The English love apples; and with their equally great love of luscious puddings they created a recipe that's a true classic: traditional English apple pie.
The phrase "...as English as apple pie" tells you how popular this pudding used to be. So much so that it became rather a cliche. For a while, you would have found it, fairly carelessly made, frozen and re-heated, on the menus of most restaurants and pubs.
But people soon grew bored with an offering of soggy pastry and tasteless filling. They craved the real thing, not the mass-produced imitation.
And the real, old-fashioned pie returned.
Tart, lemony apples encased in crumbly pastry, hot and steaming and served with custard or cream. Carefully made and served hot from the oven, this is a pudding that's hard to beat in the taste stakes. A true English classic!
Apple pie is not difficult to make. Once you've mastered the basics, you're well and truly free to experiment.
Why not add a few dessert apples to the mix for extra texture? Or maybe a few spices to ring in the changes. I adore cinnamon, so I tend to add more than the customary pinch. A few nuts don't go amiss in the filling, or you could try adding crushed hazelnuts to your pastry. Add a handful of left-over berries to your filling, or add a little cheddar cheese to your pastry.
Don't be afraid to play and you will be rewarded with a wonderful, ever-changing pudding!
This recipe fills a 2lb / 900ml pie dish. You can feed 4-6 people with this ... unless they're very hungry or love apples as much as I do!
Peel and core your apples and slice them thickly. Dribble with a little lemon juice to stop them from turning brown.
Pre-heat your oven to 200°C / 400°F / gas mark 6.
To make the pastry base sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the butter and rub in until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mix in the sugar.
Splash mixture with cold water and bring together to form a smooth dough. Roll out two-thirds of dough and line your pie dish.
Place half the apples into the lined pie dish. Mix sultanas with spices and pour over the apples. Add the remaining half of apples.
Roll out the last third of pastry. Dampen the edges of the pastry in the pie plate and cover pie with the last piece of pastry. Press edges together to seal, then trim and flute the edge.
Decorate the top of the pie with pastry trimmings.
Cut slashes in the top of the pie or make a hole and insert a pie funnel. (This is important! It lets the steam escape during cooking and ensures that your pastry is lovely and crumbly.)
Place pie in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Then lower oven temperature to 190°C / 375°F / gas mark 5 and bake for a further 20-25 minutes. Your pie is ready when the pastry is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle with coarse sugar before serving.