Apples are in season. And I love them, almost in all forms from pies to pancakes to apple sauce and even apple juice! At the market I bought a mix bag of apples, some tarts ones and some crisp rosy apples. After finishing half of them, the rest were begging to be used in other forms – my nose twitched – so what can I make out of them ? Apple cake* comes to mind, a light cake with moist apples and cinnamon but I have made them so many times now, I am feeling a little more intrepid. I’d like a pie – pastries are not within my strongest talents. But I am feeling rather adventurous.
Well why not ? I gave in and decided to hunt down a classic apple pie which is straightforward to make, not too sweet and has an apple filling with a bite and not mushy. Sigh, asked around, patience is not my best virtue, searched the entire ( I’d like to think so) web, I came across a blog called Bread & Honey & Nigella Lawson’s website which appears to have exactly what I am looking for. Decided to combine the best of both, for the pie dough, the recipe was taken from Martha Stewart’s Pate Brisee (Bread & Honey) and the filling a little adaptation to Nigella’s. And 3 hours later – voila -apple pie – yaay! The craving is now satisfied. I had a large slice with my warm cup of tea.
PASTRY (Bread & Honey’s)
Makes 1 double-crust or 2 single-crust 9- to 10-inch pies
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.
With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month
PS – I cut down on the sugar compare to the original recipe posted on Nigella’s website.
- 5 apples, any eating variety you like (I like crisp apples so I chose 3 Granny Smiths & 2 Gala)
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter
- 2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose (plain) flour
- 1/3 cup castor sugar
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup minus 1 tsp of water
- Ground cinnamon, to taste
- For the glaze- Milk & Sugar
- Pastry for 2 pie crusts (as above)
Preheat oven to 220 degrees C.
Peel, core, and quarter the apples. Cut them into chunks. Cover the apples directly with plastic wrap (clingfilm) to prevent browning – I normally just add 1 tbp of fresh lemon juice . Place in the fridge.
Melt the butter in a 2 litre sauce pan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add sugar, brown sugar, salt, and water; bring to a bubbly simmer. Reduce temperature, and simmer 5 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid sticking. Switch off the fire.
Meanwhile, roll out your pastry and place the bottom crust in your pie form (23cm – grease well with butter). Fill with apples, mounded slightly at the centre. Don’t worry if you think the apples are piled too high, they will soften when cooked and fall 1/3-1/2 of the original height.
Sprinkle over your desired amount of cinnamon (I used about 3/4 tsp).
Stir the syrupy sauce and pour slowly and evenly over the apples. Place the top crust on, seal edges (this is important otherwise the syrup will bubble and drizzle out burning the bottom of the oven, roll the excess under, and flute edges. Cut four steam slits in the top. Paint the crust with the milk, and generously sprinkle over the sugar if you wish, I did not do that as the syrup is sweet enough already.
Bake 15 minutes at 220 degrees C. Reduce the temperature to 175 degrees C and continue baking for 35 minutes.
NB – APPLE CAKE RECIPE
*For the apple cake recipe (from Home Classic Desserts by Richard Sax)
3-4 large tart apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2 tbp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter. softened
3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tbp sugar
2 large eggs , separated
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup milk
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Apples – Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Butter a 11×7 inch baking dish. Place the apples in the pan , drizzle with the melted butter and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Gently toss with your fingers, set aside. The pan should be 3/4 full.
Batter – In a large bowl, cream the butter and the sugar until light. Beat in the egg yolks and vanilla. Sift in the flour and baking powder alternately with the milk and beat just until combined.
In a bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until they form stiff but not dry peaks, fold into the batter. Pour the batter over the apples and spread out without deflating. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 tbp sugar and the cinnamon over the top.
Bake until the apples bubble up and the topping is golden , 35-40 mins. Cool in a pan on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, directly from the pan.