Apple Meringue Pie - The Sweet Rebellion
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Apple Meringue Pie

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13 May is Apple Pie Day, and this is one holiday I am super-excited to get on board with! Although Apple Pie is considered an all-American dessert, it was actually invented by the Brits back in the 14th century and included figs, pears, raisins and saffron. It was only in the 18th century that the first apple pie recipe was printed in America where it quickly gained popularity, and is now considered America’ favourite dessert.

In the spirit of celebrating this delicious, comforting dessert I went about developing an Apple Pie recipe with a twist. Replacing the pastry on top with a lattice of toasted meringue not only looks uniquely beautiful but adds an unexpected textural element. My favourite thing about this pie though is that the apples are 100% home-grown in South Africa by Dutoit Agri. A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to visit the Dutoit apple orchards in the Ceres valley and was blown away by the family’s dedication and passion for growing this humble fruit.

Dutoti Agri produces over a dozen apple variants, each with its own distinct appearance, flavour and texture (and there are a few more exciting cultivars in the pipeline!). The five key variants that we all know and love are Top Red, Golden Delicious, Royal Gala, Granny Smith and Starking. Next time you pass through the apple section at Pick n Pay, consider the amazing versatility of this fruit. They are equally delicious used in a salad, made into apple sauce, added to a cake or dessert, as a sweet lunchbox treat, blended into a smoothie, juiced, as a quick on-the-go snack or even in your turkey stuffing!

For now though, it’s all about paying homage to the Apple Pie. I chose Dutoit Top Red apples for this recipe, as I love the super-sweet taste and juicy flesh. The addition of brown sugar and a blend of fragrant spices enhances the apple flavour beautifully. A crisp, buttery pastry base and lightly caramelised meringue topping round off this pie perfectly.

NOTE: If it’s a more tart taste you’re after, then Granny Smith apples would work fantastically in this recipe too!

To see how I made this, click here.

Ingredients:

For the pastry:
1 large egg yolk
30ml iced water (2 tbsp)
5ml vanilla essence
200g cake flour (1½ cups)
100g very cold salted butter, cut into cubes (7 tbsp)
25g icing sugar (50ml)

For the apple pie filling:
8 Dutoit Top Red apples
3 tbsp brown sugar
5 tbsp salted butter
10 ml ground cinnamon (2 tsp)
2,5ml ground ginger (½ tsp)
1,25ml ground nutmeg (¼ tsp)
1,25ml ground allspice (¼ tsp)
30ml lemon juice (2 tbsp)

For the meringue:
3 large egg whites
150g castor sugar 
5ml lemon juice (1 tsp)
5ml vanilla extract (1 tsp)

 

Directions:

  • Mix the egg yolk, iced water and vanilla essence together lightly.
  • Process flour, butter and sugar together in a food processor until the mixture looks like fine crumbs*.
  • Add the egg yolk mixture and process just until pastry forms a ball – do not overmix.*
  • Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Meanwhile make your apple pie filling. Peel, core and chop the Dutoit Top Red apples into cubes.
  • Add the butter, sugar and spices to a large pan over low heat. Add the apple pieces and cook, stirring often for abut 12-15 minutes until soft but not mushy. Stir in the lemon juice, then leave to cool completely.
  • Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to about 4mm thick. Carefully lift into a 24cm fluted tart tin and press into the edges. Refrigerate again for 30 minutes.
  • Prick with a fork then fill with baking paper and baking beans (or rice). Bake on the lowest oven shelf at 200°C for 12-15 minutes, then remove paper and beans and bake for a further 5 minutes uncovered. 
  • To make the meringue, place your egg whites into a clean, dry glass/metal bowl. Whisk with an electric/stand mixer until frothy, then add the lemon juice.
  • Continue whisking on medium until soft peaks form and the egg whites have doubled in volume, then up the speed to high and start adding the castor sugar, one tablespoon at a time.
  • Keep whisking until all the sugar has been added and the meringue is glossy, smooth and forms stiff peaks when the beaters are lifted.
  • If you rub a little of the meringue between your fingertips, there should be no grains of sugar. If there are, continue whisking a little longer. Add the vanilla extract. Place into a disposable piping bag and snip off the tip leaving a 1cm opening.
  • Spoon the cooled apple pie filling into the cooled pastry case and spread evenly. Carefully pipe 6 lines of meringue from top to bottom of the pie dish, then rotate the dish and pipe another 6 lines to create a lattice effect.
  • Bake at 160°C for 15-20 minutes, until the meringue is slightly golden. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
  • The tart is best enjoyed the day you make it. Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 2 days. The meringue may go a little soft, in which case you can reheat the tart at 180°C for a few minutes to crisp it up.

    *If you don’t have a food processor, use your fingers to rub the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Then slowly add in the beaten egg/water mixture and mix until it comes together.

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