Ode to pie

Everyone likes pie. Do you like pie? I like pie.

Far too cutesy pie beads

Pie is not really a thing that one can say no to. And today, in the silence of the still morning, amongst the clackings of my keyboard, I suddenly decided: I want pie.

Why? Does pie need a why? One can never deny the pie.

* end of self indulgent poorly written rhyming *

Pre-caramelised leek Post-caramelised leek

Also, I work from home at present and so I can do these odd things like make pie in the middle of the day. Of course, that means I am back here at the computer working at midnight. Very clever. The sacrifices we make for pie, sigh. (Pie? Sigh? Geddit? snigger snigger)

Hello pie!

Caramelised Leek and Feta Pie with Zaatar Crust

I had leeks in the fridge so cobbled something together. I didn’t like the pie crust I used, and will update the recipe when I find one that I do like.

3 leeks
2 tablesp balsamic vinegar
1 tablesp sugar
Approx 1/2 cup feta, cut into small cubes
3 eggs
150ml milk
Black pepper

1 portion of your favourite savoury pie dough + 1 tablespoon zaatar

  1. When you make your pie dough, add the zaatar to the flour and then continue to prepare the pie crust as per normal. 
  2. Slice the leeks so they are approx 3cm long each. Stand them all up in a frying pan. Pour over a little oil and fry them standing up that way for 5 minutes on medium-high heat.
  3. Slosh the vinegar into the pan, and wait for a couple of minutes so it drys a little. Then sprinkle in the salt.
  4. If you want, gently flip all the little leek cylinders upside down, so both sides char. The easiest way to do this is with a pair of chopsticks, in my opinion
  5. When cooked (and the pie crust is ready to be filled), arrange in the pie crust and place cubes of feta between the bits of leek.
  6. Whisk the eggs and milk together. Pour over the leeks into the pie crust.
  7. Bake for around 15-20 minutes until browned. Use the same temperature as required by your pie crust.
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Patchwork Apple Pie

Egg wash covers a multitude of sins, and when you’re down to your last egg and making your mum’s birthday pie, forgo tomorrow’s breakfast and just use it on the pie.

Naked apples

Especially if said pie was set to be named disaster-pie rather than patchwork-pie, because for some reason, you didn’t figure out how to roll out the pastry properly. And it wouldn’t go hard, even in the freezer. Tasted good raw though.

You can't see how I wrestled with the crust - I won!

Despite my fiddling, the pie filling turned out really very well – just a little tart. I like it best that way, though other sweet teeth (sweet tooths? No, I think sweet teeth is better) were slightly less than impressed. Too bad, if you want more it sweeter, make your own pie *blows raspberries*

Patchwork pie!

We ate it with cream, and custard (those were the options, not both at the same time).

See what I mean about covering up imperfections?

Patchwork Apple Pie 

Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s apple pie, I changed the filling a bit. On a side note, I don’t usually make a lot of Jamie Oliver’s recipes as I’ve always found them rather complicated, but this one is great – he provides step by step instructions, with pictures. I’d totally recommend heading over to his website for that (I recorded it here to capture my minor changes to the filling).

Pastry

250g flour – gluten free works fine here
50g sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
125g cold butter, cubed
1 large egg
A little milk, if needed

  1. Pulse flour, sugar, zest, and butter together in a food processor. Keep going until it looks like sand.
  2. Add the egg, and a little milk if the dough doesn’t come together when you mix further. You may or may not need the milk, depending on the size of the egg.
  3. Put the dough in the fridge for a bit while you make the filling.

Filling

3 green apples – I used granny smith, they were quite small
4 red apples – I used pink lady/braeburn (I think?), again quite small
3 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablesp black treacle – molasses would work too
1/2 teasp ground ginger
1/2 teasp cinnamon
Zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
A handful of raisins – I used close to half a cup

  1. Peel, core, and slice the apples. I cut mine into 1/8th segments.
  2. Put the apples and all other ingredients in a pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the apples just start to soften.
  3. Set aside to cool while you sort out the pastry.

Assembly

1 egg, beaten
Butter for greasing
Flour for rolling

Oven temperature: 180 degrees C

  1. Flour a work surface. Take half the dough out the fridge, and roll it out. Carefully lift the dough into the bottom of a (buttered) pie plate. If you’re useless like me, and use slightly soft butter, you may need to dump it directly into the pie plate and press it out until the dough covers the bottom and sides of the plate.
  2. In go the apples – don’t just drop them in though, you will get holes in your crust. Be gentle!
  3. Take the other half of the dough out the fridge, and roll it out on the floured surface. Try to get it large enough to cover the pie. Lift it on top of the pie. Try not to break it. I didn’t manage this…so I made little coin shaped flat bits with my fingers and tried to get them all to stick together over the apples, like a jigsaw puzzle. As you can see, it works relatively decently. “Rustic”, I believe it is called.
  4. Brush on the beaten egg. If you managed to place your pastry on top of the pie in a single piece, cut a couple of holes in the centre of it so the steam can escape. I did not need to do this.
  5. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the pastry is brown and firm.

Happy Mother’s Pie

A bit of a belated post – I suppose you can now see approximately how much lag time I have between cooking and posting, my patient reader.

And a belated happy mother’s day. For mother’s day, my mum requested an apple pie.

I guess given how much nonsense I pull sometimes, my long suffering mother definitely deserves apple pies on mother’s day.

Check out the "creative" lattice work

Surprised as me? It actually looks relatively presentable. I was not expecting that. My poor mother, I make pies “for her” but they’re actually experiments. Could have gone horribly wrong (don’t stare too hard at the crust, you’ll suddenly notice it isn’t latticed properly and one of your eyes will start to twitch).

The crust on this pie has a hint of cheddar, and I amped up the spices loads compared to the original recipe. I was also too lazy to pre-cook the apples and it turned out fine. You know me by now.

A note on the forgiving nature of pies: I forgot to put about half the butter in the crust; it still tasted nice and crisp with a slight cheddar sharpness. I do apologise my dear apple pie. I’m sure you will be way more awesome when the total amount of butter is added. Things can only get better! 🙂

Apple Pie with a Cheddar Crust

Adapted from Poh’s Kitchen, butter forgotten, no food processor, and spice mix completely disregarded. If I can do it you can too!

Crust

2 ½ cups plain flour – I substituted a gluten-free flour
190g unsalted butter, coarsely grated from the freezer is easiest – I only used 100g…let’s try and forget this ever happened
170g sharp cheddar, coarsely grated
½ cup cold water
½ teasp salt

  1. Mix salt with flour
  2. Add grated butter (still cold!) and rub it into the flour with your fingertips (yes…I left my chopper in Melbourne. I miss him). You need to get a bread crumb-like texture.
  3. Rub the grated cheese into the flour. If it doesn’t rub in like the butter, it isn’t the end of the world (mine didn’t). Just make sure that all the cheese is relatively well distributed in the flour mixture.
  4. Add water…only a bit at a time. You only need enough water for the mixture to just hold its shape.
  5. Divide into half, smush into two balls and refrigerate in cling wrap for at least half an hour.
In the meantime, make the Apple Filling

800g of peeled and roughly chopped apples (about 8 or so). I used a mix of green and red. Pie tip: apparently the large red delicious apples aren’t good for pies because of their structure. Don’t quote me there, I haven’t tried it out!
1/3 cup plain flour – I substituted gluten-free flour
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablesp ground cinnamon – yes I do, I do like my spices
½ teasp ground ginger
½ teasp ground nutmeg
Probably nice with some raisins 🙂

  1. Peel and chop the apples. Put them in a big bowl
  2. Add flour, sugar, and spices. And raisins if you have them. 
  3. Mix mix!

Then, it’s time to get artistic! As you can see…I’m not. 
Build the pie!
Dish – I used a shallow 28cm diameter pie dish
Crust from the fridge
Chopped apple filling
50g unsalted butter, diced into little cubes
1 egg, lightly whisked (for glazing)
A little caster sugar for dusting the pastry

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
  2. Get the crust out of the fridge and let it soften up for about 10 minutes.
  3. Take half, roll out on a floured surface until about 3mm thick, or slightly thicker. Transfer into your pie dish as best you can without breaking it – I used a big spatula to try and pick the crust up. If it breaks, nobody will ever know. It’s not like they’re going to tip your pie upside down and inspect it. Just add more crust and squash it in the hole to fix it. Leave a bit of an overhang on the outside for crimping if you know how to do those fancy things. 
  4. Add the apples and shake them around until distributed relatively evenly. 
  5. Randomly put blobs of butter on top of the apples.
  6. Make the lattice! And crimp the edges! Clearly I don’t know how to do this. If it makes you feel any better, I simply cut strips and stuck then across the pie in a random order, perpendicular to each other across the pie. Then I squished the ends into the crust. If you want a proper tutorial I suggest you follow the link, I’m not at all qualified to teach you how to make a lattice or crimp anything at all 🙂 
  7. Throw it in the oven and bake at 200 degrees C for 15 minutes
  8. Remove, and brush on the eggwash. Sprinkle some sugar on the top. This is the big cheat, and how you make your pie look pretty even though the latticework all broke.
  9. Stick it back in the oven at 180 degrees C for 35 to 45 minutes. Mine was fine at 40 minutes. 
  10. Serve immediately! Don’t bother waiting for it to cool, why would you eat cold apple pie??? Add ice cream, or whipped cream, or vanilla yoghurt if you’re pretending to be healthy. Try not to burn your mouth.