Nigella

Sarah's Ultimate Apple Pie

4/20/2013 08:03:00 PM

Apple pie, cooling on the windowsill
I made this homely looking apple pie quite a few months ago, after combining a few ideas I'd had, and it was such a success that I've immodestly labelled it my ultimate apple pie.

I used my favourite pastry recipe: Nigella's rich shortcrust (from How to Eat), which I've made before as the base for a cherry pie, and an onion tart. I love it for its flaky butteriness and its sturdiness - it's rich without crossing over into the realm of shortbread. As far as pastry goes, it's quite easy to make. When making pastry, I used Nigella's fab tip of flash-freezing the butter and flour beforehand (all measured out and cut into pieces, in a little zip-lock bag), and despite being a warm day, it rolled out like a dream!
Pastry lining the baking dish
I sprinkled a good layer of almond meal over the base of the tart, mainly to prevent the base from getting soggy, but also for a lovely mild almond flavour.
Almond meal in the base
Now, for the apples - previously I've done them in small chunks or medium chunks, but on this day I wanted to try slicing the apples very, very finely. (I used the Borner-V Slicer mandolin I was gifted from Kitchenware Direct). I thought this would enable the apples to cook through, without going soggy. (Spoiler alert: I was right!)
Apples!
I built up the apples in layers, sprinkling with demerara sugar and cinnamon every few layers. I've specified 2 - 4 tablespoons in the recipe below, but this really depends on how sweet your apples are, and how sweet you want the pie to be!
Apples, sugar, cinnamon
I built up the apples to just slightly higher than the rim of the tin, but I think you could go higher - maybe even double the height? Perhaps you'll be more daring than I was. (Don't forget the apples will sink down a little as the pie bakes).

Double crust! More pastry means more deliciousness. Mine was a bit messy, but I think it just adds to the rustic charm.
Double crust
I glazed the pie with beaten egg and castor sugar, but wasn't a huge fan of the finish this produced - I'd definitely recommend choosing either egg or sugar!
Baked pie!

Now, let's have a look inside the pie. You can see all the pretty layers of apple!
Inside the pie
It's always a bit nerve wracking baking pastry in a ceramic dish, and I was worried it might not cook through, but it came out great! The pastry wasn't just cooked through, but also lovely and crisp on the base. There wasn't the slightest hint of sogginess either - woohoo! Even the leftover slices held up fantastically over the next couple of days, no dampness, no sogginess, just delicious pie.
Slice of pie
Do you like your pie with whipped cream? Ice-cream?
Apple pie 

Or why not both?
Ice-cream and whipped cream. And pie!

Sarah's Ultimate Apple Pie
Pastry recipe from Nigella's How to Eat, everything else my own creation

Ingredients
For the Pastry
240 grams self-raising flour
120 grams butter, cut into small cubes
2 egg yolks, beaten with 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, a pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons of iced water
For the Filling
3 tablespoons almond meal
4 - 6 apples (basically as many as you need to fill the pie!)
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 - 4 tablespoons sugar of your choice (e.g. castor, demerara, whatever)
To finish: an egg yolk (optional) and castor sugar to sprinkle over

Method
To make the pastry
The day before you want to eat the pie: place flour and butter in a shallow dish or ziplock bag and stash in the freezer overnight.
The next day: Using your fingers, a freestanding mixer or a food processor, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Slowly add the egg-yolk mixture in, stopping just when the dough looks like it's about to come together. Press the dough together using your hands and divide into two portions, one slightly smaller than the other. Shape each piece into a fat disc, cover tightly with cling wrap and rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

To make the filling and assemble the pie
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Roll the larger piece of dough out onto a lightly floured surface until about 5 millimetres thick. Use the dough to line a 20cm pie dish. Cut off any overhang, using it to patch up any gaps or holes.
Sprinkle the almond meal over the base.
Peel and core an apple, and slice as thinly as possible using a mandoline slicer. Layer it up in the pie dish, sprinkling a little sugar and cinnamon in between each layer. Repeat with the remaining apples, sugar and cinnamon, until the pie dish is full.
Roll out the remaining dough to 5 millimetres thick and use it to top the pie. Trim off any excess and pinch together in a decorative fashion to seal. (Optional: brush beaten egg yolk over the pastry for a shiny finish). Make some slits in the top of the pie with a sharp knife.
Bake the pie at 200C for 15 minutes, then cover loosely with foil, turn the oven down to 180C and allow to bake for another 15 minutes. Sprinkle with castor sugar.
Allow to cool for about half an hour, preferably on a windowsill, before tucking in!
Makes one 20cm pie

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9 comments

  1. Love the layers! And has to be ice cream :)

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  2. Ohhhh Sarah. I LOVE when you make big calls to your recipes like "Best Roast Pork" or "Ultimate Apple Pie" because I KNOW that you NEVER disappoint. I love love a good apple pie because I am a huge fan of warm desserts (huge bonus if it works well with a serve of ice cream). This is good stuff Sarah will def make it soon, esp now that Granny Smith is in season =D

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  3. This looks so much better than a Nanna's pie.

    ;)

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  4. Oh my gosh, that slice looks like absolute perfection! This sounds like it would be fun to make with this cooler weather creeping in on us, will have to try.

    Ice-cream for me though I have to say. ;)

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  5. Absolutely love those layers of apple in the pie. so neat! will have to give this a go soon!

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  6. That looks incredible! The layers look awesome, much better than chunks like you would normally get.

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  7. OMG! Looks at those layers!!! I have never really make sweet pie but I'm definitely going to give this a try!

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  8. Gosh those layers are all sorts of amazeballs! I've been dying for a good apple pie. I'm gonna make a pie.. no idea what. I bought a new pie pan, so now i must bake!

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  9. OMG Sarah!

    OMG.

    YES, I think this is definitely the ultimate in apple pies. This winter it will be miiine. Love the sound of that pastry.

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