The end of the year like this is the perfect time to slow things down a bit. Looking back to what we have done, instead of looking forward to what we want to do. Be grateful for how far we have gone, instead of worrying of how far more we can go. Grab a cup of hot chocolate and cuddle up on the sofa. With a good book, favorite TV program, the loved ones, maybe a simple sweet nibble, life couldn’t be more satisfying.
The other day I kept left over apple filling from the last private baking class I taught. It was a cold and windy day and I needed something to balance the grey cloudy afternoon. I was exhausted from the last two weeks of nonstop this and that and the fatigue seemed like coming to stay. I opened my freezer and found a stack of filo pastry from.. last year, I guess? Haha. So I took them altogether, the filo and the apple filling, let them come into room temperature and assembled them in a small dish. It turned out to be one hell of an apple pie. And by hell, I mean wonderfully delish.
When you use filo pastry for apple pie, usually an apple strudel will come into your mind. This is just the same, except that it is not *yea, i’m crazy like that*. I didn’t roll the filling inside the filo, I layered them like baklava. That makes them.. what? Layered apple strudle? Apple baklava? No-rolling apple strudle? No-nuts baklava? This is killing me. I’m going back to: apple pie.
What’s best to go with it? I say nothing beats vanilla custard! Yup, homemade vanilla custard you made from scratch, which.. *wait for it*.. I happened to have on hand from the same private class. You can make it thick as cream or a little bit flowing as sauce. It will be just as good. A dollop for a square and you got yourself a world class dessert.
Onto the recipe. Actually this is dead simple it is hardly a recipe. You just layer the filo, brushing with melted butter in betweens, mix the filling and pour, layer the rest of filo, brush the top with yolks, bake. Simple. Right?… No? Ok, here is the recipe.
You can use basic shortcrust pastry, puff pastry, or ready-made filo pastry like I did. If you do use filo pastry, prepare about 3-5 melted butter to brush every layer with
2 cooking apples, cored, peeled, cubed, soaked in water with lemon/lime juice to prevent browning (oxidation)
1 Tbsp flour
1/2 Tbsp corn flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg powder
60 gr sugar
35 gr raisins
1 Tbsp cold butter, cubed
1 egg yolk to brush the top
- Brush a shallow dish with melted butter. Preheat oven at 180 degree celsius.
- Mix the filling altogether until the apples are coated with dry ingredients.
- Layer the filo at the bottom of the dish, brushing every layer with melted butter. About 10-20 filo, totally your call.
- Pour in the filling. Top with cold butter here and there.
- Layer another filo to top the pie, make sure the filling is securely covered so the moisture stays inside. Do layering again until it comes to the top of the dish, brushing with melted butter in between. Brush the very top with egg yolk. Make a few slits on top to let out some steam.
- Bake about 20-30 minutes until the top becomes golden brown in color.
Best served with homemade vanilla custard.
Now, if you decided to use shortcrust pastry, here is a basic recipe I use all the time.
Basic Shortcrust Pastry
250 gr flour
125 gr butter
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp cold water
Rub butter into flour and salt until the dough becomes like grainy matter. Add cold water, mix until the dough is pliable. Wrap tight, let it rest in the fridge for about 15 minutes. Dust your work table with flour, roll the dough and use it to cover your pie pan. Use the rest to cover the top of the pie.
2 egg yolks
50 gr cornflour
500 ml fresh milk
75 gr sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
- Dilute the corn flour with a few tablespoons milk, add yolks, whisk well. Set aside.
- Heat milk and sugar, stir until the sugar dissolves (be careful not to boil, milk is easy to burn). Turn off the heat, laddle the hot milk into cornflour+egg mixture, stir fast, pour it back to the hot milk. Turn the heat back on, keep it low, keep stirring and cooking until it bubbles up. Turn off the heat, let it cool.
- What you can do to the filling:
You can add vanilla beans, substitute the white sugar with brown sugar, substitute half of the white sugar with palm sugar, add more cinnamon and nutmeg, add cardamom.. *oh, I wished I did this*
- What you can do to the crust:
This crust recipe makes a flaky crust. If you want it softer, replace the water with 1 egg, or 2 Tbsp water with 1 egg yolk.
- What you can do to the custard:
The recipe makes a thick custard, the one I usually use for choux pastry filling. If you want it runnier, just half the cornflour. It is also light taste-wise. If you want it richer, add 3 more yolks (giving total 5 yolks) and reduce the cornflour to 30 gr. If you want both runnier and richer, well, you know what to do. I just told you.
- What you can do to the whole thing: eat it.
So yea, my grey afternoon turned into beautiful pale golden, warm, sweet and cinnamony. How is your afternoon today?
*By the by, I still have plenty of leftover filo. I wonder what I’m gonna fill them with next. A dino?*