Latticed Apple Pie

Everyone loves a good old apple pie, right?

Especially when the crust is browned and crispy, the apples are sweetly caramelised, and the pastry’s rich with buttery goodness. On top of that, the lattice topping makes for an attractive-looking pie too. This is one of my favourite traditional apple pie recipe. And definitely best served with warm custard or cream.

Ingredients:

  • 7-10 apples, sliced into 1/4 inch chunks
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 56g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp cold butter, cut into 1/2 inches
  • 225g butter, room temperature
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 350g plain flour
  • Custard, to serve

Method:

  1. In medium heat, stir apples, sugar, cinnamon, salt and cornstarch. Cook, covered, for 20 minutes.
  2. After 20 minutes, cook with reduced heat uncovered for 7-8 minutes. Remove from heat, stir lemon juice and let cool for 30 minutes.
  3. Beat butter and sugar until just mixed. Break in a whole egg and yolk (save the white for later) and beat for under 1 minute until the mixture resembles scrambled egg. Work in the flour in 3 batches then gather with your hands. Work the pastry into a ball and cover with cling film. Chill in the fridge for 45 minutes-1 hour.
  4. Preheat oven to Gas Mark 5. Line pie tin with 2/3 of the pastry. Leave at least 3/4 inch overhang. Pour the apple filling inside and dot with the cold butter. Cover with lattice topping – here is an awesome tutorial on how to make a lattice pie crust.
  5. Brush with the egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Then sprinkle with more sugar.

Mini Fruit Tarts

If a butter-filled pastry is laden with fruits, does it count as a healthy snack?

Nahhhh, I wish. Especially if the pastry is brimming with custard.

But that doesn’t stop me from scoffing 1 or 2 of these things. These mini fruit tarts are such wonderful little treats that having one is simply just not enough. And they are so easy to make! The hardest step is probably the shortcrust pastry, but that can be easily whizzed up in a food processor to save time.

Ingredients:

For the sweet shortcrust pastry:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 100g icing sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 150g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • Egg wash: 1 egg yolk lightly beaten with 25ml milk

For the fruit filling:

  • 300g fresh berries or other fruit, chopped – I used strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, red currants, kiwi and orange
  • 1/2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint leaves (optional)

For the custard filling:

  • 30g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 260ml double cream
  • 1/4 vanilla pod or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  1. To make the pastry, sift the dry ingredients together. Add the butter and work into the flour until it resembles rough breadcrumbs. Whisk together the egg and yolks and add them to the mix. Using a cold knife, bring the pastry together into a ball of dough, taking care not to over-mix. Flour lightly, pat into a flat round and wrap in clingfilm. Refrigerate overnight or for a minimum of 1 hour. 
  2. Preheat oven to Gas Mark 6. Grease a 12-hole muffin tray.
  3. Roll out the pastry to about 3mm thickness and cut rounds to fit the muffin tray, allowing extra to come up a little at the sides. Press these carefully into the cavities and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. 
  4. Line, weight down with baking beans and blind bake for around 10-15 minutes until starting to brown. Remove from the oven, brush all over with a thin layer of the egg wash and bake for further 2 minutes to seal. Remove and allow to cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the custard. In a heatproof bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornflour and egg yolks by hand until light and fluffy. Whisk for 3 minutes, leave to stand for a few minutes then whisk again for another 3 minutes. Heat the cream with the vanilla in a heavy-bottomed pan until it reaches a simmer. Pour the heated cream over the egg yolks, whisking thoroughly all the while.
  6. Heat the bowl on a bain-marie on medium heat, stirring continuously with a spatula until thick and creamy (approximately 7-8 minutes). Pass through a fine sieve and leave to cool completely. 
  7. In a bowl, mix together the fruits and mint. Spoon custard evenly onto the pastry cases and top with the fruits.

Sundried Tomato Olive Bread

A lot of things intimidate me in life… a group of hooligans, people in high-power position, scary rides, bread…

Yes, bread. A loaf of bread, baguette, flat bread, all kinds of bread.

It’s not the bread itself that intimidates me. It’s the process of making it. I’ve made bread before. Some have turned out well, some have transformed into rocks in the oven. And all the kneading and proving, etc… they’re quite scary to me.

So when I saw this recipe that Paul Hollywood claims as ‘foolproof’, I ought to give it a try. Maybe he can save me from this bread-phobia.

And voila! It actually turned out amazingly! I was even confident enough to try braiding the dough into a plait. Plus, the sun-dried tomato and olive combination was a match made in heaven.

Ingredients:

  • 500g strong flour
  • 15g salt
  • 55ml olive oil
  • 20g fresh yeast or 7g instant yeast
  • 275ml water
  • 170g olives, pitted and chopped
  • 55g sun-dried tomatoes
  • Fresh basil, chopped

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients apart from the olives and tomatoes. Make sure the salt is not in direct contact with the yeast as this kills it in the process.
  2. Using your hands, knead well until the dough is elastic, satin-smooth and shiny. Place in a well-oiled bowl, cover with cling film and prove in a warm draft-free place for 1 hour.
  3. Knock back (punch the dough until the air deflates) then add the olives, tomatoes and herb. Divide the dough into 3 equal long strips and plait it together.
  4. Press firmly down, sprinkle lightly with flour and prove for a further 1 hour in a warm place.
  5. Bake at 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7 for 30 minutes until golden brown. Remove and leave to cool on a wire rack.