February 18, 2013

Honest Apple Pie // A Personal Favourite

Yesterday (Sunday) was the first day I felt Spring 2013. It was beautiful. Not only did I sleep like a baby the night before, I woke up naturally, refreshed to a blissful bright and crisp day. I couldn't help but be in a good mood. On top of that, I came downstairs where my Dad was cooking breakfast. I helped a little by making scrambled eggs!

Have a look at the light that was filtering into the kitchen. Since I started blogging in April last year, I have become very aware and excited about light. Excellent natural light just makes my day. It absolutely breaks my heart when it's not there-the trouble with living in Ireland! Today though- the light provided another reason to be happy in the kitchen!

The shopping had been done on Friday and there was a bowl of apples sitting on the worktop.   On Saturday, I went to bed laden with cook books and my iPhone. I was searching for inspiration as to what to do with the apples. I don't know why I even bothered looking up recipes because 9 times out of 10, I will always make an apple pie!

An apple pie is perfection. The great thing about it is, you can be as plain and as simple as you like or you can be as creative as your mind allows-using many different kinds of pastry or apple varieties, spices, flavourings and additional fruits. I kept it simple this time and again, 9 times  out of 10, I will. I am an advocate of simple cooking.

I love a decent pie filled high with towering fruit. I have said before that making a sandwich is an art-form and I believe the same thing about pie. Can you be religious about pie?! When you find a good recipe, stick to it but change it slightly every once in a while to keep it fresh.  However, make sure to keep the natural back bone of the pie present-homemade, honest and generous. 

This pie is honest and to be eaten with good people. The buttermilk pastry is super flaky and has a slightly salty note which compliments the sweet, tart apples that are lovingly coated in a reduced caramel liquid. It is a beautiful scene to be around! And the smells? Absolutely heavenly! Once the pie is baked I urge you to stick your nose to the centre and breath in deeply-you will be intoxicated with a warm, buttery, caramel, apple aroma. I asked my Mam to smell the pie, she said it was like a sweet autumn hedgerow. 

If you're lucky, when the pie is baking, the juices will ooze out and create a caramel river through the ridges of pastry. It makes for a real pretty picture!

I think yesterday could have been one of my favourite days-not that I did anything insane or memorable but wow- the family time, weather and food. These are the days that really count!


Holly, x

Once the dough is made, you will need 2/3 of it to line the pie dish. Re wrap the other 1/3 and place back in the fridge.

If you need pictures of how to make pastry you can use this recipe or this one.

Butter and flour the pie dish.

Roll the pastry out big even so that...

... it over hangs by 1 inch once in the pie dish. Trim the excess pastry with a scissors. 

Cover the pastry with clingfilm and refrigerate until needed.

Slice the apples, sprinkle with soft brown sugar, golden caster sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice.

Leave and allow the apples to macerate for 30 minutes-do you see the juices mixing with the sugars? This is a delicious apple caramel flavoured liquid.

After 30 minutes strain the liquid from the apples and boil down with 50g of butter.

This liquid then gets tossed with the apples..see how thick and syrupy it's gotten? Ridiculously good. 

Pile the apples into the chilled lined pie dish. Run a little cold water around the edge of the pastry. 

Roll the remaining 1/3 of pastry for the lid and lay on top. 

Again, trim the pastry so that it overhangs by an inch.

Use a fork or your fingers to seal and crimp the pastry. Egg wash and bake!

Recipe, serves 8-10 and hugely  adapted from Hostess with the Mostess

Buttermilk Pastry

375g Plain Flour, sieved
2 Tablespoons Caster Sugar
1 Teaspoon Flaky Salt
200g Cold Unsalted Butter, diced
1 Egg
150ml Buttermilk, Cold

In a bowl rub the cold cubes of butter into the flour, sugar and salt until the butter is the size of peas.
Make a well in the centre and crack in the egg.
Using your fingers in a claw shape work the egg into the flour adding 100ml of buttermilk.
Add more buttermilk if needed. 
Once the dough comes together, tip onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a neat  flat round ball. 
Wrap in clingfilm and place in for the fridge for 30-60 minutes-the pastry will need at least 30 minutes. 

Apple Pie Filling

8 Cooking Apples
150g Soft Brown Sugar
100g Golden Caster Sugar
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
2 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
50g Unsalted Butter
1 Heaped Tablespoon Cornstarch

Peel, quarter and core the apples. 
Cut each quarter into thin slices-about 8 slices per quarter. 
Place the apples in a bowl-sprinkle with the golden caster sugar, soft brown sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon.
Set aside and allow the apples to macerate until all the lovely juices escape and mix with the sugars.

In the meantime-remove the pastry from the fridge.
Cut the pastry, not quite in half and re wrap 1/3 and place it back in the fridge.
Butter and flour a 12 inch pie dish.
Roll the pastry out large enough to fit the the pie dish with an inch hanging over the sides.
Cover the pastry directly with cling film and place back in the fridge until ready to use.

After the apples have macerated-place them in a strainer sitting over a bowl to collect the liquid.
Place the apples back in the bowl.
Sprinkle with cornflour and mix well.
Pour the juices into a pot and bring to the boil with 50g of butter. 
Allow to bubble and reduce for about 8 minutes until you have roughly 125ml of liquid left.
Pour this over the apples and stir-the caramel will seize a little and clump. Don't mind-it'll melt again once the pie is baking.
Set the apples aside as you roll out your lid of pastry.

Preheat the oven to 180°C, place a rack on the bottom shelf and heat a baking tray in the oven.
Remove the last piece of pastry from the fridge and roll out on a floured work surface into a circle.
Roll the pastry big enough so that it will over hang by an inch.
Remove the lined pie dish from fridge.
Tip the apples into the centre and run a little cold water around the edge of the pastry.
Cover with the lid and crimp together, with a fork or your thumb, the overhanging inch of pastry.
Brush the top with a little milk and create 5 thin slits in the pastry with a knife.
Remove the heated tray from the oven, line with a sheet and parchment and place the pie dish on top. 
Bake at 180°C for 50-60 minutes until golden, oozy and the apples are soft. 
*if the pie is browning too quickly, cover with tin foil and uncover for the last 5 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to sit for at least 2 hours before cutting.

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