Sweet opportunity to celebrate with the Yankees
Some fine recipes to try on Pie Day
When I was young I was under the impression that pies can only be savoury. My mother made a beautiful potato and soya mince pie. I was flabbergasted when I learnt of apple pie and all sorts of sweet American pies as I came to know them.
This coming Sunday, January 23, the Americans celebrate what they call National Pie Day. This day was founded by Charlie Papazian, a nuclear engineer from Colorado, who chose his birthday to entice a nation to celebrate with him.
It may be a sweet day for the Yankees, but could be pie in the sky for South Africans. But for those with an interest in American style pies and other types, the ever helpful chefs at the Capsicum Culinary Studio came up with some lovely recipes.
Best Apple Pie
Pre-bought flaky pastry, or make your own (recipe below)
7 to 8 chilled Granny Smith apples
100g light brown sugar
100g white sugar
¼ tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp butter
Preheat oven to 200˚C.
To make apple filling: Peel, then cut apples in half. Remove cores and slice apple halves into thin 6mm slices. Place apple slices into a large bowl. Scatter both sugars, salt and spices over the apples and toss them with your hands, coating the apple slices as much as possible. Set aside for 1 hour at room temperature.
To prepare pie crust: Roll out half of pie dough on a lightly floured work surface. To prevent the dough from sticking and to ensure uniform thickness, roll from the centre of the dough outwards and keep lifting up and turning the dough a quarter turn as you roll. Check for the correct size by inverting the pie dish over the dough. The dough should be about 3cm to 5cm larger than the dish.
Be careful not to stretch it, place the dough into the pie dish and trim overhanging dough to within 20mm of the edge of the dish. Refrigerate while you make the pie filling. Roll out the second half of dough to a similar size as before and transfer it to a large parchment-lined baking sheet. Keep this in the fridge until needed.
Toss cornstarch with the apples.
Transfer the apples into the prepared bottom crust using your hands to really pack them down into the pie. Fill the pie until apples are at the same height as the edge of the pie crust. Pour the juices that have accumulated at the bottom of the bowl over the apples. About ½-¾ cup will suffice. Cut a tablespoon of butter into 8 or so small pieces and dot them over the pie. For a double crust pie, place the second pie dough round over the filling or cut it into strips and lattice the top.
If you are not adding a lattice crust but adding the top crust in one piece, use a sharp knife to cut a few slits in the top of the crust to allow steam to vent. Trim excess dough from the top crust or lattice strips and fold the overhang underneath itself, forming a thick rim. Press it together or crimp it with your fingers or use a fork. Whisk the egg with a tablespoon of water and use as an egg wash by lightly brushing the top crust. This adds shine and helps the crust brown.
Place the prepared pie onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for about 75 minutes, turning a few times for even browning. Apple pie is done when the juices are bubbling through the vents of the top crust or lattice. Piercing the pie is also a nice indication of how soft the apples are. If they feel too crunchy, the pie needs more time. Be sure to cool the pie, without slicing into it, for at least 1 hour, preferably longer. Keep in mind that the pie filling does not fully thicken until it is completely cooled. So, for the absolute best results, cool the pie to room temperature, and then place it into the refrigerator for an hour or two.
Chef's notes: If you notice that the pie crust is browning too quickly, mould a large piece of foil over a bowl that’s been placed upside down to make a foil dome. Place the foil dome over the pie for the remaining bake time. This will slow the browning.
For the pastry
325g all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp sugar
230g very cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
4 to 8 tbsp ice water
Add 1½ cups of flour as well as the salt and sugar to a food processor. Pulse 2 to 3 times until combined. Scatter butter cubes over flour and process until a dough or paste begins to form, about 15 seconds. (There should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl, redistribute the flour-butter mixture then add remaining 1 cup of flour. Pulse 4 to 5 times until flour is evenly distributed. (Dough should look broken up and a little crumbly).
Transfer to a medium bowl then sprinkle ice water over mixture – start with 4 tablespoons and add from there. Using a rubber spatula, press the dough into itself. The crumbs should begin to form larger clusters. If you pinch some of the dough and it holds together, it’s ready. If the dough falls apart, add 2 to 4 more tablespoons of water and continue to press until dough comes together. Remove dough from bowl and place in a mound on a clean surface. Work the dough just enough to form a ball. Cut ball in half then form each half into discs. Wrap each disc with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 2 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months (just thaw it overnight in the fridge before using).
Pap and Pilchard Pie (Serves 6-8)
3 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 cup maize meal
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp chopped parsley
¼ cup grated cheddar
2 egg yolks
2 onions, chopped
425g pilchards in tomato sauce, drained and flaked
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
salt and pepper to taste
4 tomatoes, thinly sliced
¼ cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup milk
Preheat oven to 200˚C.
Grease a 22cm pie dish.
To make the crust, bring the water to a boil, add salt, stir in the maize meal and cook over low heat, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes or until thick. Remove from the heat and mix in the butter, parsley, cheese and egg yolks. Spoon mixture into the pie dish, lining the base and the sides neatly. Bake for about 30 minutes or until crisp and golden.
Remove from oven and lower the temperature to 180˚C. To make the filling, mix the onion, pilchards, herbs, salt and pepper in a bowl. Spread the mixture onto the warm pie crust and top with tomato slices. Sprinkle with cheese. Whisk eggs and milk together and pour over the tomatoes.
Bake for 25- 30 minutes until set.
Serve with a green salad