I love apple in my food. Both savoury and sweet. Roast crackling pork with apple sauce, apple juice spiked with loads of ginger, apple compote over flapjacks with crispy bacon, Tart Tartin with hazelnut ice cream, apple martinis concocted with the sourest granny smiths around, baked apples stuffed with Christmas mince and served with thick yellow custard .… all on my list of top tastes ever. And, when I am needing a sugar fix, there is nothing better than the crunch of a crisp green apple. Eaten as I follow Jack around on our walk.
But the best apple desert by far, is my mom’s apple pie. Which has two secrets to it: she uses shortCAKE (not shortcrust) pastry … and (shocker) tinned apples. The former because she likes to put an egg in her mixes – plus you blend the ingredients together with a hand beater (easier). The latter because when you are bringing up four children – it makes time sense. When I’ve tried my hand at apple pies in the past, I’ve faffed around with cooking the apples in juice, without juice, with lemon, without etc – and honestly – they end up tasting exactly like a good tinned apple. Which you can enhance by adding lemon zest for some zing or a teaspoon of cinnamon if you fancy some added warmth. Or even both, as my mom says … “why not?”
Glennie’s cousin, Dawn Connor, gave her this recipe 55 years ago, when my parents were just married and living in Rhodesia. Mom says it has been her stalwart since then and never failed her. Last week I wrote about Simply the Best Roast Chicken and mentioned that the only thing that could properly finish the meal was sofamother’s apple pie. Well, here it is … from her – for you.
Simply the Best Apple Pie
4oz /113g butter (room temp)
3oz / 85g sugar
one extra large egg
1/2 tsp/2.5ml vanilla essence
6oz/175g flour cake
1 tsp baking powder
14oz/365g tin sliced pie apples … not apple sauce or puree, will make the end result sludgy
You will need:
A 20cm/8 inch loose bottom cake pan
Set your oven to heat to 160c/320F
To make the Pastry:
1. Beat butter and eggs together with a hand beater until creamy
2. Add extra large egg and vanilla essence and beat to combine
3. Add cake flour and baking powder
4. Fold together with a knife
5. Then scrap any remaining mix from the sides and keep combining into the pastry with your fingers …make sure you get it all in.
To prep the Apples
6. Decant from tin and drain … the apples must not be wet
7. Add sugar to taste, plus whatever other flavourings you fancy – a squeeze of lemon juice or bathe of Calvados is fine. But remember not to pour liquid onto the shortcake base.
To assemble your Pie:
8. Grease the cake pan with butter or Spray and Cook
9. Turn out pastry on a lightly floured board, dividing it in half
10 Pat one half to approximate size of the base of the tin
11 Transfer into the tin. If it breaks during this process, don’t worry – the pastry is crumbly, it doesn’t need to look smooth and perfect. Press gently in the tin to make it cover and fit.
12. Now pat out remaining pastry to cover the top – don’t worry if you have to do some patching to cover the whole surface, it all bakes together beautifully in the oven.
13. Bake for 45mins to an hour – when the pie is golden, it is ready
Note: Mom says to tell you she doesn’t use a fan assisted setting or oven as she finds it cooks the pie to quickly. If you do – check on your cake regularly to make sure it doesn’t over cook
When it comes out of the oven and has cooled down, sprinkle on some caster sugar for crunch.
Have a piece immediately with a cup of tea before you get on an airplane for Durban. Which is what I did last week. Add ice cream or cream if you wish, but I prefer au naturel to a la mode.
And remember – as with any cake recipe – it is always perfect the next morning for breakfast with a strong coffee. But, I’ll be at a B+B in the wilds of Zululand, so have a slice for me.