Apple Streusel Pie

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At a shoot lunch towards the end of the season, my husband was served what he termed “the best pudding I’ve ever eaten”.  He loved it so much he asked his hostess, Clare Pelly, for the recipe so that he could make it at home.  Only joking; I mean so that I could make it for us all.  I don’t mind at all: I’m happy to be the cook in our relationship because I enjoy it and because I’m better at it than he is, just as there are many things I don’t like doing which he is happy to do and is better at than me.  I imagine this is how most successful partnerships work.

As it turns out, I’m very grateful to him for getting me the recipe for this “best ever” pudding because it’s absolutely delicious.  Clare is also an Aga cook and the pie is particularly suited to Aga cooking because it can be baked on the floor of the roasting oven, which gives wonderful, crisp pastry.

Ingredients

For 1 x 10″/26cm or 2 x 7″/18cm flan tins

Pastry:

  • 8oz/200g plain flour
  • 4oz/100g butter
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp cold water

Filling:

  • 2lbs/900g cooking apples
  • 2oz/50g raisins
  • 4oz/100g plain flour
  • 4oz/100g caster sugar
  • 2oz/50g butter
  • 10floz/285ml double cream

Topping:

  • 2oz/50g caster sugar
  • 2tsp cinnamon

Method:

  • Pre-heat conventional oven to gas mark 6/200ºC
  • To make the pastry, sift flour, rub in butter, stir in icing sugar and bind together with yolk and water.  Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes
  • Roll out thinly and line your prepared tin(s) with it.  No need to bake it blind
  • Peel, core and slice  your apples and mix with the raisins
  • Make a crumble by sifting the flour, stirring in the sugar and rubbing in the butter
  • Spoon half of this into the tin
  • Cover with the apple/raisin mixture and pour over the cream
  • Spoon over the remaining crumble mixture and sprinkle on the topping
  • Bake on the floor of the roasting oven for about 30 minutes until it’s bubbling and caramelised or brûléed on top.  Your pastry should be lovely and crisp, although you won’t know this until you’ve cut into it
  • Conventional oven: after 25 minutes turn it down to gas mark 5/190ºC for 10 minutes
  • Can be served hot, warm or cold

Aga note:

I always worry about the Aga cooling down if you give it too much to do at once but yesterday I cooked a pheasant, some roast potatoes and this pie in the roasting oven in the space of one and a half hours and everything was perfectly cooked.

Cinnamon:

The first time I made this pie we were a little disappointed that the cinnamon flavour wasn’t very strong.  Cinnamon is one of my husband’s favourite things so he did a bit of research.  First of all he saw that the cinnamon I’d used (by Bart’s) was a blend “sourced from several Fairtrade producers” and that the cinnamon considered to be the best is from Ceylon.  So from the website cinnamonhill.com I bought some Ceylon cinnamon sticks and the next time I made the pie, we used the fine Microplane grater to grate some for the topping and reader, I can confirm it tasted noticeably better.

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Norwegian Apple Cake

 

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In this post a year ago I mentioned my Norwegian grandmother’s apple cake.  It has become a Hardy family tradition to have it on Christmas Eve, but that doesn’t stop us having it at other times of the year.  I have vivid memories of evening coffee time at my grandparents’ house in Oslo when cake would often be served.

I made the Norwegian apple cake this weekend for second son’s birthday.  It’s not a typical birthday cake but I don’t think that matters.  We managed to get his brothers to come along and gathered in London for tea and cake which we consumed while watching the England v Wales Six Nations rugby match. img_6492

I don’t think my grandmother, who is no longer with us, would mind if I gave you the recipe.  It’s extremely easy to make.  You can keep it just as it is, or add cinnamon to the apples or sprinkle some flaked almonds over it, or both.

Norwegian Apple Cake

You will need a 20cm/8″ springform cake tin, greased and base-lined with greaseproof paper or bake-o-glide.

Conventional oven: pre-heat to 160º-170ºC

Ingredients

  • 4 Bramley apples
  • 125g plus 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 240g self-raising flour
  • 1 large egg

Method

  • Peel, core and slice the apples and place the slices in a bowl with the juice of a lemon to stop them going brown.  Add the tablespoon of sugar
  • Place the apples in a saucepan with a little water, let’s say 3mm deep.  Cook them for a minutes on the Aga simmering plate or your hob, giving them the occasional stir with a wooden spoon.  When they’re all soft, remove from the heat and leave to cool
  • Make your cake batter by placing the sugar, butter, flour and egg in a bowl and beating the mixture.  I use my electric mixer
  • Press two thirds of this mixture into the base of your prepared tinimg_4305
  • Then spoon the stewed apples over this but not right up to the edge.  If you feel you have too much apple mixture (after all, Bramleys vary in size) save some (freeze it if necessary) to have with roast pork at a later date
  • On a floured surface very gently roll out the remaining third of the batter and then cut it into strips about 1.5cms wide
  • Arrange these strips in a lattice pattern over your cake.  You don’t have to make a complicated over and under pattern.  The dough is very soft and the strips might break as you pick them up.  img_4306Don’t worry: you can just patch them together as you place them.  As you can see from the photos, mine does not look remotely professional
  • Bake your cake until golden brown.  You can’t test it because of the apples.  I find it usually takes between 35 and 45 minutes.  I start checking it at about 25.
  • You can serve it warm (but not piping hot) or at room temperature, dusted with icing sugar and cinnamon.  I’m not a cream person but this cake really is best served with a dollop of lightly whipped cream.img_4319