Even though spring is imminent, its still pretty damn cold here in the UK and I recently caught sight of the best christmas jumper I have ever seen in a local charity shop window. Silver and gold snowflakes dancing amidst snow topped mountains with a twilight backdrop, it was glorious, my boyfriend banned me from buying it. Undeterred I continued browsing and suddenly these little pie tins winked at me, so I took them home.
Really good sweet shortcrust pastry:
100g castor sugar
Using a hand blender (or if you are very lucky a Kitchen aid/equivalent!) cream together butter and sugar, until you have a smooth pale mix and the grain of the sugar is no longer visible. Add your egg and blend until you have a smooth light batter. Add your flour, mix quickly and briefly until all your ingredients are well combined, you can see no more traces of butter mix and you have a light smooth dough. No need to chill, you are ready to roll!
And so to our Apple Pies…………
Begin by pre-heating your oven to 160 degrees, butter your tins and then roll out your pastry. Optimum thickness is 3mm, my arms usually give up at about 4-5mm, it doesn’t matter too much. Whats most important is that your pastry is a nice even thickness throughout so it can bake evenly. line your pie tins leaving the edges overlapping (keep your leftover pastry as you’ll need it later on!) Prick the base of the pastry lined tins with a fork and set your cases aside, preferably in the fridge to relax as you prepare your filling.
Peel and core your apples then cut then in half, then cut each half into 8s, this makes a good rustic pie- cut smaller slices if you prefer a neater pie. Mix your apples with the zest and juice of a lemon, (this also helps them not to discolour.) a teaspoon of vanilla extract, the leaves from a sprig of thyme and two tablespoons of brown sugar. Cinnamon or ginger would work well too, And, to make a really naughty apple pie, mix your apples with some caramel sauce or dulche de leche, very delicious! Mix your filling ingredients together then pack tightly into your prepared tins, roll out your remaining pastry to the same thickness as your bases and cover the tops of your pies, pinch the edges of your pie together to seal in the filling, sprinkle tops with golden sugar and cut a cross in the top of each pie. Bake for 25-30 minutes. serve warm with lashings of custard!