Challenge No. 39 – Apple (not Winberry) Pie

Have you every heard of winberries? Well I hadn’t until about 18 months ago when Dave mentioned to me that he used to love having winberry pie when he would stay with his Grandma and Grandad.  I thought he was going a bit crazy until I mentioned it to someone at work and they knew all about winberry pies! So when I was asking for suggestions for this blog, Dave suggested I make his old favourite.  However, try as I might, I just couldn’t find any winberries in the shops! I even tried the fruit market in town but with no luck 😦 so instead, I decided to make another fruit pie.  Dave loves apple pie so it seemed like a perfect alternative.

I thought making apple pie might be a bit easy so I looked for a recipe to make homemade custard too.  I soon found this recipe by Ed Baines.

For the recipe you will need the following ingredients:-

  • For the pastry
    • 250g/9oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
    • 125g/4½oz unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
    • 1 orange, zest only
    • 75g/2½oz caster sugar
    • pinch salt
    • 2 free-range egg yolks
  • For the filling
    • 1kg/2lb 4oz Cox apples, peeled, cored and cut into large chunks
    • 250g/9oz Bramley apples, peeled, cored and cut into large chunks
    • 250g/9oz Royal Gala apples, peeled, cored and cut into large chunks
    • 200g/7oz caster sugar
    • 1 tbsp cornflour
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • For the custard
    • 250ml/9fl oz whole milk
    • 250ml/9fl oz double cream
    • 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways and seeds scraped out
    • 2 free-range egg yolks
    • 50g/1¾oz caster sugar

Edited - ingredients

I went to the supermarket on Sunday morning to buy my ingredients and it was only once I got home that I realised I’d got my apple quantities wrong.  I accidentally bought too few Cox apples and too many Gala apples.  I didn’t think it would matter too much so ended up making the recipe with a bit more of a random mixture of weights but I made sure the total amount of apple was 1.5kg.

I started by making the pastry.  I put the flour, unsalted butter, orange zest, sugar and salt into my mini food processor and gave it a good blitz until it resembled fine breadcrumbs.   It was a tight squeeze and in hindsight, it may have been better to rub the ingredients by hand.  But I just about managed it in my mini processor.

Edited - breadcrumbs

When I came to add the egg yolks, this didn’t work! I tried to blitz it but the ingredients were too packed in to get an even mix.  So I tipped it out into a bowl and brought it together by hand.  After working it for a while in the bowl, I tipped the pastry onto a lightly floured surface and gently kneaded it until it became smooth.  It was quite a crumbly mixture so took a bit of working but it got there in the end.  I then shaped it into a disk, wrapped it in cling film and popped it into the fridge to rest.

Edited - pastry disk

I put my apples and sugar into a big saucepan over a medium to low heat.  The recipe said to heat the apples gently for 5 minutes or until they start to break down slightly.  The 5 minutes didn’t seem to do very much to the apples so I let them heat for about 10 to 15 minutes.  I then stirred in the cornflour, vanilla extract and cinnamon.  I left it on the heat for a couple of minutes and then set it aside to cool down whilst I made mine and Dave’s dinner.

 Edited - applesEdited - cooked apples

Once I was ready to get back on with the pie, I pulled the pastry out of the fridge and broke off 2 thirds.  The pastry was really stiff and when I tried to roll it out, the edges kept splitting.  So I decided to work the pastry to soften it slightly before rolling it out. 

I then lined my (new!) pie dish with the pastry.  I covered it with baking paper and added my rice to use in place of the baking beans. 

Edited - uncooked base

I popped the dish into the oven on 200 degrees celsius for 15 minutes before removing the rice and baking paper.  I then put the dish back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

Edited - part bakes

Whilst the pastry was finishing up, I rolled out the final third to create my pie lid.  I also used some of the excess to make a little picture topper which you can see in the pictures later on 🙂

I filled the baked pastry with the apple mixture.  This is where I potentially went a little wrong.  The apples had given off a lot of liquid when I cooked them in the pan and I decided to add most of this to the pie.  It seemed like the right thing to do but as you’ll see below, it may not have been!

Edited - filled

I added my top, sealed the edges and added my picture topper to the middle.  Then into the oven it went for around 23 minutes.

Edited - topped

When the pie had about 15 minutes left to go, I got started on my custard.  I put the milk, cream and vanilla pods and seeds into a pan over a low heat. 

Edited - milk cream pan

Once the milk/cream mixture had come up to a simmer, I poured it through a sieve into a pouring jug.  I whisked the egg yolks and sugar together using a fork and then slowly added the sieved milk/cream mixture, being sure to whisk constantly (now with a balloon whisk).

Edited - whisked

I then poured the mixture into a clean pan and returned it to a medium to heat to thicken up.  This took quite a while, and I ended taking the pie out of the oven about 10 minutes before the custard was ready.  It didn’t matter though as the pie retained its heat and the custard was well worth the wait!

So this is my pretty pie in one piece…

Edited - baked

I then tried to serve it up to get a nice looking photo of a slice with custard…

Edited - served up

Evidently that didn’t work!! The pie didn’t have a base any more and there was so much liquid in the middle. 

Edited - juices

So it wasn’t the prettiest served pudding but it sure did taste yummy! There is clearly room to improve my pie making ability.  Dave said it was more like delicious baked apples with a pie crust top 🙂 but I have to say, that custard…it was absolute heaven and so easy to make.

Coming up next week, Challenge No. 40 – tomato soup.    

Challenge No. 37 – Panna Cotta and Fruit Coulis

This challenge was suggested by my lovely friend Gill.  I met Gill back in 2008 when I first visited Manchester to see Dave during our first summer away from University.  Gill went out of her way to make sure I felt welcome in Manchester and has since become one my closet friends.  Working shifts as a nurse means we don’t get to see each other as often as I’d like but we always have a great time when we do manage to get together.  Unfortunately, I didn’t even manage to get a date to make this challenge when Gill was free to come and try some of the result 😦  I have therefore promised to make this panna cotta again in the future and hopefully we’ll manage to get a date in the diary soon!

I spent a bit of time looking for recipes but eventually settled on the first one I’d look at by Simon Rimmer.  I didn’t immediately decide to use this recipe only because I don’t really like raspberries.  In fact, most of the recipes I found used raspberries!  Eventually, I decided I would just adapt Simon’s recipes to make a strawberry coulis instead.

So, for my version of this panna cotta recipe, you will need the following:-

  • For the panna cotta
    • 1.5 gelatine leaves
    • 125ml oz milk
    • 125ml double cream
    • 1/2 vanilla pod, split lengthways, seeds scraped out
    • 12.5g sugar
  • For the sauce
    • 90g sugar
    • 90ml water
    • 200g strawberries

Edited - ingredients

I began this recipe by separating my gelatine leaves and popping them into some cold water.  The recipes says to soak them until they are soft – I had no idea how long this would be! But the back of the pack suggested soaking them for 5 minutes so I used this as a guide. 

Edited - leaves

Whilst the gelatine leaves were soaking, I put the milk, cream, sugar, vanilla pod and seeds into a pan over a medium to low heat.  I kept stirring the mixture regularly until it came up to a simmer and then took it off the heat before removing the vanilla pod.

Edited - milk in pan

I then squeezed the water out of the gelatine leaves and added them to the vanilla mixture.  I gave it a good stir until it looked like the gelatine had fully dissolved. 

The recipe then says to divide the mixture between ramekins.  However, in my search for a recipe, I read a tip that said to get a really smooth panna cotta, try pushing it through a sieve first.  So I thought I would give this a go and poured the mixture through a sieve into a pouring jug.

Edited - sieve

I then split the mixture between two silicon mini loaf tins.  I don’t have ramekins and thought these would work just as well 🙂

Edited - moulds

I popped the filled loaf tins into the fridge.  The recipe says to leave them for at least an hour.  I actually made these in the middle of the afternoon and turned the first one out at about 9pm so they had plenty of time to set.

Once I’d had diner and was ready for dessert, I got started on the fruit coulis.  I put the sugar and water into a pan over a medium heat.  Whilst this was coming up to boil, I cut the tops off my strawberries and chopped them in half.  When the sugar had dissolved, I took the pan off the heat and added the strawberries.  I then used a hand blender to blitz it together.

Actually, I couldn’t do this in my pan as there wasn’t enough depth to the liquid to stop it splashing everywhere! So I poured the mixture into a jug and gave it a blitz.  The sauce was meant to thicken up but it was still really watery.  I therefore decided to pop it back over a low heat for around 5 minutes.  This seemed to do the trick.

I left the sauce to cool down and then turned out the panna cotta onto a plate.

Edited - set

Practical tip: dip the mould into hot water to release it slightly.

I drizzled over some of the strawberry coulis and added a chopped strawberry to the top.

Edited - served upThis was really tasty.  It was so creamy and the strawberry sauce, whilst not very red, was delicious!

Dave tried ONE mouthful and then said he didn’t want any more.  He’d gorged all day on sweets and crisps so I think (and hope) it wasn’t a reflection on the end product.  Anyway, I decided to leave the second panna cotta in the mould until the following night when I got to enjoy it for dessert again! And it was just as good having been left in the fridge for 24 hours.

I was actually really surprised at how easy this was to make and I love the fact it can be made so far in advance. 

Coming up next week, Challenge No. 38 – beef bourguignon.  

Challenge No. 27 – Knickerbocker Glory

This challenge was suggested by Dave, my better half.  We will be celebrating our 7 year anniversary this weekend and a common theme throughout our relationship has been Dave saying “what you’ve never tried/seen/heard this or that”.  Until Dave, I hadn’t tried hotdogs from a tin or corned beef, I hadn’t seen The Breakfast Club, ET, Jurassic Park (to name but a few films that escaped my childhood) and I’d never heard of the Smiths.  But for once, it was my turn to educate Dave; whilst he suggested this challenge, he’s never actually had a knickerbocker glory! This has now been corrected.

A knickerbocker glory was a common treat throughout my childhood and it instantly makes me think of my nan.  My brother and I used to go and stay with my nan every summer and she would always make us this yummy desert.  There was however a caveat, we could only have it if we pronounced it properly! We soon learned to say knickerbocker glory without stumbling 🙂

When I started looking for recipes to make this challenge, I realised they are all very different and really what I wanted to do was recreate my nan’s version.  I text my brother and mum to see if they could remember what was in it and after some input from them both, we decided on the following ingredients:-

  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Strawberry jelly
  • Fruit (fresh or tinned cocktail mix)
  • Strawberry sauce
  • Whipped cream
  • Hundreds and thousands

Edited - ingredients

I always remember my nan using tinned fruit cocktail, although I think she would use fresh fruit if she had some in.  I opted for the tinned fruit because this is what came to mind when I tried to remember my nan’s version 🙂

I also cheated a little and used shop bought ice cream but if you’re feeling adventures why not check out Challenge 19 to see how to make ice cream from scratch without an ice cream maker! Just leave out the rum and raisins, unless you want a more adult version of the knickerbocker glory.

Another important aspect of the knickerbocker glory is the serving dish.  I didn’t have anything suitable at home so popped out and bought some special glasses which reminded me of the ones my nan used to use.

Anyway, with all the elements ready, I started building my knickerbocker glory.  Firstly, I added a little bit of ice cream.

Edited - layer 1

Then I added some jelly.

Edited - layer 2

Next up I added some fruit (I drained off the liquid first).

Edited - layer 3

I then put in a little strawberry sauce.  I added more ice cream, jelly and fruit to fill to the top of the glass.

Finally, I added my whipped cream, topped it with some more sauce and then sprinkled over a handful of hundreds.

Edited - done2

Doesn’t it look pretty! 🙂

Now I know this didn’t take much skill but it does hold so many fond memories for me that it was nice to be able to share it with Dave.  He loved it by the way, although he managed to get in a right mess trying to eat it!

Coming up next week, Challenge No. 28 – homemade pizza.  I hope to see you then.