Last week when I was watching the Fabulous Baker Brothers on Channel 4 (http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-fabulous-baker-brothers), one of the brothers made an apple pie. It looked so delicious that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I used to make apple pies all the time when I was a student, but I haven’t made one in years so I decided to try it out.
I usually buy pre-rolled pastry, just for ease, but I made this from scratch, just as the recipe suggests. I’m not sure I would bother next time though. It was a real faff. It’s fine if you’ve got lots of spare time and you have a nice big kitchen but my kitchen is tiny and I have very little surface space. I had to roll out the pastry on my living room coffee table. This is how I got on…
For the sweet pastry
225g plain flour
100g icing sugar
110g cold butter, cubed
4 egg yolks
Pinch of salt
Splash of milk
1 vanilla pod, seeds only
For the filling
1 large cinnamon stick
6 Cox apples, peeled, cored and chopped
6 Bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped
100g soft brown sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Granulated sugar, to sprinkle
You will need a 24cm pie dish for this recipe.
To make the pastry, rub together the flour, icing sugar and cold butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Then add the egg yolks, salt, milk and the vanilla seeds.
Mix it until it comes together.
(I must say, at this point, I found that the mix was too ‘wet’ and it wasn’t coming away from the sides of the bowl. I ended up having to add a handful more plain flour and a handful more icing sugar, just to ‘dry’ it out a bit. I’m not sure if I did something wrong or if the recipe is slightly wrong.)
Then wrap in cling-film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before using.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/gas mark 5. In a large pan on a medium heat melt the butter until it starts to foam.
Add the cinnamon stick, apples, sugar and the zest and juice of the lemon.
Cook the apples on a low heat until they have softened a little but still have a good bit of bite, giving them a good stir to break some of them up a little.
Allow to cool.
Cut the pastry in half.
Then roll the first half out on a floured surface until it is about the thickness of a £1 coin (3mm). Make sure to dust the top of the pastry to stop it sticking to your rolling pin. (If you have any problems, check out my notes below. You are not alone! If you do it in one go, well done!)
Then use one sheet to line the bottom of a pie dish.
Fill with your cooled apple mixture, removing the cinnamon stick.
Then roll out the other half of the pastry and lay the other sheet over the top.
Use your fingers to crimp and pinch around the outside to seal the pie then trim off any excess pastry. You can use some of the excess pastry to decorate the top of the pie.
Sprinkle sugar over the top.
Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.
Serve warm with some cold cream or ice cream.
NOTE: Even though I used a standard 24cm pie dish, I found that there wasn’t quite enough pastry to cover the base and the top of the pie at a thickness of a £1 coin (3mm). The first time I rolled it out, it stuck to the surface, even though I had floured the surface first. So I had to roll it into a ball and start again. I put extra flour on the surface and tried rolling again. But I couldn’t get it to the size I needed to cover the pie dish without rolling it really thin. I rolled it into a ball and started again. This time I couldn’t seem to roll it into a circle. It ended up driving me mad! It took me 6 go’s to get it right. And even then, it looked pretty messy! I had to patch up a few holes with some leftover pastry.
I had the same trouble when I had to roll the second half of the pastry for the top of the pie. I was watching the Fabulous Baker Brothers online while I was making it, and I was nearly crying in frustration watching Henry Herbert effortlessly rolling his perfect pastry in one go into a perfect circle at the perfect even width, and drape it over his perfect pie. And all in a matter of seconds. Now I know he’s a professional but my goodness, it does make you feel like an idiot when you can’t do something that looks so easy on TV!
I would definitely make this pie again but I’m not sure I would make the pastry from scratch. It’s just too easy to buy ready-rolled pastry that is ready to roll straight onto your pie dish. It cuts the preparation time down to about 15 minutes, as all you need to do is gently cook the apples in butter and sugar. I know that’s not really the point, and we should all be making pies from scratch in an ideal world, but not everyone has the time to do this.
If I did find myself at a loose end one weekend and fancied making the pastry from scratch, I think I would increase the amounts so I would have a bit more to play with and I wouldn’t have as much difficulty trying to create a perfect circle at an even 3mm width. The amounts in the recipe above literally give you exactly what you need with no room for mistakes.
Best of luck!