Apple Pie

This year, in honour of Pi Day tomorrow (14th March, 3.14 – nerdy I know!), I made my first latticed apple pie. Heading into Autumn, apples are particularly sweet and delicious and they really shine in this pie. I’ve kept flavouring simple and traditional with just a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon to enhance the flavour of the apples. I used red apples because that’s what we had in the house, but it would work well with granny smith apples as well (but you may want to add in a little more sugar). Happy baking!

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Ingredients (serves 8)
Pastry
1⅔ cups plain flour
1 tblspn caster sugar
¼ tspn baking powder
180g cold butter, chopped
⅓ cup iced water
1 tspn vanilla extract

5 apples peeled, cored and chopped
1 ½ tblspns lemon juice
⅓ cup caster sugar
4 tspns cinnamon
1 tspn vanilla extract
2 tblspns almond meal
1 egg, lightly beaten
Caster sugar, extra

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Method
To make the pastry, place the flour, sugar, baking powder and butter in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. With the motor still running, add the water and vanilla and process until it comes together and forms a smooth dough. Wrap in Gladwrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

While your pastry is chilling, peel, core and chop your apples and grease a 22cm pie tin.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Place the apple pieces and lemon juice in a large, deep frypan and cook over a medium heat for 8 minutes or until tender. Carefully pour out approximately half of the liquid from the pan and then add the sugar, cinnamon and vanilla to the remaining mixture. Set aside to cool.

Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll out half of it with a rolling pin until it is 3mm thick. Carefully line the base of the pie tin with the pastry, trimming off any excess. Prick the bottom with a fork, then line with baking paper and top with pie weights or uncooked rice. Bake for 15 minutes and then remove the baking paper and pie weights and bake for another 10 minutes or until pastry is browned lightly.

Allow the pie base to cool slightly (around 5 minutes). Sprinkle the base of the pie with almond meal and then top with the apple mixture. Try to make the top as flat as possible to help with your pastry (you may have some apple mixture left over).

To make a lattice pie lid, roll out the remaining pastry until 3mm thick and cut strips of your desired width (I made 6 thick strips and 4 thin). Place strips evenly spaced on top of the pie, and weave them in a lattice design (see here for instructions). Cut off any excess and press down the edges of each strip so it links to the sides. Alternatively, roll out the remaining pastry into a large 3mm circle and drape it over the pie. Cut slits in the top of the pastry.

Brush your pie lid with egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until pastry is golden and crisp. Serve with cream or ice-cream and enjoy!

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Adapted from ‘High-Top Apple and Sultana Pie’ from Donna Hay’s Seasons.

Mini Quiches

These delicious quiches are perfect for picnics, high-teas or parties. Here I’ve provided the recipe for cheese & bacon mini quiches, which are probably the biggest crowd pleaser, but you can add anything you’d like to your quiches – I love spinach and semi-dried tomato as a vegetarian option.

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Ingredients (makes 36)
2 sheets puff pastry
5 rashers shortcut bacon, with fat removed
185g shredded cheese
3 eggs
½ cup thickened cream

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Method
Defrost pastry sheets at room temperature for approximately 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 190°C fan-forced. Spray three 12-hole round-bottomed patty-pan/yorkshire pudding pans (see picture below) with cooking oil. Otherwise, muffin pans will work fine but you may need to adjust the size of your pastry rounds.

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Image Credit: Amazon.com

Dice bacon into 1cm squares. Cook until crispy (I tend to be lazy and use the microwave, but by all means cook in a frypan).

Once pastry has defrosted, cut out rounds with a 6cm cutter and press into prepared pans.

Divide bacon pieces evenly among quiche bases. Top with approximately 1 teaspoon of cheese per quiche.

Whisk together eggs and cream in a small bowl. Transfer into a small jug for easy pouring. Pour approximately half a tablespoon of egg mixture into each quiche base.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until puffed and golden.

Let the quiches cool for 2 minutes in pans, then transfer to wire cooling racks.

Quiches can be served warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

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NB: Quiches keep for 1-2 days in an airtight container in the fridge, but are best eaten on the day they’re made so the pastry is crisp.

Recipe from my Mum, Anne Bills.

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

Pic from Inspired Taste.net (mine got eaten too quickly!)
Pic from Inspired Taste (mine got eaten too quickly!)

Even though Thanksgiving isn’t really a holiday celebrated here in Australia, this year my family decided to get in on the action anyway as a number of us will be away over Christmas (and we like to party with or without good reason). So, in keeping with tradition, I made a pumpkin pie for dessert. I had no idea what to expect having never tried one before, but gave a highly rated recipe I found online a go and was really pleased with the result. If I didn’t know there was pumpkin in there (and it wasn’t orange) I wouldn’t pick it because it’s really the vanilla and spices that come to the fore, with the pumpkin providing a creamy, sweet back note. Pumpkin-y or not it was delicious and I’ll probably make it again when pumpkins are in season.

Ingredients (serves 8-10)
Pastry
1 ½ cups plain flour
3 tspns icing sugar
140g cold butter, chopped
1 egg yolk
2 tblspoons water

Filling
2 cups pumpkin puree (made by roasting pumpkins, scooping out the flesh, blitzing it into a smooth paste in a blender and then putting it in a sieve for an hour or so to remove the excess juice)
3 large eggs
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup brown sugar
¾ cup cream
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
A pinch of salt
1 quick grind of pepper (i.e. a really small amount, sounds odd but it works!)

Method
To make the pastry, put the flour, icing sugar, butter, yolk & water into a food processor and process until it just comes together. Press into a ball, knead gently on a floured surface until smooth & then refrigerate, covered in clingfilm, for 30 mins.

Preheat the oven to 200°C fan-forced. Lightly grease a 23cm flan tin or pie dish.

When the pastry has chilled, roll dough on a floured surface until large enough to line the tin (I often have a bit left over). Lift pastry into tin, ease into the sides & then trim the excess.

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Cover the pastry with a sheet of baking paper and fill with pie weights or uncooked rice. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk eggs and sugar until smooth. Add the pumpkin puree, cream, vanilla and spices and stir until all incorporated.

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Pour mixture into pastry case (obviously remove the baking paper and pie weights first!!) and smooth over the top. I ended up having a bit of pumpkin filling left over that I might use in muffins or something (if I don’t eat it all first :P)

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Bake pie in the oven for 10 minutes before reducing the heat to 160°C fan-forced for around 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

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Let cool completely before transferring to a serving platter and then serve at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream. Enjoy!

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Pic from Inspired Taste (mine got eaten too quickly!)

Pastry recipe from the Australian Women’s Weekly Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe & Filling Recipe from Inspired Taste.net

Rich Chocolate Tart

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This was the main component of the dessert I made for Mother’s Day (in addition to the raspberry sorbet) and it was a winner with everyone. It’s not difficult to make (but looks it) and is the perfect conclusion to any meal.

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Ingredients (serves 10)
4 egg yolks
2 eggs
¼ cup caster sugar
⅓ cup thickened cream
300g dark chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 quantity of sweet pastry

Method
Make the pastry. Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C (approx. 140-150°C  fan-forced, depending on your oven).

Beat egg yolks, eggs & caster sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until thick and creamy. Gently fold in cream, melted chocolate and vanilla.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the pastry case.

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Bake, uncovered, for approximately 30 minutes, or until the filling is just set.

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Cool for 10 minutes. Serve dusted with sifted cocoa and raspberry sorbet (if desired). Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly “Best Food: Desserts” cookbook (2004)

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Image Source: The Australian Women’s Weekly

Banoffee Pies

Inspired by the banoffee pie scene in Love Actually, I decided to have a go at making some. I was unsure whether I’d like them or not, but with their buttery pastry, dark caramel and fluffy whipped cream topping, even a banana-hater like myself thoroughly enjoyed them.

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Ingredients
395g sweetened condensed milk
3 small bananas
Juice of ½ lemon
300ml thickened cream
2 tablespoons grated chocolate

Pastry
1 ⅔ cups plain flour, sifted
110g butter, chilled
110g pure icing sugar
1 egg yolk

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Method
Remove and discard label from the condensed milk can, then using a can opener, make 2 small holes in the top. Place in a saucepan, open-side up. Fill pan with cold water to come almost to the top of the can (about 1cm to the top). Bring to the boil, then reduce to medium-low and simmer for 3 hours until a caramel forms, topping up water to keep the same level. Carefully remove cans and cool.

For the pastry, place flour, butter and icing sugar in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg yolk and 2 tblspns cold water and process until the mixture comes together in a smooth ball. Enclose in a plastic wrap and chill for 30mins.

Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line eight 10cm loose-bottomed tart pans. Chill for a further 15mins. Line the pastry with baking paper and fill with pastry weights. Blind-bake for 10mins, then remove paper and weights and return to the oven for 5mins or until crisp and golden. Allow to cool.

Open the condensed milk can, then spoon the caramel toffee into each pastry shell to almost fill. Thinly slice bananas, toss in the lemon juice, then place an overlapping layer over the toffee. Whip the cream and pile on top. Decorate with chocolate curls.

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Adapted from delicious. ‘Sweet’ cookbook.