If there’s something extra seasonal than an apple pie, it’s an apple and blackberry pie, described by Tamasin Day-Lewis because the autumn pie, whereas Nigel Slater reckons it’s “nearly unattainable to think about a dish that so precisely expresses the glories of the British countryside in autumn”. Few can fail to have bittersweet recollections of previous tangles with thorny brambles – one for the mouth, one for the bag – and although it takes a devoted picker to amass sufficient to feed a household, they make a contented pair with their seasonal bedfellow, the apple, serving to even essentially the most meagre of harvests to stretch slightly additional. For those who’re fortunate sufficient to have a glut, freeze them to get pleasure from this recipe all through the winter.
The perennially wise Jane Grigson writes in her Fruit Guide that, “once you decide blackberries within the autumn, and collect windfall apples to make this pie, amount and number of fruit don’t a lot come into it. You make one of the best of what you will have. That is the way in which it must be.”
If, like me, you purchase your fruit, nonetheless, the most important choice is whether or not, like Grigson, you consider apple pies are more likely to have tasted higher earlier than the introduction of the bramley in 1876, or if, as per Rowley Leigh’s A Lengthy and Messy Enterprise and the second quantity of Slater’s Tender, you favour these cookers for this explicit recipe. Grigson herself recommends tart consuming apples akin to “blenheim orange or belle de boskoop [the latter of which she asked friends to bring from France each January]”, Day-Lewis calls, much less prescriptively, for “sharp consuming apples” in her guide All You Can Eat, and Jane McMorland Hunter and Sally Hughes compromise with a combination of the 2 of their guide Berries: Rising and Cooking.
Although flavours do certainly differ, this will simply be adjusted with sugar and lemon juice, however the texture of cooking apples could be very completely different from that of dessert varieties. Whereas bramleys break down right into a jammy paste when heated, consuming apples are likely to maintain their form, particularly when added to the pie uncooked, as Day-Lewis suggests. Completely nice, if time is of the essence, however McMorland Hunter and Hughes cook dinner theirs first, in order that the bramleys disintegrate and the dessert apples keep entire however barely softened. This seems like one of the best of each worlds: the pureed apples including moisture whereas filling the cavity of the pie, and the chunks of dessert apple providing a distinction in texture to the gentle berries and bramleys.
Grigson, apparently, takes a really completely different strategy, cooking down half the blackberries with the apple peels, cores and a beneficiant serving to of sugar to provide a fruity syrup that she then pours over the remaining uncooked fruit. It’s scrumptious, however solely appropriate for a plate pie, fairly than one encased in pastry, as a result of it makes the filling very liquid.
For those who do have time to cook dinner the apples, my testers and I all like Leigh’s strategy of frying them in butter and sugar, which provides richness to the filling, and McMorland Hunter and Hughes’ splash of brandy. Neither fairly decadent addition is strictly mandatory, however each are scrumptious for those who occur to have them handy.
Slater dusts his apples with a mere sprinkling of sugar, as a result of he likes them “pretty tart”, however he tells readers with a sweeter tooth to heap on “something as much as a tablespoon per apple”. It is a wise strategy – in spite of everything, apples, in addition to tastes, differ drastically – however nonetheless a lot you add, I’d suggest going for a brown sugar. We discover McMorland Hunter and Hughes’ darkish muscovado too intensely treacley, however the caramel flavour of Day-Lewis’ demerara or mild muscovado works splendidly with the sharpness of the apple.
Everybody makes use of shortcrust of some selection, and principally plain, although seeing as Grigson is non-specific, I’m going for crisp paté sucrée on her pie. A candy filling, nonetheless, appears to me to demand a extra savoury enclosure – Slater retains it mild and crumbly with a lard and butter combination, however we’re bought on Leigh’s softer, yolk-enriched recipe. It is a pudding, in spite of everything.
Surprisingly, solely a few the recipes line the dish with pastry earlier than including the fruit. In my view, a plate pie doesn’t provide a sturdy sufficient ratio of pastry to fruit right here, however as Leigh notes, “it’s a problem to cook dinner the underside crust correctly: it wants a variety of warmth from under, and a good bit of time”, so it’s price heating a baking sheet within the oven first to assist with this. Sprinkle the highest with sugar for additional crunch and, like Slater, you could end up moved to wave slightly flag in honour of this nationwide treasure.
Excellent blackberry and apple pie
Prep 30 min, plus chilling
Cook dinner 40 min
2 cooking apples
four crisp, sharp consuming apples
Juice of 1 lemon
three tbsp demerara sugar, or to style
1 tbsp brandy or rum (non-compulsory)
300g blackberries, or nonetheless many you will have
1 splash milk
For the pastry
350g plain flour, plus additional for dusting
1 pinch salt
200g chilly butter
First make the pastry. Combine the flour and salt in a big bowl. Grate within the butter, then rub it in along with your fingertips till it seems like damp sand.
Combine the flour and salt, then grate within the butter and rub it in, earlier than including the egg yolks and a splash of chilly water.
Separate the eggs, and put aside one white for later (give the opposite one to the canine, make a tiny meringue, or freeze it for greater meringues one other day), stir within the yolks, adopted by simply sufficient chilly water to carry the combination collectively right into a clean dough; 4 tablespoons ought to do it, however add it steadily.
Pinch off a couple of third and type each a number of pastry right into a disc or rectangle, relying on the form of your dish. Wrap properly and chill for 30 minutes.
Peel, core and thickly slice the apples, then sprinkle with lemon juice to cease the fruit from discolouring.
In the meantime, peel, core and thickly slice the apples and sprinkle with lemon juice.
Warmth the butter in a frying pan over a medium warmth and add the apples, two tablespoons of the sugar and the alcohol, if utilizing, then fry for about 5 minutes, till they’ve began to melt. Add the blackberries, flip off the warmth and depart to chill utterly.
Fry the apple in butter with sugar and a splash of brandy, till gentle, then stir within the berries off the warmth.
Warmth the oven and a baking sheet to 200C (fan 180C)/390F/390F/gasoline 6 and on a evenly floured floor roll, out the bigger piece of pastry to about 5mm thick. Use this to line the bottom and aspect of a greased pie dish about 24cm huge, leaving an overhang across the edge, then spoon within the cooled filling.
Line a pie dish with rolled pastry, fill, high with a pastry lid and seal the sides with egg wash.
Roll out the second piece of pastry. Beat the reserved egg white with the splash of milk, brush this throughout the rim of the pastry lining the dish, then lay the lid on high, urgent collectively the 2 items of pastry throughout the rim to seal; trim off any extra (for those who like, you possibly can roll this once more and lower into shapes to stay on high).
Pierce the lid so the steam can escape, bake for about 45 minutes, till golden, then slice and serve.
Brush the highest with extra of the egg white and milk combination, sprinkle with the remaining sugar and lower two holes within the high to permit the steam to flee. Bake on the heated baking sheet for 25 minutes, then flip down the warmth to 180C (fan 160C)/350F/350F/gasoline four and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, till golden. Go away to chill barely earlier than serving with thick cream or sizzling custard.
• Is apple and blackberry pie the king of autumnal desserts, or do you will have one other contender for the crown? Which number of apple do you want to make use of, and what else do you love to do with blackberries when you’ve had your fill straight from the bush? And, most essential of all, cream, custard… or ice-cream?