I think there is nothing more humble, homely and comforting than a pie. There’s also an honesty about it or so I feel. Perhaps it’s because I tend to make shortcrust with my hands, which get very messy, sometimes a little bit too much! There’s always a sense of accomplishment when it’s done, although that still isn’t reason enough for me to make it more often! Joking apart, if you tend to have warm hands like I do, making it manually isn’t the best thing either. There’s always the option of using a food processor, but that also means more things to clean up. So for me, that’s a no-no. Yes, I’m lazy that way.
Now to be completely frank, I hate plain cooked apples. The only time I eat them is when I have one of those nasty flu bugs – the ones that linger for days on end and won’t leave you alone. I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about them. Despite all of this, I love a good apple pie, or apple crumble. I’m willing to try any fruit with the word pie or crumble after it anyway. Adding with ice-cream after that is even better.
I wanted to give you this recipe before Summer sets in and rightly so, you might want to avoid the oven. Technically apple season has passed, but if you haven’t yet made an apple pie this year, then this is your chance. It’s a simple one, meaning that I have added no extra faff or fancy ingredients and of course you can use any kind of apples you like. I add cornflour to the mixture to help thicken the sauce, and believe me, it does make a difference. If you manage to try it out send me your feedback. I’d love to hear what you think.
For the shortcrust pastry:
- 250g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 125g cold butter, cut into cubes
- approx. 75ml cold water
- ½ teaspoon salt
To make the pastry, measure the flour and baking powder in a large mixing bowl and add the cold butter cubes. Using your thumbs and second and third fingers, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Be sure to crush the larger flakes into smaller ones, so be patient. The colder everything is, the better. So add the cold water gradually as needed, but remember not to overwork the pastry. Add a small amount of flour – just enough to help you scoop it all up in a ball. Wrap the finished pastry in cling film and set it aside in the fridge for around an hour.
For the apple filling:
- 5 or 6 large cooking apples, like Bramleys, peeled and sliced
- around 25ml lemon juice
- 70g golden caster sugar
- 50g soft light brown sugar
- 15g cornflour/cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
- around 15g cold butter* (to use before covering the top with pastry)
- 1 egg, beaten** (to brush on the top)
Preheat the oven to 220°C. In a small bowl combine both sugars, the cornflour, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a large mixing bowl add the sliced apples and top with the lemon juice. Give them a toss to help the apples keep their colour. Add the contents of the small bowl and mix everything well.
To assemble the pie, take the pastry out of the fridge and divine this into two pieces. Grease the bottom and sides of a 23cm pie dish with soft butter and flour, and roll out the first piece of shortcrust to line the bottom part of the dish. Pile the apples onto the dish, mounding them a bit higher in the centre. Dot the apple mixture with cold butter.*
Roll out the second piece of pastry and cover the top of the pie. Seal both sides together by crimping the pastry. Cut a cross in the centre. Brush the beaten egg over the pastry making sure to cover it well. This will give a lovely golden colour to the pie.
Bake at 220°C for the first 15 minutes, then at 175°C for another 30 to 40 minutes. Serve warm, with single or double cream, or for a fresher take with vanilla ice-cream.