There have been many failed attempts in my kitchen at making shortcrust pastry; it is either too soggy, too stiff or just tastes downright bland.
So to get into the Halloween spirit, I decided there was no better time to dust up my rolling pin and finally overcome my pasty short comings by successfully baking some mini apple pies.
I often wondered about the connection between apples and Halloween and surprisingly have actually discovered the tradition dates back to nineteenth century Europe…. maybe I thought Mr Kipling had a hand in it to sell more pies!
My research has told me that way back then the humble apple symbolised fertility and renewal and during Halloween were used by young ladies to peer into their romantic futures through games like bobbing for apples and finding rings in apple pies.
I have already found a husband and most of my girlfriends are taken, I resisted the urge to do a Beyoncé and put a ring into one of my mini pies… besides with health and safety regulations in this day and age it could be viewed more as a hazard than a help.
To make my pastry I followed the old fashioned, simple method of using water to bind the dough; I did experiment with egg, but the pastry is just too rich and firm for these apple pies.
Don’t underestimate the power of cold hands, so make sure to run yours under really cold water before rolling the dough as it can become difficult to work with. Pile the apple mixture high into the pastry cases as it cooks down quite a bit during the baking process.
While my pies might not pass the Paul Hollywood uniformity test, they taste pretty good and that’s what I call a good bake.
Happy Halloween people!
- 400 grams plain flour
- 200 grams cold butter (cut into pieces)
- ½ small glass of cold water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 1 egg beaten
- 6 medium sized apples (I used Bramley, bitter apples are best)
- 60 grams of caster sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Sift the flour, salt and sugar into a large mixing bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Add the cold water a little at a time to bind the mixture and create the pastry dough. Don’t pour in lots to start with or the mixture could become too wet.
- Use your hands to make a rectangle shape with the dough. Wrap it up tightly with Clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes before rolling.
- Peel and chop the apples into chunks, discarding the core and add to a bowl. Pour over the sugar and cinnamon and mix well. Cover the bowl and leave to rest for 1 hour before using.
- Before rolling the pastry it is important that your hands are really cold to not overwork it. I split my pastry into two parts – two thirds for the base and one third for the lids.
- Put the piece for the lids back into the fridge to keep extra cold.
- Working quickly roll the dough out to three times its length in one direction. Fold the bottom third on top of the middle section and the top third on top of this.
- Turn the dough clockwise once. Reroll again to three times the length, fold the bottom third on top of the middle section and the top third on top of this.
- Making sure your work surface is well floured roll out the dough into a large rectangle, roughly about 10mm thick.
- Using a pastry cutter – mine was 90mm in diameter – cut 12 circles and place into greased bun tray moulds.
- Fill the pastry cases with the apple mixture and don’t be afraid to pile it in as they reduce in size while baking.
- Following the same process as before, roll out the remaining piece of pastry and this time cut out the lids – I used an 80mm cutter for this. Wet the edges of the pastry cases with water before adding the lids to help them stick.
- Brush the beaten egg on top of the pies to glaze and then using a sharp knife make one slit in the centre of each pie lid.
- Bake in an oven for 25-30 minutes at 180 degrees, until the pies are golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Enjoy with a nice cup of tea!