Best Ever Apple Pie - The Sweet Rebellion
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Best Ever Apple Pie


Today is a glorious day – it is Apple Pie Day! I’ve teamed up with Dutoit Agri to host an Apple Pie Bake-along this evening, where I will use their Golden Delicious apples to make my favourite apple pie recipe live on Instagram. The Dutoit family have been farming fruit for over 120 years, and now harvest over 130 000 tons of apples every year! They currently produce 13 different apple varietals, each one with it’s own unique characteristics, and have a few more exciting varietals in development (including an apple with red flesh!). I chose Golden Delicious apples for my pie filling, as I love the crisp flesh and sweet-tangy flavour, plus they’re available all year round. Granny Smith apples work really well too, especially if you enjoy a more tart flavour. I tested my filling recipe several times with a combination of different spices, but ultimately settled on using just cinnamon. I find it enhances the flavour of the apples just enough without overshadowing it completely! If you so wish, you could add a little ground ginger, cloves, nutmeg or allspice too.

A perfect apple pie has a crisp, flaky pastry. This is surprisingly easy to achieve if you follow a couple of basic rules – keep your ingredients as cold as possible, and don’t overwork the dough. It may be tempting to knead the dough until all the butter is mixed in, but it is these little pieces of butter that create the flaky texture of the pastry. During baking, the pieces of butter melt, leaving air pockets that expand from steam. This results in a slightly risen crust with layers separated by the air pockets. The pastry can be made in advance and refrigerated for a few days or frozen for up to 3 months.

Ingredients:
(makes a 24cm pie)


Flaky Pastry:
350g flour
50g castor sugar
250g salted butter, ice cold
100ml iced water
5ml vanilla essence (1 tsp)
extra flour, for rolling

Apple Pie Filling:
8 Dutoit Golden Delicious apples
100g sugar
30ml flour (2 tbsp)
7,5ml ground cinnamon (½ tbsp)

1 large egg, for brushing

Directions:

  • Place the flour and castor sugar into a food processor. Cut the butter into small cubes and add about half to the flour and castor sugar. Process until the mixture looks like fine sand. 
  • Add the remaining butter, and process briefly just until there are no large lumps of butter left. The mixture should still have pea-sized bits of butter visible. If you don’t have a food processor, use a butter knife or pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour.
  • Add the vanilla essence and half the iced water. Mix just until the dough starts to come together. It should still be crumbly, but will form a dough when squeezed together in your hands. If necessary, add a little more water, but do not add too much or the pastry will be tough.
  • Turn the mixture out onto a clean surface. Use your hands to form 2 flat discs of dough, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 1 hour. There should be streaks of butter visible, do not knead or overwork the dough.
  • To make the filling, peel and core the apples, then slice into small pieces about 0,5cm thick. Sprinkle over the sugar and mix well. Leave to stand for 10 minutes, then drain off any excess liquid. This prevents a soggy pie crust. Stir through the flour and cinnamon.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 24cm pie dish. Roll out 1 disc of pastry onto a lightly floured surface to about 4mm thick and about 30cm in diameter. Carefully press the dough into your dish, and trim off any excess around the edges.
  • Roll out the second disc of pastry as before, ensuring the surface is well-floured so the pastry doesn’t stick. Using a sharp knife or pastry wheel, cut the pastry into 12 strips about 2cm wide.
  • Place the apple filling onto the base, then lay 6 pastry strips vertically and evenly spaced on top of the filling. Use the longer strips in the centre and the shorter strips on the ends.
  • Fold every other strip back (so they’re almost falling off of the pie). Lay one of the unused strips perpendicular on top. Unfold the 3 vertical strips back so they lay over the perpendicular strip.
  • Fold the other 3 vertical strips back. Lay one of the unused strips perpendicular on top. Unfold the 3 vertical strips back so they lay over the perpendicular strip. Repeat with last 4 strips to create a lattice pattern. (If you’re pressed for time, you can simply place a circle of pastry on top and cut 5 slits near the centre in a star shape for the steam to escape).
  • Crimp the edges of the pie with a fork. Beat the egg and add 1 tbsp water. Brush the egg wash over the pastry lattice and edges. Bake the pie on the lowest oven shelf for 45-60 minutes. To test if the pie is ready, insert a sharp knife into one of the gaps in the lattice, the apple pieces should be firm but cooked through.
  • Allow the pie to cool at room temperature for 1 hour, then serve generous slices with ice cream, cream or custard.

    TIP: Check the pie after 30 minutes – if it is browning too quickly, place a piece foil loosely over the top of the pie.

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