I waxed lyrically a few days ago about the stunning sunsets which have marked the start of autumn in London. Something like this:
This also means that it is time for apple pie! I promised a while back that I would try my hand at making a Dutch version, so here it is! I’ve come across two types of apple pie in the Netherlands – either the deep apple-and-pastry mixture called appelgebak, or the more familiar appeltaart. This is the latter, so we’ll do appelgebak another day.
A lot of people are put off by making fruit pies due to a phobia of pastry. If you prefer to buy it, then by all means do so, but it’s actually very easy to make. Just be sure to use cold butter and very cold water, handle the pastry as little as possible, and let it chill fully before using. Apparently, this prevents gluten developing, resulting in a better pie crust. For the filling, I used green apples. The ones I had were quite sharp, which is what I like for a pie, as they give you a better tasting pie with more apple flavour.
In fact, the only tricky bit is making the lattice on top of the pie. As you can see from the picture, even I didn’t quite get this right, but all I can say is that I gave this a good try. If you are minded to give this a try and are a little bit obsessive about getting it right, then see detailed instructions here. Otherwise, rather than the lattice, just roll the reserved pastry out into a circle and use this on top of the pie instead.
To make Dutch apple tart:
For the pastry:
• 250g butter, cold
• 50g caster sugar
• 400g flour
• cold water
In a bowl, rub together the butter, sugar and flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add just enough cold water until the pastry comes together. Wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes.
For the filling:
• 2kg apples
• 50g salted butter
• 100g light brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 3 tablespoons apricot jam, mixed with 2 tablespoons water
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Butter a loose-bottomed flan dish (25-30cm diameter).
Peel and core the apples. Cut into slices of 1/2-1 cm thickness. In a large pot, melt the butter. Add the apples, cinnamon and sugar and stir well. Cook on a gently heat for 15 minutes until the apples are soft, but have not become mushy. Drain the apples, reserving the juice.
Roll out two-thirds of the pastry out into a circle, and use to line the bottom and sides of the flan dish. Leave around 1cm overhang at the edges. Prick the bottom with a fork, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
In the meantime, put the reserved apple juice in a saucepan, and cook gently until it reduces and becomes thicker. Turn off the heat, add the apples and stir well. Fill the pie shell with the apples.
Roll out the rest of the pastry into a long rectangle (at least as long as the size of the pie dish), and cut into eight strips. Use the pastry strips to make a lattice on top of the pie (see how to do this here).Use any remaining pastry to form one long strip to put around the edge of the pie shell (or cut out lots of little pastry leaves, and put these round the edge – warning, this takes a lot of time!).
Brush the pastry with a little milk, and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is golden. Once cooked, remove from the oven. Warm the apricot jam, and use to brush the top of the pie.
If you like an easier life, then forget the lattice and just roll out the remaining pastry into a circle and use to cover the pie. Make a few slashes in the top of the pie to let out any steam during cooking.
Worth making? Everyone likes apple pie. I think this is a good recipe, using lots of apple and not too much sugar. It’s great warm or cold, and is well worth the effort. Enjoy autumn.