By: Culinary Frank
Description: 'I think we can take it out now,' said Jenny, while sitting patiently in front of the oven, waiting for that moment, the exact instant when that crust of the pie is golden, richest brown around the edges and the buttery aroma of the sweet shortcrust pastry fill up the house.
Time to prepare the recipe: 30 minutes
Time to cook: 45 minutes
Duration: 75 minutes
Ingredients: flour, pink lady apple, butter, caster sugar, salt, whole egg,
“I think we can take it out now,” said Jenny, while sitting patiently in front of the oven, waiting for that moment, the exact instant when that crust of the pie is golden, richest brown around the edges and the buttery aroma of the sweet shortcrust pastry fill up the house. Carefully with two tea towels in her hands, Jenny lifted the pie out of the oven, placed it on a cooling rack and on her face was the biggest smile ever.
To us – my wife Jenny and I, a simple apple pie holds a beautiful memory. When we were on our first date, it was a slice of apple pie that we shared, and I’m quite certain it was because of its freshly baked, pleasant aroma that we both fell for each other. So during Christmas, we decided to recreate that memory, “our first date” apple pie.
We were so excited about this little project of ours, this would be the first time we make something together. We got up early in the morning (which we hardly ever could), went to the shop and got all the needed ingredients. Even though I am a full-time chef, my knowledge about pastry is very limited, and to be honest I have never made a shortcrust pastry before. After doing some researches for the how-to’s and getting tips from a pastry chef friend, I got a recipe for my apple pie.
First, we started with the pie base, the shortcrust pastry. We followed the recipe step by step; after combining all the ingredients and shaping into a dough, we divided it into two and chilled the doughs for 45 minutes. While waiting for the doughs to rest, we moved on to the apple filling. We chose Pink Lady apples for its tanginess and sweetness. Differing from other recipes which mostly instruct to cut up apples in cubes, cook them and then use the result as a filling, we took an extra step of mashing the apples, but not too smooth, as we want a few apple chunks to create a distinctively delightful texture in every bite. To get a little bit “naughty”, we added a dash of white wine to the mixture and the aroma was mesmerising (it is still lingering on my nose until now haha).
Everything seemed to be perfect, though this did not last long. After 45 minutes, I got the dough out from the fridge. It looked great, I got really confident, thought to myself: ”Hey, not bad for a first timer!” Hand in the flour paper bag, I dusted the surface of our dinner table like a pastry chef would, threw the dough onto it, slapped that dough’s face with more flour, reached for my rolling pin and made sure it was nicely coated with flour too. Then I started to roll, but suddenly “$#!T” happened. It cracked. When I tried to piece it together and roll again, it cracked again. The more I rolled, the more it teared apart. I started to get frustrated, and really upset to the point of wanting to scrap it and start over with a new dough. Right at that instant, Jenny took the rolling pin from me and told me to calm down. She said all I needed was to be more gentle and to not give up so easily. Gently she started to roll the dough out again. Even though it seemed like a lost cause, she managed to get it into the pie dish, with the falling pieces she covered the holes, patted it firmly to the bottom and the side of the dish. She then scooped the filling into the pie shell, rolled out the other dough, laid it on the bed of apple compote and got creative with decorations (which later on she told me it is the “sprout of love”). Brimming with surprise, I moved “Our First Date” apple pie into the preheated oven, closed the door and hoped for the best. Luckily, it turned out to be the best apple pie I have ever had. My wife really saved the day!
Beside harvesting more knowledge about pastry today, I also have learnt a valuable lesson from my wife, which is to stay calm in every moment and see things through. The pie dough is like my life, it can be rough, it can have a lot of cracks and crumbles each time I try to pick it up, but if I hang on to it and pursue my goal to the finish line, I will eventually get a beautiful, sweet and amorous apple pie.
“Our First Date” Apple Pie
|Prep time||Cook time|
|30 mins||45 mins|
|All purpose flour||400 gm|
|Cold unsalted butter||200 gm|
|Caster sugar||100 gm|
|Zest of 1 lemon||optional|
Apple compote (for the filling):
|Pink Lady apple||650 gm|
|Cinnamon powder||2 tsp|
|White wine||50 ml (can be replaced
by orange juice)
|Zest of 1 lemon||optional|
1. In a mixing bowl, sift in all the flour, dice the cold butter into small cube, quickly add to the mixing bowl together with the flour. Add sugar and salt then start to rub everything together until creating a sand-like feeling. (note: this part is really important, make sure everything is crumbly, and try to do this as quick as possible, cause you do not want the butter to melt.)
2. Make a well in the middle, then add in your egg and vanilla essence, work everything together to form a dough. (note: do not overwork the dough)
3. When the dough is formed, divide it into two (one is smaller than the other). Form both dough into a disk-like shape, wrap both in plastic wrap and rest in the fridge for 1 hour.
4. While the dough is resting, get on with your apple compote. Peel, core and cut the apples into cubes ( place them lemoned water to prevent oxidation). Heat up a pot over medium heat, add in your butter, when the butter is melted, add in the sugar and make a caramel base ( swirl the pot occasionally to make it evenly caramelised). when it reached a shining golden colour, add in the cubed apples ( make sure it is well drained to prevent splashing). Coat the apple cubes evenly with the caramel, then sprinkle in the cinnamon powder, add measured white wine, bring everything to the boil then simmer. Cover with a lid or make a cartouche ( to make yourself feel like a Classic French Chef) until the apple is cooked just enough to mash. (It is important to not overcook the apple or it will fall apart and discoloured). After mashing the apple compote, set aside to cool down.
5. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
6. When your doughs are nicely rested, take the larger dough out first to roll and make the base, then the smaller one is for the top. Dust your work table with plenty of flour as well as the top of your dough and your rolling pin. Quickly roll out the dough, turn the dough occasionally to prevent sticking, it also help to shape the dough into a circle. When the dough reached your desired thickness, transfer it to your buttered pie pan. Press it down and make sure you press on the side as well. Spoon in your filling then start on the other dough for the top. With a fork or your fingers, pinch the top and the bottom together.
7. Beat up an egg and brush over the apple pie then bake it in your preheated oven for 40- 45mins or until you can see it is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let it rest for at least 15-30 minutes before remove it from the pan.
8. Enjoy your apple pie alone or with a scoop of ice cream.
*Important note: If you are making pie dough for the first time and just like me, it is starting to tear and fall apart, DO NOT GIVE UP!!! You can patch the pieces together in the pie pan and I am sure the end result will be just as perfect. Cheers and good luck ?.