May 31, 2015

Apple Pie

I recently watched and loved the TV show Pushing Daisies starring Lee Pace, who plays a sweet, socially awkward pie-maker.  Naturally, there were many pies featured on the show and I have never baked a pie other than lemon meringue.

My family is decidedly not a pie family; I haven't had a wide range of pie experiences, so I decided to tackle apple pie first.  It seemed like a good place to start.

The first time I tried this, I went straight from the recipe and it was a pretty big disappointment.  Putting uncooked apples in the pie resulted in, basically, a pie shell with slightly softened apple slices inside.  I wanted something with more of a soft, squishy apple filling, so I played it by ear and did my own thing.

I'm pleased to say that my round of pie-baking was a success!  The crust has a great texture with a hint of lemon that's not overpowering; and the innards of the pie are sweet, soft and lightly spiced.

Recipe heavily adapted from: Jamie Oliver
Ingredients - crust (20 cm (8 inch) pie)
250g flour
50g icing sugar
Pinch of salt
Zest of 1/2 lemon (use the zest from the other half in your filling)
125g cold butter
1 egg
1 tsp milk

Ingredients - filling
4 cooking apples (I used Granny Smiths)
1 eating apple (I used a Pink Lady)
5 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Squeeze of lemon juice

Ingredients - egg wash
1 egg
Splash of milk

Method - crust
1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).

2. Mix the flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor.

3. Add the lemon zest and cold butter and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

4. Add the egg and pulse until the dough starts to come together.  Add the milk and pulse until the dough is smooth.

5. Form the dough into a flat rectangle and wrap it in cling wrap.  Leave it in the fridge and get on with making your filling!

Method - filling
1. Peel your apples and cut them up into eighths.

2. Place the apples into a saucepan along with the brown sugar, ginger, lemon zest and lemon juice.

3. Mix the ingredients together and cook over medium heat until the apples are softened.  Cook longer if you want a softer filling, or cook for a shorter time if you prefer more texture.

4. Take the filling off the heat and let it cool.

Method - baking/assembly
1. Take the crust dough out of the fridge.  Flour your clean work surface and split the dough into two portions, about 2/3 and 1/3 each.  The bigger portion will be for your base and the smaller for the top of the pie.

2. Roll the larger portion out into a circle about 1/2 cm thick (make sure to flour your rolling pin and the top of the pastry so nothing gets sticky).  You want it to be big enough to drape over the sides of your pie dish.

3. Carefully roll the pastry over your rolling pin then unroll it over the pie dish.  Gently manipulate the pastry so there are no air bubbles and the pastry is flush with the entire base and sides of the dish.

4. Pour your apple filling straight onto the pastry and make sure it's packed in evenly.

5. Whisk the egg with a small splash of milk (egg wash).  Brush some of the egg wash around the edge of the pie crust.

6. Roll the other portion of pastry out to 1/2 cm thick.  Roll the pastry over the rolling pin and unroll it over the top of the pie.

7. Fold the edges of the pastry in and crimp them together with your fingers.

8. Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash.

9. Cut a few slits in the top of the pie - to let steam escape as it bakes.  I also sprinkled the top of my pie with some white sugar.

10. Bake the pie for about 40 minutes until the crust is golden and firm.

Let the pie cool, then enjoy!

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