Friday, 8 April 2011

One pie to rule them to all...

So being the unemployed bum that I am (don't worry - various job applications / interviews pending) I was tasked with catering for some visitors last night. All in all there were eight of us and I decided on an eclectic menu of Beef Rendang followed by Apple Pie. The curry was delicious and I might post a picture of it at the end of this post if you're lucky, but really I'm here to talk about the pie, as it was (to quote Michael Winner) historic.

The recipe I used was a Delia Smith one, which uses a shortcrust pasty with the slightly left-field inclusion of a couple of ounces of cheese. This might seem a bit of a surprise, but in actual fact apple and cheese is a match made in heaven and I'm pretty sure that even the legendary Yorkshire institution Betty's serves an apple pie with a piece of Wensleydale on the side. The cheese doesn't overpower things at all and adds a bit of a savoury counterpoint to the sweet apple. This well worth a crack and crucially it looks bloody impressive when you get it out of the oven, so you can bask in the admiration of your friends and family.

I don't think I'd be giving too much away to say that probably 70% of the reason I cook for other people is to lap up the praise when they say how delicious the food was and what a good cook I am! But I suppose everyone likes to be told they're good at something, even if it's as insignificant as making a pie!

And returning to the pie...

For the pastry:

225g Plain Flour
100g Butter cut into small pieces
50-75g Cheddar, coarsely grated (adjust the amount depending on how strong your cheese is and how cheesy you'd like the pastry to be)
Cold Water to bind.

For the filling:

1.8kg Cooking Apples (or a 50/50 mix of cookers and desserts if you prefer)
1 tablespoon Semolina or Polenta
75-100g Caster Sugar
12 cloves and / or Cinnamon (again if you like these ingredients add them, but not essential)
1 egg

You'll also need a pie dish (approx 20cm in diameter)

  1. Start off with the pastry. I know that some people can find it a bit tough or a hassle to make pastry, but, bar the odd balls up, I've never found this to be the case, so follow my foolproof instructions!
  2. Add the flour and the butter to a mixing bowl, and using the famed 'rubbing in' method (well done Mrs McHugh - Year 8 Food Tech), combine the butter and flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. This always sounds slightly inprobable when you read it, but it will given a bit of time. 
  3. Then add the cheese and enough water to bring the mixture together into a ball of dough. This can be the tricky bit as you add too little water for it to come together properly, or too much and it becomes a sticky mess. So the trick is to add a little at a time and mix with a knife or your hand until it forms a soft dough.
  4. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for half an hour or so.
  5. Now turn to the filling. You need to peel, core and slice the apples finely. A bit of a chore I know, but not too bad once you get in the swing of it. To stop them discolouring completely I put them in a bowl of water with some lemon juice squeezed in. 
  6. Now turn you attention again to the pastry. Take it out of the fridge and split the dough into two, with one half slightly bigger (if that's not an oxymoron).
  7. Using the smaller half for the base, roll it out into a circle of sufficient diameter to cover the base and sides of the pie dish, with a little bit overlapping the edges. It might split a bit but just use offcuts to cover up any cracks (as I did - see below). Then when the pastry is in the dish, sprinkle over the semonlina / polenta (it's supposed to absorb some of the juices to stop the pastry getting soggy apparently).
  8. Then you can start to add the apples in layers, adding sugar and the cloves / cinnamon as you go along.
  9. Once you've added as much apple as you can (there might be some left over, but make sure you pile it high as they shrink during cooking), you can then roll out the second lot of pastry for the lid. To make sure it sticks to the base brush some beaten egg around the rim of the dish and then press down using your thumbs and / or a fork. 
  10. For that extra touch you can use the left over pastry to make some decorations for the pie. I went down the traditional route and made some leaves, but I'm sure you could be much more imaginative than that. 
  11. Before you put it in the oven you need to brush the whole lot with beaten egg and make a small hole at the top of the lid to let the steam out. 
  12. Finally bake for 45-55 minutes at approximately 175 degrees (gas 4). This is for a fan oven, but if you have a normal one, maybe crank it up a notch - but be careful not to burn it!
  13. Leave it for 10-20 mins after cooking before you serve it up. The choice last night was with cream or ice-cream, but I couldn't decide and had both which was the right decision!
See below for the pics I took whilst I was making it and the finished article.

Step number 7

The polenta - please excuse the rough edges!

Step number 8

Before the oven
After the oven - a triumph!
So overall a pretty decent effort I thought. Now that it's getting towards summer a pie dish like this might seem a but wintry, but I'm sure it would taste delicious cold too (there was none left to find out today I'm afraid).

p.s. as promised a quick glimpse of the Beef Rendang - not a particularly visual dish, but very tasty.

1 comment:

  1. That pie looks delicious! Defo gonna give this a go sometime...