Apple and Blackberry Pie
Autumn is a wonderful time of year for making pies. The hedgerows provide an abundance of free blackberries perfect for pies, crumbles and jams. This blackberry and apple pie combines puff pastry for the top and shortcrust pastry for the bottom and sides. The recipe is made easier only by swapping the homemade shortcrust for ready-made if you want to (or indeed leave out the bottom layer of pastry altogether if you wish). Avoid dreaded 'soggy bottom' by following my blind baking steps in the recipe below.
I suggest you buy ready-made puff pastry for the top as it seems like a lot of work to make two kinds of pastry for one pie but there is nothing stopping you making everything from scratch if you are in a determined pie-making kind of mood. There is no hard and fast rule for the fruit you use. The Tala pie dish needs around 450g of uncooked fruit, so as long as the fruit you choose weighs around that amount, the combinations and proportions of fruit you decide on are up to you.
For the shortcrust pastry:
75g salted butter, chilled and cubed
150g plain flour, plus extra to dust the work surface
3 tbs caster sugar
3 tbs water mixed with 1tsp vanilla extract
For the filling:
450g fruit (I used 2 medium Bramley apples, cored and chopped; 1 small eating apple, cored and chopped and 150g blackberries)
2 tbs granulated sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
1 roll ready-rolled puff pastry
- Place the flour, butter and sugar in the large mixing bowl and rub with your fingertips until the mixture resembles very fine breadcrumbs. (This can be done in the food processor if you prefer.)
- Pour in the water and vanilla and mix with your hands or a wooden spoon. The mixture will seem dry at first but will soon come together to form a dough. (If using a food processor, pulse after adding the water.)
- Turn out the mixture onto the work surface and gather it into a ball.
- Dust the work surface with flour and roll to dough into a circle, roughly 2-3 millimetres thick.
- Drape the circle over the rolling pin and lift it onto the pie dish, gently smoothing it to line the dish. Make sure there is a good overhang of pastry at the top – about 5 millimetres should do – as the pastry will shrink in the oven. Trim the pastry with kitchen scissors so that it is neat all the way round (remembering to keep the overhang).
- Put the pie dish in the fridge to chill for at least twenty minutes while you set the oven to 170 degrees Celsius fan (338 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Bring the pie out of the fridge and line roughly with kitchen foil, scrunching it loosely around the edges and making an kind of inner foil 'bowl' to contain the baking beans. Fill the foil with baking beans and bake the pie crust for 20 minutes.
- Take the dish from the oven, carefully remove the foil containing the beans, and return the dish to the oven for a further ten minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- Mix the fruit with the sugar and mixed spice, then transfer it all into the pie case.
- Use a pastry brush to paint outside edge of the pastry case with beaten egg.
- Cut a large circle of puff pastry to fit the top of the pie and press the edges down firmly so that the puff pastry sticks nicely to the shortcrust pastry 'walls'.
- Cut a couple of air vents here and there and cut shapes from the puff pastry remnants to decorate the pie. Fix the shapes in place with painted beaten egg.
- Sprinkle the top of the pie with demerara sugar and bake for 50 minutes or until the pastry is risen and golden brown.
- Serve with custard, cream, marscapone or ice cream.
- Use smaller cutters to cut out shapes to decorate the top of the pie. The large open end of piping nozzles work well as small, circular cutters.
- If you don't want to use beaten egg to paint the top of the pie, you can use leftover double or single cream instead, which will also give your pastry a lovely golden colour.
- If you are a shortcrust pastry fan, double the quantity and forgo the puff pastry on top. Don't forget to blind-bake the base as per the recipe.