“Ladies and Gentlemen… if I could offer you only one tip for the future, not being over-confident in the kitchen would be it.”
Singing the lines of the Sunscreen song while typing this, I would like to offer you the reasoning behind my tip. Having fun in the kitchen is great, and having wonderful friends and family complimenting your food is even better. Until you start to think: “hey, my friends love my food, so I must be a dab hand in the kitchen” and you convince yourself that trying a pastry recipe for the first time would be mere child’s play to you. And that of course you can make an apple pie with your eyes closed.
That’s where the ever-present kitchen fairy likes to prove you wrong. (The kitchen fairy also decides whether your cupcakes will rise, or whether your lamb cooks in time for dinner.)
My kitchen fairy was rubbing her hands in glee when I strolled in to the Pig Palace kitchen with my pretend Masterchef apron and my newly purchased rolling-pin. (As Frank says, it’s better than using an empty wine bottle) Not-so-silently confident that I was going to whip the apple pie recipe into shape, I proceeded in getting all the ingredients on the bench. Which is when my 6 bruise-free apples went tumbling onto the floor. “Never mind” I thought, “just a small hiccup”. After Frank’s masterful peeling of the apples I chopped them up and got ready to make the pastry. (See Frank, I did mention you. ;)) And this is where it got a bit scary: pastry is HARD to work with. I am incredibly thankful that Beets and I spent hours in front of the Good Food channel, because if I hadn’t known to roll the pastry back on the rolling-pin to get it in the pan I would have lost the pastry, and my rag, all at once.
Now I strongly suspect I didn’t have enough pastry, as it was veeeery thin when I put it in the pan. Once I piled in the apples, I popped another sheet of needle-thin pastry on top, rips and all. Attempting to recover my pride, I cut out a little apple and a leaf from the left-over pastry and decorated the top with it. After glazing with egg white and sprinkling with sugar, I shoved the apple pie in the oven and ran out the kitchen as fast as I could.
40 minutes later, I crept back into the kitchen to discover a really funny-looking pie! To quote Frank “it looks like a moonscape”. And as he assessed correctly*, I should have left more pastry hanging over the edge. Oh well, Masterchef I am not, but at least it doesn’t look too bad.
As I have made this apple pie (or large pile of apples with a teeny bit of pastry) to take up to Mama and Papa C tomorrow, I cannot cut into it or tell you what it tastes like just yet, but thankfully it smells delicious! I’ve been told to let it cool properly and it will last for a week in the fridge if needs be. I’ll publish additional photos after we crack the pie open.
*For those of you who don’t know, Frank is not only the chief dish-washer and highly skilled sous chef, but he has nominated himself as my honest critic and is always willing to suggest how to do it better next time. 🙂
Apple pie – adjusted from the BBC Good Food website
FOR THE FILLING
1kg Granny Smith apples
140g golden caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp flour
FOR THE PASTRY
225g butter , room temperature
50g golden caster sugar , plus extra
350g plain flour , preferably organic
softly whipped cream , to serve
Put a layer of paper towels on a large baking sheet. Quarter, core, peel and slice the apples about 5mm thick and lay evenly on the baking sheet. Put paper towels on top and set aside while you make and chill the pastry.
For the pastry, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until just mixed. Break in a whole egg and a yolk (keep the white for glazing later). Beat together for just under 1 min – it will look a bit like scrambled egg. Now work in the flour with a wooden spoon, a third at a time, until it’s beginning to clump up, then finish gathering it together with your hands. Gently work the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film, and chill for 45 mins. Now mix the 140g/5oz sugar, the cinnamon and flour for the filling in a bowl that is large enough to take the apples later.
After the pastry has chilled, heat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Lightly beat the egg white with a fork. Cut off a third of the pastry and keep it wrapped while you roll out the rest, and use this to line a pie tin – 20-22cm round and 4cm deep – leaving a slight overhang. Roll the remaining third to a circle about 28cm in diameter. Pat the apples dry with kitchen paper, and tip them into the bowl with the cinnamon-sugar mix. Give a quick mix with your hands and immediately pile high into the pastry-lined tin.
Brush a little water around the pastry rim and lay the pastry lid over the apples pressing the edges together to seal. Trim the edge with a sharp knife and make 5 little slashes on top of the lid for the steam to escape. (Can be frozen at this stage.) Brush it all with the egg white and sprinkle with caster sugar. Bake for 40-45 mins, until golden, then remove and let it sit for 5-10 mins. Sprinkle with more sugar and serve while still warm from the oven with softly whipped cream
Despite the apple pie looking really silly, it tasted pretty good! The filling cooked perfectly dispite my misgivings, and even though the pastry was really thin it tasted like shortbread. (And I’ve figured out why the pastry was so thin, my pan was the right diameter on the bottom, but opened out really wide!) Next time I’ll use 1.5 times the quantitiy and have a slightly thicker crust.
In response to my lovely comments:
Lorraine – thanks for the tip! I am very keen to do a course at Planet Cake one day, I need to steady my hands first as they’re really shakey! Unfortunately being short wasn’t my problem (I’m 5’8″), I think put too much pressure on the pastry. 🙂
Renae – your filling sounds delicious. Do you add nutmeg and lemon in addition to the cinnamon, or in place of it? I’d never made pastry before, so I wouldn’t mind trying your recipe for it!
Queen Bee – Ooh, cardamom. Interesting twist! I’ll give that one a try with Renee’s adjustments next time. That darned kitchen fairy often knocks bowls and food onto my floor and then Frank has to clean it up. I swear it was her. 😉