A number of Victorian books about the Isle of Wight mention a forgotten local speciality, known by the name of ‘apple stucklens’. They were a small semi-circular pastry (similar to a Cornish pasty) filled with sliced apples and sugar. Unlike apple turnovers, they didn’t use flaky puff pastry and instead were made from a crumblier shortcrust. Islanders may have used crab apples to fill them, or even the Island’s very own variety of apple: the Isle of Wight Pippin. Local author Maxwell Gray (1846 – 1923) mentions these pastries in a number of her books (including The Last Sentence and Unconfessed) and describes how they were often taken into the fields by workers at harvest time.
How to Make Them
375g shortcrust pastry
3 medium apples, peeled and sliced
75g light brown sugar
25g butter, unsalted
Ground cinnamon (optional)
Whole milk (for glazing)
- Melt the butter in a frying pan and then add the sliced apple, lemon zest, 1 tbsp. of water and cook until the apple has softened (about 5 minutes).
- Next, take a rolling pin and roll the shortcrust pastry on a lightly floured surface until it’s about half a centimetre in thickness. Then using a circular pastry cutter (or even the rim of a glass), stamp out as many circles from the pastry as you can.
- On each pastry circle, place about half a tablespoon of the apple mixture on one side of the circle, leaving a border around the edge and sprinkle with light brown sugar and cinnamon.
- Brush the border with whole milk and bring the empty side of the pastry over the filled side and press the edges together. Use a fork to crimp the edge for a better seal.
- Using a knife, cut two small holes in the top for steam to escape. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Brush over the pastry with whole milk and sprinkle a little more brown sugar
- Finally, bake the stucklens at 180°C – or until golden brown, cooling on a wire rack before serving.