Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Recipe Time! Apple and Raspberry Pie

Baking a pie must be one of the most satisfying experiences in the world. There is a careful craft to making the pastry; it’s not exactly difficult, but it takes practice, and an understanding of your ingredients. Cold butter, cold water, or, going against all other baking protocol, an egg straight from the fridge. You must work quickly in rubbing the butter into the flour until it golden and finely crumbed in texture. Add the icy liquid and combine quickly, quickly, until it just comes together into one piece. Now refrigerate to let the dough relax, I usually give it about 30 minutes at this stage, wrapped in clingfilm. After following a tip from a Rachel Allen book, I now roll my pastry between two sheets of clingfilm, it saves a lot of floury mess (both on the countertop and my clothes), then line my tin, and pop back in the fridge for anything from another half an hour, to overnight. The sight of a tin lined with pastry is lovely and heavy with promise, and almost as beautiful as when it is filled to the brim with fruit and other good things.

A filling of apples makes the quintessential fruit pie, but there are plenty of variations given what’s at hand in the season; rhubarb is delicious, as is a combination of rhubarb and strawberries. Anyone lucky enough to have gooseberries growing in their garden, or a good greengrocer, could make a lovely tart, slightly perfumed perhaps with a head of elderflower (and more on that particular subject soon.) Apples on their own are great with warming spices like cinnamon and cloves, or with the likes of berries, walnuts, or sultanas. And then, from relatively few ingredients and just a little work, there emerges from the oven a gorgeous, fragrant, bubbling pie to reward your efforts.

Here I’ve combined the Irish favourite, Bramley apples, with fresh summer raspberries, which is a fantastic combination. If you don't have Bramleys where you are, use a good cooking apple, like Cortland, Empire, or Granny Smith.

175g plain flour
75g butter, cold
150g + 2tbsp caster sugar
1 egg, fridge cold, beaten
3 bramley apples
150g raspberries
1 egg, beaten (for an egg wash – if there’s any beaten egg left from making the pastry, that’ll do lovely)

1. Cut the butter into small cubes. Put the flour and 1 tablespoon of sugar into a bowl and whisk to combine. Rub in the cubed butter until it resembles breadcrumbs in texture.

2. Add the beaten egg a little at a time, mixing with a knife until the whole lot just comes together in one piece.

3. Tip the dough onto some cling film, and bring it together. Form into a slightly flattened disc shape – this makes it easier to roll later on. Pop in the fridge for 30 minutes or so.

4. After that time take it out of the fridge and cut it in half. Roll one half between two sheets of clingfilm until it fits your tin – I used a 20cm/8in fluted pie dish. Remove one piece of film, then lay the pastry, dough side down, into the tin. Press to fit, then peel off the top layer of film. Roll the second half between the two clingfilm sheets, to fit the top of the pie, with a little overhang. Pop the whole lot back in the fridge until your filling is sorted.

5. Switch the oven on at 180C/350F.

6. Peel and core the apples, then cut into slices/dice, depending on what you fancy. Toss them in a bowl with the 150g of sugar and the raspberries.

7. Take the pie dish from the fridge and pile in the filling. Brush a little water around the rim of pastry. Lay the lid over the top and crimp the base and lid together around the edge with your thumb. Trim any overhanging pastry with a paring knife. If you fancy, use the trimmings to make pretty decorations for the top of your pie – a couple of overlapping circles or some leaves are easy to carve with a knife, or put your cookie cutters to use for stars, hearts, letters, etc.

8. Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the tart with egg wash. Sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar. Place the pie on a baking tray – useful in case your filling bubbles out anywhere. It’s makes a mess on the bottom of your oven (I know from experience).

9. Bake for about 45 minutes, the top should be golden brown, and the apples tender. Enjoy warm or room temperature, with whipped cream, ice cream, or custard.


Leslie-Anne said...

looks delicious!

Pastry is so finicky, but worth it when it works out!

Gina A said...

yikes! I'm so out of the loop! Gorgeous post Alison, and gorgeous looking pie!

Sorry so late in the game. I promise I do have a post in the works too... just getting back in to the computer swing-of-things!

Alison said...

Leslie-Anne: that is so true. There have been times I have been close to tears because of shrinkage, puffing, irreperable cracks... Even when you've done everything right! It takes practice, but also a little bit of luck I think...

Gina: Great to have you back! xx