Monday, 6 October 2014

Apple Pie, Oh yeah! I made it!

apple pie, straight from the oven. Must. Take. Picture.
My first successful apple pie, ever. Using huge organic Newton Wonder apples from the garden.  This pastry is crisp yet soft.  It's just lovely and far far easier than any I've made before with my warm-not-made-for-pastry hands.

Recipe (Slightly amended from Good Food Ultimate Apple Pie).

Equipment you'll need:
  • 25cm round by 2.5cm deep flan tin (I don't have an pie dish), or a 20-22cm x 4cm pie tin
  • Cling Film
  • Rolling Pin
  • Big! mixing bowl - big enough to take a kilogram of sliced apples
  • Two big trays/chopping boards
  • Paper towels
  • Hand mixer (or a determined spirit)
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Scales
  • Large sharp knife
  • Pastry brush 

Ingredients:
  • 1kg Cooking Apples
  • 140g Golden Caster Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice or cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons of flour

For the pastry:
  • 225g good organic salted butter at room temperature - it should be soft but not melted.
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • Extra sugar for sprinkling
  • 2 eggs (you'll use 1 whole egg and 1 yolk in the pastry, the remaining white is used to brush the pastry)
  • 350g plain organic flour
The instructions look pretty long now that I've typed them out, but really it wasn't that hard, I'm just being thorough because I don't want to forget how I made this lovely creation. Give it a go. Here's a slice for motivation.

slice of apple pie, oh yeah, that's right.

  1. Prepare the apples. Lay paper towels on the two large trays or chopping boards.Peel the apples, chop into quarters then cut out the cores. Slice the apples 5mm thick; 5mm is the Goldilocks thickness for apple pie, thicker and they'll be crunchy, thinner they'll be insubstantial. Lay them in a single layer on the paper towels as you slice each apple. Cover the sliced apples with another layer of paper towel and pat it down.  Set aside.
  2. Prepare the apple spice mix. Mix the spice, 3 tablespoons of flour and 140g of sugar together in your very large bowl and set to one side. 
  3. Prepare the pastry. Beat the butter and sugar together until just mixed using a wooden spoon. Separate one of the eggs into white and yolk, add the yolk to the butter, and keep the white for later. Add the other whole egg to the butter, then beat using a hand-held mixer for about 30-40 seconds. It will look like curdled, a bit like scrambled eggs.  Mix the flour in using a wooden spoon, adding about 1/3 of the flour at a time. When the mixture starts to come together, finish off gently by hand. Try to work quickly but gently at this point, you don't want your hands to melt the butter or it may become greasy, and too much kneading will toughen the pastry. Make the pastry into a rough ball then wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for 45 minutes.
  4. Let the pastry rest: Leave the pastry to in the fridge for 45 minutes. Really, leave it in there, it's very soft. Set a time for 45 minutes and leave it alone. Wait....
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 170C. Turn on the oven to pre-heat, I set my fan oven to 170C
  6. Roll out the pastry. The pasty is very soft, the easiest way to handle it, and cut down on clean up is to roll it out between two sheets of cling film. Cover work surface with a piece of cling film large enough to take a circle of pastry about 28cm across. Using a large sharp knife, cut off about 2/3 of the pastry lightly shape into a flat disc and place in the centre of the cling film. Re-wrap the remaining 1/3. Place another sheet of cling film over the pastry and gentle roll it out to about 28cm, or until it will fill your pie/flan dish with a cm or so overlap. To roll out the pastry, lightly roll over the soft pastry once forward, once back, turn the cling film round a by 90 degrees (quarter turn), roll once forward, once back, turn, once forward, once back, quarter turn, etc. The dough if very soft, so treat it gently. If the edges crack too much or become uneven, don't worry, you can take off a long bit and add it to a short bit if you need to, then carry on. Take off the top layer of cling film then place the pie tin upside-down in the middle of the pastry, slide your hand under the cling film and keeping one had on the bottom of the dish and one under the pastry quickly turn everything right-side up.  Phew. Take off the cling film, and gently make sure the pastry fills the pie case all the ways to the bottom and overhangs the edges. Don't stretch the pastry to do this, lift the edge and easy it down into the base so that you are easing and dropping it in, rather than pressing and stretching it out.  Any torn bits or bits that don't reach the edges can be patched with a small piece of overhang from somewhere else Next roll out the lid to about 28cm as above and set aside.
  7. Make the filling. Tip the rested apple slices into the bowl with the sugar, flour, spice mix, and mix quickly with your hands until all of the mix is stuck to the apple pieces. Tip this straight into the pie tin.It will form an intimidating mound!
  8. Put the lid on the pie. Using the cling film to lift it, place the pastry over the pie, lining up one side first, then gently flopping it over the top of the apple mound. Peel off the cling film. If it tears in small places, very gently patch it with some spare edge pastry. Using your finger press the two layers of pastry together all the way around the edge. It's soft enough that you don't need to wet it to make it stick together. Cut 5 small slits in the top with your sharp knife to let the steam out. Cut off the excess pastry around the edge of the pie tin. 
  9. Prepare the pie for baking. Lightly whisk the egg white that you reserved earlier to loosen it. Using a pastry brush, gently, gently brush the top of the pie with eggwhite, then sprinkle about a tablespoon of sugar over the pie to form a sugary crust. This makes it lovely and crisp.
  10.  Bake it. Put the pie on a low shelf in the oven. You might want to put a tray on the shelf below to catch any syrup that bubbles out or that spills out when you turn it around. Bake for 30 minutes at 170C, then check to make sure that the pastry is golden, and reduce the temperature to 160C, Bake at this lower temperature for another 20 to 25 minutes (keep an eye on to make sure the pastry isn't over-browning). I reduce the temperature at this half-way point as my oven tends to burn pastry at a higher temperature if a pie is left in for long enough to thicken up and soften the filling. If your oven isn't perfectly even, rotate the pie when you reduce the temperature. When the pie is done, the filling will be soft and thickly jammy. If it's watery or crunchy (don't be afraid to poke about a bit with the tip of a sharp knife), put it back in for another 10 minutes. 
  11. Admire it. Take your beautiful pie out of the oven, and admire your creation for at least 10 minutes while it cools slightly; the pastry with become slightly crisper and the filling will set. 
  12. Take picture of it. Eat it. If the crust crumbles on the first slice, who cares!? Imperfect slices are the chef's extra treat slice.