I’ve heard a couple of my friends say it before. “Oh, I can’t really bake.” And then they add, as if it’s some sort of shameful afterthought: “Except for apple pie or something.” I’m a firm believer that apple pie should never ever be a shameful afterthought. ‘Cause let’s be honest: what’s more comforting than a slice of apple pie? Not many things are.
We have a couple of apple trees out in our garden. In September and early October we are always filled with good intention and actual plans, but then after a couple of weeks those intentions start to waver and then you end up here: half way through November and a ton of apples left over. Some of them are still pretty firm and good for a snack – others, not so much. And there’s only one thing you can do with an apple that’s passed it’s glory time: pie.
This is a recipe by the Flemish chef Jeroen Meus from his third cook book: Dagelijkse Kost 3. I made a couple of changes here and there, but it’s basically the same concept: tart base, baked apples and a crumble on top.
Tart base (you need 1/3rd of this recipe)
500 gr flour (166 gr)
250 gr butter at room temperature (83 gr)
180 gr sugar (60 gr)
2 vanilla beans (1/2 a bean)
3 eggs (1 egg)
30 grams of butter
splash of calvados
75 gr of flour
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
60 gr of butter
40 gr of brown sugar
What to do
First we’re gonna make the tart base: mix the butter, sugar and salt (in a kitchen aid, or with a handheld mixer) until it’s fluffy and has a light color. Slice your vanilla bean in two (lenght wise) and scrape out the seeds, add to the butter and mix again. Add the egg and mix until you have a smooth batter. Add half of the flour and mix at low speed until incorporated. Add the rest of the flour and mix until the dough clumps up. Take it out of your bowl and knead by hand. Flatten with your hand and put it in cling film. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
After that hour (or more, I made the tart base yesterday and suddenly got very sick so I left it in the fridge for a whole day and a night XD) take out your pastry. Roll out with a rolling pin. Make sure you flour your work surface and rolling pin. Once it’s rolled out, transfer your pastry to your buttered and floured baking tin. Make sure your pastry is pressed into the corners at the bottom – remove the excess, and press the dough firmly into the edge of the tin. Put this back in the fridge for another 20 minutes, and then blind-bake it for 15 minutes in a preheated oven of 190°C. (Blind baking means you put baking paper on top of the pastry, and baking weights, or uncooked rice, or coins on top so the pastry doesn’t rise and doesn’t brown too much.)
Meanwhile you can make your filling. Peal and chop your apple (relatively big pieces.) Bake your pieces of apple in your butter, and add a cinnamon stick if you feel like it. Once your apples are golden brown, add the calvados. (I didn’t have any, so used brandy. Calvados is a brandy made of apples, btw.) Keep your pan on the fire until the alcohol has evaporated, or: flambe! When flambeing make sure your extractor hood is OFF. If you work with gas, you can carefully tilt your pan into the fire until the alcohol catches fire. Otherwise you can use a lighter with a long neck, or long matches. Keep your pan away from your extractor hood so you don’t burn it, and make sure everyone around you is keeping away. Flambe isn’t that hard, just be careful! :)
Once your tart base is done, remove the baking weights and baking paper, and add your apples. Now for the crumble: sift together the flour and cinnamon, and mix in the brown sugar. Add your butter and rub everything together with your fingers until it’s a really fine, crumbly consistency. Poor over the apples, and bake the pie for another 30 minutes at 170°C!
Voila! Serve warm with some vanilla ice cream, or cold with some cinnamon whipped cream :)