Spiced Apple Pie
There are few desserts as warm, inviting and comforting than a freshly baked apple pie and the cold weather is the perfect opportunity to enjoy comfort food at it's best. I have to admit, the baking bug has bitten me hard lately and I have enjoyed baking up a storm including a gorgeous drip cake for my baby niece's first birthday - a Lemon & Blueberry Cake covered in my go-to Super Simple Buttercream and then of course my feast for Australia's Biggest Morning Tea (you can check that out here).
So back to this post. The above picture is my second attempt. The first pie just didn't look right with the method suggested so I modified the method and tweaked the recipe to what I think turned out to be a rather good and delicious apple pie! The original recipe was made by "Mashasmama's Grandmother" who won a lot of awards for her apple pie - so here is the original recipe and method if you would like to try it out.
My recipe adds some vanilla and OF COURSE my favorite Pumpkin Pie Spice which is my go-to ingredient for baking because I love spices in baking. I also substituted brown sugar for coconut sugar as that is what I had on hand on the day.
In Australia we get our pastry already pre-cut and rolled so the I ended up using 3 sheets which measured 22cm x 22 cm and 3mm thick | 8.5" x 8.5" and 0.12" thick.
Ensure you allow this to cool, if you try to eat it straight out of the oven, the "syrup" inside may still be too hot and thin. It needs to cool to thicken up a bit. Better still make a day ahead and serve the follow day to ensure the right consistency, it can be sliced and reheated easily in the microwave.
When using pastry sheets ensure they are at a temperature where they are not too hard or soft. Too hard and they will not be easy to mold and too soft and it will stretch too much. I like to take my pastry out at the beginning of the cook and usually by the time I am ready to use it, it is ready. If it is still to hard use the heat from your hand to gently soften and easy the pastry into the pie plate - if it breaks just use some extra pastry and using a fork, seal the edges so that there are no visible holes or tears.
Keep a tray lined with foil UNDER your pie dish to catch drips that might fall over the edge so your oven doesn't get messy.
You will need to "blind bake" your pastry case (the base of the pie) to prevent it becoming soggy - this is very easy to do. Line your entire tin with the pastry, trim off excess, cover with a sheet of baking paper and then add your pie weights. No pie weights? You can use raw rice or dried beans too to weigh down the crust. Not sure about blind baking? Find out more here.
You could just cover the pie with a sheet of pastry and make some slits but the lattice looks so pretty and it actually pretty easy! You can see how simple it is to do here. I did a fairly thick lattice design as I like the look but you could do thinner strips if you wanted to.
YOU WILL NEED
3 sheets short crust pastry (22cm x 22 cm and 3mm thickness | 8.5" x 8.5" and 0.12" thickness)
115g | 1/2 cup | 4 ounces unsalted butter
3 tablespoons plain flour
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup coconut sugar OR brown sugar
Pinch of salt
8 Granny Smith or tart apples - peeled, cored and thinly sliced (slicing it thinly ensures it cooks through and softens)
1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice (or you can use 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 nutmeg, pinch of clove powder)
A little milk OR one egg yolk for brushing on the lattice/top of pastry
Raw sugar (optional but give a nice look and extra crunch to the pastry)
Optional dusting of icing sugar and cinnamon
Preheat oven to 220°C /425°F.
Take one sheet of pastry and line the bottom of your pie pan allowing the pastry the totally cover the base and side of your pan. Use the excess trimmings to fill in uncovered gaps and seal with a fork to ensure that there are not visible tears, holes or gaps. Cover with a sheet of baking paper and add your pie weights, bean or rice and blind bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven when done and then empty out your baking paper and baking weights or whatever you have used.
In a medium sized non-stick saucepan, melt the butter and then stir in the flour and continue to stir until it bubbles up and thickens slightly.
Add the water, vanilla extract, caster sugar, coconut/brown sugar and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
Take your sliced apples and add the pumpkin pie spice and mix until apples are evenly combined and then add the sugar/butter mixture into your apples and mix until well combined and evenly coated.
Take your blind-baked pie crust and add the apples, ensuring they are spread evenly with a slight mound in the middle.
Take your pastry sheets and cut 8 x 2.5cm | 1 inch wide strips of pastry and lay 4 strips in one direction along the bottom and then continue to lay the next four strips to create a lattice effect. Brush the pastry with a little milk or egg yolk. Sprinkle on raw sugar if you want a little extra crunch and sweetness.
Bake for 15 minutes at 220°C/425°F and then reduce the temperature to 180°C/350°F. Continue baking for another 35-45 minutes or until the pastry has developed a golden and crisp crust on top.
Allow to cool slightly before serving - you can reheat afterwards but the pie needs a chance to settle before serving.
Dust with a little icing sugar and/or extra cinnamon if desired and serve with ice-cream, vanilla Greek yogurt, custard or cream.