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Easy as…

The funny thing about pie is that it is never quite what I anticipate. It’s never quite as robust, never really a hand-held affair. In movies and such, people pick up fat wedges, take a bite and it doesn’t spill out the sides and all over their clothes. I don’t think I have ever had a pie that was like that, whether store-bought or home-made. Pies are squidgy, messy, fork-and-spoon affairs. But once you accept that, they’re pretty damn tasty.

And talk about easy! Holy nuts, they’re straightforward. Pastry, filling, pastry: BAM. If you use frozen pastry, you’re laughing. I did not, and I was still chuckling. I made a very simple sweetcrust pastry (which, if I’m honest, could’ve used more sugar):

– 200g plain white flour
– 50g white sugar
– 125g butter, cut into small cubes
– some cold water

Mix the flour and sugar, then use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour until the lot is all crumbly and evenly-distributed. Add cold water, a trickle at a time, enough to bring it all together into a firm, soft dough. Not too sticky, not too dry. Shove it in the fridge while you have lunch so that it can chill.

Whole and unspoiled...but therefore imperfect.

Isn’t it beautiful? That’s an M, although it looks like a 3. Or a bird. Let’s say it’s all three and that will solve any arguments.

While the raw dough was chilling, and after I had some lunch, I cooked some apples. I used four, but you could easily use as many as eight and have a much plumper pie. Or you could use apricots, plums, peaches, nectarines, berries — that’s the lovely thing about pies. Like a big, sweet, stiff sandwich, the filling options are infinite. Anyway, four medium-sized apples, peeled, cored and finely sliced, which I simmered in lemon juice and a couple of tablespoons of cinnamon sugar (I think it would work out to roughly two tablespoons of sugar to one of cinnamon, and a generous serve of lemon juice), with about ½ to ¾ cup of water. (I just nuked it in the microwave for ten minutes or so: that did the trick.) Once they were cooked, I drained them.

While the apples were cooling, I rolled out half the pastry and lined a medium-sized pie dish (actually the bottom of the tagine, but who’s asking?) with it, then baked at 180°C for twenty minutes. Which was about seven minutes too long: it came out very brown. Filled it with the cooked, drained apples, then topped with the remainder of the pastry, rolled out nice and thin. Brush the top with milk, then bake for about fifteen to twenty minutes. DONE. CHOP!


Actually, it’s best if you let it sit for a while before you cut into it: about half an hour is enough that you won’t burn your mouth when you bite into it. If you’re serving it with ice cream, you can probably start carving after just ten minutes, but you should expect it to melt said ice cream. Here’s M, unable to sustain patience any longer, serving a slice:

Blades of fury!

Ooooh, I forgot: before I put the top layer of pastry on the apples, I put blobs of fig jam here and there on the apples. That made for a delicious surprise when I had my slice. I recommend it.

Afternoon tea. A beautiful place to be.

See, using four apples, I ended up with a pretty slim-line pie. That’s fine, dandy and delicious, but it’s not necessarily an eye-grabbing, cherry-popping show-stopper.  If you really want to wow ’em (whoever ’em are) you might want to increase the fruit content so you get that fat domed pie thing happening. Even so, this is a damned tasty snack or breakfast (it will almost certainly be breakfast). I don’t make pies often…but now I’m thinking I should change that. I really like the idea of a breakfast pie, with a muesli/crumble topping instead of a second layer of pastry. Served with yoghurt and honey! Yes. YES.  This is going to be mega.

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