The wintery smell of

Apple Pie. But don't be misled by the title. I heard it was Pie Week over in Britain last week (Or is it the British Pie week?). And although I could not find any documented facts about the history of such a week, these two words: Pie. British. They are enough to hold my attention for a long time. Because, you know, I have a tiny, tiny obsession with anything English. Then there was Pi Day on the 14th, the mathematical Pi. Still with me?

Baked pies may mean autumn/winters, but seasonality is just a detail... Must be something about the warmth of the oven, the steam rising out, the baked butter crust smell sizzling through the house, and if I could stretch my hand into the oven - even take a bite out of it. But see, Sam Sifton, in New York Times, said it even better -

"The scent of fruit softening, kissed by cinnamon, of buttery crust, of sugar caramelizing — these can combine into a fragrance of redemption for the cook and everyone else. The taste delivers bliss. "

I have wanted to make a pie for a long time. And I have a long list of pies, come to that. There's Mississippi Mud pie, Boston Cream pie, Pumpkin pie, and, and... Oh never mind (Do you ever feel like that too? All long list of to bakes, but never enough time? Or if you are like me, pretending to be on diet)

So since it's fascinating, and I am trying to be a history geek, I went into the tunnels of the Internet, to find out more about this fascinating pie. They say, there are few things as American as Apple Pie, but as it turns out, Apple Pie, or recipes for Apple Pie were brought to America by the Europeans. Most of the Early Pies were savoury - that is, they were essentially stuffed with meat, game, or in some cases even seafood, as this article in the Time reveals.

There are different types of this sweet pie. The essentials being pastry stuffed with an Apple filling, I found a variety of desserts that use same (or mostly similar) ingredients - but vary in the way it is made. There is the American Apple Pie - a pie that has two layers of pastry - one that holds the filling, and a top layer that covers the entire pie. Then there is the French Apple Tart - with one layer of pastry and a double layer of sliced apples. There's also the incredible Tarte Tartin - which is a legend in itself. Another variant, as I see it, is the Apple Crumble - it's more pudding than tart, and has a lot lesser butter content than a pie. Then there is the Dutch Apple Pie, or the Dutch style - which is a bottom layer of pastry, a layer of apple filling and then a top layer - which I need to confirm is either a lattice made of remaining pastry dough or a separate crumble. Wikipedia says that it calls for flavourings such as cinnamon and lemon juice. Also take the Apple strudel - a traditional Viennese/Austrian sweet which is made as an individual serving, a squarish pastry cover filled with a cooked apple stuffing and served with custard. This pastry is a lot more complicated than our traditional Apple Pie. But if you feel inclined to give that a try, this here is a good start.

Back to this Pie that I made. As I wrote this, I realised that my Apple Pie was more a mix of the Dutch apple Pie (flavoured with lemon juice), a classic American Apple Pie (cored peeled and chopped apples cooked in butter) and a French Apple Tart (the blind baked pastry). Not any purists version, I concede, but worth giving a try.

Apple Pie

You need:


200 gms plain flour
100 gms chilled butter - cubed
1 egg, slightly whisked
2 tsps caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Aluminium or Ceramic Pie dish*


3  medium apples - cored, peeled and chopped.
Juice on 1 lemon
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 Tbsp caster sugar

To make the Pie:

1. Making the pastry: Sift the flour and the salt into a bowl or a plate. Add to this the chilled and cubed butter, and rub it into the flour using the tips of you fingers. Do this until you get a coarse mixture resembling breadcrumbs.

2. Then add the egg and gently bring the mixture together to form a dough - that just holds together and is still crumbly. Don't worry if there are a few lumps of butter still in there. Take this dough on a large piece of clingfilm and wrap it up. Then pat it gently so that you get a smooth dough. Chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes. Roll out the dough in between two large pieces of clingfilm to about 1/2 inch thickness, because it's a lot easier to transfer it to the pie dish (which I learnt from here)

3. Meanwhile, make the filling. In a deep bottom pan, Melt the butter with the sugar and stir until it it just starts turning brown. Add the lemon juice next and then the apples. Stir them until the apples are coated the butter. Cook the apples until they start softening. A note about the filling - I make it approximately, adjusting the sugar and lemon juice depending on which apples I use and how they sweet they are. If you want you can also see a more traditional filling here.

4. Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius. Line your pie dish with the rolled out pastry.and trim the edges. Bake the pastry, in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until it is golden brown. Ideally - pie crusts have to be blind baked, ie the pastry is further lined with butter paper, and baking beans are filled into the dish - and then the pastry is baked. I did not do it, and well, my pastry while it baked quite well, it shrank around the corners, and rose a little bit - not ideal baking conditions - I thought you should know.

5. Once the pastry is baked, add the apple filling, and pour over any remaining juice you have from cooking the apples. With any left over pastry dough - make a lattice structure on top. I cut out strips and arranged them on top of the pie. Brush the top with a little milk.
6. Bake in the preheated oven for another 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

7. Let it cool for 15-20 minutes before serving it warm with whipped cream, custard or ice cream.

* I don't want to alarm any baking purists out there, but except for the lack of fluted sides, a springform tin worked just fine. Then I made it again a year back for my friends.


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