Sunday, 21 September 2008

Old Style Apple Pie

I am usually attracted to complicated and time consuming cake recipes. I love spending hours making them. But this weekend is a bit different. Not that I feel lazy and don't feel like making anything special (oh no, baking a cake is always a very special moment). Just that today I feel like making something hearty and simple (not too simple though) to try to impress the northern in-laws staying at home this weekend..

I am not very good at making pastries. The few times I tried I could never find the right consistency: too buttery, too crumbly or too chewy. In conclusion, not perfect at all.
So after many disastrous, so so experiments, I've finally managed to find The Recipe.

Serves 6 to 8
For the pastry:
2 x 200g of plain sieved flour
2 x 1 pinch of salt
2 x 150gof butter, softened
2 x 100g of caster sugar
2 x 1 sachet of vanilla sugar
2 x 1 whole egg
1 egg yolk for glazing
For the filling:
3 to 4 big cooking apples
Some sultanas, soaked and drained
good pinch of cinnamon
About 30g of ground almond

You can make the pastry by hand if you have a little more time than I have. I usually do but not this time. Today I am using a food mixer which is much quicker.

Have all the ingredients handy but DO NOT PEEL THE APPLES yet. Leave this step to the end otherwise your apples will darken.

First, make the pastry.
The reason why the ingredients are doubled is simple: we are making a pie so we need some pastry for the bottom and some for the top. I normally make one at a time as I am not too confident in making huge quantities at once.
So mix together on a medium speed the softened butter with the sugar and vanilla sugar. Once the mix starts to crumble, add the sieved flour and the pinch of salt. Mix once again without over doing it. After about 15 seconds, while still mixing, add the whole egg. Stop the machine as soon as all the ingredients have nicely bound together and formed a ball.

Place the dough of pastry in cling film in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour (2 hours are better).

After 1 hour (or 2 ), pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Take one dough of pastry and roll it on a floured surface. Fill a deep 25cm pastry tin with the rolled pastry and baking paper filled with dried beans or rice. Pre-bake it for 40 minutes or until it starts to golden.

Then comes step 2. Dealing with the filling: easy peasy!
Soak the sultanas with some boiling water and a little dash of rum for about 30 minutes.

Now that one part of the pastry is almost ready, peel your apples. One way to prevent apples (along with other vegetables*) from darkening is to cover them with some lemon juice. This will keep them "fresh " for a few minutes.
Cut your peeled apples in little cubes and mix them with the cinnamon, ground almonds and the drained sultanas.

Take the first batch of pastry out of the oven and remove the baking paper and the beans. Leave to stand for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the base with a little bit of semolina (it will prevent it from being soggy) and fill it with the apples.
Roll the second piece of pastry, place it on top of the apples and pierce it with some holes. Brush it all over with the egg yolk and place in the oven for about 45 minutes to one hour.

Leave to stand for a little while and enjoy slightly warm with custard.
Pie sweet pie... comfort food.

* Avocados also darken once cut.