Monday, October 17, 2011

Apple Pie and a Truly Remarkable Nana

I'm so sorry for the lack of updates, my laptop up and died and we moved into our new house (SO much nicer than the last place) so things have been SUPER hectic for the past month. Anyway, our landlord showed up at the door the other day with an armload of windfall apples. So before they all go off and in order to make the best out of this bounty there shall be numerous apple-y recipes on the way.

The one dessert I will always remember is my nana's apple pie. When I was a child and she would visit for dinner or we would go to her house for Sunday lunch there would always be her apple pie. Light, crisp pastry, delicately spiced apple filling...mmm...

She was a wonder in the kitchen, able to make something delicious out of nothing. There was never very much money for day to day expenses when my mum was a child but she'll be first to say that her mum made do and they were never left wanting. My nana cooked all the meals, made clothes, mended clothes, kept the house of 5 in good order, never taking a day off, never asking for special recognition and she did all this despite severe arthritis in both hands and feet.

She used to say that the only way we'd ever get rid of her would be to take her out and shoot her. She was still saying it up to the age of 90 when unfortunately she had a stroke, which, although she survived, took her memory, her speech and her mobility on the left side.

I'll always have my wonderfully fond memories of days spend feeding pigeons and wandering the Moor Street Market in Dublin with a truly remakable, yet unassuming, nana.

Apple Pie
Makes one 9" pie

  • 330g plain flour
  • 150g butter/lard cold and cubed
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 6-7 tbsp cold water
  • 1kg cooking apples
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 handful golden raisins (optional)
  • 2 tsps cinnamon
  • 2 tsps whole cloves
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 50g white sugar
  • 75g golden sugar
Soak the raisins in a little water just so that they plump up and become super juicy
Sift the flour into a bowl and add the butter
Cut the butter into the flour using two round bladed knives, then rub the mixture together using your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs
Add the 2 tbsps of sugar and the water and mix with a fork (the mixture should still seem quite crumbly at this stage)
Using your hands, form the mixture into a ball in the bowl. If it doesn't quite come together add a little more water then re form into a ball.
Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 mins

While the dough is chilling we'll make the filling (rhyme points)

Peel and core the apples and thinly slice them lengthways
Put them into a bowl and add the lemon juice, tossing to coat, preventing browning
Drain then raisins and add these, the sugar, orange zest and cinnamon and toss to distribute evenly

Preheat the oven to 200 C and grease a 9" pie dish
Take the pastry out of the fridge and flour your surface. 
Roll 2/3 of the pastry until it's around 3-5mm thick and lay it over the dish, pressing it gently into the corners
Trim off any excess hanging over the edge of the pie dish and add to the remaining pastry ball.
Add half of the filling and scatter 1/2 the cloves over the top then repeat with the remaining filling and cloves
Roll out the rest of your pastry until it's approx 3 mm thick and lay it over the filling, sealing the edges of the pastry with your fingers and trimming any excess again.
Cut slits in the top of the pie to allow steam to escape during cooking
Bake at 200 C for 20 mins, then turn the oven down to 180 C and bake for another 30-35 mins

Serve warm from the oven with custard, cream or ice cream :) Many thanks to Edd, the boy who bakes, and Kat over at Sweet Kat's Kitchen for the pictures!