Free form apple pie

OH my lordy be people, this pie is beyond sensational. BEYOND. The recipe is from Ben O’Donoghue – one of those great Aussie chefs who does really flavoursome unpretentious food. For those in the know, he appears on the UK food program called The Best, which is always always entertaining and gives you inspiration to get up and go and start cooking, which is more than I can say for the 98% of the current programming on the Lifestyle Food channel.

Anyway, this recipe comes from the August 2008 issue of Delicious magazine and while I significantly reduced the amound of sugar in with the apples and didn’t use the spices because I didn’t have them, the pastry is one recipe I will be using over and over again – DIVINE.

Ben says it’s his nan’s recipe and that rings true – I recall my nan making pastry using some custard powder as well and it being flaky and buttery and divine. It really makes it.

This was also the first time I’d done a free form pie and I expected it to be a disaster, oozing liquid and being a downright mess. It was an absolute sensation. Next time I’d probably add a little – just a little – more liquid and cook the apples just a little longer, but now I’m just nitpicking, go, make it, NOW.

Free form apple pie
From Delicious magazine, August 2008, by Ben Donoghue
The apples

  • 1kg granny smith apples
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 star anise

The pastry

  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 1/3 cup custard powder
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 350g chilled butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  1. For the pastry, place the dry ingredients in a food processor
  2. Add butter and blitz until it looks like breadcrumbs
  3. Add the yolks and process until the pastry comes together in a smooth ball
  4. Divide into two then knead into flat discs
  5. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour
  6. Meanwhile, peel and core the apples and slice into wedges
  7. Place in a pan over medium heat with sugar*, juice and spices
  8. Cook for 10 minutes or until the fruit is tender but still holds its shape
  9. Cool then discard the spices
  10. Preheat oven to 180C
  11. Roll out the pastry discs between two sheets of baking paper to 3mm thick, 28cm circles
  12. Place one circle on a baking tray, leaving the bottom sheet of paper in place as a lining
  13. Place the apple mixture in the centre, leaving a 3cm border, brush the border with a lightly beaten egg
  14. Top with remaining pastry, press down the border, then trim the edges into a neat circle and pinch edges together to seal
  15. Brush the top with some beaten egg, bake for 30 minutes
  16. Sprinkle with caster sugar and bake for a further 10 minutes until nice and golden
  17. Serve with custard, ice cream or both.

* Now, I’m sure if you used this amount it would caramelise beautifully and draw more liquid out of the apples, but in this house we like the pastry sweet and the apples tart, so I only added 2 tablespoons of sugar. As I said above, next time I’d add a dash more water and/or cook the apples a little longer for the filling to be a little more ‘wet’.