Mum’s apple pie

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 piebut 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.

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Bramley apple tree, September 2015

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I used about 5 of these (not very big) apples

Next I cut the ball of pastry into two (roughly equal sizes – if one’s larger than the other, use that for the base).

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Don’t make the pastry too thick, or it will dominate things. But not too thin either, or it won’t hold the apple. Just right is just right.

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.

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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.

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It’s the cinnamon that’s brown, not the apples. But if the apples do go a bit brown, so what?

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.

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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).

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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.

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Leftover bits of pastry make some nice kirchels

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.

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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*.

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As ever, enjoy.  We did.


*Also it freezes really well, either when it’s cooked or immediately before it’s cooked.

About deborah @ the magic jug

Now I've passed 60 I'm still doing all sorts of things I haven't done before, as well as carrying on with the things I already love. I live a happy life with my long term love Malcolm. In my blog I explore local and low tech ideas, food, growing, making, reading, thinking, walking, and lots of other words ending in 'ing'.
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10 Responses to Mum’s apple pie

  1. wendoxford says:

    Love the foodie-ness of your blog…it’s fab!


  2. Jackie says:

    Just my kind of recipe – a bit of this, an amount of that etc. I can’t be doing with exact amounts or even exact ingredients – will have to try it once my apples are ready. Thanks.


    • Yes, the thing about home style cooking is that it’s really very forgiving – so long as you get the basic chemistry right, you can play around with it. One of my irritations with cookery books and TV programmes is that they often make it all seem a bit daunting but often under the guise of demystifying. Though I do enjoy reading a good recipe book (Claudia Roden is my current favourite writer, she is so knowledgable and scholarly at the same time as being very very readable).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sam says:

    It’s always lovely to have the story behind a recipe. There’s so much more to food than the fact it’s fuel. I like that it’s APPLE pie 🙂 And it looks delicious.


  4. Zoe says:

    Looks delicious, I’ll give this a try. Thanks.


  5. Lucille says:

    I have been saying apple pie over and over to try to remember how we put the emphasis at home. I do believe the words were equally stressed. I like the idea of a jam layer. In fact I like the fact that this pie is utterly unlike any apple pie I have ever made, especially because the slices are square.


    • Oh well there’s a whole new idea for a post – the geometry of food (though thinking about it I believe oldest son, almost an architect, has a whole book on the very subject). It’s more an accompaniment to tea or coffee than an English style apple pie.


I love to read your comments. I don't expect everyone to agree with me, and I don't mind if you don't. However, I ask you to respect the 'circle time' rules made by my son's primary school teacher: make a comment, ask a question or say something nice. Thank you!

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