Saturday, October 13, 2007

Apple Pie

Now that fall is here, everyone's thoughts are turning to the coming holidays, cozy days spent lazing in front of a fireplace, spending time with family and friends and trying to keep out of the cold!

Growing up in , as I did, meant that you generally ate whatever was in season, and right about now were the "late" fruits such as as damsons, plums, gooseberries and, of course, apples.

Cooking apples were bought at the market as they were cheap and nearly always available and with them you could make , apple crumble, apple upside-down pudding or just plain old baked apples! So it's not surprising that as soon as fall arrives, my thoughts turn to baking apple pie. The below for Old English apple pie, with its filling of apple, dried fruit and spices makes the pastry "from scratch" which is more usual in England, but you can substitute your favorite pie crust mix if you prefer.

Ingredients for the Pastry
  • 8 oz (2 cups) all purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons cold water
Ingredients for the Filling
  • 1 1/2 lbs cooking apples, peeled cored and sliced (firm apples such as Pippin, Rome Beauty and Granny Smith)
  • 4 tablespoons dried sultanas or raisins
  • 6 oz (2/3 cup) light brown sugar
  • Finely grated rind and juice of half a lemon
To Finish
  • milk
  • caster sugar

Method
  1. To prepare the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl, then stir in the sugar. Add the butter in pieces and rub into the flour with the fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (you can use a food processor for this, if you prefer). Stir in enough cold water to hold the mixture together, then form into a smooth ball. Wrap in foil or greaseproof paper and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  2. Divide the dough in two and roll out one half on a floured board to a circle to fit the base of an 8-inch pie dish.
  3. Put the apples in a mixing bowl, then stir in the remaining filling ingredients. Spoon into the dough-lined pie dish. Roll out the remaining dough to a circle for the lid. Lay over the filling, pressing down and sealing the edge with water. Flute the edge with your fingers or crimp with the prongs of a fork. Brush with a little milk and dredge with caster sugar. Make a slit in the center of the pie for the steam to escape.
  4. Bake on a baking sheet in the center of a fairly hot oven (400 degF) for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to moderate (350 degF) and continue baking for 20 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

In England apple pie is usually served with custard sauce, or sweetened whipped cream. I have never seen the custard sauce in America, but it is usually made with a vanilla flavored powder (Bird's Custard Powder) to which hot milk and sugar are added and it makes a thick, yellow sauce which is delicious!

If you want to be really authentic and try this it can be purchased online at www.ukgoods.com.

A tangy cheddar is also good with apple pie, and the two are often served together in England.

1 comment:

Aaron said...

My mother has a recipe called English Apple Pie, but it involves no pastry crust(http://www.quincyhouse.net/recipes.php). Do you have any idea where this crust-less apple pie comes from? I've seen plenty of English apple pies like this recipe, with crust, so I've never really understood the name. For years she assumed it was passed down from her mother's Scotch-Irish-Swedish-Swiss family, but it turns out it just came from a random small-town cookbook in Kansas.