Monday, 12 March 2012

Apple Pie, with a Touch of Jazz

All of a sudden, from being content to buy Braeburns, Galas and even the occasional Granny Smith, I have become a member of the 'Jazz' apple cult. This new strain of apple hit the supermarket shelves a few months ago, and now they sell out almost as fast as the produce aisle racks are restocked. I've discovered that they're certainly good for eating, but what about cooking?

I wanted to make an apple pie, but after some trial and error cooking experiments, I found that the Jazz is a bit too sharp and holds its shape a bit too well, and desperately needed a softer, mellower apple to help balance it out; like a Bramley, maybe.

Flavour-wise, the Jazz apple is crisp and tangy, with a hint of citrusy sweetness, while the Bramley apple provides a blander, solid foundation that holds the pie together well. Absolutely a perfect match. The key is to microwave the Bramley apples first to redistribute their juices - otherwise you'll end with dry, mealy apple pieces surrounded by soggy pastry from the leaked moisture.

I made this pie as the dessert a couple of days ago as part of our Saturday night dinner, after having eaten a starter of Black Pudding, Bacon, Poached Egg and Avocado Salad, followed by Beef Rendang as a main course.

After eating such an eclectic array of ingredients in the first two courses, I felt that a non-challenging, easy dessert would be an appropriate end to the meal. It's weird how things turn out though, because the apple pie was every bit as complex and interesting as anything else we had already consumed. The combination of these two apple strains created a cacophany of flavours and textures normally befitting far less humble creations than the apple pie.

As you can see from the picture, I dispensed with a pie tin, opting instead to make a puff pastry envelope, which I scored in a diamond pattern, before dredging the top in sugar and cinnamon to create a crunchy caramel glaze. It looked great.

N.B. Use ready-made puff pastry sheets (life is too short to make your own), and this pie still only sets you back £1 per serving.

Serves 4


2 large Bramley apples, peeled, cored and quartered
50g sultanas
2 tablespoons of demerara or caster sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
10ml lemon juice
2 Jazz apples, peeled, cored and cut into 5mm thick slices
1 x 375g puff pastry sheet
1 egg yolk, beaten
Demerara sugar and cinnamon, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 200c. In a bowl, place the Bramleys, sultanas, sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice and microwave on high power for 4 minutes. Using a fork, beat the Bramley apple mixture to a smooth sauce. Cut the puff pastry into two equal rectangles. On one rectangle, spread the Bramley apple sauce, leaving a 2cm border around the edges. Arrange the Jazz apple slices onto the sauce in an even layer. Place the other pastry rectangle on top and pinch the edges together to form a seal. Score the top with a knife, into an attractive diamond pattern, and brush the surface with the egg yolk. Scatter the remaining sugar and cinnamon over the pie and bake until the pastry has risen and is golden and crunchy (25-30 minutes approx).

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