adapted from snow, adapted from rose levy berenbaum, adapted from james martin, adapted from jamie oliver, and adapted from my minds eye..so in answer to a FAQ, no, i cannot and will not “just choose one and stick to it”.
never having made an apple pie or any sort of pie, but having worked extensively in the realm of tarts, it was with fascination and holy horror that i approached this here pie. and inevitably i made a mountain out of a very big hill. but thats how we roll. torn between so many pie crust pastry recipes, it started to feel increasingly as though culinary walls were closing in on me and that old defeatist voice inside my head kept telling me to give it up. fortunately the other voice in my head that says things like ‘have an easter egg’ was louder and clearer and won the day. sugar and cocoa coursing through my veins i returned to the task with a clarity (or perhaps it was an enabling lack of clarity) of thought and went with the shortcrust i know well, modified marginally to suit a pie. so here it is…
500g plain flour
100g icing sugar
pinch of salt
250g unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
in food processor, or using the two food processors god gave you*, mix the butter, flour, salt and sugar together until coarse breadcrumb stage. add one egg at a time until combined. then bring the dough together to form a ball (it will be quite wet by the time your third egg goes in so dont be alarmed and start sending kitchen aids down to the shop for more flour to start again…accept your lot and hope for the best.) wrap in gladwrap and put in the fridge to chill for as long as you want…minimum an hour.
remove pastry after time passed, cut off a third and put it to one side. roll out the rest. i found a remarkably efficient way is between two sheets of baking paper. roll the pastry up over your rolling pin and gently unroll it over a 26-28cm pie dish. push it into the edges. prick the base with a fork several times. (if you have not yet made your apples or have them ready for tipping into said pie dish, then put this back in the fridge to chill and remove at the appropriate point…when that is is really not for me to say. for me it took place somewhere between 11 oclock and why is this all taking so long o’clock)
* nb. this is not indicative of any particular religious bent nor is it an endorsement of the god delusion or any form of organised religion. my religion is rap.
10 granny smith apples peeled and thinly sliced
1 vanilla pod
1 egg beaten
preheat your oven to 180 degrees. put the apples with a squeeze of lemon juice, the sugar and a de-seeded vanilla pod into a bowl and let mascerate for one an hour-ish.
tip the juices out from the apples and set aside in a separate bowl…this can either be used to spoon over apples once they are in the dish or put on the stove and reduced down to create a concentrate a la snow. i did the former.
remove pie dish from its place of chilling. tip in the apples and dot with knobs of butter. spoon over some of the reserved apple juices.
then get the third of pastry from the fridge. roll it out to form the lid and place it atop the apples. its best i think if you have a mountain of apples so when you lay the pastry over the top, you can see the bumps and curves of the apples which lie beneath. brush the sides with egg wash and squeeze the edges together. remove excess pastry from the sides. brush the top with egg was and sprinkle with sugar (and cinnamon if thats what does it for you).
place this monster in the oven and bake for 55-60 minutes.
it wasnt what i wanted or dreamed of, it wasnt snows, and it wasnt done with the same aptitude and certainly without the joie de vivre. but it was done and it was what it was…and what more can you ask from your own creative production? and isnt that sense of emptiness and impossibility and ultimately failure inevitable? but we march on and eat on regardless. so cut into it and eat with vanilla ice cream or cream if youre like that, custard if your blood is english, alone if you are a purist…and you’d be right to be. its roof of the mouth burning stuff and as nigella says, other than a bath thats not hot enough burning your mouth is one of lifes great tragedies..so go gentle.