Thursday, 4 February 2010

Sweet as Apple Pie

I have always wanted to make a apple pie simply because it would just be wonderful to open the oven and have that warm smell of cinammon and apples waft out into the kitchen. I think another reason why for ages I have wanted to make this pie is because I vividly remember watching the scene in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs where Snow White is making one herself and the birds come along and help her crimp the edges by stepping on them with their tiny feet.

So last year, it was the end of the summer and I noticed we had a couple of these particular apples lying about which none of us really liked. I'm always trying to be resourceful with what I bake and try to use up ingredients that are just lying about untouched. So this was a great opportunity to make my apple pie.
I went through about a thousand recipes before I selected a particular one. When I begin looking for a recipe I usually know what I want out of it, for example in this case I didn't want anything fancy, just a simple shortcrust pastry, apples and a few spices. I also wanted an apple pie that would keep its shape and wouldn't have to be served from its dish, I wanted to be able to present it nicely on a plate out of its baking tray.

So I chose the following recipe and added a few tweaks of my own.

Apple Pie

For the pastry:
1/2 tsp salt
100g sugar
250g unsalted butter
1 egg
2 yolk
For the filling:
100g sultanas
1/2 an orange, juice only
1 tbsp of semolina
8 large apples
100g sugar
4 tbsp cinammon
1 egg

The original recipe called for a high sided 20 cm spring form cake tine, but I used a 23 cm shallow pie dish and it worked out fine for me, so you can use whatever you have.

1) Begin by placing the sultanas into a bowl with the orange juice to let them soak, this should give them enough time to absorb some of the liquid to swell and plump up.
2)To make the pastry place all the pastry ingredients (apart from the eggs) into a food processor and blend until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
3) Gradually add the egg and egg yolks to the mixture and blend well until it comes together to form a ball. Take the pastry out and bring it together with your hands. Then wrap with cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
(When recipes call for placing pastry or dough into the fridge I sometimes place it into the freezer just because I feel that the freezer will do what the fridge would for the pastry but in half the time. I don't really know if that's the right thing to do but it always seems to work for me)
4) Grease your tin and roll out 2/3 of the pastry on a floured surface ( making sure to use enough flour to prevent the pastry from sticking) into a rough circle. Then carefully lift up your pastry and place it into the greased tin (don't worry if the pastry falls apart slightly all you need to do is a bit of patchwork and just try and press the little pieces together). Gently press the pastry into all the corners of the tin, or all the dips of the pie dish.
5) Once the pastry is nicely lining the tin prick the base a few times with a fork.
6) Place a large sheet of baking paper over the pastry and fill it with baking beans or if you don't have any, use any rice or dried beans you have lying around (this process is called 'blind baking' the pastry).
7) Bake the pastry at 180C for about 15 minutes and then remove it from the oven, take out the beans and baking paper and place back into the oven for a further 5 minutes. Don't worry you will be able to tell if it's cooked or not as it will be dark in patches if still not perfectly cooked through. If it's still not completely cooked just place it back in the oven for a few more minutes, keeping an eye on it. Once it's ready take it out and leave it to cool.
8) For the filling, you want to peel core and finely slice the apples and in a separate bowl mix the sugar and the cinammon together. Before you start placing all the remaining ingredients into the dish lightly sprinkle the semolina flour over the bottom of the pastry to ensure that any juices from the apples don't' make the pastry soggy.
9) Place a layer of the apples onto the base of the pastry case and then sprinkle over some of the cinammony sugar mixture and scatter a few of the soaked sultanas over as well. You want to repeat this layering process until you fill the dish. If you have any sugar or sultanas remaining just sprinkle them over the top of all the layers.
10) Beat the egg and brush some onto the rim of the pastry case, this will make sure the pastry lid sticks to the rest of the pastry.
11) Roll out the remaining pastry into a circle and place on top of the pie. To seal the lid, simple take a fork ( or if there are any kind birds around to do it for you) and crimp the edges. If you find that there is a lot of excess pastry hanging over the side of the dish simply cut of the excess pieces using some scissors or a knife.
12) With a knife make a small hole (about the diameter of your thumb) in the centre of the lid to allow any steam to escape. Then brush the lid with the remaining beaten egg.
13) Bake at 170C for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.

The best way to serve this in my opinion is with some good vanilla ice cream, but I know that most people's topping of choice would be custard or even clotted cream. You can serve it hot, immediately from the over, but I personally preferred it when it had completely cooled.


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