So, here is my very first food blog post, and it’s inspired by a good one from Miss Foodwise over at MissFoodwise.com. The short story behind this is as follows…I’ve been working with some friends to raise awareness for people with dietary restrictions, and one way we’ve been getting people’s attention is by posting relevant links to our Facebook page. Well, this week is Bramley apple week, and so I’m searching Pinterest for recipes, and up pops a good, traditional Bramley apple and blackberry pie. I go to the linked website, and find a beautiful site full of wonderful recipes and tales and history: Miss Foodwise.
Having seen many other blogs through Pinterest, and with an appetite already whetted for something new, I decided to have a go, and saw the Bramley and blackberry pie recipe as a good place to start!
Bramleys do look fantastic: more rustic-looking than most apples. I suppose that’s because they have a regular place at the country kitchen table, we’ve come to expect to see them on cooking shows, or dangling like a hundred silent peeping Toms over the heads of a couple sharing a summertime kiss in the latest period drama. In fact, the Bramley has a history in the UK dating back to 1809 when the first pips were planted, which Miss Foodwise goes into more detail about. It’s a fascinating story for what seems like such a plain object, with generations protecting the first tree planted in Southwell, Nottinghamshire. As I write this I’m in day 3 of National Bramley Apple Week, and there are even festivals to celebrate this trusted cooking apple, and why not?!
Normally, I’ll take pictures of what I’ve made on my iPhone using Hipstamatic and then just share them straight to my Instagram feed. That’s great, and you can hide a multitude of sins that way, but using my DSLR, and Canon 550D, means trying a little bit harder to get shots (little being an understatement). Light is obviously key, and something I need to look into for future blogs, as currently I’m relying on a fluorescent desk lamp and piece of card to bounce some light back. It does the trick, but there is certainly room for improvement!
I’ve noticed a lot of bloggers use a 50mm lens, so decided to follow suit. It’s certainly a great lens for the job, and I think the fixed focal length actually makes things easier, and to be honest, I usually chuck my variable lenses to their widest and get close anyway, so this saves me the trouble! The major plus of course is the short depth of focus these lenses can achieve. I see many people using a 50mm f1.4, but I’m happy with my f1.8 for now. I’m completely happy with the camera and lens I have, I just need to get a feel for what I can do with them in this area.
So, on to the recipe.
For me, apple pie alone is something to get excited about, especially with some smooth vanilla ice cream, but throw in some blackberries and it completely changes the whole appearance and taste. The sweet blackberry juice mingling its way in with the tart apple chunks, all snuggled into in a hot crumbly pastry bed! Delicious!
For the sweet shortcrust pastry:
- 500 g plain flour
- 100 g icing sugar
- 250 g cold butter cut into small cubes
- half a teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large free-range eggs
- 1 teaspoon milk
Go ahead and make this first, you’ll have time at the end of this first process to get the filling ready.
- Sieve the flour and icing sugar into a large mixing bowl, and add the cubes of cold butter.
- Using one or two knives, cut the butter into even smaller pieces. I find using two and dragging them across the bowl, one against the other, in opposite directions is a good way to do this, but you can just use one if you prefer.
- When the mix has a crumbly texture to it, get your hands in there and rub the butter into the flour until it looks like bread crumbs.
- When you get to this point, add the vanilla extract and then the eggs, mixing them in one by one with a knife or fork.
- Add the teaspoon of milk and continue to work all the ingredients together until the mix is crumbly again.
- Without working the dough too much, shape it into a ball, then cover in clingfilm and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
At this point you should start to preheat your oven to 180C = 160C fan = 350F = Gas mark 4.
For the filling you’ll need:
- 5 Bramley apples: cored, peeled and cut into halved wedges
- 100g blackberries
- 50g butter
- 80g light brown sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- caster sugar to sprinkle
- 20 cm shallow pie dish, buttered
- Start by putting the butter in a large pan, and melting it over a low heat.
- Once the butter is melted, add the sugar, then the apples.
- Stir the apples in so they are coated and leave to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the blackberries, stirring them in for about 10-20 seconds until some of their juices have been released, then remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Pour the contents into a sieve, keeping the juices aside for later.
- Take the pastry dough from the fridge and cut in half, placing one half back in the fridge.
- On a lightly floured surface roll out the first half to a thickness of about 5mm, and place into the buttered pie dish, pushing it down and around the base to squeeze out any air gaps.
- Trim the excess from the edge using a sharp knife.
- Add the fruit to the dish. It should be almost level, but slightly raised in the middle.
- Take the remaining dough from the fridge and roll it out as you did the first half, then lay that over the fruit, cutting off any excess again. (Note: you can obviously use a pie vent if you like, so pop that in at this stage).
- Using the back of a fork, crimp the edges together, and use any left over dough to decorate the pie if you wish.
- Cut a slit in the middle of the pie to allow steam to escape whilst cooking, and brush the whole surface with some of the beaten egg.
- Place at the bottom of the preheated oven for around 50-60 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and golden.
Cut yourself a slice and enjoy as you wish. I had mine as it comes, whilst reading Oh Comely magazine, and wondering what to cook next!
If you wanted to spice this up a little, try putting in half a teaspoon of cinnamon with the uncooked apple when making the filling.
During this recipe I was listening to Radiohead. Perfect late night music for me. This is also where the rather obscure post title comes from: it’s an adaptation of their Hail to the Thief album… Just thought I’d explain 🙂