First of all, before we get into recipes and suchlike, let’s just have a chat about how to say this. Because you might think this is apple pie, but in fact it’s apple pie.
I just wanted to get that straight. Who knows why. It just is. Maybe because she said it as a translation from (her mum’s) Yiddish? (which for those not in the know, is a lot like German). Maybe because it’s not meat pie or fish pie? Don’t ask, just say it right please. For me.
(Though I think when we were younger, before life became more ‘English’, we used to call it apple strudel).
Okay, so now we’ve got that straight, let’s move onto how to make it. As this is mum’s ‘recipe’, well, you’ve guessed it – it’s one of those where ‘you put in till it looks / feels right’ set of instructions.
The pastry is a very cakey short crust pastry. I make it with butter, self-raising white flour, a bit of caster sugar, and eggs. This time I used about 250 grams of butter, then added as much flour as I needed to rub it in to be the texture of fine breadcrumbs, then added some sugar, and I used three medium eggs. Once it was all mixed up, I covered it and left it for a little bit in the fridge to firm up (not toooooo long, or it will be too hard to roll out).
Then I realised I hadn’t got any apples in, so there was a trip out to the Community Orchard to collect some (a mix of windfalls and picked apples). I took the pastry out of the fridge before I went out there, so it would roll out better.
Next I cut the ball of pastry into two (roughly equal sizes – if one’s larger than the other, use that for the base).
I rolled out the pastry and lifted it onto the base. I had to mend two of the corners (use a bit of milk as the ‘glue’ for this). The pastry rolled out beautifully though, and it felt just right.
I usually spread a thin layer of jam (preferably plum) on the base. Why? who knows, but it tastes good. Maybe it seals the pastry base too? This time it was some raspberry jam that had been sitting in the fridge for a bit not getting used.
Then I quartered, peeled, and coarsely grated the apples directly onto the (still raw) pastry base until it was really really full up. I sprinkled it with sugar (again, don’t ask me how much, but once you’ve cooked it once you’ll know if you need more, less, or just the same next time around) and some ground cinnamon. I like to add some sultanas sometimes, or nuts. But this time I didn’t.
DO NOT add any liquid. The apples will produce quite enough; if you add more you’ll get a soggy bottom, and you really don’t want one of those.
Once that’s done, roll out the rest of the pastry to fit on the top as a cover.
Pinch the edges of the top and bottom of the crust tight together (again, use some milk to glue the top to the bottom – I do this with my fingers). Brush the whole top with milk (or beaten egg if you prefer), and sprinkle it with some sugar (I’ve used granulated here, but you could equally use caster sugar) – this gives it a lovely golden, slightly crunchy top. (I stabbed the pastry in places to let any air out).
Put the oven on to heat up about 20 minutes before you want to start cooking, gas mark 5 / 170 degrees C (I’ve got an electric fan oven, you might need yours slightly hotter if it’s not a fan oven). Bake for about 45 minutes, then have a look and see what it looks like. Y0u want the outside to be a nice golden colour. This time I think I baked it for about an hour.
There was a bit of pastry left over, so I rolled it out (to about 1/4 inch thick) and used a cutter to make some small biscuits – we call these kirchels (say the ‘ch’ as you would in a Scottish loch) – again, brush the top with milk and sprinkle a little sugar on top, then bake alongside the pie.
This probably all sounds a lot more faff than it actually is. In fact the preparation took me about half an hour in all. Not bad for a nice pie and something to nosh with our coffee.
I expect you could eat it hot. We never have. We leave it to get cold, then cut it into squares and serve up on a plate*.
As ever, enjoy. We did.
*Also it freezes really well, either when it’s cooked or immediately before it’s cooked.