Here is a Bramble and Apple Pie for you..
We were picking brambles at the week end-a favourite Autumnal day out-and windfall Bramley apples………………….a lovely combination to use for a traditional pie. None of this continental malarkey with sweet pastry and a custard base. No this is a very plain and simple pie using a shortcrust pastry made with margarine and lard. Yes, I can hear you say, it does have to be lard.
Where I come from, Yorkshire, pies have a top and a bottom if you please, tarts only have bottoms. I only added a little sugar to the fruit so that you can taste the fruit but you could always pass the sugar bowl around when you are serving for those that like a sweeter taste. I like to rebel and haven’t precooked the filling- wild I know but it is more usual to precook the apple. It really doesn’t need it and it is much better this way because Bramley apples quickly ‘fall’ when cooked ie they loose their shape and go mushy which then makes for a mushy pie-so I have avoided this by putting the apple in raw, just slice them thinly after coring and peeling. Use a traditional enamel metal plate to get a crisp bottom and no sogginess.
To get back to the brambles,it is tempting to pick too many, especially as this is a’ free’ food, but you don’t need many for this recipe as they are quite strong to taste. However you can also turn them in to jams and jellies if you are so inclined. Or what about turning them into Blackberry gin for Christmas-just pack into a large glass jar, add sugar and pour gin over the top. Put the lid on, give it a shake and then store it somewhere cool for about 6 weeks. Give it the odd shake when you remember and then sieve before using. I also like to make Christmassy gin from damsons and also from sloe berries but these are not so easy to come by. Damsons work well and give a more fruity twist to your gin and tonics. If you want more of a liqueur then add more sugar and less gin.
TRADITIONAL BRAMBLE AND APPLE PIE
For the pastry:
225g plain white flour
1 pinch of salt
50g block margarine, at room temp, cut into small pieces
50g block lard, at room temp, cut into small pieces
Cold water (put some in the fridge beforehand if you have time)
1. Sift the flour and the salt into a mixing bowl.
2. Add the fats and stir in until the pieces are covered in flour. Use your fingertips to rub the fat into the flour-try not to be heavy handed! You can incorporate more air into the mix by lifting it up and down gently with your fingers as you are rubbing it in. The mixture should look like damp breadcrumbs-if you prefer you can do this stage in a food processor. Either way don’t over mix.
3. Sprinkle about 4/5 tbsp. of the cold water on top and then, using a long, round bladed knife start mixing it and pressing it against the side of the bowl until it starts to come together. Use your hand to gently knead the mixture until it leaves the sides more or less cleanly. Put the pastry in a plastic bag and let it rest for about 20 minutes before using.
For the pie:
1 quantity of short crust pastry
A little vegetable fat to grease (or just use the lard)
700g Bramley cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced finely
Small handful of fresh brambles
2 tbsp. caster sugar
Milk or egg to brush the top
Caster sugar for sprinkling
1. Heat the oven to a fairly hot 200C, Gas 6 and put in a metal baking sheet to heat up. Grease a 24 cm metal, pie plate.
2. Mix the raw apples, brambles and sugar and set aside for 5 minutes.
3. Roll out half the pastry onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll out thinly into a circle big enough to cover the plate (and allow for the slight depression in the plate). Trim off the surplus.
4. Put the fruit into the pie leaving a 2.5cm border. Brush the edges with water.
5. Roll out the rest of the pastry and lift over the fruit. Trim off the surplus pastry using a knife-hold the plate in your left hand and angle the knife so that the handle is under the plate. This will stop the pastry case shrinking too much.
6. Push up the sides (this is called knocking up) with a knife and then make a scalloped edge by going around the plate pushing your thumb in and squeezing the pastry together with a finger on each side. Or you can use your thumb and a knife to do this.
7. Brush the top of the pie with milk (or egg) and sprinkle on some caster sugar. Cut 2 or 3 slits in the top of the pastry. Place the pie on the hot baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes.
8. Serve slices with custard or cream and some extra sugar if you prefer it sweeter.