I left my friend’s birthday party early to wake up and do some work for University. Instead I found myself baking this pie and I have no regrets. The recipe for this pie was inspired by the pie made by Kimberly in one of the past seasons of bake-off, which I thought sounded truly delicious. I don’t think the recipe is online but I’ve included a link to her blog here; http://www.butimhungrynow.com, because it has so many nice things on. Although rosemary seems a bit of an odd flavour to put in a sweet pie I think the rosemary caramel sauce really makes the difference. My boyfriend also pointed out this is the first bake I have ever decorated for decorations sake (notice my pastry apple please) so I’m feeling a little smug with my artistry…although it is nothing special at all.
For the pastry
450g plain flour
50g ground almonds
50g caster sugar
250g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons cold water
3 bramley apples
1 tablespoon rosemary
100ml double cream
50g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
4 tablespoons of cornflour
plus 1 egg for glazing
1. The first thing I did when making the pie was chop a handful of rosemary sprigs into small pieces. Really, you only want to chop the rosemary leaves and not the stalks as these are a bit hard. When you think you have enough (you want two tablespoons in total) put these to one side.
2. For the pastry, cube the butter and rub it with your finger tips into the flour until there are no lumps of butter left. This took me about 20 minutes to do by hand but if you have a food processor you can do it much quicker with a few blitz. Next add the sugar, ground almonds and 1 tablespoon of rosemary.
3. Break 2 eggs into the pastry mix, one at a time, and using a knife break apart and stir through the mix. Add the water a little at a time, bringing the pastry together with your hands into a clump. You want it to be nice and short. Once your pastry has come together, tip out onto a lightly floured surface and give it a very brief work until it is a smooth ball. Flatten out slightly, then wrap it in cling film and chill in the fridge for 3o mins.
4. Peel and core 3 brambly apples. Chop these into small cubes and toss in a bowl containing the cornflour until the apple is lightly coated with flour. This will help prevent everything getting too soggy, as you are already adding a caramel sauce within the pie and want the pastry to be able to hold all the moisture but still be crisp.
5. This is a good point to toast the pecans. Preheat the oven to 180•C then toast the nuts on a baking tray for about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on them because you don’t want them to catch because nobody likes burnt nuts. Once toasted, chop roughly and put to one side. Leave the oven on for the pie.
6. Quickly grease your pie dish with a little butter, followed by a light dusting of flour. Take your pastry out the fridge and cut off about a third. You want to keep this to one side for your pie lid. Roll out the rest of the pastry to about 5mm thick and to a size that looks like it will comfortably line your pie dish. Then carefully pick it up using your rolling pin (or however you like if you have some other clever method you would like to use) and slot it into the pie dish. Gently pull of a little excess pastry from round the sides and use this to gently poke the pastry into the corners.
7. The trickiest part of this pie easily is the rosemary caramel sauce. You need to be vigilant. Gently heat a saucepan then add the 200g of caster sugar and 100ml of water. Stir gently until the sugar has dissolved, then turn the heat up to full. Watch carefully, RESIST THE URGE TO STIR, and it should start bubbling after a couple of minutes. Wait until it turns a really nice deep golden caramel colour then remove from the heat. Seriously, watch it like a hawk because burnt caramel smells bad and is really hard to get of the pan.
8. Whilst still hot, stir in the cream, 50g of butter and rosemary. Continue to heat at a lower temperature and stir for about 2 more minutes until all the cream and butter have mixed in and you have a glossy light golden sauce. Leave to cool for about 5 minutes.
9. Layer some apple chunks across the bottom of the pastry case, followed by some pecans. Drizzle with some caramel sauce. Repeat this layering process until the pie is full.
10. Roll out the lid of the pastry and place over the top of the filling. Using a sharp serrated knife chop of any overhanging pastry and seal the lid and case of the pie. You can try and crimp the edges (which I am terrible at), which looks quite nice. You could even make a silly little apple out of any remaining pastry like I did, although I made mine when I was bored and waiting for my caramel to cool.
11. Bake for ~50 mins until golden brown on top. When you cut into it there will be some sauce but fingers crossed your pastry should be crisp on the bottom.