 out of 10, especially when I drizzled it with the warmed caramel sauce and served it with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.


130 grams butter
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup whipping cream
1/2 taspoon vanilla
1/8 taspoon salt

Melt the butter over a medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar till melted. Stir for 2 minutes. Add the cream and cook, stirring for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and salt. Cool slightly before pouring into a jar. This can be used as a filling for biscuits, a topping for pancakes or desserts or as a spread.


100 grams butter
100 grams sugar
1 large egg
200grams flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
5 apples
100 ml water
100 ml sugar

Peel, core and slice apples and cook with the water and 100 mls of sugar till the apples are soft. Drain in a colander and cool down.
Beat the butter and 100 grams of sugar till creamed. Add the egg and beat again. Add the flour and baking powder. Cover with cling wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Use 2/3rds of the dough to line a 22cm pie dish.  Bake for 10 minutes at 200 degrees celsius. Pile in the apple. Roll out the remainder of the dough and cut into strips to make a lattice for the top Bake for 15-20 minutes till golden brown.
Drizzle a little of the warmed caramel sauce over. Serve with freshly whipped cream and a little more caramel sauce.

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