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This apple pie is really easy to make and has a delicious balance of sweet, tart and spiced flavours, incorporating a delicious German Apfelstrudel (Apple Strudel) smell and flavour which will evoke memories of the Weihnachtsmarkts (Christmas markets) in Germany for anyone who has been. This fantastic pie and Crème Anglaise sauce can also be made with gluten-free flour & cornflour blends (such as the Doves Farm range). Just make sure that you pick a flour which is suitable for pastry (avoid rice flour, it will taste awful!)
For the pastry
- 220 g plain flour (all-purpose)
- 180 g salted butter
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt (can be omitted)
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 5 tablespoons caster sugar (white)
- 80 ml fridge-cold water (increase this to 100-120ml if using gluten free flour)
For the pastry glaze and dusting
- 1 tablespoon icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 medium-large egg (use milk instead of egg and water glaze if you wish to make an egg-free apple pie)
- 2 tablespoons fridge-cold water
For the apple filling
- 8 large cooking apples (normal eating apples are just not tart enough for this recipe!)
- 6 tablespoons dark muscovado sugar
- 6 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 4 -6 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
- 1 ground cloves (optional)
- 60 ml fridge-cold water
- 20 g butter
For the Creme Anglaise sauce
- 1600 ml milk (skimmed or non-fat, semi-skimmed or half & half or full fat are all fine) or 1600 ml cream (if you want a really creamy sauce!)
- 8 tablespoons cornflour
- 1 vanilla pod or 3 teaspoons vanilla essence or 3 teaspoons extract
- 8 tablespoons caster sugar
- Cut the chilled butter into chunks, each about the size of a sugar cube.
- Sift the flour into a bowl then add the sugar , cinnamon and the salt if you are using it. Add the butter chunks evenly over the surface of the flour.
- Using your thumb and forefingers, rub the butter into the flour (this is easier with smaller chunks of butter). Continue until the butter is all incorporated. The mix should resemble biscuit/bread crumbs when it is ready.
- Add the water a little at a time, mixing thoroughly with a good sized spoon. When the mix reaches a smooth (and slightly sticky) consistency (which should look like cookie-dough), shape it into a ball and wrap it in cling film. Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.
- When the dough is nearly chilled, start making the filling. Peel, de-core and cut the apples into orange-segment-sized wedges. Place them in cold water if you are leaving them for any length of time to prevent them from browning.
- Mix the water, muscavado and light-brown sugars, cinnamon, lemon juice (and nutmeg & cloves if being used) in a jug/bowl.
- Melt the butter on a medium-high heat in a deep pan. Put the apples in and stir gently for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the liquid mix to the pan, keeping the heat at medium-high. Keep gently folding the mixture for 5 minutes until the apples begin to look mushy/fluffy (as boiled and shaken potatoes do). The apples will break up to some degree during this process - this is perfectly fine. The apples should all be darkened in colour if you've done this bit right. Leave the filling to cool in the air for about 10 minutes. During this time the fruit will begin to congeal a little more.
- Take the dough from the fridge. Divide it into two balls and roll each one out into a disc, each slightly larger than the top of an 8" diameter pie dish (by about 1" all round). Use a lightly floured surface to prevent sticking; rubbing flour onto the rolling pin will also help. By rolling one way then the other, you can easily achieve a neat circle. I prefer to use my hands to shape and flatten the dough however.
- Rub butter onto the pie dish (including the up-facing lip/edge of the dish). Place the first dough-disc squarely into the dish - make sure it sits flat against the walls of the dish and that it covers the lip of the dish, with a little extra (which you will trim in a minute).
- It is time to add the filling now - but make sure you drain it well! Either sieve off the liquid or use a slotted spoon to remove as much liquid as possible - if the filling is too wet the pasty will not cook properly. You can keep the liquid to drink, warmed, as a delicious punch, or even use as a sauce if you don't like creamy/custard like sauces on your pie. If you refrigerate it this sauce will thicken up a bit.
- Next whisk up the egg and 2 tablespoons of water. Paint the mixture onto the lip of the pastry (using a pastry brush or your fingertips). This will glue the two halves together.
- Now place your other pastry disc on top of the pie. Using a sharp knife, cut down through the top of the pastry to remove the excess. Use the edge of the pie dish to guide your knife - the pastry should be flush with the edge of the dish.
- Using one or two fingers, work around the edge of the pie, crimping the pastry together. As well as adding an attractive fluted edge to the crust, this will help to glue the edges together.
- Cut a series of 3 or 4 slashes into the top of the pastry, ensuring you go right through. This will allow trapped air to escape and prevent the pastry from cracking open in an uncontrolled manner during cooking. If you have a pie-spout you can use this instead.
- Glaze the top of the pie with more of the egg glaze mix (don't feel that you must use all of it - you'll make the pasty soggy if you do!).
- Use a sieve to dust the top with the icing sugar and cinnamon.
- Place in a preheated oven, middle shelf at around 180 Celcius. Cook for around 30-40 minutes (fan assisted ovens will be quicker).
- When the top is browned and the pastry is firm all over take the dish from the oven and cool on a wire rack for around 20-30 minutes. DO NOT remove the pie from the dish until it has cooled as it will most likely disintegrate!
- To make the Crème Anglaise sauce, place the milk in a pan. Add the sugar and vanilla (if using vanilla pods, you can use the seeds from a pod, and or the pod itself. I have successfully used a pod which has been in a box of sugar for 3 months to make vanilla sugar and it worked perfectly). Heat gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to allow the vanilla to infuse into the milk properly.
- In a jug/bowl, place the cornflour and add a little milk (roughly 1 tablespoon milk to 2 tablespoons of cornflour). Stir thoroughly until it forms a thick paste, adding a little more milk if necessary.
- Pour the mix into the milk pan, stirring it in thoroughly. Bring the milk to a boil, stirring continuously all the while. Be very careful and make sure you are using a non-stick pan here as the sauce can easily burn on the bottom. As soon as the sauce thickens to the consistency of custard/thick pureed soup, remove it from the heat. Continue to stir for a while to make sure the latent heat does not burn the sauce at the bottom of the pan.
- Pour liberally (hot or cold) onto hot or cold apple pie and enjoy!