Two music graduates chronicle the culinary delights of Leeds and London and explore the height of fine dining on a limited budget.

Good food is well punk.

December 18, 2010

As American as Obesity and Racism: Apple Pie

In order to justify not paying any rent, part of the burden of living at home quite often involves cooking dinner - especially if it's "something fancy". In order to accommodate an old friend of my parents, I was put on duty pre-making dinner the night before as we were all out in the day. For the main course I did a chilli, a recipe for which I'll post up here when I finally decide how I like it best, but it's what I did next that gets shared today.
For pudding, I decided to make an apple pie owing to our glut of apples (sadly not from an orchard, but Sainsbury's), and also because I have a slight fear of pastry. I cobbled the recipe together from various sources on the internet, and I think it works well!

Only make it if you don't have a phobia of butter.

For the pastry:
220g plain flour
150g cold butter
Pinch of salt
Iced water

For the filling:
5-6 eating apples
120g butter
3tbsp plain flour
120g caster sugar
100g muscavado sugar (or demerara)
Pinch of salt
80ml water
Cinnamon, to taste

All that was left by the time I could photograph it

Begin by making the pastry. Make sure the butter is as cold as you can get it - cut it into cubes and place in the fridge to cool, if necessary. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips if you feel like doing it traditionally; I used a blender. If you do decide to go more technological, remember to use the pulse function and keep the mixture moving around the bowl - if you blitz it too much, it'll heat up and melt the butter, causing the pastry to be too crumbly. When the butter is fully amalgamated, with a texture like coarse yellow sand, slowly add in ice-cold water drip by drip until the dough comes together into a ball of pastry. Cut in half, roll out each half to about 15cm across (about 3mm thick), cover in cling film and place in the fridge.

For the filling, begin by peeling, coring and chopping the apples into smallish chunks; I cut each apple into 16 pieces (do the maths). It takes a while, so get someone else to do it for you if you're lucky enough to have a significant other/child/slave. Sadly since I was cooking this late at night I had to chop it all myself and ended up covered in small cuts and apple juice. When the apples are chopped, cover so as not to let them brown.

Now for the good bit. Begin by gently melting the butter in a small saucepan over a low flame, making sure it doesn't brown at all. Stir in the flour to form a paste (but not so much flour that it becomes a roux - use your judgement), and add in the sugar, salt and water. Be sure not to let the mixture get too hot, as then the sugars will begin to caramelise and form a hard toffee sauce. It'll be delicious, but it's not what we want. Stir the mixture so that the sugar dissolves and pour all the apples into the pan. Coat the apples in the sauce, resist the temptation to pick at them, and leave to simmer on a very low temperature.

Now, grease your pie dish. I'm sure there's a difference between using a metal and ceramic dish, but it's probably not that important? I used a ceramic quiche dish (with fluted edges), which made retrieval a little tricky, but it all goes down the same way anyway. Lay one bit of the pastry in the dish, rolling out some more if necessary, and make sure it comes up to the edges of the dish. Oh-so-gently nudge it with your fingertips if need be. Now, carefully ooze the appley filling on top of the pastry so it sits in a mound. Be careful not to overfill the pie! Sprinkle over as much or little cinnamon as you like, and carefully place the top sheet of pastry on top. Prick with a fork (no not me... wait...), and leave it in the fridge.

When it's time to bake, whack it in the oven at about 180 for as long as it takes to brown: about 45 minutes. Use your judgement. Serve hot, with custard or cream.

Sadly, as I arrived home late, I was unable to see the pie come out of the oven, majestically bubbling like a pacific volcano god. Instead, I consoled myself with a microwaved slice. It was still damn good.

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