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Sunday, 13 October 2013

Traditional Apple Pie

Autumn is well and truly here now.  The leaves are not only turning but falling to the ground.  The apple tree in my front garden is hanging heavy with this years bounty.  This weekend has been the wettest I can remember in a while, not the sort of weather that makes you want to venture out the house.  Couple this with a slight cold I seem to have  and I am happy to say that I have spent this weekend in my PJs, central heating on, totally chilling out.

Apple pie is something I have always enjoyed, especially with custard (cold custard, hot pie is my rule).   This is my first attempt at making a pie and I have had to bake in a high sided tart tin because I do not yet own a pie dish.  I looked through a number of my recipes books and ended up merging together a recipe by Tamasin Day-Lewis and Martha Stewart.  I decided against adding cinnamon due to not everyone liking it and instead opted for vanilla.  I would have used ground almonds as the thickener but since I was out of them I had to use plain flour instead.  My choice of apple  is simply due to the ones I had in - Pink Lady.  This sort of apple isn't really designed for apple pie but I thought I would give it ago.  Since the apple is already sweet I reduced the amount of sugar to a few tablespoons.  Normally you would use cooking apples but any type of apple would work, just give it a go.  

The pastry is whizzed up in the food processor (or by hand if you like) and it is very important to leave it to rest for at least 2 hours in the fridge.  On removal it may be tough to roll out and the result my be some slight cracking but if you keep working with it the cracks vanish. When baked the  pastry transforms in to a light crisp buttery shell and the apples soften and infuse with the vanilla.  All this fills your kitchen and house with the homely scent of cooking.

It is best to allow this pie to fully cool after cooking, this way the fruit sets and the filling becomes thicker.  If you like your pie hot simply warm it in a low oven until the desired temperature is reached.  Serve with custard, cream, ice cream or leave just as it is.

Traditional Apple Pie

5/6 large apples of your choice (I used pink lady)
Juice of lemon
2 tbsp sugar (you may need more depending on your apple choice)
2 tbsp plain flour
2 tsp vanilla paste (or extract)

For the pastry
225g cold butter
340g plain flour
1 heaped tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp cold water

Beaten egg with little milk for glaze.

Start by making the pastry.  Put the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor and whizz until fine breadcrumbs.  About 30 seconds.


Add in 3 tablespoons of cold water and turn on.  Leave until it starts to form a ball, this could take about one minute so just wait, it may seem like it won't come together but it will.

Divide the pastry in two and flatten in to rounded discs.  Wrap in cling film or plastic bags and leave in the fridge for at least 2 hours.  You could leave over night if you like.

Preheat oven to 220C.

Peel, core and slice the apples in to thick pieces.  Place in a bowl and squeeze over the lemon juice to stop the browning.

Sprinkle over the flour, sugar and pour in the vanilla.  Mix (use your hands) until all the pieces of apple are coated in the flour glaze.

Roll out the rested pastry and line the bottom of a pie dish (or tart tin).  Leave the over hang around the edges.

Tip in the apples and arrange so they form a dome.  Brush the edges of the pastry with egg wash.

Roll out the other half of pastry and position over the top of the pie.  You could be neat and tidy about the edges but I like it to look rustic so I just turn over the edges to form a thick crust around the pie.

Brush over the top with egg, make a large slit in the top to allow steam to leave.  Sprinkle with sugar.  Place on a baking sheet.

Bake for 25 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180C and continue to cook for another 45 minutes.  If the top looks like its browning too much cover with parchment paper.

Leave to cool before serving so the fruit juices can set, then reheat if you like it hot or served cold.