Thursday, January 20, 2011

Apple Pie

My kitchen was filled with the aroma of baked apple, cinnamon and caramelized sugar when I was baking this apple pie in the oven.  My little girl was waiting rather impatiently for her apple pie as I had prepared the dough the day before.  She kept repeating "Mummy, when can I have my apple pie ... I am waiting for sooooooooooo long".  

Steps: 1) Prepare the dough (chill in fridge), 2) Roll out dough between parchment paper or baking paper,
3) Cover pie dish with pastry,  4) Trim the pastry (chill again),  5) Prepare apple fillings,
6) Fill pie dish with fillings, dot with butter and BAKE!

I used the rubbing-in method to mix the butter with the plain flour (you can use a food processor).  If you had attended home economics during your secondary school days, you might recalled using this rubbing-in method to bake some small cakes or rock buns (during my time).  Briefly, you rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips (not your palm) till the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  This will take a few minutes.  Thereafter, add a little sugar and milk and shape into a round dough.  Work quickly to prevent the butter from melting away.

The tricky part in making the pie might be rolling out the chilled pastry dough and fitting the pastry sheet onto the pie dish.  You do not want the pastry sheet to be too thick (since the pastry will expand a little during baking) nor too thin (it will tear easily).  Covering the pie dish with the rolled pastry sheet was a real nightmare when I first started to bake my own pie.  The pastry sheet just give way and I have to keep patching up the many holes in the pie shell.  As with many other things, practice makes perfect.  You just have to keep playing with it for a few more times and you will learn how to handle the soft pastry sheet.

When I took the apple pie out of the oven, my little girl went "WAH ... so nice".  She thought finally she can have her apple pie.  "Sorry my dear, you must be patient.  You need to wait for the pie to cool down first ;)"  "Huh ... WAIT AGAIN!"

RESIST THE TEMPTATION to cut the apple pie when it's straight out from the oven.   Let the pie cool completely for it to "set".  And when you finally cut and serve it, the apple pie fillings will be moist and the sauce will not run.  This apple pie is good on its own, but even better to have it with a nice scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

(makes a 24 cm pie, serves 6 - 8)

Pastry base:
200g plain flour
100g butter
2 tsp caster sugar
3 to 4 tbsp milk

Pie fillings
6 to 7 green apples (peel, core and sliced thinly)
1/4 cup raisins
Zest from 1/2 lemon
1 - 2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp butter

Half an egg, beaten (egg wash)


1) For pastry base: Rub the butter into the flour till it resembles fine crumbs.  Mix sugar into crumbs and add 2 to 3 tbsp milk to form a dough.  Add another tbsp of milk if dough is too dry.  Remember not to knead the dough or the pastry will be tough.  Cover the dough with clingwrap and chill in fridge for at least an hour.

2) Remove dough from fridge (wait for it to soften a little for easy handling) and roll into a round sheet between parchment paper.  The pastry sheet should be slightly bigger than your pie dish.

3) Fit pastry sheet into your pie dish and trim edges.  Refrigerate it for another hour.

4) Toss all fillings ingredients together (except butter) and arrange them into the prepared pie crust (no need to pre-bake crust).

5) Dot small pieces of butter on top of the apple fillings, brush the pastry rim with beaten egg and bake at preheated oven of 200C for 20 minutes.  Then lower the oven temperature to 180C to bake for another 20 to 25 minutes.  Cover the top loosely with a foil to prevent over-browning at the last 10 minutes.

6) Remove from oven, cool completely before cutting it.

* You can prepare steps (1) to (3) up to 2 days in advanced and keep in fridge.

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