A really good tasting traditional apple pie always has two things in common – the pastry must be light, so that together the top and bottom crust become substantial when eaten, (without the individual crusts being themselves too heavy) and the pie must taste of sweetened apples, but the pie must not be too overly-sweet. Getting these two things ‘right’ makes a really good apple pie, and to get it right you need to accept that nothing else is needed in the apple pie apart from what is listed in the simple recipe – however tempted you are to play with the ingredient list. Try this traditional ‘plain’ apple pie and you will see that sometimes simple is indeed best.
Traditional Apple Pie Recipe
As the pie bakes the pastry will develop a light golden colour (a blush), because of the butter in it, so don’t interfere, let the delicious apple and simple pastry taste shine through, and be amazed at how good this traditional apple pie tastes. To this end there is no need to brush or ‘wash’ the pastry crust with a little beaten egg or milk, or sprinkle over sugar before baking, just add a little sprinkling of sugar at the end.
For the pastry
- 300g plain flour (sifted)
- 1/2 tsp of sea salt
- 150g unsalted butter (softened and diced)
- 2-3 tbsp cold water
For the filling
- 3-4 large Bramley cooking apples, (chopped, stewed and cooled)
- 100g sugar (or to taste)
- 2 tsp sugar (to sprinkle over at the end)
- serve with Vanilla Custard
Stewing The Apples: Peel and roughly chop the apples, removing the cores. Put them in a saucepan, add 2 tbsp of water and 2 tbsp of sugar and leave them on a low heat, keep an eye on them so the pan does not boil dry, until the apples have softened and stewed (around 15 minutes).
Making The Apple Pie:
Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl and sprinkle in the sea salt. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (you could do this in a food processor). Add the cold water to the flour mixture, (you might not need all of it) and, using a knife, mix the water into the flour, using your hands at the end to firm up the pastry mixture. The pastry should be of an even colour, firm (but not tough) and at a consistency for easy rolling. Put the pastry in the fridge for 20 minutes wrapped in cling film.
Lightly flour a work surface. Divide the pastry into two halves, one slightly larger. Take the larger half for the base and roll it out so that it is thin and big enough to cover a 20cm enamel dish or aluminium plate that you have buttered lightly. Place it in the dish or plate and trim around the edges with a knife, using the edge of the plate as your guide.
Cover the pastry in the bottom of the dish with the stewed apples and sprinkle all over with the sugar. Note: the amount of sugar in an apple pie is a personal thing. The first time you make it taste after baking to see if you prefer more or less sugar added in. If serving with cream then add a little more sugar, if serving with custard then add a little less in.
Preheat the oven to 200C
Roll out the other smaller half of the pastry. Moisten the edge of the bottom layer of pastry in the dish and place the second piece on top. Press down on the pastry edges, making sure that they are properly sealed. Trim off any excess pastry with a knife using the plate as your guide.
Flute the edges with a pinching action using your fingers and thumb or use a fork. Prick the surface of the pastry lightly before placing the pie in the oven. Bake the Apple Pie in the oven for 30-35 minutes at 200C.
When the pie is cooked it should move slightly on the plate when gently shaken. Slide on to a serving plate, dust with caster sugar and serve, either with some cream or home-made vanilla custard.