This apple and blueberry pie is a twist on that traditional apple pie, which Charles and his father are exceptionally fond of, but which can get a teeny tiny bit boring if you have too many of them in a row.
We’re making a concerted effort to have my father-in-law over for supper every now and then, and he often invites us to dine with him, and it would be rude not to try to bake something tasty to take with us for pudding. Whilst we’ve both been trying to eat and live healthier, a good pudding is something we both find hard to resist, and always seems an apt reward for a day’s hard work.
You may remember me mentioning the fruit and veg stall we shop at in Kelso – Julian’s Veg. It’s always exciting to find out what new produce they have in, from gooseberries and chocolate peppers to lychees and goose eggs, but one staple they often have in plentiful supply is blueberries, often at a good price. While I’m not too fussed about eating them raw, they are delicious when they’ve been baked in muffins or pies. Muffins are pretty difficult to recreate well at home, but we’ll have a go at nailing that perfect blueberry muffin someday soon. For now though, there’s something wonderfully homely about a home-baked pie, and I find them pretty therapeutic to make, but blueberries alone would be somewhat unsubstantial, so the apple helps to bulk them out and make the filling a bit a bit more wholesome and tasty. You don’t have to have the lattice top – you could instead opt for a solid lid, crimped at the edges with a cross in the centre to let out the steam, but given the blueberries go into the pie completely raw, I think the lattice helps to make sure there’s plenty of space for the steam to escape, as well as giving the pastry a smaller surface area and plenty of edges to get crispy. And it’s much easier to make a lattice lid than you might think. Have a go – you’ll be impressed with yourself!
I’m the first one to admit when I’m disappointed by the way my baking has turned out, but this one was pretty delicious! In fact, I’m pretty tempted to bake another one…..
- 250g plain flour
- 50g icing sugar
- pinch salt
- zest of a lemon or lime
- 125g chilled butter
- 2 eggs
- 4 apples
- a punnet of blueberries
- a knob of butter
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- Start by making the pastry as it will need at least half an hour to cool in the fridge.
- Grab a mixing bowl and weigh out the flour, icing sugar and salt.Add the butter in cubes or thin slivers.Rub everything together between your fingertips as if you were making a crumble, until the mixture is evenly combined and resembles breadcrumbs. If your fingers get tired or cramp-up, have a rest. It's really worthwhile using your hands and you'll be able to do it in next to no time with plenty of practice.
- Whisk the egg and add to the mixture, mixing together quickly with a fork and nightly kneading the dough together. Work the pastry dough for as little time as possible to avoid developing the gluten in the flour, as that will give you a tough pastry rather than a shortbready pastry. I find it easier (once the egg is evenly distributed) to split the dough into two batches at this point to get everything to hold together without working it too hard - and it then lets you chill each piece separately for your base and your lid. Flatten out each pastry ball a little and wrap in cling film then place in the fridge for at least half an hour.
- Now, onto the filling.
- Peel, core and slice the apples then place them in a large saucepan or frying pan with the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, butter and a little water over a medium heat.Allow the apples to cook down until tender and flavoured with the sugar, butter and spice.Allow to cool completely so they don't sweat on the pastry when you fill the pie.
- Once the pastry and apples have cooled, you're ready to construct your pie.
- Between two layers of cling film, roll out your pie base to a round big enough to cover your pie plate (I use a shallow enamel pie plate and find it to be really effective) and only a couple of mm thick.
- Grease the pie plate with butter and line with the pastry, removing one cling film layer but leaving the top layer on as it'll need to go back in the fridge due to the handling and rolling process heating up the pastry. When lining, carefully press the pastry into the bottom of the plate so that it hugs the sides, being careful not to make any holes or leave any finger marks. Now get it in the fridge.
- Roll out the second piece of pastry for the lid. Although you'll be making a lattice, it's a good idea to roll it into a round about the same size as the pie plate, as the lattice will still need to meet the same dimensions of a round - fuller in the middle and shorter at the sides. Now, cut this into narrow, even strips. The spaces between will mean these vertical strips will be plenty for your pie lid. Don't worry too much about chilling the lid quite yet as it'll all go back in the fridge once the full pie has been constructed.
- Check the apples are cool to the touch and, if they are, you're ready to build your pie.
- Start by layering the apples into the base (remembering to remove the cling film!) to create a domed centre.
- Toss the punnet of blueberries in the caster sugar, and add these (raw) to the top of the apples, concealing them completely.
- Now it's time to have some fun with the lattice. Starting from the centre, construct the lid one strip at a time. Don't press the edges into what will be the crust too firmly at this stage, as you'll need to be able to lift the strips again to weave them all together as you go. Leave a gap between each vertical strip that's about the same width as each strip, and add the horizontal strips as you build along and up, weaving the strips over and under like a basket weave until your lid is complete. Don't worry too much if you have a couple of shorter strips left at the end.
- Use a fork around the rim of the finished pie to crimp the edges together attractively, and trim the edge with a knife. Any excess can be used to make additional decorations, such as leaves, letters of plaiting.
- Beat the second egg and use it paint all over the pastry with a pastry brush to create an egg wash.
- Pop the whole pie in the fridge for half an hour.Preheat the oven to 180c fan. Give the pie a second egg wash before baking it. It should take around 25 minutes to half an hour, but remove from the oven when it's looking golden and crisp.
- Be very careful not to burn yourself when you eat into it as the fruit inside could be very hot indeed!
If you’re looking for another recipe to use up some apples, why not try Charles’ homemade Apple Sauce to eat with your roast pork or to spread on a cold pork or ham sandwich? Or how about some Blueberry Bakewells to use up a glut of blueberries in an equally delicious way?