A British apple pie is the classic dessert or tea time treat. The pie is the stalwart of baking and I have yet to meet someone who does not enjoy a slice of the pie, be it hot or cold, with or without custard or ice cream.
Practically every country has their own style of pie and this one is a traditional British and also Irish one. Cinnamon is an optional and not a traditional flavour in the UK, though is found here more often now as the flavour has crept in from the US.
The perfect apples for the pie are Bramleys. Their lovely balance of sweetness to acidity and tenderness when cooked make them the best. If you do not have Bramleys, then use any good cooking apple. And, if really stuck a good dessert apple will also work though the apples will not be as soft when cooked.
- For the Pastry
- 1 2/3 cups (200g) all-purpose/plain flour
- Pinch of salt
- 4oz (110g) cubed butter (or an equal mix of butter and lard)
- 2-3 tablespoon cold water
- For the Filling
- 1 ½ lb (700g) cooking apples (peeled, cored and quartered)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4 oz (110g ) sugar
- 4 - 6 tablespoons cold water
- Optional: 1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 oz (25g) butter
- 1/4 cup milk (more or less, to glaze)
For the Pastry
- Place the flour, butter and salt into a large, clean bowl.
- Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, working as quickly as possible to prevent the dough becoming warm.
- Add the water to the mixture and using a cold knife stir until the dough binds together, add more cold water a teaspoon at a time if the mixture is too dry.
- Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for a minimum of 15 minutes, up to 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 425F/220C/gas 7.
- Meanwhile, simmer the apples with the lemon juice and water in a large pan until soft. Add the sugar and cinnamon to the cooked apples. Remove from the heat and add the butter and leave to cool.
- Roll out half the pastry and line a 7" (13cm) pie dish. Put the cooled, cooked apple mixture into the pastry case.
- Roll out the remaining pastry to make a lid for the pie. Damp the edges of the pastry in the dish with a little cold water, cover with the lid, press the edges firmly together and crimp to decorate.
- Brush the top of the pie with milk and bake in the middle of a hot oven for 20 - 25 minutes.
- Serve hot or cold with cream, ice cream or custard sauce.
The dough can also be made in a food processor by mixing the flour, butter and salt in the bowl of the processor on a pulse setting. When the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, add the water, slowly, through the funnel until the dough comes together in a ball. Wrap in plastic and chill as above.