I don’t often eat desserts at home, so they always feel like a treat. They are reserved for meals out, occasions, dinners at home shared with family and friends. My favourite desserts are generally the ones I associate with nostalgia and home cooking, and it’s a tribute to my Mum’s amazing cooking and baking that I have grown to love them so much.
At this time of year, as the summer ends and autumn begins, there is no dessert more comforting and delicious than one involving seasonal cooked apples. Add a crisp pastry crust, and you’re serving something really special, cooked with love, care and fresh produce.
I’m really lucky to have access to Bramley apples from my parents’ tree. They’re large ones, in a variety of shapes and sizes, with gorgeous colour. They’re also free from any pesticides or other nasties, and as we use windfall apples as well as those from the tree, pretty eco-friendly too! If you don’t have access to an apple tree, I would definitely recommend seeking out some organic ones at your local grocer or farmers market. If you’re going to treat yourself, you might as well do it properly!
As for the pie itself, the crunch, and crumbliness of homemade shortcrust pastry with the sweet, slightly tangy spiced apple filling waiting underneath like golden treasure. Each mouthful is guaranteed to be a delicious one.
Unlike eating apples, cooking varieties like Bramley apples do tend to be sharper, so sugar is added to make them more palatable. I like to use slightly less sugar than in some recipes, as I like a hint of sharpness to my apple. If you like your pie sweet, add a little extra sugar to the recipe below – and enjoy!
Apple Pie Recipe
Serves 4, cooking time 40 minutes
For the apple filling:
4-5 medium or large cooking apples, like Bramley apples
5 tbsp demerara sugar
½ tsp ground mixed spice
For the pastry crust:
110g plain flour
55g salted butter (cold, cut into small pieces)
1-2 tbsp cold water
First, make the pastry. Put the flour into a mixing bowl, add the butter and rub together between your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Add 1 tbsp water and mix. The pastry should start to stick together. Add a little more water a spoonful at a time, until it comes together in a ball.
Cover the pastry with cling film, and chill in the fridge while you prepare the apple filling.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Peel and core the apples, placing them into a bold of water to help stop them from going brown. Cut the apples into 1 com slices.
In a frying pan, melt the butter over a medium heat.
Add the cinnamon stick and mixed spice for 30 seconds, then add the apples and sugar. (If the pan is small, you may need to do this in 2 halves.)
Cook for a few minutes, until the apple starts to soften, then remove from the heat.
Take out the cinnamon stick, and add the apple to a pie dish.
Remove the pastry from the fridge, and roll out to ½ cm thick on a floured surface.
Cut a piece to cover the pie dish with some over at the sides: it doesn’t have to be neat.
Using the pastry you cut off of the main piece, stick a line of pastry around the edge of the pie dish.
Cut any desired patterns into the pastry lid. I’ve used a heart cutter to create the pattern in this post, but as long as you cut at least one hole for steam to escape, it doesn’t matter.
Roll the pasty carefully onto a floured rolling pin, then gently unroll on top of the pie dish, taking care to get the position as central as you can, as it’s hard to move once on there!
Brush a little water under each of the edges of the pastry lid, and stick it down. Trip off any overhanging pastry from the edges.
Optional: brush the pastry lid with a little milk, and sprinkle with a teaspoon of demerara sugar.
Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the fruit is soft, and the pastry is crisp.
Serve on its own, or with ice-cream, cream or custard – delicious!