Apple pie is at once homely and impressive – who wouldn’t be proud of making a golden pie filled with tender, comfortingly spiced fruit? It’s not as difficult as it might look, either, especially if you’ve already got some pastry.
I personally enjoy making my own pastry, using a slightly modified version of Smitten Kitchen’s all-butter flaky pie dough: I freeze the cut-up butter and flour before mixing and then roll and fold the dough a couple of times to make especially flaky pastry. There’s absolutely no shame in using store-bought pastry, though – use short crust or puff pastry as you prefer. Both store-bought and ready-made pastry can be frozen, making it even easier to turn out pies and tarts.
The only truly fiddly part is peeling and coring the apples; assembling the pie is otherwise straightforward – roll, fill, bake. What you cannot streamline, however, is the cooking and cooling time: the pie takes nearly an hour’s baking and couple more hours to cool. If you try to eat the pie while it’s still steaming from the oven, it will quite literally be a hot mess, scalding your mouth and oozing everywhere. If you are little more patient, however, you will be rewarded with delicious slices of pie.
- For the pastry:
- . At least 600g pastry of your choice
- . Some plain flour for dusting
- . A few tablespoons of milk or water
- . 1 tablespoon caster/Demerara sugar
- For the filling:
- . About 850g eating apples (5-6 medium), a mix of different kinds – try tangier varieties like Granny Smith, Coxes, Russets
- . Juice of ¼ lemon
- . Zest of ½ lemon
- . 100g caster sugar
- . 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- . ¾ teaspoon mixed spice
- . Pinch of salt
- . 1 ½ tablespoons plain flour
- Preheat the oven to 250°C.
- On a lightly floured surface and using cool hands, roll out half of the pastry to about 28 cm (11 inches), to cover the inside of a 23 cm (9 inch) pie tin or dish.
- Keep the remaining half of the pastry refrigerated.
- If the dough is square, fold the corners in as you roll to encourage it to form a circle.
- Transfer the rolled dough to the pie tin by rolling it around the pin, then unrolling it across the tin. Gently adjust the dough so it sits neatly in the tin with a small overhang.
- Put the pastry-lined tin in the fridge for now.
- Place the lemon zest and juice into a large non-metal mixing bowl.
- Prepare the apples: working on one apple at a time, peel, quarter, and slice out the core from each fruit. Cut each quarter into 1 cm thick slices.
- Put all the apple pieces into the mixing bowl with the lemon juice as quickly as possible, covering the bowl with a tea towel.
- Once all the apples have been peeled and sliced, toss thoroughly with the lemon juice and zest.
- Add the 100g sugar, cinnamon, mixed spice, and plain flour to the apples. Mix carefully; making sure each piece is well coated.
- Take the pastry-lined tin out of the fridge and tumble all the fruit into it, mounding in the centre.
- With your fingers or a pastry brush, wet the edges of the pastry with milk or water.
- Roll out the remaining pastry to 28cm (11 inches) and lay it over the fruit-filled tin, pressing the two pastry layers together, crimping or fluting as you like.
- Cut small vents in the middle of the pie.
- Brush the whole surface of the pie top with milk or water and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar.
- Put the assembled pie on a baking tray and slide it into the hot oven.
- Immediately turn the heat down to 220ºC. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes; the top should be golden and puffed. Cover with foil if it’s getting too brown.
- Rotate the pie and reduce heat to 190ºC, til cooked, 30 – 35 minutes more.
- When it’s finished, the pie should be a deep gold and the filling should be bubbling.
- Carefully remove from the oven and let it cool in the tin for 1 – 2 hours.
- You can start to slice and serve the pie when it the bottom of the tin is barely warm.
- The pie keeps for 2 days at room temperature or 4 days in the fridge. Either way, once it’s cut, cover with foil. Reheat slices in a moderate oven.