Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Baking With Tala: Mum's Apple Pie

I love getting into the kitchen to create something;
I enjoy cooking meals but I love baking, of course.
I find the whole process of putting cakes together relaxing, even now at nearly nine months pregnant!
Having said that however, there are certain bakes that just don't seem to be my "thing"
For some reason or another they just don't work out for me and as a bit of a perfectionist I tend to be inclined to shy away from these sort of creations...
I love a good pie but mine always seem to shrink, collapse or flood.
My pastry is always too short or overworked and I seem to add too much of any filling!
However when a beautiful Tala pie dish arrived at my door a few weeks ago it was time for me to finally face my pastry fears.
My mum is the pie maker in our family, she usually bakes one along with the Sunday dinner and can put one together in minutes.
I have a lot of memories of her peeling and chopping apples while we've put the world to rights over a cup of tea. Apple pie is a comforting pudding I always associate with being at home.
Generally her method is quite simple;
freshly chopped apples stewed in a heavy pan with brown sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice until a deep brown colour, soft but still holding their shape a little, topped with a pastry lid and baked in the oven.
It always works and with her being somewhat of an expert as to what is a good apple pie I wasn't quick to compete.
So this week with the arrival of my beautiful Tala dish I decided to set to work on my own "Mum" style recipe for apple pie;
After doing a little research it turns out there are quite a few ways to assemble the perfect pie;
some involve cooking the apples in butter and sugar, others add plain apples to the pie crust before pouring melted butter and sugar on top; some are adamantly against cinnamon and others use nutmeg or vanilla. The type of apples used varies by tradition and location and of course depending on how you like your pie to taste.
Although I was tempted to follow the familiar I wanted to give my own recipe a go and find a different method to try.
As always for me baking is all about learning and being able to share the process as a mum and teach my little one important skills for life, so obviously I had a helper in the kitchen!
The thing about making an apple pie is that once you know how you want to make it, it's as straightforward as a recipe can be.
Although apple pie is often seen as an American dessert it's roots really do lie in England where the first recipe was printed by Geoffrey Chaucer in 1381.
In Yorkshire eating it with a piece of strong cheese is a long standing tradition and I've yet to go anywhere serving English food that doesn't have it on the dessert menu in some form!
We love our apples here.
Traditionally a lattice top is called for when making an Apple pie and I knew this would look lovely in this gorgeous blue dish.
Yet again Tala have created a timeless range of colourful oven to table  stoneware that is beautifully made and the perfect addition to a home cooking collection.
I love how the style is functional but still so pretty in a collection of pastel colours like this classic soft blue as well as the darker red which is equally lovely.
 Their sweet little brights recipe tin is from the Tala Originals range and is perfect for storing all those family recipes;
And good bakes usually end with a sprinkle of icing, and what better to use than a cute Tala sugar shaker!
I'm not going to lie, this was one of my less relaxing bakes and became a labour of love after some trial and error with the pastry...
 but what emerged in the end was my very own apple pie.
I created a little mix up of methods and I'm pleased to say it worked out well.
No it isn't Pinterest perfect on sight but still a good pie all the same.
Its homely, a bit rustic and as sweet and comforting as all good apple pies should be!
For my pie I decided to not cook the apples but to tumble them in plenty of brown sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice - and add a little almond essence as I just love the flavour.
I found not cooking them before to be the best way to avoid a "soggy bottom" and give that lovely full shape whilst holding up the lattice design.
I have learnt that I don't need to be afraid of pasty any more-
like most aspects of cooking its about learning from experience and this little baking escapade has given me a lot more confidence with making pies again...
and now I have this beautiful pie dish I'll have to!
Below is my straightforward Apple pie;
I'm not going to lie I used pre-bought pastry, the reason being that it is so much cheaper and quicker to use and being mama usually means you don't have the time to set about making your own perfect pie crust when little hands want to get involved.
I know that Mary Berry herself uses ready to roll pastry at times so I don't feel too bad!
It's important to remember that even though it is ready made you can still have a pasty disaster if you don't handle it correctly so I've included a few tips I've learned along the way to ensure your pie comes out of the oven in one piece...!

Apple Pie
Shortcrust Pasty: Enough for the bottom and top of your pie dish-
mine was 26.5cm and two packs of pastry was plenty
For the Filling:
6 Large Bramley Apples (you can also use Golden Delicious for a sweeter pie)
200g of Soft light brown sugar
1 Tsp of Cinnamon
2 Tsp Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Plain flour
1 Tsp Almond Essence
        Egg white and additional caster sugar for the top
Peel, Core and slice the apples into medium slices, combine all the ingredients in a bowl before adding the apples and toss well, until the apples are coated. Leave to one side.
Line your dish with the pastry leaving a little hanging over
Tip: Try to roll the pastry out quickly and ovoid over working the dough;
if you have to roll it up and start again, put it in the fridge to harden the butter.
Roll out your second amount of pastry and cut into twelve, one inch strips
Tip: use a sheet of greaseproof paper as a base, then weave the strips into a lattice.
This can be tricky when placing on top but looks much neater than weaving on top of the apples!
Add the apples to the unbaked pie crust, brush the edges with a little egg white then swiftly slide your lattice on top.
Trim around the edge, but again leave a little pastry hanging over the edge.
Crimp using your fingers or a spoon handle, brush the top of your pie with egg white and sprinkle with caster sugar.
Tip: I decided here to put my pie in the freezer for about 45 mins
this causes the butter to harden and prevents the crust from shrinking before the pastry is cooked!
Cook the pie at 190°C  for around 8-10 minutes or until it looks golden on top;
Cooking the pastry quickly keeps it in place and prevents it going soggy and/or shrinking in my experience.
Then move into the lower part of the oven and cook for around an hour at 150°C-
if the top looks like it may catch cover lightly with tinfoil.
Allow your pie to cool slightly before carefully trimming the excess pastry from the edges.
I chose to do this after cooking but it's up to you!
Serve warm with thick double cream or custard. Or both.

There's nothing better than a home cooked pudding,
And I love the idea of passing on traditional recipes to our children and grandchildren.
Family cooking is all about sharing, learning and creating memories together in the ordinariness of our day to day life.
So get making some pie,
if I can do it anyone can!


N.B : This was a collaborative post with Tala who kindly sent me a selection of their beautiful bakewake however recipe and all opinions are entirely my own.  



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